How much would I need to earn in Geneva?

(13 Posts)
Vertana Tue 20-May-14 14:07:46

I am at the last stage of interviews for a job in Geneva - I know it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I have no idea what I should expect/ask for in terms of salary.

I have two young children under 4, and initially would need to also support my husband as he would have to leave his job. I don't want to move if we are going to be struggling financially. Currently we live in London and have a relatively modest lifestyle. We rent a 2 bed flat and would need the same or bigger in Geneva.

Anyone live there and willing to offer some advice? Is it a good place to live if you have kids and aren't particularly into skiing or mountains? Is it true some people commute from France and is this realistic?

As you can probably tell I am completely clueless, so would be very grateful for any help!

heather1 Tue 20-May-14 19:47:37

Hi I can suggest the English forum but be careful, do a search first they have be a bit blunt.
Price wise costs are not so different from Zurich, there are some threads on this board on that. I think housing in Geneva can be quite competitive for housing so see if your work will pay for a relocation expert. Look on homegate.ch for an idea do renting costs. Also tax rates vary by commune so the more expensive areas may have lower tax rates and visa versa.
I live in Zurich, even though my husband is paid more than in the uk I think our living standards are about the same. Here we are outdoor more, my kids have local friends, swim in the lake in the summer, views are beautiful, we can easily reach Germany, Austria, Italy and France. On the down side childcare es expensive, culturally it's a big leap, eating out is expensive (around 100 for a simple one course meal), kids activities are expensive 40chf peer child for a group 1 hr tennis lesson, 20chf plus swimming pool entry for a 30 minute swimming lesson.
If your husband works the childcare will be expensive. When children go to kindergarten it ends at 12.00 so you might need child care for the afternoons.
Anyway that's just a brief overview.

Vertana Tue 20-May-14 20:47:51

Thanks Heather - that is really helpful. I will continue my research before accepting, but it is really helpful to hear from other families who have made the move to Switzerland.

LondonForTheWeekend Wed 21-May-14 12:11:55

Will school fees be paid? You can get an idea of rent on homegate.ch, comparis.ch is also very good for getting insurance.

Vertana Wed 21-May-14 14:24:57

Thanks - no, nothing will be paid afaik - and no relocation package. Unfortunately, unless the salary is massive, I don't think it's going to be do-able sad

stikmatix Wed 21-May-14 14:57:16

If nothing is going to be paid, then forget it!

The two biggies to take into account:
1. School fees - state schools are generally v good quality there. The system is very different to here. I think the sticking point is what would you do if your kids were not getting on in the local system especially in the later years. You'd need a salary that could cover fees for all your kids or that your employer pays (preferably a good percentage!).

2. Health insurance - the health system is insurance based so you want a really good coverage otherwise you can be out of pocket for a lot. Does the employer have a group scheme? You need to utterly scrutinise any policy for inclusions an exclusions. Health care is excellent but expensive!

Which part of Geneva would the office be in? Yes, France is totally commutable and can offer decent value - it depends in the tax situation. We lived in France but with tax exempt
salary so this wasn't an issue.

LondonForTheWeekend Wed 21-May-14 15:28:06

I would say don't forget it. I would say do a ground up: this is what we need to live here: accommodation; health insurance; (schools if applicable); replicate your weekly shop; what you want to save etc etc etc and then ASK for that. (Allow 25% for tax etc).The worst they can say is no, but if you don't ask you deffo won't get. I think it will come out between CHF150k and 200K.

BioSuisse Wed 21-May-14 19:16:53

To be perfectly blunt, DH's salary is 240K CHF. When we lived in London DH's salary was £115K. We are living in a similar house. DCs are educated locally. I think our cost of living is the same ie. after bills are all paid we are saving roughly the same amount each month. I find CH a heck of a lot more expensive than London.

Don't forget to factor in flights home. They do add up each year. Plus you will need to put aside a good 1000CHF for the speeding tickets and traffic violation fines wink

heather1 Wed 21-May-14 19:52:05

Totally agree that no relocation package is unacceptable. The minimum they should pay is
1. cost of moving your belongings out to Ch,
2. a relocation company to help you find a property, show you the area, make your apartment application and translate the contract.
3 a temporary apartment should you need it for the first month or two
4. Your health insurance

Comparis.ch is another good website to get an idea of costs also ch.ch explains laws and rules in English.

Tbh I would be wary if they won't provide 1-3 listed above.
It's true it is an expensive place to live but if it is worth it for your career and the opportunities work and family that it can bring it can be worth it.

BioSuisse Wed 21-May-14 20:33:49

Not a lot of companies are offering health insurance. DH's company doesn't pay it and none of my friends companies seem to pay it either.

KierkegaardGroupie Thu 22-May-14 06:14:25

Relocation package is minimum expectation...how weird they are not offering one?

Why would they offer a relocation package if it's a new job rather than a secondment/transfer? Am I missing something? Moving abroad without a relocation expert is perfectly doable, honestly!

Working in Geneva doesn't limit you to living in Geneva, or even that canton. Vaud is right next door and anywhere between Geneva and Lausanne is feasible. Nyon is very international, Morges is lovely with a good school. Loads of people live over the border in France and commute but this complicates permits a bit and tax as well.
Live in au pair would set you back probably about 1000 after tax and a nanny is 18-25 chf per hour before insurance, tax etc.

Rent will be much cheaper outside of the cities (Lausanne, Geneva) not too sure about a 2 bed but a decent-sized 1 bedroom flat in Morges was 1200chf a couple of years ago.

There's absolutely loads to do if snow sports aren't your thing. Water skiing, sailing, wind surfing on lac leman, tennis. State schools aren't so hot on extra-curricular activities so there are loads available out of school; ballet, circus skills, theatre clubs etc.

Lausanne feels a lot younger than Geneva and has a better "vibe". There's plenty to do in both cities though, cinema, parks, museums, shopping.

The salary offered will be quite high to reflect the living costs, a sandwich from a bakery is usually 8chf, a whole chicken in coop is often close to 20chf. Soft drinks are about 5chf, mcdonalds meal is 13chf just to give you a very rough idea. Wine is cheap!

Health insurance will be a big outgoing, will that be at all subsidised by the company?

AggressiveBunting Wed 04-Jun-14 05:52:42

In respect of whether relocation costs should be offered, this wholly depends on whether the company can hire locally or not. There's no benefit to offering relocation to an overseas candidate if they have a local candidate who is of equal employability. Most expats in HK are now on local packages, especially one who have been here more than 2 yrs. What you need to figure out are whether what you're offered is a good package in local terms (e.g. DH and I both get health insurance and travel insurance as that's offered to all local employees within our companies). Once you've establised that, to assess feasibility you need to consider whether there are additional costs you would suffer as an expat that locals dont have to pay (so, for example, do you need to pay for schools).

All that said, it seems that a lot of overseas employers will still pay at least some initial relocation costs (eg cost of a container) even if the salary is a local package. However, it's not a given.

Do you know if the other candidate is local? If not, that may give you more leverage.

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