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How do you know you've been living in Geneva too long?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How do you know you've been living in Geneva too long?
True Genevans avoid driving in the city. Photo: Pixabay

When you first arrive in Switzerland’s second-largest city, you may feel overwhelmed. But with time, you become so assimilated, you feel you've been there too long.


Of all the Swiss cities, Geneva may very well be one of the easiest for foreigners to live in.

Yes, it is, in terms of housing and general prices, among the most expensive in Switzerland, but it is also the most international: more than 40 percent of the local population are foreign nationals.

This means that whatever nationality you are, you will blend in easily into Geneva’s scenery.

After a while, you will feel so much at home, and have adopted to the local life and mentality so well, you may realise you have been living there a tad too long.

These are some of the signs of being too Genevan:

You look down on your neighbours from Vaud

Like many longtime residents, you believe nearby Lausanne, while a beautiful city in its own right, is inferior to Geneva.

Furthermore, you also think the residents of Lausanne (and the Vaudois in general) are too provincial and can’t compete with the sophistication of Geneva.

You look down on your neighbours from France

By the same token, you look down on the French as well, especially the tens of thousands of cross-border workers employed in Geneva.

As the article in Le Matin suggested several years ago, Genevans see their neighbours as “lazy, arrogant and demanding.”

In addition you, like other Geneva residents, believe the French lack the work ethic required of employees in Switzerland.

The same article mentioned that the French who are employed in Geneva are often ‘sick’ on Mondays or Fridays.


And yet…you know all the shortcuts to French supermarkets

When you first settled in Geneva and realised groceries were cheaper in France, you didn’t think twice of driving to Ferney-Voltaire, Gex, or other nearby French municipalities to do your shopping.

With time, you have likely discovered shortcuts to these cities to avoid main border crossings, so you could sneak that extra kilogram of meat out of France through back, unmanned roads.

On Saturday, you head to Annecy

If this picturesque city in the Haute-Savoie, which is only an hour’s drive away from Geneva, is your favourite go-to destination on Saturday, then you are definitely more Genevan than many Genevans themselves.

Nowadays, most vehicles in Annecy carrying Geneva registration plates belong to the internationals, who find (and rightly so) that city to be a pleasant — and cheap — getaway for a day.

Annecy is just a stone throw away from Geneva. Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay


You ski in France

When you first arrived, you probably wanted to explore the slopes in the Swiss Alps.

But after a while you may have realised that French resorts of Chamonix and Megève lie closer to Geneva than those in Vaud or Valais, so they are more convenient.

All of the above goes to prove that while you complain about the French (just like other Genevans do), you don’t hesitate to go to their country if it makes sense economically or geographically. And that obvious paradox is very typical of Geneva.

You actually speak French

No, this is not a joke.

Many foreigners in Geneva never learn the local language because nearly everyone there speaks English (in fact, many say that English is the city’s second official language).

So if you master this language, could this be a sign you have been living in Geneva so long, you are practically a native?

You don’t dare driving in the city

The city’s centre is congested on most days, so many Genevans prefer to use the city’s efficient trams and trolleybuses to get around.

If you still prefer to take your vehicle downtown, this means you are still a relative ‘newbie’ — and you haven’t lived in the city long enough.
READ ALSO: How you know you've been living in Switzerland 'too long'


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Richard 2023/09/26 18:23
You really have lived too long in Geneva if you celebrate Escalade and know the words to say before smashing the chocolate pot.

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