Discover your dream home in Geneva, Switzerland, with the aid of the city’s Top 5 Real Estate Agents. Navigating the market is made easy with their expertise.
Geneva is a global hub for banking and international aid organisations – like hosting the headquarters of the International Red Cross.
The Swiss lakeside city has dramatic views of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain and is split in two – the old town has a population of around 200,000 and covers a small area of about six square miles. The canton – a Swiss political area – is many times larger and is home to the suburbs and industrial zones where another 500,000 people live.
Life in Geneva is the capital of the French-speaking region, with some neighbourhoods encroaching on neighbouring France.
Geneva is one of the most expensive places in the world to live.
A family of four should expect to spend £6,990 a month plus rent, while a single expat needs around £5,000 a month plus rent to maintain a lifestyle similar to that the same salary would buy in London.
Cost of living monitor Numbeo rates prices 36 per cent higher than London in Geneva. Salaries are higher, too. The average take-home pay in London is £3,210 compared to £4,735 in Geneva.
A benefit of moving to Geneva is the city’s closeness to other major European cities and tourist spots by road, rail and air.
However, moving to Switzerland as an expat is complicated. The country comprises 26 independent cantons with varying regulations impacting expats and residency. These regulations transfer to the housing market and narrow the options for expats moving to Geneva.
Besides the red tape, the other obstacle to moving to Switzerland is the price of homes and restrictions on who can buy them. Brexit has complicated this for British expats, who face different rules from European Union nationals.
Renting Or Buying A Home In Geneva
For comparison, estate agents in Geneva list their homes by cost per square metre (pm2).
The average price of an apartment is £12,085 pm2, while a house costs slightly less, averaging £11,972 pm2.
Prices are stable, dropping by 0.4 per cent in the past 12 months.
The house costs £2.5 million, while the apartment sells for £1.5 million.
Renting a studio apartment in the city centre tips £2,000 a month, dropping to £1,467 in the suburbs.
A family-sized apartment is £3,855 in the city centre and £2,510 in the suburbs.
If buying with a mortgage, expect an interest rate of 2.06 fixed for 20 years.
Where Expats Live In Geneva
Many multinational companies and financial outfits are based in Geneva, making the city a popular destination for expats.
For world cities, Geneva is relatively compact and easy to get around.
Expats tend to congregate in three neighbourhoods:
- Naughty Les Paquis sits on the lakeside and reflects the bohemian lifestyle of the neighbourhood. An arts and cafe culture permeates the area, home to the city’s red light district.
- Eaux-Vives is near the famous fountain in the lake. The neighbourhood is popular with expats with children due to a mix of old apartments and family homes. Much out-of-work life revolves around the green space afforded by the Parc de la Grange.
- Champel is not for faint-hearted expats watching the pennies, as this neighbourhood is one of the most expensive in the city. The area is green, with plenty of parks and open spaces. Champel also comes with excellent connections for commuters.
Most estate agents and property-finding websites in Switzerland cover the entire country rather than Geneva.
If you are looking to move to Geneva, the most popular websites are below
The Immoscout website is multi-lingual but has an English translation option at the bottom of the menu. The website is a property-finding tool rather than an estate agent’s listing.
Immoscsout is Switzerland’s most visited property website and has a huge section listing homes for sale and rent around Geneva.
As the name suggests, Flatfox rents apartments all over Switzerland on behalf of investors and landlords. The company is an online property finder with no local offices.
Filters allow expats to drill down into the Geneva area for a home that suits their needs.
Searching the site is in English.
Newhome is another online-only property listing site for homes for rent or sale covering Geneva.
The nifty search engine will tell you how far a home is from work or restrict data with several filters.
Immobilier is billed as the largest estate agent in French-speaking Switzerland. Based in Geneva, the property finding website boasts that it is the favoured property portal for property professionals in Geneva and the surrounding area.
Although many property sites publish news and market data, Immobilier goes further by printing on and off-line magazines each month.
The RealAdvisor service is described as an ‘aggregator of real estate information and services’ with listings, online valuations, estate agents and lenders all in a single place online. The listings include homes for sale or rent.
Buying A Home In Geneva FAQ
If you are an expat looking to buy or rent a home in Geneva, Switzerland, this FAQ section answers the most frequently asked questions about expat ownership and the city’s property market.
All foreigners need permission to buy a home and settle in Switzerland. The rule arose because the Swiss were concerned other nationalities were buying too many holiday homes and making property unaffordable for locals.
Permission is needed before purchasing property – buying a home will not qualify a foreigner for a residence permit.
Switzerland has four official languages – French, German, Italian and Romansh. German is the most widely spoken, then French and Italian. Geneva is near the Swiss-French border and is popular in the city and the surrounding area.
Only one per cent of homes in Geneva are studio flats, and the average monthly rent is £2,500.
According to the cost of living monitor Numbeo, seven of Switzerland’s top 10 most expensive world cities are in Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, Zug, Lausanne, Geneva and Berne. The list rates the city’s cost of living from the most expensive – Basel – to the cheapest – Berne, although there is little difference between them.
Switzerland is part of the European Union’s visa-free Schengen travel zone.
British expats can stay in Switzerland for 90 days in any 180 days without a visa. Expats who want to work, study or move to Switzerland to live permanently must apply for the appropriate permission. You do not have to apply for a Swiss permit if you have a residence permit from another Schengen state.
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