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moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

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Calgary, Canada
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moving there from Canada - expert advice sought


My husband's office asked him if he would consider moving to Geneva to work.

I am on a fact finding mission,

Can you tell me what the cost of housing, purchase or rental is like?

average pricing is fine.

any pertinent info you think we would want to know when considering this?

Average pricing for a car... what do most people drive there?

Thanks very much for your time and responses.

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1. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

I can only answer some of your points drawing on one stay in Calgary and 5 or 6 in Geneva the latest 3 months ago.Getting around the city of Geneva even the locals use the fully integrated and cheap public transport system. City centre public car parks are expensive. In Old Town a car is a handicap

The local cars you see on GE plates are (by UK standards) upmarket BMW, Audi, Mercedes.

Cost of living is high.In surveys Geneva features in the Top 12 expensive world cities. Standard of living looks superb (to a visitor). On a voyage to New York we shared a dining table for 6 nights with an American who was a permanent resident in Geneva suburbs. He described life there as comfortable but unexciting and predictable.

Obviously French-speaking Canadians have a head start and living near Banff as you do if you are skiers you will enjoy the winter sports although you will need to travel out of Geneva. Chamonix Mont Blanc is approx 1.5 hours drive centre to centre.

Financially this will be a difficult overall comparison to make eg will you be better off financially? If your husband works for an international company you can be sure they will have a close watch on what extra allowances they should be offering to attract Canadian employees to Switzerland. In many ways your joint decision should take into account what you will gain from a temporary posting apart from any financial incentive eg the overseas experience/culture/cuisine/landscape.

During my business career in finance/investment I oved house 3 times to areas I had never even been to before. Whilst only 1 of the 3 turned out to be to my clear advantage financially, I am really glad I accepted all such requests from the same employer.

I hope this is helpful and I wish you well in your decision-making.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

thank you for your thorough answer, you have touched the pulse point of what we are thinking of.

To have the opportunity to travel and see another culture, country and experience that may be worth spending some extra $$.

anyone else have anything else to add to this?

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage, Zermatt
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3. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

Someone posted here that Swiss law about foreign nationals purchsing property can be very difficult and that it is important to have a trusted professional to assist you. Does your husband's company have an office in Geneva now? Can he speak with someone there? Also, if the company does business in Switzerland, are there resources such as a company attorney in Switzerland? I lived in Europe for 12 years and found there were many things that were much more expensive and many things that were considerably less expensive and, in the end, it balanced out for me but it depends on your lifestyle. For example, it is much cheaper to take great trips all over Europe - a 3 day weekend can be spent in thousands of terrific places quite easily! However, if you drive a lot, you'll find gas to be much more expensive! There are websites that give some comparisons of items in various countries - try a google search.

I would make a list of the advantages and disadvantages, of the things that are important in your day to day life style (take this seriously because after an inital honeymoon period folks often find they miss certain things so much that it ruins the whole experience for them) - if you love stopping for a quick burger and think it would make you unhappy to not be able to do so, think hard about the change because drive=throughs are non-existent or extremely rare in Europe. If you don't think you can stand marketing for groceries more than once a week - European refrigerators are often much smaller than ours and it is very difficult to stock up for more than a couple of days at a time.

If you are truly flexible and can work through the things that will be strange and the things you'll miss (it won't be the truly obvious such as family - it'll be little things), take with you the attitude you already express about this being a wonderful opportunity for a terrific experience, go for it! Just be prepared to miss some things more than you think and to feel blue some days.

I loved living in Europe and miss a lot of the life style there. Given the right circumstances, I'd go back in a heartbeat.

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4. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought


I lived in Geneva from 1996 to 1999 and really enjoyed it. It's relatively small as a city, but has a huge proportion of expats there, so is like living in a much larger city with regards to availability of things from home.

Housing is expensive so you will probably be looking at an apartment of around 100sqm, (which may seem small to you?) but you can get used to it. Don't think about buying until you know if you're staying for a long time. Some things are relatively cheap as the taxes, VAT etc are low, but food is quite expensive - try a weeks "virtual" grocery shopping on www.le-shop.ch

The main thing is to make sure you get support from the company - if they are not set up to handle international relocations then your first few months will be very hard and probably sour you on the experience.

As a minimum insist on a familiarisation visit before deciding just in case the whole place turns you off (unlikely but you never know).

The company should give you help to get all your permits and sign up to all the services (water, electric, phone) as well as flat-hunting.

It sounds stupid but forget about salary - Swiss are well paid and you will have a good enough salary - but make sure all the "foreign" things are handled by the company.

If possible get them to pay the apartment and health insurance (maybe also a company car although parking can be difficult and unless you husband is going to an office well out of the city not needed). Live in the city so you have good access to all the other Canadians etc. Don't forget that most of your electricals will need to be replaced so don't bring them with you.

As an expat also make sure the company is crystal clear about the next step after your time in Geneva - will you be expected to keep moving around or is it strictly 2 years in Geneva then a promotion back to your home location? What you both think about the longer term will have a big impact on the view you take of this assignment.

Good luck,

Travelling The World
Destination Expert
for Alghero
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5. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

I'm a Canadian who was born and grew up in Geneva, still goes back often. I have many friends and contacts there. Feel free to PM me and we can be in touch if you want.

In the mean time, especially if your husband's company is willing to pony up, you might try using a professional. I can personally recommend www.practical-services.com (I have known Judith for many years) but there are other possibilities.

6. Re: moving there from Canada - expert advice sought

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