Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Removals to Switzerland : Living and Working in Geneva

Hamiltons Removals operate from the UK, providing removals to Switzerland and all other European and international destinations. If you are moving to Switzerland and looking for a competitive removals quote, give us a call. We have been providing removals to Switzerland for many years and offer three types of service to cater for all domestic and commercial needs.

Removals to Switzerland: Dedicated Service

Our dedicated service for removals to Switzerland provides you with the sole use of a vehicle. We run weekly lorries to and from Switzerland from the UK and between most other European destinations. We can also provide shipping to Switzerland via 20ft and 40ft container from most international locations.

Removals to Switzerland: Groupage Service

Here your furniture and effects are transported in a shared lorry or container. Transit times may be longer, depending on how long it takes for the consignment to be consolidated.

Removals to Switzerland: Special Service

Our special service, via dedicated vehicle (European moves only) allows you to dictate the collection and delivery dates of your move.

For international removals to Switzerland, small items can also be transported by air freight.

For complete peace of mind, Hamiltons removals are also members of the British Association of Removers (BAR).

Removals to Switzerland – click here for full information on our removals to Switzerland service or contact us now to discuss your move.

About Geneva

Geneva is the second most densely populated city in Switzerland after Zurich and accommodates more people than the nations Capital, Bern. It is known, as is Switzerland as a whole, as a 
financial centre, and a worldwide centre for diplomacy. It houses the headquarters of many  UN agencies and also the Red Cross and is famed as the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed.

Geneva has the third-highest quality of life of any city in the world and this speaks volumes of Switzerland as a whole, when you consider that in second place in that table, is Zurich. The city is often referred to as the Capital of Peace and the World's wartime referee. It has built an enviable reputation for itself in the field of arbitration and boasts several impressive buildings which attest to this position. Museums and art galleries are everywhere in Geneva. Some are related to the many international organizations like the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum or The Palace of Nations, home of the United Nations headquarters.

What's it Like Living and Working in Geneva?

The Swiss city of Geneva is nestled between the Alps and the Jura mountains, in the very south-west of Switzerland. It can be reached in a little over an hour by plane from Paris, Brussels, Milan and Florence, and in less than two hours from London, Rome or Madrid. The city's  population numbers nearly 192,000, two-thirds of whom live on Swiss soil with the remaining third, living on French soil. The official language of the city is French but as a  result of steady migration in the 20 years between 1960 and 1980, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are also widely spoken throughout the city, as is English, which is widely spoken, if not as a first, then as a second language. This is especially true in the city's  international institutions and banking sector, where employers look favourably on those who are proficient in both English and French. Most of the population of this truly European city speak French as their first language and have English as their second, with Spanish coming in third, followed by Italian and German.

Living in Geneva

The most often cited reason for living in Geneva, especially by ex-pats, aside from work, is
because it’s such a great place to live. This is of course, a subjective view, but it has been backed up officially by a recent survey carried out by Mercer Consulting which ranked the city at No 1, in terms of its quality of life, not just once, but for two consecutive years.

Geneva has a natural beauty all its own. Set on the vast expanse of water known as Lake Léman, or Lake Geneva,  this freshwater lake is often dotted with sailing boats which are sheltered from any strong winds by the snow capped peaks that line three sides. It offers breathtaking views of Mont Blanc to the south and an attractive, clean and tidy inner city shopping area. It boasts a beautifully preserved “old town” with boutiques, galleries, cafés and restaurants but you don't have to travel too far before you are out in the countryside, among  the vineyards, orchards, grazing fields, vegetable plots, arable land and forest that make up 55% of the city. With two trees for every single inhabitant,  you don't have to travel far, before you are out in the woods or meandering down a country track to find fresh farm produce or a smallholding offering the children a chance to get up close and personal with the animals.

There is a great sense of community about Geneva. Whether you live in one of the surrounding villages and commute into town regularly or, you live in an inner city neighbourhood, you are not overwhelmed by that big city feel and before long, such is the friendliness of Geneva's people, you are welcomed and will find yourselves drawn into local activities in a way you would never have expected. There are no cultural boundaries here; the Fourth of July is celebrated as whole heartedly as Chinese New Year and Diwali and there are many annual festivals held in celebration of African, Cuban, South American and Asian music as well as cinema, dance and theatrical productions from all over the world.

Over twelve hundred restaurants cater to the varying taste buds of its inhabitants and if after your meal, you feel like indulging in some culture, you won't be disappointed. Geneva’s Opera House and Grand Theatre, Art & History Museum, Rath Museum, Ariana Ceramic Museum, Patek Philippe Watch Museum, and Red Cross Museum are significant pins on Geneva's cultural map as its alternative scene which offers up its own clubs, bars and theatres.

Any sporting types will not be at a loss here either. Geneva offers you the chance to try out almost every sport imaginable. There is water-skiing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing on the lake, baseball, rugby, soccer, tennis, cycling, hang-gliding, mountain climbing, hiking, snowboarding, skiing and ice-skating, they even play American Football.

Public Transport in Geneva

Geneva is a small, compact city, offering some of Europe’s shortest commuting times from office or home to the airport. Even from central down-town, you are only four km from the airport so this makes any commute, even an international one, easy to bear. This is made even more convenient  by a public transport system which can get you across the city and on to anywhere else in Europe,  with ease. Cars are widely looked upon as non essential in Geneva because public transport is so good and the city positively encourages the use of Geneva’s many bike trails and walking routes by publishing free maps and guides.

Housing in Geneva

Much of the housing in Geneva is rented but mortgage culture has arrived and home ownership is on the rise. Like many larger cities, Geneva's down-town area consists of office and apartment buildings, many of which are single or dual occupancy. Land is at a premium here so gardens are a rarity but the cities large open green spaces provide plenty of fresh air. Move slightly farther out of town and the situation changes; larger properties offer bigger gardens and the chance to more easily access Geneva's more rural side.

Healthcare in Geneva

When it comes to healthcare in Geneva and in Switzerland as a whole, there is no NHS equivalent available, so all healthcare is provided on a private and compulsory basis. That said, the standards are excellent and locals and expats who can afford it, are rarely left wanting. Fees are subsidised for children and young adults as well as for those who are suddenly placed in a position where they are in need of it. Monthly health insurance premiums are based upon location rather than on salary so even those on lower incomes will be expected to finance a hefty health insurance bill. For this reason, émigrés will need to compare the different healthcare plans on offer, to find the one that best suits their budget and needs.
Most of the 2000 or so doctors in private practice in Geneva, speak English and pharmacies are open from 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with a few remaining open 24 hours. Your emergency number is generally 144 though this differs in the case of poisoning. If you find you have been poisoned, you need to dial 145. There is a separate number again for children and young people. In cases where youngsters require medical assistance, the number to call is 147. There are three main hospitals in Geneva and these are listed below;

Hopitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG)
4, rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil
Tel: 022 372 3311.

Clinique Générale Beaulieu
Chemin Beau-Soleil 20
Tel: 022 839 5555

Hopital de la Tour
JD Maillard 3 Av
Tel: 022 719 6111 

Schooling in Geneva

For non-French speaking pupils primary and secondary schools provide welcome classes where pupils learn the basics of the French language in small groups. After a few months, these groups are gradually integrated into the French-speaking classes. Free French lessons are also available to the parents of pupils who ask for them.

Swiss public schools offer high quality, free education to children who start from age 3 to 6 years and are given the option to attend infant school. Afterwards compulsory elementary education is  provided for those between  6 and 11 years at the primary school closest to where they live.

Geneva schools teach four days a week, with Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays off. The
first part of their secondary education, for those aged between 11 and 15 years, is compulsory and takes place in ‘Colleges of General Education’ or in ‘Colleges of Technical Education’. The remainder is taught in secondary schools and leads to them obtaining the Baccalaureate certificate which is equivalent in standard, to A-levels in the UK. This allows them conditional access to French and Swiss universities.

Your children may also attend the ‘Collège Lycée International Ferney-Voltaire’ which is a free,  public school. A “contribution” is however, requested for schooling given to foreign nationals. The school caters for pupils aged from 11-12 years, right up to those in their final year aged 17-18 years and can prepare them for the International French Baccalaureate.

Working in Geneva

Many ex pats leave the UK for Geneva to further their careers in banking and insurance services, pharmaceuticals and the sciences, computing and telecommunications, transport and travel and  of course, for posts  within organisations like the WHO, the UN and ISO, the International Standards Organisation. These positions can be high powered and very well paid, hence the attraction and employees generally enjoy a high standard of living as a result, but these high standards come at a cost.

According to an authoritative study, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in which to live, in the whole of Europe, after the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark and Finland. The main reason behind this expense is insurance and particularly, health insurance. It doesn't stop there though, in Switzerland you need insurance against pretty much everything, including invalidity and unemployment. It is not unusual in Switzerland, for insurances to account for as much as a quarter of a family's income, much more than accommodation and energy, taxation and the day to day living expenses of food and clothing. Add to these, the other regular expenses of  transport and fuel, entertainment and communications and the average amount a household is left with, equates to a little over 70%.

Removals to Switzerland – click here for full information on our removals to Switzerland service or contact us now to discuss your move.

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