The Swiss city of Geneva has a lot going for it for British expats. Its location on the southern tip of Lake Geneva, nestled within the Alps and the Jura mountains, offers breath-taking, picturesque views and encourages a healthy, outdoor lifestyle.
It is also a global hub for finance and diplomacy, being home to many major international corporations, as well as headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross, among others. There are a lot of foreign workers in the city, making the transition straightforward, as the city is welcoming of new expatriates.
Work/life balance is often a key motivation for many British workers looking to relocate and this is an area in which Geneva can certainly deliver.
Geneva was recently awarded 8th position on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, a well-regarded index that takes into consideration key liveability factors, such as personal safety and quality of life.
The city itself is a fantastic hub for those looking to enhance and advance their careers, with plentiful international opportunities at all levels. French is the official language, but English is widely spoken, particularly in the business world, which makes integration easy. Topping up French-speaking skills is always a bonus though, as it helps with getting involved in the local community.
When not at work, many expats find that they spend more time outside than they did in the UK. This is helped by the natural landscape, but also the vast number of public parks in the city, which cover about a quarter of the city. There is a good cycling network, which helps to encourage this as a great way to commute, while also saving money.
Public transport is otherwise excellent and it’s easy to get around the city. But the city is also well located for adventures in the rest of Europe too, making it a perfect base for exploring.
While life can be pretty good in Geneva, there are a few considerations to bear in mind, especially for those moving with family. As there is such a large expat population in the city, finding a home can be tricky. There is far more demand for housing than properties available, even though the quality of homes in general is very high. Some expatriates looking for a large family home, may consider living across the border in one of the many surrounding French towns, where there is more choice.
Education is also a key consideration. There are excellent international schools available, but they are expensive and in demand. Waiting lists are long and it’s important to secure a place early. However, children will be able to learn with other expatriate children and this will help them settle into their new life. The state education system is also an option, though lessons are most likely to be taught in French, which may not be an issue for younger children. Swiss schooling is more regimented than British schooling, though, so it may take some adjustment.
The cost of living is high in the city, so expatriates will need to budget for this, though this is somewhat offset by the good jobs available. However, this does have an effect on disposable income, which is something that may impact on day-to-day life.