Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dear Frau: Phone and Data Plans in Switzerland

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It’s kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. Remember, if you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact The Frau.

Dear Frau,

My wife and I are moving to Switzerland for one year. We are very tech oriented, so the first thing we want to settle is a cell phone+data plan...

Which networks should I check? Any chance of making a plan in Germany and using it in Switzerland? And what do I do if I have an iPhone 5 and need a Nano-SIM?

Data Needy in CH

Dear Data Needy in CH,

The Frau speaks English and conversational German. But your email sounds like it’s in an entirely different language. Unfortunately The Frau does not speak tech. If you want proof, have a look at the 2006 Motorola cell phone she still uses in an Orange pre-pay kind of style.

Hopefully some fellow yodelers can come to your service by leaving comments below that directly answer your questions. All The Frau knows is this: it’s almost impossible to get any kind of phone or data plan without first having your residence permit.

This is a cruel joke to play on any newcomer, but it sounds like it will be especially cruel for you. So plan on visiting a lot of Starbucks to get your Wifi fix and Skype away the hours while Swiss bureaucracy does its thing.

The reason The Frau has pre-paid plan in the first place is because it was all the Swiss would give her while she waited and waited for her official piece of paper that said she was a permanent resident.

In the end, The Frau is grateful for her Orange pre-pay SIM as it has probably saved her thousands of francs in phone bills over the last seven years.

Anyway, the main phone and Internet service plans in Switzerland include:

Luckily, unlike when The Frau arrived in 2006, these companies actually have functional websites that converse in English (much has changed in the last seven years!) so you may find some of your answers there.

But that being said, fellow yodelers, can you help Data Needy in CH? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Having a Baby in Switzerland: Are you ready?

Are you ready to have a baby in Switzerland? Find out on today’s episode of The Price is Fright. 

1 Package Pampers Newborn (Size One, 25 Count): CHF 11,20 ($12.02)

Photo by Brian Opyd
1 Package M-Budget Baby Wipes: CHF 1,60 ($1.72)

1 Jar Seelachs Hipp Baby Food: CHF 2,80 ($3.00)

1 Day at Swiss Daycare: CHF 126 ($135)

1 Pair of must-have Migros rubber pants (Every proper Swiss baby wears them!): CHF 14,90 ($16)

1 Used Bugaboo Stroller from the Expat in Zurich Yahoo List: CHF 650 ($698)

1 Nursing Pillow from Baby Rose: CHF 159 ($170.66)

1 Nursing Bra from Baby Rose: CHF 59,95 ($64.35)

1 Full Night’s Sleep: Unavailable, please try again later.

1 GRAND TOTAL: CHF 1449.45 ($1,555.70)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Frau's Swiss Smilestone

The Frau would like to celebrate a little Swiss smilestone. As of today, she has collected more Swiss smiles in the last month than in her last six years. Having a toddler in a pink gingham coat semi-attached to her index finger has its advantages, fellow yodelers.

Baby M toddled around the Baden train station instead of the park this morning (thanks, rain), terrorizing both the Coop display of children’s beach toys, a St. Bernard attached by its leash to the wall, and the instant photo booth.

A Swiss train station is a toddler’s dream rainy day playground.

And while The Frau didn’t fit in with her big fat American accent, Baby M certainly did, screaming a proper “nein!” whenever The Frau pulled her away from something inappropriate, which was oh, maybe every 30 seconds.

As much as The Frau’s back hurts from walking around with Baby M twice today, it’s kind of fun tooling around Baden collecting all of these Swiss smiles, even if she does go in odd directions like through banks with sliding doors, into drug stores to fondle the foot creams, and through Migros Take-aways on her way to well, absolutely nowhere.

The whole journey to nowhere is kind of exciting. Where will The Frau go next in Baden? Up steps that lead to a mysterious locked door? Into a bush where a cat is hiding? Around and around the kebab shop as if it’s a merry-go-round? Only time (and Baby M)
will tell. But no matter where The Frau and Baby M go, at least they'll get a smile.

If you've had a baby in Switzerland, do you get more smiles now?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Salaries in Switzerland

How much money can I make? This is a popular expat question when people consider working in Switzerland or moving to Switzerland. The 2013 Lohnbuch has the answers­ (it better, since it's 800 pages long) but it will set you back CHF 65 and it’s in German besides.

There are also answers to Swiss salary questions on the Swiss Confederation’s websiteThe catch here is that you must know German, French, or Italian and understand enough details about your job to use this very Swiss form (The Frau was not Swiss enough and got stuck by question three.).

Working in Switzerland
The Swiss Trade Union Federation also has a salary calculator, but again, it is only in French, German, and Italian and has the same problem of being very Swiss and therefore very detailed. 

If you’re looking for some general guidelines, here are a few of the salary reports from the 2013 Lohnbuch that Blick am Abend published on April 2:

(Salaries are per month, times 13 months for a yearly salary)

Director of Zurich Gaswerks: CHF 18,610
Head Physician: CHF 12,824
Zurich Church Minister: CHF 9,084
Zurich Kindergarten Teacher: CHF 5,707
Train Driver: CHF 5,332
Florist: CHF 3,625
Hairdresser: CHF 3,400
Taxi Driver: CHF 3,200
Building Cleaner: CHF 3,200
Circus Artist: CHF 3,000 (no 13th month salary)

According to Swiss News, the average employee in Switzerland is paid CHF 5,823 per month. 

Michael Page also has a salary survey for executive positions in Switzerland, such as HR Director (CHF 185,000 annual average). 

Anyone else know of good ways to find out what you can expect from Swiss salaries?


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