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I live in Switzerland and it is ranked as the 2nd most expensive country in the world to live in. It is the most expensive country in Europe.
One of the questions I get asked most often is, “How do you afford to live in such an expensive country?” What makes matters worse is that I am a student with hardly any income. What really sucks is that I constantly feel poor on a daily basis. Apparently, at my income level, I am considered to be living below the poverty line in Switzerland!
Nevertheless, I have made the most of my experience in Switzerland. I love living here. Rather than focusing on the negatives, I like to think about the positive aspects of living in an expensive country. Here’s a list of 6 perks of living in an expensive country (or city)!
1. Higher salaries
One of the greatest perks of living in Switzerland is its high salaries. Switzerland offers some of the highest salaries in the world to make up for the high cost of living.
For example, I am a student and I earn $25 an hour for being a Teaching Assistant. All I do is some administrative tasks and research! I remember being a Teaching Assistant in Canada and only earning $10 an hour. When I convert my hourly wage as a Teaching Assistant back to Canadian dollars, I end up earning almost as much per hour as I did as a CPA!
2. Seamless public transportation
If you grew up in North America you’re probably used to pretty crappy public transportation. In Toronto, I barely used the public transportation because it was always overcrowded and delayed.
Here in Switzerland, it’s a different story. I can’t afford a car and ONLY take public transportation. The connections are seamless and the bus and train rides are very comfortable. I can get anywhere I want in optimal time without worrying about where to park.
The only down side is that taking public transportation in Switzerland is pretty expensive.
3. World-class medical system
I feel safe knowing that Switzerland also offers one of the world’s top medical systems (wayyyy ahead of Canada – oh my!). Switzerland offers universal health care to all of its residents through mandatory medical health insurance. I am lucky because I scored an expat insurance plan that costs peanuts compared to what real Swiss people are paying.
So far, I have only visited the doctor 2 times during my 2 years of living in Switzerland. Back in Canada, I visited the doctor every time something came up (since it was free). I guess you could say that I was kind of abusing the system.
I don’t do that anymore. There are limits to what my insurance plan covers and I don’t want to pay anything out of pocket! But I feel reassured knowing that if something were to come up, I would be in very good hands and my medical insurance will take care of the rest!
I’m sorry if this post is starting to sound like a post bragging about how great Switzerland is, but Switzerland also ranks as one of the safest countries in the world! I have never once felt unsafe here, even while walking alone as a female late at night.
Since I feel so secure here, I had gotten into the bad habit of being quite careless with my personal belongings, leaving my expensive laptop and wallet just lying around as I go to the bathroom, for instance.
However, last year, I got my wallet stolen on the Swiss metro and now I’m a lot more careful about watching my personal belongings. I didn’t expect pickpocketers in Switzerland of all places, but I guess you always have to take precautions no matter where you are in this world! Since my incident of “getting robbed,” I always warn tourists and new arrivals to Switzerland to be careful of their belongings!
5. Cheap travel
The thing I love most about living in Switzerland is that whenever I go on vacation, I end up saving money.
For example, in January of this year, I spent one month in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. I had just moved out of my residence and did not have to pay rent in Switzerland. My entire month abroad, including flights, costed me around $1,000. And guess what? $1,000 ONLY covers my rent for one month in Switzerland. My monthly expenses are usually around $1,500-1,800 a month, so I actually ended up saving money by travelling! Who doesn’t love “getting paid” to travel?
Even when I go on small weekend trips to neighbouring countries like Italy or France, I can feel a huge difference in prices. In Italy, I can eat for about 1/4 of the cost of dining out in Switzerland. So, it’s safe to say that travelling got a whole lot cheaper and a whole lot more enjoyable after living in an expensive country. I literally feel like a queen as soon as I step out of Switzerland and into any other country.
6. Great education
Lastly, I wanted to emphasize that Switzerland has one of the best education systems in the world. I haven’t gone through their primary and secondary schooling, but I can say that their post-secondary institutions are top-notch.
My university is heavily-funded by the Swiss government and the teaching level is far superior to what I experienced in Canada. The class sizes are so small that you really do feel like you get individualized attention and feedback. For example, here in Switzerland, I had some university courses with only 20 students. All of my professors know my name and we even go for coffees together!
The best part is, the tuition fees are so low in Switzerland! I only pay $80 a semester (special student status)! Even regular students are only paying around $500-600 per semester 🙂
So, after reading this post, the next question you might be wondering is, “Is it really worth it living in an expensive country?” For those who follow my blog, you probably know that I scrimp and save in order to live in Switzerland without breaking the bank. Even though I have given up a lot of the luxuries I had as a CPA in Canada, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The sacrifice I made to move abroad and live in an extremely expensive country has paid off. I enjoy living in Switzerland and having access to top-notch health care, public transportation, and a world-class medical system. The best perk of all for me is being able to travel anywhere I want and actually ending up saving money.
Do you live in an expensive country? Can you relate to these perks?
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