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Anybody Live In Geneva?

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Mods, could you leave this on the main page for a day or so before moving? Ta

Anyone with experience of living in Geneva? Have a job coming up which would involve relocating there - but I don;t know enough about Geneva to begin to assess. Any comments or insights welcome.

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Did a stint at the international headquarters of Nemesis there during the 1960's.

Was a Special agent with extraordinary powers, thanks to a Tibetan monk following a plane crash. What do you want to know?

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Did a stint at the international headquarters of Nemesis there during the 1960's.

Was a Special agent with extraordinary powers, thanks to a Tibetan monk following a plane crash. What do you want to know?

what the housing stock is like (after hong kong, it's an issue!), what the climate is like (are you frozen to death for 3 months like new york, or is is a decent winter with snow but enjoyable), cost of living after tax, crime, racism against brits, schooling, culture.....

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Did a stint at the international headquarters of Nemesis there during the 1960's.

Was a Special agent with extraordinary powers, thanks to a Tibetan monk following a plane crash. What do you want to know?

Condolences regarding Sharron.

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Have you ever been or know people there? To speak the obvious house prices are really high. Many big corporations and the UN paying good salaries. The people I know tend to live in France and commute. Weird city to me. City centre was like Stockholm and the urban area like a bizarre mix. Anyway. Expensive sums it up.

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Worked there on and off for about 8 years.

Winters=fairly cold, but not geneally frigid like say, Chicago which IMHO is bl**dy frigid.

Summers are quite hot, thunderstorms like you've never seen every day at the end of August.

Housing in the Centre can be quite nice but expensive - e.g. old town.

Suburbs like Meyrin are a little soul-destroying. They look like council estates, but they are Swiss, so you see a little graffiti and a little litter but on the whole ok.

Life in general is very very conservative. (Boring?)

The Swiss police will be called by your neighbours if you flush the bog after 10pm (no joke it happened to a friend).

Edit to add i'd echo SNAFU's comment about living in France and commuting. It's cost effective.

Edited by weaker

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Worked there on and off for about 8 years.

Winters=fairly cold, but not geneally frigid like say, Chicago which IMHO is bl**dy frigid.

Summers are quite hot, thunderstorms like you've never seen every day at the end of August.

Housing in the Centre can be quite nice but expensive - e.g. old town.

Suburbs like Meyrin are a little soul-destroying. They look like council estates, but they are Swiss, so you see a little graffiti and a little litter but on the whole ok.

Life in general is very very conservative. (Boring?)

The Swiss police will be called by your neighbours if you flush the bog after 10pm (no joke it happened to a friend).

Edit to add i'd echo SNAFU's comment about living in France and commuting. It's cost effective.

But don't you get stung by french income tax if you are resident there?!

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I don't often have reason to go to Geneva but I spend quite a lot of time in Zurich, Berne and Basel. I know that's a way from Geneva, so I'll just give you my general observations on the country as a whole.

Things that put me off:

  • Very conservative
  • Sky high cost of living - it truly is eye watering. Don't just assume that an apparently large remuneration in Swiss Francs is going to cover everything.
  • Overuse of concrete just about everywhere you go. Half the damn country looks like it was thrown together out of modular concrete blocks. The other half is stunning.
  • Insanely high house prices and a disaffected younger generation (as a result? I don't know, I assume that to be the case).

Things I like:

  • The weather is waaaay better than the UK, even in winter
  • Beautiful scenery is only a short drive away if you're not already looking at it out of the office window
  • People are friendly, although they probably won't accept you as one of theirs (not just me, I've heard this from a lot of foreigners)
  • The public transport is great. I speak as someone who avoids public transport at all costs in the UK. I love it there.
  • The country seems to be generally well looked after.
  • It feels like a "cohesive society" for the most part, despite what I said about the disaffected younger generation.
  • They make time for socialising, eg, getting out of the office for lunch and getting together in the evenings

Obviously thats only my experience, and someone else could have seen the complete opposite.

All in all I would sum it up as a very beautiful country, which I "like", but I wouldn't want to live there, primarily on account of the fact that my attitude to life is "whatever floats your boat", which doesn't really fit with their conservatism. Wrong side of the country for you I know, but personally I much prefer Southern Germany, which seems to have the same pros but less of the cons.

I'd also agree with the suggestion to move to France and commute.

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I have lived and worked in the central Switzerland area (Obwalden, Nidwalden, Luzern, Zug, Uri and Schweiz) for a few years now.

This is much more conservative than the metropolitan Kanton of Geneva.

I believe that as a citizen of "old" Europe (yes the swiss make a distinction), you will get a "B" residence pass (Ausweis pass). This runs for 5 years and means you cannot live outside of the Kanton where you work without special permission (ie you meet a swiss person and you wish to live with them in another Kanton). After the 5 years you get a C pass which gives you all of the rights of a Swiss citizen without the right to vote. I think you need this to own property.

Individually I think that the Swiss are the salt of the earth...as a group they are very similar to the Brits of 40 - 50 years ago (with the good and bad aspects). I admire and envy their fierce independence greatly.

I think that you can keep your GB reg car for just one year in CH...you will need special insurance from the UK and as such it will need the UK MoT and road tax. After the year you will need to convert to swiss plates...the swiss MoT (MFK) is much more severe (eg NO rust) but you will have a feel for that by the time you need to change the plates.

If it helps here are my answers to your questions:

what the housing stock is like? Very expensive. The houses are far superior to the UK and there appears to be less regard to objections of the neighbors when building. If you live in a communal flat there are rules upon rules (the swiss like lots of rules). Many CH landlords will only rent to CH passport holders.

what the climate is like? White winters...but usually a green Xmas. Winter tyres needed from Oct to Easter but mostly Jan to March. I live at 500 meters OSL and expect temperatures of -5C as routine. Summers are very hot, expect 30C as routine.

cost of living after tax? Very high. Expect rents of £1500 pm plus for an average size flat, £15 for a small chicken or piece of steak. Expect to pay 1.5 times more than the UK for a car but petrol is cheaper here. Expect £150 pm for internet with cable etc. Fruit and Veg are seasonal, good quality and cheap when in season. Do not expect to see them in the shops when out of season.

I pay about 10% tax...this is paid in the Kanton where you live. The Kanton will not over spend...so if they have "too much money", the taxes for the next year are lowered!!!!! So not like the UK.

Private health care is compulsory...and works out to be roughly the same as NI if your company give you a deal. Needless to say the hospitals are superb, they have a menu for the meals which are of restaurant standards. The lowest level of cover will require you to go to your GP first before the hospital...most Swiss go straight to the specialist. If you need an Op then it is a matter of waiting days, you will be in hospital for as long as is required (no bed crisis). You must go to the local Kanton Hospital.

The insurance that you pay at work will cover you if you are made redundant or RESIGN. After 3 months from resignation I would have been entitled to 80% of my salary until I found another job. This is immediate if made redundant.

crime? Very low to non-existant, all the Swiss citizens see themselves as the police. I no longer lock the car, front door or padlock the bike when I leave it in public. Geneva may be different but no where near as much crime as the UK.

racism against brits? Lots of racism but not against the Brits. They dislike all of their neighbors for various reasons (Napoleon, WW2 etc). Since we have been at war with these countries in the past, perhaps the Swiss like of the Brits is to do with the saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend". We also pretty much invented their winter sports tourism and since we were a sea power, we never got into a scrap with the Swiss in the past.

To be fair the Swiss do not really like each other, they owe their allegiances to their family first, then village, then Kanton....Switzerland comes last and that is it!

They all do military service up to age 40...and all get an assault rifle to keep for life! They have to practice shooting yearly and as such the countryside rings to the sound of gunfire on a nice day.

schooling? The kids will have to learn the lingo, and so will you. Not as much room for creativity as in the UK...the teachers needs seem to be put above the kids. Example, if the teacher is ill and off of school the kids are sent home. The parents have to deal with it.

culture? I think that Geneva will be more cosmopolitan than where I live, so similar to any other EU city.

Hope this helps...good luck with the move.

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I don't often have reason to go to Geneva but I spend quite a lot of time in Zurich, Berne and Basel. I know that's a way from Geneva, so I'll just give you my general observations on the country as a whole.

Things that put me off:

  • Very conservative
  • Sky high cost of living - it truly is eye watering. Don't just assume that an apparently large remuneration in Swiss Francs is going to cover everything.
  • Overuse of concrete just about everywhere you go. Half the damn country looks like it was thrown together out of modular concrete blocks. The other half is stunning.
  • Insanely high house prices and a disaffected younger generation (as a result? I don't know, I assume that to be the case).

Things I like:

  • The weather is waaaay better than the UK, even in winter
  • Beautiful scenery is only a short drive away if you're not already looking at it out of the office window
  • People are friendly, although they probably won't accept you as one of theirs (not just me, I've heard this from a lot of foreigners)
  • The public transport is great. I speak as someone who avoids public transport at all costs in the UK. I love it there.
  • The country seems to be generally well looked after.
  • It feels like a "cohesive society" for the most part, despite what I said about the disaffected younger generation.
  • They make time for socialising, eg, getting out of the office for lunch and getting together in the evenings

Obviously thats only my experience, and someone else could have seen the complete opposite.

All in all I would sum it up as a very beautiful country, which I "like", but I wouldn't want to live there, primarily on account of the fact that my attitude to life is "whatever floats your boat", which doesn't really fit with their conservatism. Wrong side of the country for you I know, but personally I much prefer Southern Germany, which seems to have the same pros but less of the cons.

I'd also agree with the suggestion to move to France and commute.

I agree with all these comments.

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I lived on the French side of the border in the Haute-Savoie. Things have changed a bit since I worked in GVA. For example, from this year if you live in France and work in CH you will have to pay French social security which takes 8% off your wages. I used to pay 150 eur/month but it would now cost me around 1000 eur/month for the same cover. Renting a flat in GVA is very very expensive and very very difficult. You may pay 3000CHF for an apartment, the prices are forced up by people getting their accommodation paid for by their companies (UN, Ex-pats etc.). On the French side of the border it is cheaper, 1000 eur/month for a 1 bed flat, 1500 eur/month for a 2 bedder. But agency fees are expensive in France - 1 to 2 months rent. They probably won't rent to an outsider without a guarantee from your company that rent will be paid. Landlords typically want 3 years salary records as well as other guarantees. You can rent rooms. Don't sublet in GVA, it is very common and most are illegal and you can be booted out without notice.

The town is Boring - very provincial, not much happening unless you get into an ex-pat group with all that entails. Restaurants are generally poor (the Swiss are not cooks) and expensive however the quality of food in supermarkets is generally better than in France.

The traffic is horrible but there is no parking anyway unless you have a space. If you envisage driving to work, get a space. If you envisage driving to work, think about where you will live. You basically can't cross Geneva easily in rush hours.

Work: Watch out for timekeeping. The Swiss are very hot on quality and not very flexible.

If you are into sports and hook up with the right groups - probably ex-pat - then there is climbing and mountain biking on the Saleve and Jura - right at your doorstep. Skiing in the winter is good but it can be very busy with Swiss weekenders unless you seek out the small resorts the Swiss don't visit (Pras de Lys for example). Chamonix is an hour's drive. I used to ski tour in the morning before work (watch out, the Swiss are sticklers for time keeping). Still what can be better than seeing sunrise on the Jura and skiing down this before work?

andey-1.jpg

or this

pano.jpg

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Thanks all, that's really useful information. Sounds like the high housing costs are veru similar to hong kong (I pay 2,500 GBP for a small three bedroom flat in a not very posh tower. I have friends who pay 5000GBP for a two bedroom in central!). Likewise with food, we shop only in international supermarkets here due to the concerns of food chains from China, so it's pretty expensive. We'd never look to buy in HK, same with Geneva, as the prices just seem mental to me.

If it comes off, I think I'd look to live in town within walking/cycling distance to work. I've done that now in three cities over 5 years and it makes an amazing difference to quality of life.

I'll let you all know if it comes off, and give my own thoughts. Any advice on what I should try to get included in any relocation package?

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. Any advice on what I should try to get included in any relocation package?

Flat search and guarantor for rent, a parking space.

and

Health cover, good pension package.

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Flat search and guarantor for rent, a parking space.

and

Health cover, good pension package.

cheers. talks continuing - will let you know how it turns.

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