06 August 2013

Switzerland is Whoa Expensive, and has a Funny German Dialect

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to visit Basel, in Switzerland. A friend is living there, and so when I had a conference in Tübingen, I figured it was close enough to visit, so I took the train from Tübingen to Stuttgart to Karlsruhe to Basel and spent the weekend. I was glad I was there for only a weekend. Why? Because the prices were so expensive.

See, the thing is, I guess it is because Berlin is one of the cheaper capitals of Europe. I can get a nice entree in a restaurant for less than 10 EUR. So just imagine my surprise when I go to a pub and order pub food and a 0,5 liter of beer. The beer costs 9 CHF (about 7 EUR), and fish and chips was like 25 CHF. That was expensive, especially when you can get beer for less than 3 EUR here.

I was thankful that I didn't have to pay for accommodation for two nights.

So I wondered, why are prices that jacked up? Why is there an island in the middle of Europe where prices are just higher? I then looked a little bit online and found out that Switzerland is not part of several large governing bodies that sort of regulate prices in the EU; after all, they are not part of the EU, so why should their economy be regulated?

I remember when I was in Denmark in 2008, I was a student back then, which meant that I was watching my wallet more than I am right now. But I think I am shocked more with Switzerland than with Denmark. And that says something. Because in 2008, I was earning in USD, while in 2013, I am earning in EUR. I could only imagine what it feels like for an American to see Swiss prices.

So, would I visit Switzerland again? Probably, but not unless I really need to. That's the weird thing when one is living in Europe; if one wants to travel for vacation, there are plenty of interesting places close by, but things there are expensive. But when one wants a place where things are not expensive, then one has to travel far.

The funny thing is that Swiss people are just fine with the way things are.

I suppose I'll just get some humor from the fact that their version of German is a little interesting. And they make things small and cute by adding the -li suffix, instead of the -chen suffix. And they seem not to have word-final consonant devoicing. Long story short, I couldn't understand Swiss German.


  1. Ouch, that's expensive! I guess salaries are higher too, if people don't complain. I know some French who live at the border and work in "la Suisse" and they like it, more money to be made yet they enjoy lower prices in France.

    1. Zhu,

      Yes, I think the salaries are higher as well. My friend earns a six-figure salary, yet with taxes and the high cost of living, it balances itself out. So locals don't complain, but visitors definitely do.

  2. As a US dollar earner, I already dread going to the UK and EU countries knowing how strong currencies there are. That goes the same for Switzerland which I remember is more expensive than anywhere else in the region.

    That being said, I wouldn't discount a future visit to Switzerland if I could get freebies out of miles (airfare) and points (hotel stays). Hopefully that would leave me with more CHFs to spend on food & sightseeing.

    1. TNP,

      Exactly. Hence CH is not in my travel destination list, and I only visited it since I knew someone there whose couch I can crash. You're totally right.