Pros and cons of living in Geneva

Geneva is a popular location for expatriates, offering an excellent quality of life alongside the opportunity to develop a career overseas. In the 2018 Quality of Living Ranking by Mercer, Geneva is listed an impressive 8th. This is out of the 231 global cities included, and it retains its position from the previous year. It’s the second Swiss city on the list after Zürich.
However, as with any international relocation, there are both pros and cons to moving to Geneva. It’s important to weigh up the benefits and any potential drawbacks before committing to living in the Swiss city.

Working life

Most British expatriates living in Geneva will have relocated through a work opportunity. It is a global hub for the finance and diplomacy industries, and has a large population of foreign workers.
As the city is used to expatriates, it can be quite a simple transition, which is a definite bonus. The work/life balance is good, with a strong focus on outdoor activities and spending time away from the office.
There is a language barrier to consider. While many company formalities and business dealings will be conducted in English, the official language in Geneva is French. It does help to have some understanding of the language, particularly when working the local corporations.

Family matters

If you are moving to Geneva with your family, finding a suitable home is the first consideration. The building standard of most homes is high, but it can be difficult to find the right property. It is a competitive market, for both renting and buying a house, which can push the prices up. Finding a large family home with a private garden is difficult, so start looking well in advance of your move.
In the city, many expatriates live in large apartment blocks, which can have certain limitations and regulations. Be sure to read the small print and know what community guidelines or communal fees are in place.
If you have school age children, getting on a waiting list for a good school is something that should be done sooner rather than later. There are some excellent schools to choose from, including public, private and international. Public schools are good for younger children who can pick up the language. Private and international schools are popular and there are often limited spaces for expatriate children.


Geneva is quite a luxurious place to live. The city is well looked after, public services are maintained to a high standard and it’s very safe. If you enjoy culture, eating out or hiking in the mountains, your tastes are well catered for.
The cost of living is equally high. Mercer also compiles Cost of Living Rankings, and in 2018 Geneva comes 11th out of the 209 cities included. Both Zürich and Bern also make the top 10 cities for cost of living.
If you’re considering a move to Geneva for work, see our city guide to find out more about what the Swiss region has to offer. You can also find out more about how Cadogan Tate can help manage the logistics of moving to Switzerland in our country guide.