Leaving St.Gallen

I’m sorry to say that after many years in this beautiful little town I am moving on. It has been a pleasure to be able to provide this blog and I hope that people to continue to benefit from it for years to come :-). I won’t delete any content, but I’m afraid that eventually most of the information will become out of date.

But who knows. One day I might move back and I will for sure start to blog again. And thanks to everyone who followed the blog and all of the e-mails of support I received.

And if you ever decide to move to Frankfurt next, why not take a look at my new blog: www.frankfurtexpat.wordpress.com

As if I would actually stop blogging entirely 🙂

Enjoy St.Gallen!!

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Tip of the day: free wine-tasting at Coop

Are you interested in wine? Do you need to do your grocery shopping this evening? Well head over to the large Coop Gallusmarkt near Neudorf and combine the two :-). There is also a 20% discount of all wine until Saturday and today the Coop is open until 8:30pm as usual for late Thursday shopping.

Best bet is to head there are 7pm as the Coop is normally fairly empty after this and you can avoid any queues. And the great thing is that the man who is in charge of the wine tasting stand speaks perfectly good English and is always up for a nice chat! Definitely a man who enjoys his job!

Slightly blurred photo for you, but then I was driving a trolley at the time…:

wine tasting

Shopping in Austria: Dornbirn Messepark

It’s no secret that shopping in Switzerland is expensive. It can also be difficult to get bargains. Normally I would shop online, but there is no amazon.ch and many items on amazon won’t ship to Switzerland.

The most useful and one of the closest shopping centres for St.Gallen is in Dornbirn, Austria.

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Before I talk about the benefits, there are a couple of problems with this though.

1) The connections to Dornbirn by train are ok, but you will need to get yourself on to a bus the other end. This means that aside from the cost of transport, the journey will be the best part of an hour on public transport. if you go by car, it is a 25 minute drive. Not bad, but if don’t already have a car, it will be cheaper just to do all your shopping in St.Gallen.

2) The Swiss border guards know what you are up to. They are probably doing it themselves! Often the, border crossing you use is going to be empty, and if it isn’t they will probably stop anything from about 1/5 to 1/10 cars. You can either take a risk or download a list of what your limits are and don’t go over. Meat in particular is great to buy in Austria, because it is so much cheaper. Unfortunately you can only carry 500g back without paying import tax. If they do stop you and charge you, it will definitely cost more than just shopping in St.Gallen.

Dornbirn Messpark
This is a regular shopping centre a few minutes from the Swiss border. Compared to e UK or US, it is nothing special in terms of size or selection. But it has everything you need for a low cost shopping trip:
– Interspar (groceries). Go once, compare the prices and consider that you could easily save CHF 20-30 on your regular weekly shop. Not everything will be cheaper though.

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– Mediamarkt (electronics). Mediamarkt have a big shop in St.Gallen as well and if you compare prices online, there is very little difference. However in Dornbirn, the store seems to always have more discounts and specials.

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– Hervis Sports. The place to go if you want any sportswear or equipment. You’ll get most things for less than half the price you’ll find in St.Gallen. Just this weekend, they had bikes on special for as little as €199.

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10 things I wish I’d known before moving to St.Gallen :-)

1) Just because French is an official language that they all learn at school, doesn’t mean the locals are happy to hear it! If you can’t speak German, try English next 🙂

2) The Swiss are different from the Germans and Austrians. And that is the only thing they want to hear you say. Never group the three into a single statement!

3) Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because Switzerland is a rich country, that all accommodation is 1st world standard. Take no basic service for granted!

4) Swiss don’t seem to cook at home. So prepare for a small, inconvenient kitchen even in the largest of flats.

5) “Switzerland has high quality education” does not equal “all Swiss schools are good”.

6) Most Swiss people use public transport, not because it is so good (which it is), but because owning a car is so bloody expensive and inconvenient!

7) Figure out how to shop over the border in Austria. For everything. Its all a lot cheaper.

8) Don’t expect to ever be invited round to a Swiss person’s house.  Be happy when it happens, but prepare for it never happening.

9) Working from 9-6 is unSwiss. 8am is already late in the office.

10) Plan your life around the shops opening times. You’ll save much stress…