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Advice on living in Geneva

(23 Posts)
katie789 Wed 06-May-09 22:02:21

Hi, I'm moving to Geneva (next week!) with my 12 week old dd, and DH.
If anyone has lived there, or is living there, and can answer some questions for me I'd be very grateful!

First, baby shopping - do they have any equivalent of John Lewis-type department store for baby furniture. In cost and quality?
I'll be needing to buy a full-size cot, and a highchair, within two months of arriving. Should I buy them in the UK before we go, and have them shipped with my stuff, or is there plenty of choice to buy things like that there? Will a wooden cot be more expensive in Switzerland?

Also, does anyone know if Swiss baby vaccinations follow the same schedule they do here? My dd will be due her four-month jabs shortly after we arrive.

Are pampers more expensive there? And other baby toiletries? Is there anything I can't get, or is difficult to find, that I should stock up on before I leave? (ie. infant calpol, infacol/gripe water, etc)

And any general advice on living in Geneva with a baby? I'm hoping to tap into some baby groups in the expat community (don't speak much French, yet), but that could take a while...

Thank you!

Niftyblue Wed 06-May-09 22:27:03

Live in Geneva

We do have places you can buy furniture from
Conforama,MPark ,Ikea to name a few you might be able to find them on the web for prices

But don`t know if its more expensive here or in the U.K

Get calpol before you come we do have something a bit similar BUT I prefer the Calpol

Get the "Know it all parents" book its great for baby groups meeting other mums and what to do while you are here in english

The vaccinations are different BUT they will stamp your red book and keep it updated

Sorry I can`t post for long BUT I will be back to check
And If I can help I will

P.S its getting warm wink

katie789 Fri 08-May-09 09:30:33

Hi Niftyblue

Thanks for the advice and shop names; I guess we can find more in nearby parts of France too...

Our last posting was in a very remote war-torn African country so I really shouldn't be worrying about availability of goods in Switzerland!

Good tip about Calpol too. Is the book you recommended a local publication?

And can you buy the same pampers brands? They're on offer locally, so I wondered if I should stock up on cheap packs before we leave next week.

Looking forward to some sunshine... grin

Niftyblue Fri 08-May-09 16:29:17

You can buy the same pampers here
But if you can stock up then do....because they will be cheaper in The U.k

I got my "know it all" here in Geneva

Its Great could`nt of coped without it

oxocube Fri 08-May-09 19:49:30

Geneva is relatively easy to live in and everything is available that you might need, even though you may have to switch brands. Baby docs/ gynaes are great and v modern although not pro home birth if you choose to have another baby there. Pharmacists are v knowledgeable and almost like doctors. I lived in Lausanne for 4 years and fond it to be very family friendly. Both Lausanne and Geneva have a huge expat community so lack of French will not be a problem at all.

Weather is pretty nice too smile

herbgarden Sun 10-May-09 13:39:27

I'd be interested to know how you get on .
My DH is potentially being posted abroad with work and this is one of the places we could land up.

I have a 15 week old Dd and a nearly 3 year old son. My DH is due a move internally in the next six months so we don't know when for sure nor exactly where. I'm keen to do Geneva over the other places on the list so let me know !!

Maybe post on here?

oxocube Sun 10-May-09 18:04:10

herbgarden, out of interest, what are the other places on the list?

herbgarden Sun 10-May-09 20:42:32

Um, not really sure yet. The way it works is that we give an indication to DH's work as to whether we would commit to go. DH needs to find a suitable role to move to so where we go depends on that. I'm not entirely sure yet where all the offices are located but it would be Europe. DH says it would be places like Brussels, Oslo, Barcelona, Milan Geneva etc etc. I've got a DD 15 weeks and nearly 3 year old so I've said I'd rather go now than DS get into school in 2010 and be there for 2 years, go and then come back for another couple of years before sec school starts. I'd rather he just start school abroad and be done with it. DH's job roles are usually rotated every 2.5/3 years so that's how it works !

Why do you ask, do you have some good advice ?!

I'm more up for it now than previously as we now have our kids (not planning any more), kids are young. Only issue is that the type of work I do (legal) means that I can only practice in the UK. I have a part time job and bring in a fairly decent income so chances are I won't get a role. I live near family so have lots of support there and see friends regularly. I'm sure they won't keep away if we're in Europe and luckily it's cheap enough to come home but I'd need to find something to do part time I think and find a nursery (prob part time ) for DD. I'm pretty sociable generally so hope I could make some sort of life for myself. I've travelled a lot but have never done this sort of thing....

MmeLindt Mon 11-May-09 11:42:38

I live on the outskirts of Geneva. I agree with Nifty about the Know it all passport, it is great.

You will find that Switzerland is a good bit more expensive than UK, particularly now the pound is so weak. So, do stock up as much as possible.

Saying that, that is only really an issue if your DH is earning Sterling, if he is paid in Swiss francs, then it is not quite so bad. I do order quite a bit online from UK, although many shops will not post to Switzerland (due to the tax problems). I have to get it sent to my parents.

JohnLewis type of shop, well there is Manor and Globus, but they don't have furniture. Similar to JL for clothes, toys etc.

You can buy in France but there is a limit to importing goods and you might have to pay tax on anything you bring into the country. The Swiss are very big on protecting the Swiss economy.

katie789 Mon 11-May-09 19:54:59

Herb Garden - Geneva sounded pretty appealing to me as a child-friendly posting, so I will let you know how I get on. I'm a journalist, so more flexible for work - although taking this year out to be with dd.

Mme Lindt, thanks for the info. Fortunately we're exempt from tax and vat on fuel, goods etc, although unfortunately dh is paid in sterling. I've heard that many expats living in Geneva do all of their shopping in France - French supermarkets being much cheaper. Is that your experience?

Good tip about online shopping though.

I've heard bad things about the cost/availability on infant childcare. I won't go back to work until dd is 1, and even then will hopefully do some work from home, but will still need a nursery or childminder, which I imagine will cancel out one of our wages!

katie789 Mon 11-May-09 19:56:32

Ps - what's the weather like in May? smile

oxocube Mon 11-May-09 19:57:14

Quality of food is much better/ more variety in France. We often shopped there

Niftyblue Mon 11-May-09 21:15:51

We shop in france we do find it cheaper still even with euro rate!

Today it was 25/26 so lovely

All the best with move smile

letswiggle Tue 12-May-09 08:12:49

I used to live in Geneva and I thought it was a really lovely place to be with kids. Everywhere is perfectly clean, the parking is very organised, every restaurant has a kids menu and a high chair.

Go to Nyon swimming pool as soon as it opens for the summer - it's really beautiful, like a 5-star hotel setting, but only costs a couple of pounds to get in, and you can get a season ticket. There was lots on offer in terms of baby swimming, baby music (an American women called Lisa used to run Kindermusik, though I can't remember where). There was gymboree in Chambesy for art and music classes too. It's true that babysitters are expensive - there are loads of nice filippino ladies around who charge 20francs/hr or 25/hr for cleaning. But nurseries will take kids from aged 2 for 1/2 days. Start looking early as they fill up.

Everything depends on where you live really as you'll find plenty to do locally, but Knowitall has everything listed.

Divonne market on Saturdays is lovely for food shopping.

The very best thing about Geneva though is the Alps and the Jura! Summer and winter you can head uphill every weekend for lovely days out. Lots of ski resorts have reasonably priced all day creche if you reserve in time. Sledging above St Cergue on the Jura is fantastic. Riding on skilifts and little mountain trains is loads of fun in summer for little ones. We had our best holiday ever in the Berner Oberland doing just that for a couple of weeks.

One important tip: as soon as you arrive, make an appointment with a gynaecologist. Sounds ridiculous, but all their patient lists are full, so they give you an appointment for 6-months ahead. Once you've been once you're on the list, but if you're not on anyone's list and have a problem/get pregnant, then you can't find anyone to see (GPs don't do gynaecology!). Mine was Nancy Newsom, who was great, but just make an appointment anywhere just in case.

Enjoy it! Don't forget to get winter tyres for your car before October. Remember if it's foggy in town in winter, just go up a mountain and you always find sunshine!

MmeLindt Tue 12-May-09 10:24:06

We are right next to the French border so I do go there sometimes. Not everything is cheaper there, and you do have to watch your limits for the meat and dairy when you cross back into CH. You are only allowed 500g meat per person and since my DC are in school I am normally alone when I go shopping.

I have heard that child care is very difficult to find and expensive but have no personal experience as our DC were just starting school when we moved.

Will head over to Nyon sometime and try the pool (on the other side of the lake from us though, is it anywhere near the lake? Could we get a boat over)

The weather is a bit colder today, I put the heating off last week so it is a bit chilly. Will put the fire on later if need be. Most houses/flats in CH have open fires.

I can highly recommend Dr Andrade in Carouge if you are looking for a gynae, he is lovely and speaks very good English.

Niftyblue Tue 12-May-09 11:12:32

Nyon is on the lake and yes you can get the boat there
The pools are probarly about 10 mins walk from the port

it has loads of parking outside the pool too

letswiggle Tue 12-May-09 15:25:14

There is Ikea 1/2 way between Geneva and Lausanne - same sort of cheap price as everywhere else. There's also a shop a bit like mothercare called Orchestra (have a look in the Chavannes Centre shopping centre by the Coppet motorway exit), they sell cots and highchairs. There's another place I went to in France for that kind of thing though, but the name and directions escape me for the mo. If it comes back to me I'll post again.

letswiggle Tue 12-May-09 15:27:37

I remembered! Bebe9 opposite Val Thoiry shopping centre. A whole floor of bedroom furniture, and masses of other stuff like baby back packs etc. If I remember right, you exit the main road as though to go to Val Thoiry shopping centre, but go left at the roundabout instead and under the elevated section of the road, and bebe9 is just on the other side.

katie789 Tue 12-May-09 20:35:56

This is all great - especially details of baby shops, thanks for that letswiggle. I can't wait to get to Nyon swimming pool (if I can find swim nappies out there - I forgot to buy any on my last shop today, and we fly on Thurs!) too.

Also hoping our new house has a cosy fire - I've only seen the place on a webcam so far...

A rather random question, but dd has bad ezcema - anyone recommend a Swiss/French brand of sensitive non-bio washing powder & softener? No worries if not!

PS - Thanks for gynae tips too - I'll definitely get myself signed up to one straight away. My dd will be due her four-month vaccinations soon after we arrive though, so need to get her sorted first.

Niftyblue Tue 12-May-09 23:14:31

All the best for Thursday smile

MmeLindt Wed 13-May-09 07:49:57

Good luck tomorrow.

No idea on the washing powder, but the Swiss are quite good with Bio/environmental issues so I don't think that you will have a problem with that.

Do you know the Expat Moms in Switzerland group on Yahoo? They are good for questions like that.

letswiggle Wed 13-May-09 07:55:19

they will probably have swim nappies at the pool for you - that's the kind of nice thing you always find in Switzerland.

I agree that swiss are hot on bio this and that, and also homeopathy, herbalism. You shoudl get plenty of help in any chemist.

Another great thing I forgot to mention by the way, is the hot spa pools in mountain resorts. Best for winter: try Ovronnaz. Fantastic swimming in 3 37oC pools with snowy mountain view, and good value self-service restaurant for lunch. Always remember to check that kids are welcome as a few places have a no-under-4s policy. (Not Ovronnaz)

Wuxiapian Fri 10-Jul-09 00:43:47

Just wondering if Katie's still about...

Would love to know how things are going.

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