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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How prices in Switzerland compare to the rest of the EU

The cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high, with Zurich and Geneva regularly ranked among the most expensive cities in the world.

How prices in Switzerland compare to the rest of the EU
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A new study shows that the Swiss have to pay 168 francs for a basket of consumer goods costing on average 100 euros in the European Union. 

Based on the report of purchasing power parities published last week by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), Switzerland is the third-most expensive country in Europe in terms of prices.

It is especially pricey when it comes to food, beverages, hotels, restaurants, clothing, and health insurance.

But Iceland and Norway are even more expensive, according to the report.

The basket of products that cost 168 francs in Switzerland are 107 euros in Germany, 109 euros in France. and 111 euros in Austria; at 98 euros, Italy is slightly under the European average.

The lowest price level was recorded in Turkey, followed by North Macedonia and Albania.

On the bright side, prices on certain items, such as furniture and consumer electronics, are lower in Switzerland than the European average, according to the data.

READ MORE: Tuition to transport – What is actually cheap in Switzerland

Another new comparison by Eurostat shows Switzerland in the second place in terms of prices, just behind Iceland.

High Swiss prices are attributed to a combination of factors, including an overvalued Swiss franc, as well as high tariffs on food and drink imports, which are designed to favour local farmers over international competitors.

However, other studies have shown that even despite the high cost of living, Switzerland has one of the world’s best purchasing powers thanks to a combination of factors such as high incomes and low taxes.

 

 

 

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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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