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Property Locations

Switzerland - Property Locations

Most expats are obliged to seek out property within commuting distance of their work, which is frequently located in the main business districts of Switzerland's major cities. However, they often choose to escape the city and find that the integration opportunities and rural living more than compensates them for the longer travel times. Property also becomes more affordable, and the choice of family-friendly residential areas is widened. Swiss public transport is reliable, making commuting a less stressful experience than it would be to a city such as London. City centre property, by contrast, is both expensive and very quick to sell off-plan.

Because house purchase is a large financial and psychological commitment, and the longer-term residence permits are not easy to obtain, the vast majority of expats will rent properties when first coming to Switzerland and will often have a few years experience of living in Switzerland before beginning a house search. This provides a good insight into which areas will suit them and what will be possible financially. Some desirable locations are ruled out for all but the wealthiest expats, such as the Gold Coast area of Zurich or the left bank of Lake Geneva. You will be able to buy much larger properties for a good deal less if you opt for a less popular canton away from a major city. However, properties with a lot of land can be very hard-to-find, as can old properties.

In addition to deciding on a maximum commuting time (expats recommend keeping it within an hour, and ensuring you calculate it door-to-door), you should research the area to ensure it meets your own priorities for proximity to public transport, schools, shops, gyms, entertainment, green spaces, or any other factors that are important to you. You will also want to take into account the difference in premiums for health insurance, other insurances and local taxes, as these can vary significantly according to the canton of residence.

For expats working in Geneva, the canton of Vaud offers a range of commuting possibilities. This canton has a higher percentage of home-ownership that almost any part of Switzerland, and foreign nationals make up around 30% of the population. The community of Nyon, which is located in Vaud further up Lake Geneva, is a popular choice. Due to its proximity to Geneva, Vaud has become an expensive place to buy. Neuchatel is less expensive but a commute will be upwards of an hour. Within reasonable commuting distance of the city of Zurich are the towns and villages of Zurich canton, plus the cantons of Schwyz, Zug, Aarau (Aargau) and Lucerne (Luzern).

Expats tend to meet up for socialising in the large centres and will frequently work in international environments, but are often dispersed in terms of where they choose to live. Finding other English speakers is not a problem in cities, but if you are seeking a residential area with a high concentration of expats, you will find that the areas around international schools are popular with expat families. In Zurich, this includes Kilchberg (pre-kindergarten and middle schools), Wädenswil (lower school) and Adliswil (upper school), plus an additional campus in Baden. The La Châtaigneraie campus of the International School of Geneva is in Founex, on Lake Geneva in Vaud. The Basel International School has a campus in the suburb of Aesch and another in Reinach.

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