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Geneva anyone?

(19 Posts)
Romann Thu 31-Jan-13 21:27:40

We lived there for 3 years with little children and loved it. Yes to living on the right side of the lake. We both worked at UN and lived in Coppet, which is one of the outlying villages. It's all quite small and the centre of Geneva is pretty but completely boring, so there's no downside to living out of town. Getting around by car is fine apart from going over the bridge at rush hour. Wherever you live you are in the Alps, which is wonderful - you are in the mountains every weekend all year round. The view of Mont Blanc on the way to work in the morning made me go into work with a smile every single day. Great place to have a baby too - I had the most basic level of insurance, but still got an aromatherapist and reflexologist! I stayed in hospital for a week despite having had a totally uncomplicated delivery and having a 2 year old at home. It was so cushy and spa like it just seemed too much trouble to check out any earlier.

NanoNinja Wed 30-Jan-13 23:35:09

Been in gva for three years - do pm me if you want more info.


- we pay just over 4k for a 3 bed flat (110 sq m) in a 'nice' area, about 20 min from centre. Gong further out, we could get more or our money, but balance is right for us at the moment

- def agree that best to work and live on same Side of the lake

- afaik the international schools tend to be heavily oversubscribed (and expensive). I only have a baby, and would want a local school, so don't know too much about this.

- I arrived with no French. Better now, but a long way to go until omfortable. People do live here for years with only the most rudimentary knowledge - I always swore I would not be one of them, but am heading in that direction!

- one thing I would agree on is that children in gva are privileged - not always in the best way though (hence my wanting to avoid international schools!)

smellsofsick Sat 26-Jan-13 19:23:07

Hi Jump, moved here four months ago with DH and a couple of DCs. PM me if you want any info from a newbie perspective.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 23:37:32

Marking place to come back tomorrow when not so tired.

Will say that CHF 130k ish is do-able but imo only if you live in France. 5k - 6k for a house is absolutely normal, and even a flat in Geneva will be at least 3k, in an ok area of town more likely 4k.

Most important thing is to look which side of the Mont Blanc bridge the office is in, and go for a house on the same side. Sounds ridiculous, but was the best piece of advice we got. The queues of traffic across the bridge are ridiculous.

Would you want the DC to go into local schools eventually?

MarasmeAbsolu Mon 14-Jan-13 19:47:05

it s looooovvvvveeely smile
I am never homesick (been in uk 13 years) but it just takes a landing in GVA, the view of the Jura and seeing the jet d'eau for wanting to move back straightaway.
Alas, no jobs for us there, at least not in our current careers sad

You should go if you can!! (will be fine on 130k CHF!)

JumpHerWho Mon 14-Jan-13 19:29:59

Meant to say - DH wouldn't consider working somewhere less fast paced than London, but is also sick of the place and has a bit fallen in love with Geneva. I haven't been but am up for it smile

JumpHerWho Mon 14-Jan-13 19:28:05

Thanks so so much. It's not diplomatic etc work, and yes would be hopefully 130k in Swissish grin house rents sound scary! Doubt DH's employer would pay much beyond relocation. Will look into all the options and areas mentioned, thanks for the detailed post lastoneout, really appreciate all taking the time to post.

It's a kind of a spur of the moment idea, we travelled a lot together before we got married and fancy a change, and DH wouldn't consider working somewhere less fast paced than London iyswim. Seems a good time to have a go - if it doesn't work out we can return here before kids are school age.

childrensbook Mon 14-Jan-13 13:35:21

OP, it's not quite clear from your post whether the double 47k you refer to, is in british pounds or swiss francs.

If it's 90k GBP (eg approx 130k CHF) then that sounds possibly do-able. You could possibly do some reasearch around salary levels in geneve / suisse.

If it's 90k in Swiss francs (eg approx GBP60k) then seems a bit different given the very high cost of living.

I guess it all depends what your employer might pay / what you would be paying for yourself, so how much of this income would be left for you at the end of the day.

What you really need is to speak to (or PM via this forum) a range of expats who have made the transfer in a company and can give you insights into the different types of packages they have gone under, and thus get a flavour of standards of living and what's possible / what's not and compare to your situation.

Be careful reading too much into anyone who's in geneva via international organisations or diplomatic as their packages are so different and they mee6t few costs themselves whilst here (not the housing, petrol, education, trips outside Switzerland, utilities, medical etc) so i think their insight into the cost of living in switzerland is quite limited - in terms of how you actually to do it out of your own salary and what it really means! Especially if you're considering putting down roots for the longer term, buying property etc.

MistyB Mon 14-Jan-13 12:11:46

There are lots of houses too. Have all look on and you can see what is available, in what area. Geneva is a small city so you can live in the middle of farmland with no close neighbours but yet be 30 minutes from the centre of town (not at rush hour!!)

lastonetoleaveturnoutthelights Mon 14-Jan-13 12:09:48

Typical rents for a 4 bedroom house with garden in Geneva, about 15 minutes drive from the centre, as paid by me and many friends here, are between 5,000 to 6,000 CHF per month. Many 4-bed apartments are not dissimilar costs.

It helps if you can negotiate an expat package with your DH's employers to contribute to the rent of course!

MarasmeAbsolu Mon 14-Jan-13 12:04:46

A house In geneva would be very very VERY expensive. It is obscenely costly to live in the city.
It is worth checking the expat forums for surrounding frenchtowns with a good expat network. This way, you get affordable accomodation with the resources to learn the language and build a social circle.

Also: there is a dire lack of good English teachers in french towns nearby. This is what DH will do if we ever return!

lastonetoleaveturnoutthelights Mon 14-Jan-13 12:02:40

I've namechanged for privacy, but have been in Geneva for 4 years, two kids, me and DH work full time in international sector, I've also been a SAHM here.

We've lived in a few places (countries/continents) including London (we're British). Here we've found a superb quality of life that I don't think could be improved, and the frequent flights back to family in the UK with budget airlines are important too. I think you'll be fine with the salary you mentioned and your plans. You can get by with no French, and you'll soon pick up day-to-day conversational French (useful for doctor's appointments).

Switzerland is not France, so don't be scared by that thread on raising young children in France! Any child being raised in Geneva is incredibly privileged, IMHO. You can't do much better.

We have a house in a Swiss village 15 minutes drive from the centre. Houses are quite possible, check out areas like Grand Saconnex, Genthod, Collex, Versoix, Ornex and all the villages along Route de Chancy. I know more families that live in houses with gardens than in apartments; it's quite doable. I wouldn't personally live in France unless it was one of the few places that are closer to my office in the centre (eg. Ferney Voltaire, Versonnex and around) Geneva can be very congested during rush hour, and I want to cut down on commute time as I have two young children at home.

I can't write too much right now, but here are some links for you to check out. I'll be back later with some more info if you need.

FAMILY INFO (good forums, classifieds section)
(useful info about pregnancy, having preschoolers and childcare in geneva) (really good info on what's on, schools etc)


World Radio Switzerland (WRS) is the English radio station of Switzerland and quite Geneva-centric (until recently was a public broadcaster). They have a lot of podcasts about expat life / raising children as expats which are v. good. Classifieds ads quite good, for goods, housing, services, staff.

And another private ENglish-language radio station/news website here:

Good news/features blog, quite business orientated:

JumpHerWho Mon 14-Jan-13 11:15:43

Binfull just like MN then, re getting flamed for questioning income issues if you earn over 20p wink

JumpHerWho Mon 14-Jan-13 11:13:56

Wow, thanks so much, lots of useful info and stuff to discuss with DH thanks

One of our concerns atm is that it looks like everyone living actually in the city pretty much live in apartments. We have a house here in UK and would be quite weird to go back to flat living, but maybe it would be ok? Anyone know if a house is just out of the realms of possibility without being over the border? One baby and another planned soon.

As I don't speak French and wouldn't be working at first, I thought if we can start off in Geneva itself where I can learn the lingo over a few years, then once I have some French I can work (teacher) once kids at school. Then moving out of the city, possibly to France would be an option and I wouldn't feel so isolated not speaking the language.

I was a bit worried reading the thread about France being a rubbish place to have small children - living in the UK there are just so many lovely opportunities for toddlers.

Binfullofresolutionsfor10thjan Sun 13-Jan-13 23:57:04

Basel here! I have an old work colleague who move to Geneva. They ended up living in France and she commutes in on a moped everyday.

If I recall there is a border agreement on that side between France and Geneva so that you don't have the French tax restrictions and are able to enjoy cheaper accommodation.

Try searching the English Forum Switzerland website. But please please don't post a " can I survive on 120,000chf" kind of thread, because for some reason, they flame you. smile

It is a more expensive part of Switzerland, and the rest is eye watering enough! However you can enjoy the cross border benefits of shopping at Carrefour, etc.

MarasmeAbsolu Sun 13-Jan-13 19:19:15

An absolutely lovely area (great for outdoor sports, skiing, water sports etc), but I agree with other posters re. costs.
Living in France and commuting is the most affordable option if you can. Same goes for food shopping.

You can get by with no/little French in Geneva, but would struggle in surrounding areas whether Switzerland or France. A great time to learn though!

MistyB Sun 13-Jan-13 19:07:09

Costs are high and they really depend on where exactly you would choose to live, rental costs over the border in France can be 60% of that in Switzerland and rent in Vaud (parts of which are commutable to Geneva) are lower than in Geneva but where you live may well be determined by your permit / contract and the agreement between your employer and the tax authorities.

Retail costs are often 40 to 60% higher than in the UK so your doubled salary will be needed!!

Speaking French is not an absolute requirement for day to day living as there are lots of non French speaking residents due to the UN and other international organisations being resident here since the 1920's however, some French is useful to sort out doctors appointments, going to the post office etc and making your daily life less stressful. Also, if you plan to be here for the medium to long term and you plan to send your child to local school (though there are plenty of international options), speaking French will make that a lot easier.

whiteflame Sat 12-Jan-13 13:55:19

We're in Zurich, just thought I would say hello JumperHerWho! You're right not to be completely fooled by the high salaries here - everything is very expensive, especially food and trains. Saying that, I have found we are better off than we have been in the other countries we've lived in. In Zurich a salary of about 90,000 would I think be doable, if you live not too close to the city and don't need childcare. But I'm unsure about Geneva, because prices and income tax vary according to Kanton. Probably someone will be along soon to give better advice.

One thing to consider if you live further out from the city, is that train fares are very expensive. If you live far enough out then a General-Abo (train/bus/tram/ship pass for the year) is a good option at about 3,350 CHF. Sometimes work places will contribute to this, sometimes not.

JumpHerWho Sat 12-Jan-13 11:32:57

DH is considering taking a job in Geneva. We're currently scraping by with me as a SAHM - he earns 47k here. Would be looking at double that in Geneva but costs appear high.

Any MNers in or have lived in Geneva? Any tips? I don't speak any French, DH speaks a bit, we have a 1yo.

Cheers thanks

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