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Moving to Geneva

Moving to Geneva

Old Oct 31st 2022, 11:27 am
  #1  
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Default Moving to Geneva

Good morning,

I can't find a Switzerland sub-forum so hoping some folks here can provide some advice. I've been recommended a job at one of the UN agencies working out of Geneva and I'm considering applying. Obviously recruitment and competition is fierce so before I go through the pain of international civil service applications I'd like to understand a bit more about Geneva and cost of living to see if it is worth it.

The job is a one-year FTA (as is common) which is fine because we wouldn't necessarily stay but we would want to make the most of living there for a year in terms of outdoor pursuits. I am engaged, partner works in finance and would probably seek employment over there or continue working with his UK employer subject to tax and agreement (other people in his company do this). The salary is about $62K USD plus a base station allowance of $4k/month which I think is tax free, but not entirely sure. I guess first and most basically - is this remotely enough to enjoy a similar QOL to the UK assuming my partner is out of work, or not even close? There is a dependent allowance but it doesn't say publicly what this involves so we'd need to be able to make it work on one salary just in case my partner couldn't immediately find employment in his field. We have a house in the UK which we would have to apply for consent to let it out, we wouldn't sell immediately, but the rent probably wouldn't cover the mortgage in its entirety so we would need to ensure we have enough coming in to support this as well.

Are there any resources I can look at which would help me understand the COL better? I've only been through Geneva for skiing so I have a pretty limited view of it. Also, language wise I speak English and have reasonable written French, but would want to top this up. It isn't a requirement for the job (English is) so would this suffice or would I struggle? Partner has reasonable German, between us could we make it work?

Thanks
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Old Oct 31st 2022, 6:24 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

Can't really help, I do have friends who live in another part of Switzerland and you really have to look at your tax situation/ take home salary. They say an apartment that's not great but basic will cost you maybe 2000+ a month but Geneva is another level and the other issue is that like everywhere, there is a rental shortage.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/hohe-lo...einen/45810126

https://www.blick.ch/wirtschaft/20-k...d17999045.html

Good luck.
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Old Oct 31st 2022, 7:46 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

The following might help to get an idea of rentals.

https://www.homegate.ch/rent/real-es.../matching-list

Your proposed salary is equivalent to around 62K Swiss Francs.

We just had a vacation in Switzerland and thought it was very expensive for most things. We rented an apartment and while the food we bought was of high quality is was much more expensive than in the US (or UK if it comes to that). We spent time hiking and found the cable cars/gondolas to anywhere eyewateringly expensive. Car parking anywhere too was expensive. Eating out we never managed to get below around 80 CHF for two of us, wine or not.

Why would you be intending to sell your property if only going out for a year or so? How would your partner be able to work - what visa would he have?
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Old Oct 31st 2022, 8:01 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

https://www.salaryexpert.com/salary/...HF%2037%20(CHF).

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Old Oct 31st 2022, 8:15 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

Originally Posted by claphamer
Good morning,

I can't find a Switzerland sub-forum so hoping some folks here can provide some advice. I've been recommended a job at one of the UN agencies working out of Geneva and I'm considering applying. Obviously recruitment and competition is fierce so before I go through the pain of international civil service applications I'd like to understand a bit more about Geneva and cost of living to see if it is worth it.

The job is a one-year FTA (as is common) which is fine because we wouldn't necessarily stay but we would want to make the most of living there for a year in terms of outdoor pursuits. I am engaged, partner works in finance and would probably seek employment over there or continue working with his UK employer subject to tax and agreement (other people in his company do this). The salary is about $62K USD plus a base station allowance of $4k/month which I think is tax free, but not entirely sure. I guess first and most basically - is this remotely enough to enjoy a similar QOL to the UK assuming my partner is out of work, or not even close? There is a dependent allowance but it doesn't say publicly what this involves so we'd need to be able to make it work on one salary just in case my partner couldn't immediately find employment in his field. We have a house in the UK which we would have to apply for consent to let it out, we wouldn't sell immediately, but the rent probably wouldn't cover the mortgage in its entirety so we would need to ensure we have enough coming in to support this as well.

Are there any resources I can look at which would help me understand the COL better? I've only been through Geneva for skiing so I have a pretty limited view of it. Also, language wise I speak English and have reasonable written French, but would want to top this up. It isn't a requirement for the job (English is) so would this suffice or would I struggle? Partner has reasonable German, between us could we make it work?

Thanks
Good evening, ex-Genevois (Brit) here, I lived in Geneva for 27 years, moved on about four years ago. I'll try to answer some of your questions, in no particular order.

Speaking German won't work in Geneva, and sorry to say neither will English in day to day cases - I realise that your workplace requires English - but outside of that workplace, you will definitely need French - and some Portuguese might help depending where you may end up living.

The UN agencies in Geneva are mostly located on Rive Droite - the right bank of the Rhone. This side of the river/lake has more available/affordable housing, but as Moses2013 says above there's a (huge) rental shortage and you may as well think to be doubling the CHF2000/month, depending on your needs. And add CHF150-200/month for a parking space if you actually manage to find an apartment.

A salary of USD62K would in my mind be a bit of a stretch for two people, let alone subsidising a mortgage back in UK. It is eye-watererly expensive living in Switzerland coming from a UK perspective.

Right, so that's the downsides covered.

It's a great city to live and work in; the outdoors stuff will have you dribbling, with bigger outdoors stuff within easy reach.

But to "lift and shift" for just one year would need some very careful consideration methinks.
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Old Oct 31st 2022, 8:59 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

I agree with BuckinghampshireBoy.

I used to live in Geneva and especially until you learn how everything works, money runs through your fingers like water.

Most UN-folk seemed to live in either Petit-Saconnex or Grand-Saconnex in a bit of an English-speaking bubble. I lived in Carouge and found it a wonderful place to live.

Every two weeks or so I took the bus (did not have a car) to Ferney-Voltaire in France and went grocery shopping at the Hypermarché just behind the border. That brought down expenses considerably. Once a month or every two months I went to either Lyon or Annecy for clothes shopping and a nice day out.

Geneva is very conveniently located for day trips to towns in Switzerland and weekends in France, Italy, etc. I lived frugally and as such could afford all of that even though I was on my first, entry-level job after uni.

When looking for a flat and trying to find out how much rent will be, keep in mind that a "3 pieces" flat does not equal a 3 bedroom flat. Every room is counted, including the kitchen. If you want a 2 bedroom flat, you are looking at a 4 pieces apartment (2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen). My French colleagues likened rents to those of Paris. My first month, I stayed at a hostel for women run by nuns (organized by my employer) and some of the women I met there were working at the UN and had been staying at the hostel for years. They liked that it was cheap, breakfast was included in the rent and prepared for them daily and that they had a large amount of disposable income which would otherwise have been spent on rent and utilities.

I loved living in Geneva, still miss it and would encourage you to try for the job. The salary does sound a bit low for a UN job, though.

None of my non-French speaking friends and aquaintances had any trouble navigating daily life with English only. German helps with bureaucracy, civil servants should (and do in my experience) speak it. Quality of life and social life outside the expat community improves with your French skills, though.

Last edited by sternchen; Oct 31st 2022 at 9:04 pm.
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Old Oct 31st 2022, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Geneva

Originally Posted by sternchen
... Carouge ...

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