Geneva news roundup: Price hikes in 2023 and untapped housing opportunities
Higher prices that come into effect this week; curiosities on the property market; and other news from Switzerland's international city Geneva.
These are the price hikes Genevans will experience in 2023
New year means a higher cost of living across Switzerland, including in Geneva.
Starting January 1st, prices will go up sharply mainly for electricity and health insurance.
If you are a client of Geneva Industrial Services (SIG), expect to pay about 22 percent more on average for your electricity than you did in 2021.
In terms of health insurance premiums, they have increased by 6.4 percent for residents of Geneva — just below 6.6 percent the national average.
Geneva's untapped housing potential
It is no secret that Geneva is suffering from the shortage of housing, and whatever properties become available are quickly snapped up, even despite prices that are higher than elsewhere in Switzerland.
However, there are lesser-known housing options in the canton — the so-called "border houses."
As the name suggests, these small buildings located near Geneva's border points with France used to house border guards, but many have been abandoned and have been put up for sale by the government.
The latest one is a three-story villa in Avusy, which is listed for about 2 million francs, according to Tribune de Genève.
While it is not an exorbitant price for a property of this size in Geneva, the house is reportedly quite dilapidated and in need of extensive renovation.
However, given the scarcity of housing and the cost of rents in Geneva, this and other old border properties may represent an untapped housing market in the canton.
Foreign tourists are flocking to Geneva again
After two years of the pandemic-related slowdown, Geneva is again seeing more tourists from abroad.
While 2019 levels have not been reached, city officials say the number of visitors since April 2022 is close to pre-Covid levels.
"It's a 'restart' tourism,” Jean-Vital Domézon, president of the Société des hôteliers de Genève, said in an interview with RTS public broadcaster, adding that the new wave of tourists is a result of the two-year-long “frustration” over travel restrictions.
How far from Geneva can public employees live?
Usually, people try to live close to their workplace, in order to cut the commuting time to the minimum.
But the residence of the headmistress of four primary schools in the Geneva municipality of Chêne-Bourg is raising eyebrows: she lives…300 kilometres away, in Colmar, France.
Because it takes at least three hours to drive from the Alsace city to Geneva, the headmistress is teleworking from her home several days a week and has never even resided in the canton.
As reported by the RTS public broadcaster on Friday, a local deputy submitted an urgent question to the Geneva State Council to find out whether such an arrangement for a public employee is legal.
It turns out that employees of the cantonal administration, including schools, can live wherever they want.
Those employed by the city of Geneva, on the other hand, face stricter rules: they must reside in a defined geographical area, which includes part of neighbouring France and the canton of Vaud.