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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

A few of the benefits of growing old(er) in Switzerland

Despite its high cost of living, which makes it difficult  for some people to make their ends meet, Switzerland is a good place to spend the proverbial “golden years”. Here are some of the perks Swiss seniors can enjoy.

Pensioners have many benefits in Switzerland
Retired seniors can have a sweet life in Switzerland, especially looking at views like this one, above Zug in central Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

What exactly is considered “old” in Switzerland? Age is all in the mind and if you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter.

But just as a point of reference, in the context of this article “old” means post-retirement age, though many people in this age bracket don’t feel, or think of themselves, as “old”.

Men in Switzerland retire at 65 and women at 64.

Even though the retirement age for women was raised to 65 in June 2021 — to start going into effect from 2023 — it still lower than in some other European countries, such as Italy, Iceland, Norway and Greece, where people stop working at 67.

This means people in Switzerland are still relatively young when they retire — after all, according to one piece of common wisdom, 60 is the new 40 — so  they can enjoy many perks in their later years.

And there are quite a few benefits for Swiss pensioners, as international studies show. For instance, in one survey which ranked 44 countries in terms of health, quality of life, and finances in retirement, Switzerland came in the second place.

These are some of the benefits for older people in Switzerland.

Longer, healthier lives

Switzerland regularly comes up on top (or close to it) in life expectancy studies, with women expected to live until 83.8 years of age and men until 81.9.

Although it ranked in the fourth place globally in one such study by World Population Review, it was first among European nations.

The main reasons for the the country’s high life expectancy, are “wealth, a sense of well-being, and healthy diet”, the study found.

However, In 2020, a year marked by Covid, life expectancy at birth fell to 81.0 for men and 85.1 for women  in Switzerland — a decline of 0.9 and 0.5 years, respectively.

READ MORE: Biggest fall since WWII: How Covid slashed life expectancy in Switzerland

Sense of well-being

According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Switzerland performs very well  — and better than many other countries — in many categories relating to well-being of its people, including pensioniers.

The country ranks above the average not only in income and wealth, but also inhealth status, social connections, environmental quality, housing and personal security.

Pension system    

The goal of Switzerland’s three-pillar pension is to allow retirees to retain their previous lifestyle in old age, or if they incur a disability. 

While individual pensions vary, the general rule is that those who worked full time for 44 years should receive enough income in social security and pension benefits each month to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

READ MORE: How does the Swiss pension system work – and how much will I receive?

Health care

Switzerland has one of the best and most accessible health care systems in the world (even if it is among the most expensive too).

This means high-quality medical care is available to everyone, which becomes even more important as people grow older.

High standard of living

Switzerland and Swiss cities are regularly ranked among the best places to live in the world, scoring highly on criteria such as personal safety, cleanliness, and good infrastructure — all of which are important for seniors.

Social support network

Vast majority —  96 percent — of Swiss residents say they have at least one person they could rely on in a time of need.

This strong sense of community — which is higher in Switzerland than the OECD average — is important as people get older, as it prevents the sense of loneliness and isolation common in old age.

Public transportation

As people age, many don’t like to (or can’t) drive anymore, especially long distances.

Switzerland has an extensive and reliable public transportation system, which can take people practically everywhere from point A to point B.

Sports and fitness

Among the reasons seniors in Switzerland are healthy, live longer, and enjoy their lives is that they stay physically active well into their old age.

The country’s stunning landscape and nature make it easy to for people of all ages to maintain healthy habits.

Seniors on bikes, skis, and hiking trails are a common sight. In fact, they often seem to have more energy and stamina than their younger counterparts.

Leisure and culture

“Senior discount” is commonplace in Switzerland, allowing people to get cheaper movie tickets or pay less for entrance to museums, galleries, and other venues.

Many other places also offer reductions based purely on proof of age.

With all that, it’s easy to enjoy getting older in Switzerland.

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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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