Are you new to Geneva? We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland, and we polled our 500+ members – most of whom have been in your shoes before, be it one year ago or 40 – to ask them what advice they would give to someone new to Geneva. Here’s what they had to say:
“Always say “Bonjour” when you approach someone in a store or on the street to ask for help. No matter how polite you think you are being, it is considered highly impolite and aggressive to just launch into whatever it is that you are requesting. You may often be chastised or met with stony silence for not understanding this basic rule. In the office, it is bonjour, bonjour, bonjour to everybody you cross paths with when you arrive at work in the morning.”
“Make an effort to learn French. Even if you’re here for a limited period of time, even if you never master the language, mastering some basic phrases can go a long way toward putting you in the good graces of your Swiss neighbors.” Related: read our blog post on cheap French classes in Geneva here.
“I would tell someone new to Geneva to learn the public transportation system and take advantage of their discounts. We live in the city center and do not have a car, so we get everywhere we need to go using the buses and trams (TPG) or trains (SBB/CFF/FFS). My husband and I have the half-fare card through the SBB, which means a big discount on train tickets and a discount on bus tickets, too.” Related: read our blog post on the TPG here and read our blog post on Swiss train specials here.
“Join an expat group! There are lots of different groups in Geneva including the AIWC and the AIC. I’ve met some of my best friends through the local expat network and it made all the difference to me during my first years in Geneva.” Related: read our blog post on why you should join an international women’s group here.
What advice would you give to someone new to Geneva? Tell us!
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/
Herbert & Zilma Osle said:
We are a 60 year old couple retiring near Geneva (initially right in Geneva) in October, 2015. any advice would be welcome!!!
Herbert & Zilma, how exciting to move here. I have to say I loved Geneva from the minute I moved here from Amsterdam.
Check out our Neighborhood profiles to get a feel for the different parts of Geneva. Where you live can effect the activities that you pursue. Living on the left bank makes the French Alps accessible by car (+/- 1 hour) while living on the right bank gives you easy access to the train station and the Swiss highway (Swiss Alps 2 hours). We have two blogs on Nyon which is in the canton Vaud but 10 minutes by train to Geneva.
Living in France is an alternative but, depending on your nationality, legally more challenging and due to governments looking for tax income, these laws are continually changing.
Realize that cars are expensive here. If you don’t initially have a car, there are car sharing companies (with amazing reserved parking places) and the public transport here is great. I will be doing a blog on automobiles in the future because you can also get great deals on used cars from expats leaving the country.
Health insurance is mandatory and it is a good idea to look at a variety of companies.
Zilma, feel free to stop by our Women’s club when you arrive and see if any of our activities interest you. We have a big open house on Wednesday, October 14 where you can meet our volunteer many of our members and the volunteer activity leaders.
Herbert & Zilma Osle said:
Thank you so much for your note, we will be moving in October and appreciate your advices in reference to transportation, the language, and health insurance which we just happen to be in the process of getting right now with Swiss Life through AARO.
We are moving there because our son and his family lives there, my adult daughter is moving with us.
I am looking forward to visiting the Women’s Club.
I would recommend that once winter comes and the fog descends, make day trips to the mountains in order to reach the sun. Check the webcams but usually in less than an hours by car, you are in the Alps or the Jura mountains enjoying a hot chocolate in the sun.