As with much of Switzerland, the cost of living in Lucerne is high. Although wages are also strong, the price of consumer goods, food and fuel is much higher than in many other parts of Europe, even in comparison to neighboring France and Germany. Thus, expatriates moving to the city are often those transferring into highly paid roles with international companies.
Expatriates living in Lucerne with their families often choose to make use of the excellent international schools which are common across Switzerland. The nearby International School of Zug and Luzern has students of over 50 nationalities, and caters for all ages. As with many international schools, pupils have a choice of academic programs including the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the American Advanced Placement (AP) Program.
There are also a number of German-speaking schools in the area, and major companies who frequently transfer foreign nationals into their offices tend to have good links and understanding of the international schools in the area.
Public transport is extremely efficient and well-run throughout Switzerland, and Lucerne is no exception. The VBL trolleybus system and the bus network run extremely regularly throughout the city — and there are frequent buses to neighboring villages and residential hamlets, too.
A total of three mainline railway stations lie within the Lucerne city boundaries, including Lucerne station itself, which is one of the largest stations in the country. The Zentralbahn and Swiss Federal Rail Service offer frequent connections to the other major cities, and allow access to Zurich airport in just over one hour on a direct train.
The road network into and around Lucerne is good and generally does not suffer from excessive congestion, except in the busiest summer months, when the area is extremely popular with tourists. Hiring cars is reasonably quick and easy, although for traveling in and around the Lucerne area, it is feasible to rely on just public transport.
The city is arguably one of the most picturesque anywhere in Switzerland, given its proximity both to the Swiss Lakes, and Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Alps. Straddling the Reuss River, Lucerne sits on the bank of Lake Lucerne, and has a large marina popular with sail boats and used for commercial pleasure cruises.
The Senkt Leodegar Abbey is always worth a visit and thought to represent the city’s point of origin, since its construction in 840 AD. Nearby, one of the most famous landmarks in the city is the Chapel Bridge, a long wooden bridge that was built around 1333, and next to it, the octagonal water tower. The bridge was largely destroyed in 1999 after a fire, although it was rebuilt in original style shortly after this, and has remained a focal point in the city since.
There are a number of cultural establishments including theaters and music halls in the city, as well as alternative cultural venues. Until recently, the most popular was Boa, a former tube factory which became an avant garde venue for new and unusual plays and performances. Since its closure, plans have been put in place for a replacement in a less populated area of the city.