Why Move to Geneva, Switzerland?

Geneva is a small town with a large reach. Even though it's smaller than Rochester, New York, for 500 years it has played an outsized role in European and world affairs. From an isolated Celtic settlement, it’s grown into the crossroads of Europe ‒ a center of finance, diplomacy, and culture.

As a result, the city has become one of the most prosperous, charming, and multicultural in the world. Two-thirds of the city’s residents are foreign citizens or hold foreign passports. It's a place where Portuguese, French, Italians, Spanish, Russians, Brazilians, Turks, Slavs, Indians, and Americans live and work side-by-side.

Living in Geneva is a chance to experience traditions and perspectives residents might never have otherwise encountered in their everyday lives ‒ a place where families, career professionals, and recent graduates can thrive. A move to Geneva is an opportunity to enjoy an active and well-to-do lifestyle thanks to its:

High-Income Economy

With no natural resources to speak of, Geneva’s wealth is based on its diverse workforce, high-grade infrastructure, and free-market policies, which has attracted substantial investment from more than 900 foreign and Swiss multinationals, including over 120 banks.

Geneva has one of the most highly developed financial sectors in the world, behind only New York, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. It’s also a global leader in commodity trading (oil, grain, cotton, sugar, steel, coffee, etc.) and watchmaking. The region is home to thousands of precision engineers working for companies such as Rolex, Richemont, and Piaget.

Research and manufacturing are growing as well, with chemistry, life science, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, and information technology companies expanding rapidly in recent years.

The booming economy has created a huge demand for highly skilled, highly trained workers, especially in the financial and trading sectors, many of whom come from outside Switzerland. Forty percent of the city’s workforce is international and with government programs encouraging foreign companies to move into the area, it will doubtless grow even more diverse as time goes on.

Geneva is also headquarters to a large number of diplomatic and charitable organizations, including the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, World Trade Organization, and International Red Cross, all of which rely heavily on foreign workers.

Competition from the private and public sector has driven salaries sky high. Workers here are some of the best paid in Europe and their quality of life is second to none.

Low Language Barrier

Even though French is the most common language in Geneva, English is the lingua franca ‒ the one language understood by both foreigners and the Swiss. While it isn’t spoken much in the streets, in the workplace it’s ubiquitous. Native speakers have a huge advantage in this regard, the only group that doesn’t have to learn a new language in order to integrate into the local economy.

Cleanliness

Geneva works hard keeping its streets beautiful. Cleaning crews sweep the city first thing every morning, spraying down the roads and sidewalks. There’s no litter in the parks or gutters. Even the parking structures are immaculate.

The government takes the same approach to the environment as well. Geneva has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. The air is clear and everyone sorts their garbage. (The Swiss are very good at recycling their waste.) Initiatives are in place to reduce carbon emissions and every spring, the city organizes thousands of volunteers to clean Lake Geneva. Hundreds of tons of trash are collected and disposed of, making the water appear almost immaculate.

Residents don’t have to worry about noise or light pollution, either. The city is generally quiet and peaceful during the day. And a new law has reduced public lighting from 1-6 a.m., to help residents sleep better.

Proximity to Nature

Geneva’s a green city. Sometimes called the “City of Parks,” Geneva has over 50 of them, covering 20 percent of its area. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, relax under sumptuous magnolia trees, or tour the city’s colorful gardens.

Outdoor recreation is one of the city’s biggest draws. Geneva is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, clear blue lakes, and evergreen forests, providing endless opportunities for adventure. There’s skiing and ice skating in the winter. Hiking, camping, and kayaking in the summer. It’s paradise for nature lovers!

Integrated Transportation System

In Geneva, it’s easier to get around on foot than by car. The city has invested millions of Francs in public transportation. An extensive network of trams, buses, and ferries make it easy to travel across town. They’re cheap, convenient, and clean, like everything else in the city.

What’s more, there are miles of trails stretching through the city center, perfect for bikes and pedestrians alike. Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry! Civic associations like the Genèveroule provide them for free.

Safe Streets

Crime is not a concern in Geneva. People walk the streets at all hours without worrying whether they’ll be attacked, robbed, or even insulted. The police are vigilant and meticulous and while there are bad neighborhoods, both violent and petty offenses are rare.

Five-Star Cuisine

Switzerland has more Michelin-Star restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world ‒ 93 in Geneva alone! Ethnic restaurants are also popular. Geneva has over 140 from practically every country or region on Earth. Some of the world’s best cheese, sausage, and chocolate is produced here as well. 

For home-cooked meals, residents have their choice of fresh ingredients from a plethora of Swiss and French food markets. American and English food is also easy to find, as well as specialty stores catering to people from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Rich & Diverse Culture

No matter the time of year, it’s never hard finding something to do in Geneva. The city is packed with museums. The Museum of Art and History, the History of Science Museum, and the Museum of Natural History are some of the largest and best funded in the country. Visitors can spend a day delving into some of the world’s great artwork or exploring their connection to Earth’s ecosystems.

Geneva is also home to the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande (The Orchestra of French Speaking Switzerland), which has been entertaining residents for more than a century. For classic opera, snag a seat at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, which stages lavish productions in one of the most significant artistic structures in the French-speaking world.

There are also music festivals, film festivals, folk festivals, motor shows, and an annual regatta on Lake Geneva. Swiss National Day celebrates the founding of the Swiss Confederation with games, sports, workshops, bonfires, fireworks, and a paper lantern parade.

In winter, there’s the Fête de l'Escalade ‒ a massive holiday commemorating the city’s victory over an invading army of Italian Catholics in 1602. The city throws colorful parades. Teenagers fight mock battles with eggs and shaving cream. Children go door to door in costume singing patriotic songs. Huge cauldrons of hot chocolate are prepared, filled with red and gold candies (Geneva’s colors). The historic guard even makes an appearance in their traditional armor!

With so much art and history to explore, there is always something exciting to do in the city!