The Price of Happiness

photoI’m emerging from the World Cup this week. After a long month of late night soccer game watching, and a great time last weekend celebrating the German victory with some German friends (how better to enjoy it, right?), life is back to normal around here.

Today, I wanted to share an example of the high Swiss prices that I think will resonate with Americans (and which will make it clear why eating out is a special treat!): Subway sandwiches. In the US, they are a pretty inexpensive, easy meal. I’ve always liked them a lot. I’m not so interested in eating them here (nor was I in Brazil–seriously, lest you ever worry that they might go out of business, there are ubiquitous Subways everywhere we go in the world), but they are a useful price comparison. Just like in the US, they are a pretty reasonably priced option here in Switzerland. They are definitely cheaper than a restaurant. But, as you can see on the sign below, the 6 inch (15 cm to those of us here in the metric world) costs 6.70 to 10.60 Swiss francs (that’s about $7.50-$12). And the footlong can cost close to $20!


There are lots of reasons for the high Swiss prices, many of which I have no problem with (higher wages, high quality production of ingredients, government farming controls, etc.). Mark Bittman has a piece in the New York Times today that goes through the thought exercise of trying to understand the real cost of a hamburger in the US, relative to the low price. It’s bit of an imperfect calculation, but the point is well-taken, and the low prices we are accustomed to in the US aren’t always a good thing for us. But that doesn’t mean I’m quite ready to spend $20 on a Subway sandwich!



  1. François

    Hi Jen and Scott ! Nice to follow you in Europe ! You are enjoying the Old Continent… lucky bastards 🙂

    I was in a Subway 2 weeks ago and the prices in Brazil are almost the same as in Swiss, but without any reason because there are no higher wages, nor high quality production of ingredients !!!

    Swiss is maybe expensive, but you get what you pay for. This isn’t always the case in Brazil… do you agree ?

    Big hug from Belo !

    • Nice to hear from you! Agreed…one if the frustrations in Brazil is definitely quality. Although I’d be willing to overlook any quality issues if I could get my hands on some pao de queijo here! Hope you’re well! Abracos!

  2. I totally I agree with you: high prices mean good salaries for the employees and higher quality standards. At the same time I am I always puzzled every time I enter Subway, Starbucks, Burger King or McDonalds in Switzerland. Everything looks so expensive compared to other countries in Europe! This is why sometimes I go have lunch at Manora (Manor’s restaurant) or at Migros’ restaurants: they cost the same and they are definitely healthier and fresher! Good post! Have nice day!

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