I woke up today and realized it is Thursday. Wow, for a week with nothing going on, it sure flew by. I am not quite sure how the days got away from me.
I got a reminder this morning, that I am finishing up my second year in Switzerland. I got a bill in the mail for my 1/2 price pass. This 1/2 price pass is without a doubt the best deal in all of Switzerland. For 165 CHF you get 1/2 price on almost every public transportation ticket you buy. This deal is made even better because it includes almost all gondolas, and mountain trains in the country. There are only a handful that are not covered with the 1/2 price pass. I have decided to let my annual train pass expire. I simply do not make enough trips into Zurich that it pays for itself. My annual pass is about 900 CHF. This allows me to travel anywhere one zone outside of Zurich. The catch with my pass is that I cannot travel between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM. The breakeven point is about 125 round trips downtown. So a little over 2 per week. That doesn’t sound like many, but I do not think I even average 1 per week. I can only remember taking the train three times into Zurich last month, and one of those really doesn’t count, because we took the train only to catch the train going to Zermatt. Of course that might change, I have a job interview on Monday!
I am not very confident I will get the job, though. Qualification wise there is no problem, but the company is looking for someone that is fluent in both German and English. Which has of course been the number one hindrance to my job search. I am convinced that employers here are no different than in the US in many ways. The job I was approached for is an “entry level” job. However, they are asking for 8 years experience. Including experience with Active Directory, SCCM, multiple multi function print devices, phone system support, and they want someone to offer training. That does not sound like entry level to me. I am fortunate that Julie and I made sure we could make this move without me having to work. That takes a lot of pressure off, and as I was talking with Julie earlier this week; makes me want to hold out for a salary that makes it worthwhile. Yes, it would be great to be around people again, but taking a job for entry level wages, to me, is not worth the trade off for the flexibility to get things done for the household.
A few weeks ago I downloaded this app to my phone. I thought it was required as part of the Covid Vaccine passport, but it turns out to not be related. That being said I have been fascinated how often it rings with an alert. The last week, it has been going multiple times per day. The reason for it going off has been alerts for flooding. I do not know what the records for rain fall are, but I am convinced that we are getting close to if not already exceeded the records. I think about 3/4 of the country is already under water, or is getting close . The one nice thing about all the hills is that flooding is usually contained pretty well.
When we were in Luzern last week, Julie and I both commented about high the river and lake levels were. The water was inches from going over the bank, and all the flood control locks and dams were actually under water! I was reading an article in the news yesterday, and it was warning that if the lake rises another 5 inches the center of the town will be flooded. The problem is that it has continued raining since that article came out, and it is supposed to continue to keep raining for another two days. The lake is not supposed to crest until sometime on Sunday, and that assumes the rain stopped for good yesterday! The city of Bern is preparing for the 4th 100 year flood event since 1999. There is one big difference, however, from the flooding this year to in the past. Typically the flooding occurs in April or May. It usually happens when there is an unseasonable warm spell combined with heavy rains. The snow melts from the mountains, and has to run downstream, then combine that with heavy rainfall and you get problems. This year the snow melt happened a few months ago. This is 100% caused by the heavy rains we have seen all spring and summer. There is simply no place left for the water to go. The rains have been very polite. I have only had to drive the car to the train station three times to either pick Julie up, or drop her off in the morning!
The only other thing going on this week, is that Tax Time is finally over. If we were Swiss citizens we would probably move about 15 miles further outside of Zurich. Taxes here, just like in the US, can be dramatically different from Canton to Canton or State to State. For us though, it really does not matter. We get a $ for $ credit on our US taxes. This means that every dollar we pay in Swiss taxes is taken off our US tax bill. That being said. Taxes in the US are SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER than here in Switzerland. At least we do not have to pay state taxes. Wisconsin tax rules are that since we do not claim physical residency we only owe taxes on money that is earned in Wisconsin. I really wish the US would get in line with the rest of the world and only tax people that live there. There are only two countries that tax based on citizenship AND residency. The US is one of those two countries. I know that the number of people in our position is very low, but it does kind of stink. I was one of those people that thought taxes in European countries would be so high that we would never owe anything in US taxes. Wow, was I wrong! The amount of taxes we have to pay for having a US passport is mind numbing because we owe it all at once. The tax bite would seem smaller if it were deducted each paycheck. If we lived somewhere that was easier to obtain citizenship, I would entertain getting rid of my US citizenship for the sole purpose of saving money. I say that completely tongue in cheek. I have no desire to renounce my US status, but DAMMMMMMMN that tax bill almost makes me rethink that! I think what makes me even more angry this year was reading about how little the very wealthy pay in income taxes compared to everyone else. QUEUE: People saying they pay more money. Sure Bezos pays more money, but our income is less than .5% of his income. Percentage wise, we pay much more of our income than he.
Enough of a rant. I’ll just continue to get angry if I think about taxes!
Things will continue to be pretty quiet for the next couple of weeks. We have two weeks of just us, then the visitors start. I cannot express how excited I am to see George and Kaylee. Not to mention seeing my Mom and Dad. Now, we just need to figure out how to get Julie to Florida for a week or two; so she can see her parents as well, since they are not able to make the long flight.
Do not have a whole lot of pictures, as we have not done anything very photo worthy since our vacation. I do really like the chocolate cows below, however. These were pictures from last Saturday. Luzern is only about a 30 minute drive; so we went for lunch!