Known as the world’s diplomatic centre, Geneva’s breathtaking natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, and seemingly endless professional opportunities have lured many an expat. But like any destination, there are some downsides to life in one of Europe’s cosmopolitan yet tranquil cities.

Below is our list of pros and cons of moving to Geneva.

Lifestyle in Geneva

+ PRO: Spectacular natural scenery

Nestled between the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva, Geneva is a wonderland for nature-loving expats. Thanks to the variety in the natural landscape, there is plenty to see and do throughout the seasons. Winter is generally reserved for skiing, while the summer belongs to swimming, sailing and wakeboarding at Lake Geneva.

+ PRO: An abundance of green spaces

With more than 60 public parks across the city, Geneva offers expats and their families boundless space to picnic or simply enjoy some time in the great outdoors.

+ PRO: Easy to explore the rest of Western Europe

Owing to Geneva's central location, the city makes for an excellent base from which to explore Western Europe. France is a mere ten-minute drive away, while Italy and Germany are a train ride away.

- CON: Eating out is expensive

Gourmands will certainly feel at home in the Swiss cheese and chocolate capital. Geneva boasts more than 1,000 restaurants, but enjoying the world-class cuisine costs a pretty penny.

Cost of living in Geneva

- CON: Exorbitant cost of living

Mercer's 2024 cost of living survey ranks Geneva as the 4th most expensive city to live in out of the 226 cities surveyed. Everything from rent, utilities, food, transport, leisure activities and health insurance is more costly than almost anywhere else in the world. That said, the quality of life in the city is generally magnificent.

Accommodation in Geneva

+ PRO: Excellent standard of accommodation

Accommodation in Geneva is largely well-maintained and of a high standard. Some luxury apartment blocks even have sought-after amenities such as pools and gyms for residents to enjoy.

- CON: Housing supply shortage & competitive market

Housing in Geneva is in extremely short supply, making rent eye-wateringly expensive and competition for homes notoriously fierce. To add to the challenge, landlords typically conduct comprehensive credit checks and carefully review applications before choosing a tenant.

- CON: Most accommodation is unfurnished

Accommodation in Geneva is typically unfurnished, adding to the steep rental costs as expats have to buy furniture and appliances as well. Utilities and services such as rubbish disposal are frequently not included in the rent, further adding to the cost.

Working in Geneva

+ PRO: Robust job market

As an internationally recognised diplomatic and financial centre, Geneva offers plenty of job opportunities for qualified expats. The Swiss city is home to a plethora of multinational corporations and several organisations such as the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

+ PRO: High salaries

Switzerland introduced the world’s highest government-mandated minimum wage in 2020. Expats living in Europe’s second most expensive city can expect lucrative salaries that outpace the high cost of living, making for exceptional quality of life.

+ PRO: Work-life balance is a priority

Despite a formal and merit-based work culture, Geneva offers an outstanding work-life balance. The Swiss work to live rather than live to work, and expats will find there is plenty of time to enjoy the exciting lifestyle options in Geneva.

- CON: Knowledge of French is useful

Although English is spoken in business circles, the Swiss love working with people they know and building trust first. Though not essential, the ability to speak French will go a long way in the relationship-building process.

Getting around in Geneva

+ PRO: Comprehensive and reliable public transport

Public transport in Geneva provides access to every corner of the city. The buses, trams and mouettes are usually clean, reliable and efficient. Taxis are also available, but they need to be pre-booked.

+ PRO: Cycling and walking are encouraged

Geneva is a compact city with a largely pedestrianised centre that makes walking around a breeze. The city also provides well-equipped cycling infrastructure and a free bike-sharing programme.

Education and schools in Geneva

+ PRO: Fantastic selection of schools

Thanks to the large expat population, Geneva has plenty of good quality and multilingual education options. Public schools in Geneva are free and offer instruction in French, German and English at different stages of children's education. There are also private schools that offer various curricula, but these often have a religious affiliation. Most expats in Geneva on a short-term assignment prefer English-speaking international schools, allowing their children to continue in their home country's curriculum. The fees for these and private schools are, however, quite hefty.

- CON: Fierce competition for international school placements

Perhaps the only downside to the vibrant expat population in Geneva is the fierce competition for space in English-speaking international schools. Expat parents should ensure they apply as early as possible to secure a place for their children.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global

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