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CHILDCARE

How to save money on childcare in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland's most populous canton and one of the most expensive. Here's how to save a little on childcare.

How to save money on childcare in Zurich
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

The high costs of childcare are a frequent complaint of many a parent in Switzerland.

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130.

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent.

READ MORE: What is emergency childcare in Switzerland and how do I access it?

When paired with the cost of having children in Switzerland, it’s enough to make someone decide against having kids – or maybe leaving Switzerland altogether.

Tax

Keep in mind with all of these tips that you are able to deduct childcare costs from your tax in Switzerland.

This includes most forms of childcare, including for instance the costs of a private nanny.

In order to do so, you need to provide proof of payment when lodging your tax return.

Parents can deduct a maximum of 10,100 francs per child per year (federal tax), according to Swiss finance comparison site Comparis.

More information about how to deduct childcare costs from your tax can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Leaving the kids with the grandparents may be a more difficult solution for some expats. Photo by Nikoline Arns on Unsplash

Second hand

One of the silver linings to Switzerland’s wealth is that it has a lot of wealthy people, who seem not to mind how much things cost.

As a consequence, there are often great deals on second-hand stuff for kids.

If you send your kid to a creche, they may ask you to provide a range of different things like clothes, umbrellas and other weather equipment and small nap mats or even a basic crib.

VERDICT: How to save money when raising children in Switzerland

Obviously this stuff is expensive, particularly if you’ve already bought it for home.

Remember in this case that eBay is your friend, while you can also check notice boards at the childcare facility itself to see if other parents have stuff to give away.

One inside tip is to change the postcode in your eBay search to a wealthier one, thereby improving your chances of finding a bargain. 

Subsidies

When you learn that parents in Switzerland often spend 130 francs a day per child for childcare, you might feel like it’s time for a career change.

But due to the aforementioned tax breaks and subsidies paid out in the cantons, many parents will pay between 30 and 80 percent of this cost.

In Zurich for instance, if you earn 80,000 per year, you will be liable for around 70 francs per day.

Here is the calculator for Zurich which will tell you how much your subsidy will be on the basis of your income. 

Take time off

Of course, less childcare is always going to be cheaper – so if you can work out a solution where you or your partner takes care of the kids for some of the time, then you’ll already be saving (other than of course the lost wages). 

After birth, Switzerland has a moderate parental leave scheme, but the conditions offered by private companies are often better. 

Keep in mind that your child will be able to attend pre-school or kindergarten from around four years of age. While pre-school is not compulsory, around 99 percent of Swiss kids attend it.

In Switzerland, children can start attending school from around six years of age, with cantons required to offer at least one year of pre-school education.

This does of course depend on the canton, with some offering two years and Ticino offering three.

If you can take advantage of flexible work, then you might be able to take a couple of years off to take care of the kids and go back to work when your kid hits pre-school age.

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

You can also bite the bullet and call up the grandparents, if of course they live in Switzerland. You’ll have the kids back punctually and with a Swiss dialect in no time. 

But if that’s not an option, then you need to consider the different types of childcare.

While most of us would think of a nursery or a creche as the standard, there are in fact several forms of childcare which are common in Switzerland.

This of course includes nurseries, but also extends to childminders (Tagesmütter or mamans de jour), babysitters, au pairs and private nannies.

More information as to the types of childcare available in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

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For members

LEARNING FRENCH

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 

Punctuation

Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:

Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 

Numbers

If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).

Mobile numbers in Switzerland  begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.

READ MORE: French-speaking Switzerland: Seven life hacks that will make you feel like a local

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