Geneva is a Swiss city in the French canton, located on Lake Geneva, with a medieval center and a more modern suburb. It’s the seat of many international organizations (United Nations, Red Cross and many others). Therefore, many foreigners are currently living and working in Geneva.
Its dimensions are compact. Geneva is a rather small and uncrowded place where life moves slowly. The mountains are close and you can choose between the Swiss and French ski resorts. Public transportation is generally on time and of good quality. But the prices are high.
Living in Geneva can be quite boring. With one third of the workforce living in France, it’s not surprising that Geneva is empty after 18:30. Also the stores are closed after 19:00 and on holidays.
The nightlife in Geneva is very limited. Essentially, there are some streets where you can find a few bars and some clubs that stay open late. If you’re looking for something active, you should go to nearby Lausanne, where the nightlife is much livelier. On the other hand, if you love art, painting, opera, symphonies, concerts, exhibitions and music the offer is wider.
Almost 50% of Geneva residents do not have Swiss citizenship, creating an incredible melting pot of people from all over the world. The large number of NGOs based in Geneva contributes significantly to this diversity.
The people you can meet in Geneva belong to three groups:
- Foreigners, including 50% of the expatriates working in the city, many of whom are employed by international organizations such as the United Nations or financial and banking institutions
- Super-rich, who drive a Ferrari or Bentley and drink champagne every night
- Native Genevois, many of whom work in banks, financial companies, or public offices To make friends with them, you absolutely have to know French
Geneva is almost always in the top ten most expensive cities in the world. Everything is expensive, normal things cost twice as much as in other countries. There are no Amazons in Switzerland. It is possible to use French or German Amazons, but then there are import duties that can be very high. The cost of health insurance is also very high. Life in Geneva can be summed up in one short sentence: “Highest quality of life at a very high price”.
But even worse is the real estate market: Geneva has the lowest supply of housing in all of Switzerland. This means that you will encounter exorbitant prices when looking for a flat and will have to compete with many other applicants, (including Swiss). .
Speaking of work, the main obstacle to finding work in Geneva is obtaining a work permit. There are bilateral agreements with the EU, but there is an annual quota for work permits; when this is finished, you have to wait until the next year.
The Geneva labor market is quite small and only some sectors, such as banking, offer a decent number of jobs.Your skills and qualifications will determine your chances of finding employment. If you are interested in the numerous international organizations (United Nations, etc.), you will find many vacancies. If you are willing to work as a cleaner or in healthcare (nurses, caregiver, etc.), you can also find a lot of work.
Living and working in Geneve, conclusion
If your goal is to work in the banking sector or in an NGO, this is the perfect place. However, if you want to live in a city where you can make lots of friends and be part of a community, Geneva is probably not for you.
If you are interested in moving to other Swiss cities, read the article: Moving to Switzerland
If you are interested in working in Switzerland, read the article: How to work in Switzerland