Living in Geneva can be considered a luxury in every sense of the word. While its quality of life is one of the best in Europe, the cost of living is rather high, too. Switzerland in general is expensive terrain for expats, but Geneva is costly even by Swiss standards.
The high cost of living may partly be due to the high percentage of foreigners living in Geneva. Many of them work for one of the international organizations headquartered in the city. With about 50% of all residents not having a Swiss passport, Geneva qualifies as one of the most international cities in the world, especially relative to its size.
In another way, Geneva counts as an international city as well. Over the centuries, historical personalities of international repute have enjoyed living in Geneva, e.g. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Madame de Staël and Jean Henri Dunant, to name but a few.
Not many of the expatriates living in Geneva may know that the city was the birth place of Calvinism, too. Jean Calvin, who spent nearly 30 years of his life in Geneva, also founded the University of Geneva in 1559. It regularly ranks among the top universities in the world.
People living in Geneva profit from very good transport links to the rest of Europe and the whole world. At a distance of merely four kilometers from the city center, Geneva International Airport lies within easy reach. Trains run every 12 minutes at rush hours. A journey to the airport doesn’t take more than six minutes from Geneva’s center.
The public bus services nos. 5, 10, 23, 28, and 57 also serve the city center and depart from the airport check-in area every 8 to 15 minutes. There are also various direct train and bus connections for those living in Geneva’s suburbs. And, best of all, ticket machines at the airport dispense free public transport tickets valid for a journey lasting up to 80 minutes!
Both the city center and the airport are also served by the French rail network SNCF. Thus, expats living in Geneva enjoy direct high-speed rail connections to major French cities such as Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, and Montpellier. Motorists have easy access to the motorways of both Switzerland and France. However, foreigners living in Geneva should be aware that both countries operate a motorway toll system.
In 2014, more than 197 million journeys were made by residents, using the buses and trams of the Transports Publics Genevois. A system of trams has been in operation since the late 19th century. More than 100 years later, everyday life in Geneva is, to a large degree, dependent on a well-functioning public transport system.
A single tariff applies to all means of transport in the Geneva area. You can buy daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tickets, as well as single fares.
Please consult the website of the Transports Publics Genevois for detailed information on fares, routes, and timetables. A special scheme is available for companies, which enables them to offer annual tickets at reduced rates to all their employees living in Geneva.
You can find our more about Switzerland's public transportation system, as well as the experience of driving in the country, from our comprehensive guide on Transport and Driving in Switzerland.
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