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MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Geneva

Many people whose jobs are in Geneva live in nearby communities — either in Switzerland or nearby France. Here are some located within a short commuting distance.

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Geneva
Commuting to Geneva from France. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Geneva is kind of an enclave in the southwest extremity of Switzerland, surrounded by the lake on one side, and France and canton of Vaud on the other.

Much of Geneva’s workforce is native – that is, those living in the city itself or the outlying communities of the small canton.

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Zurich

But a large number of employees come either from Vaud or France; in the latter case, these commuters are known as cross-border workers.

Figures from Geneva’s statistical office (OCSTAT) indicate that well over 26,000 people commute to work in the city from Vaud, and over 90,000 from the nearby French regions of Haute-Savoie and Ain.

Statistics aside, these are best commuter towns on both sides of the border.

The towns can be seen here. Hover over each blue marking to see the town. Image: Google Maps

Vaud

Nyon

Of the 26,000-plus workers mentioned above, most — nearly 15,000 — come from this small town, according to OCSTAT.

This community of about 22,000 people lies just 30 km from Geneva, making for a short commute by train (10 minutes) and about 20 minutes by the motorway, depending on the time of day and traffic.

Nyon. By Alexey M. – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The commune itself is historic and quaint, with a 500-year-old fortress perched above the town and overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps.

Because of its proximity to Geneva, rents in Nyon are quite high — not as high as in Geneva itself, but a three-room flat could cost anywhere between 1,200 and 1,600 francs a month.

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland?

Rolle

A bit farther afield than Nyon (35 km) lies another commuter town, Rolle.

With a population of about 5,500, it is much smaller than Nyon, but just as pretty and scenically located along the shores of Lake Geneva.

As it is situated almost at a midpoint between Geneva and Vaud’s capital, Lausanne, Rolle’s residents are likely to commute to either one of these cities.

For those employed in Geneva, the commute takes 25 minutes by train and, depending on traffic, 30 minutes or so by motorway.

Rents, however, are on par with Nyon, possibly because Rolle is conveniently located in proximity to both Geneva and Lausanne, the latter being home to a number of multinational companies and organisations, including Philip Morris, the Federal Polytechnic Institute (EPFL), and International Olympic Committee.

Coppet

With only 10 km separating this tiny town of about 3,000 residents from Geneva, it is just a quick drive to the city (traffic jams notwithstanding) or 11 minutes by regional (RE) train.

The town is mainly known as one of the residences of Madame de Stael, a prominent 18th – 19th-century French aristocrat, whose château still stands.

Coppet Fontaine. By Roland Zumbühl, www.picswiss.ch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Given its proximity to Geneva, rents in Coppet are quite high, on average upwards of 2,000 for a three to four room apartment.

France

Annemasse

About 41 percent of all cross-border workers in Geneva come from this town of about 36,000 in Haute-Savoie, located only 10 km from Geneva.

The train station at Annemasse. Von NAC – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A commute takes about 15 minutes by car (in good traffic), seven minutes by train, or 25 minutes by line 17 tram.

Since Annemasse is practically a suburb of Geneva, rents are not cheap — upwards of 900 euros for a three-room flat.  

St-Julien-en-Genevois

A sizeable portion of the town’s population of 16,000 is employed in Geneva, located only 11 km away.

It takes about 15 minutes in good traffic conditions to reach Geneva by car, 27 minutes by train, and half an hour by bus.

Here too, three-room apartments rent for at least 900 euros, and oftentimes more.

Ferney-Voltaire

This community of 10,000 people is so close to Geneva, it is practically adjacent to the Geneva airport.

A drive takes about 12 minutes and a bus 20 minutes.

Housing costs here are the highest of the two other commuter towns — monthly rents for two rooms exceed 1,000 euros.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are major Swiss cities so expensive?

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

Although you hope to never need one, sometimes you might have to seek legal advice in Switzerland. This is how to find it.

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

When you move to a new country, including Switzerland, you have to look for a whole new network of professionals.

You may or may not have immediate need for the proverbial butcher, baker, and the candlestick maker, but sooner or later you will have to find other professionals, with the most essential one being a doctor.

READ MORE: What you should know about finding a doctor in Switzerland

Chances are you will also need, at one time or another, a legal counsel. That should in principle not be a problem as Switzerland has an abundance of lawyers — 7,317 currently practicing in the country, according to European data.

The question of how to find one that best suits your needs depends on many factors — for instance, what kind of legal advice you are seeking (estate planning, inheritance, divorce, etc), whether you speak the language of your region or need an English-speaking attorney,  and whether you can pay (the often exorbitant) fees, or need free counselling instead.

Speaking of fees, the hourly rates vary widely from one lawyer or legal practice to another, with some charging as little as 100 francs or as much as 1,000.

Much depends on the lawyer’s location — with the ones practicing in large cities like Zurich and Geneva being more expensive than their counterparts in small towns or rural regions  — the area of specialisation and general reputation — the more prominent the attorney is with a roster of famous or well-heeled clients, the higher fees they will typically charge.

An important thing to know is that, depending on the advice you are seeking, you may not need a lawyer at all, but rather a public notary; in Switzerland, these professionals perform many tasks that only attorneys can do in other countries, such as drawing contracts and establishing other legal documents.

Here are some tips on how to find a lawyer or a notary that best fits your needs:

Word of mouth

As with any other services, personal recommendations from people you know and trust are best.

This will spare you the effort of “investigating” the person, such as researching their credentials and feedback from previous clients — the due diligence process that everyone should undertake before hiring any professional.

Professional associations

If you don’t know anyone who can recommend an attorney, do your own research.

Professional organisations such as the Swiss Bar Association (SBA) and the Swiss Federation of Notaries are good resources, as they both allow you to look for professionals in or near your place of residence.

English-speaking attorneys

Many Swiss lawyers and notaries, especially those practicing in large urban centres where many foreign residents live, speak English.

But if you want to make sure yours does, the UK government put together a list of English speaking attorneys in Switzerland, which should help you with your search.

‘Free’ legal advice

In principle, all legal assistance comes at a cost, except for exceptional cases, which are defined by each canton.

SBA has a canton-by-canton list, where the designation “GRATIS JUDICATURE” stands for “free legal advice”.

However, there is also such a thing in Switzerland as “legal protection insurance” (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

It covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

The annual cost of this insurance, which you can purchase from practically every carrier in Switzerland, is minimal, especially if you consider how much you’d have to spend if you hired an attorney yourself.

Another benefit of these policies is that a lawyer will be assigned to you by the insurance company so you won’t have the headache of looking for one on your own.

This article provides more information about this insurance:

EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

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