Like many modern developed cities in Europe, the economy in Lausanne is very much focused on the service industry. There is some light manufacturing, such as food processing, and an established publishing industry in the city. However, financial services and company administration account for most of the economic output of Lausanne, and employ most of the people working in Lausanne. The city is very productive, with an impressively low unemployment rate.
Lausanne is home to many of the largest Swiss commercial banks. There are also many international corporations with their headquarters located in Lausanne, including Ernst & Young, KPMG, Nestle, Siemens, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and many others.
The city also attracts a small amount of tourists each year in the summer months, predominantly from other European cities, visiting to enjoy Lake Geneva.
Many expats come to Lausanne because of transfers to their company’s head office. If this is the case, your company should assist with relocation and the logistics of transferring to Lausanne.
If you’re actively looking to move to Lausanne, and you work for one of the companies that have their headquarters in the city, you could explore options to relocate to the city. Lausanne is also known as a center of excellence for education, and if qualified, teaching at a school or university could be a viable employment option to consider.
When you’re looking for a job in Lausanne’s service or education sectors, it is useful if you speak one of the official Swiss languages, particularly French or German. The workforce in Lausanne is very multi-lingual. Nearly all Swiss nationals working in Lausanne speak at least two languages, so if you only speak one language, this will put you at a disadvantage when applying for jobs.
You are liable to pay tax in Switzerland if you reside in the country for more than 30 days and work during this time. The same is true if you reside in Switzerland for at least 90 days, even if you haven’t been employed.
Switzerland has signed bi-lateral double taxation agreements with many countries, including many in the European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, China, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia and others. This could prevent you from having to pay tax twice on some of your assets and international earnings.
There are three levels of tax: federal, cantonal (state) and local. Even when combined, Switzerland is known to have very low tax rates. Vaud, the state which Lausanne is the capital of, has the most generous tax system in the country. There are different tax brackets according to how much you earn, and other factors such as your family situation, which gives you certain exemptions. Roughly, the amount of tax you pay will be between 10 and 30% of your earnings.
The tax system is known to be quite complex, and it’s therefore advisable that you seek assistance from a registered Swiss tax lawyer while working in Lausanne.