Geneva is Switzerland’s most international city, and one of the most expensive in the world. Most people moving to Geneva end up living in one of the small French towns right across the border due to its extremely high cost of living. Many expats are not able, or do not want, to spend that much money.
Continuing our series of articles on saving money when relocating abroad, the following will provide you tips and tricks to save money when moving to Geneva.
As already mentioned, one possibility is to look for housing outside the city or just over the French border. This is not only because of the high cost of living – Geneva is suffering a housing crisis. There are too many people moving to Geneva and not enough apartments. Some employers will help with your search, so check with your company.
If you are still struggling to find an apartment, you should have a look at the peripheral areas such as Cologny, Chênes-Bougeries, Meyrin, Grand-Saconnex, Veyrier, Carouge and Lancy. They are well-connected to the city centre by public transport.
For all those who love to go out and eat at restaurants, there is a great scheme to help you save money in Geneva. L’Assiette Geneva is a card that allows two people to eat for the price of one. It is valid in more than 130 restaurants in and around Geneva.
If you would like to save money while shopping for groceries, it is recommended to shop at larger supermarkets. They are usually cheaper than small ones because of their bulk buying power. Go to the supermarket after 5 pm! Many stores will give a discount on perishable products.
If you live close to the border with France, you should buy your groceries there. Many products cost less than half what they do in Geneva.
Geneva’s city centre is a quite small, so it is no problem to walk through the city. Nevertheless, Geneva’s public transport (TPG) system with buses, trams, trains and boats is well-organised, efficient and reliable, in true Swiss style! In general, it is cheaper to use public transport than your own car.
If you have to take the train, check your options for saving money on the SBB website, the Swiss train operator.
4. Other money saving tips
The GENEVA PASS is a good option to save money during your first days in Geneva. It offers you free entrance to museums and discounts on tours and cruises.
In order not to lose money on bank charges you should get a Swiss bank card as soon as possible, or check with your bank whether your card will work at ATMs without any fees.
Please share your ideas on how to save money as an expatriate in Geneva in the comments below!
In the second expat interview in our monthly series we hear from Rebecca Manning who has lived in South Korea, Japan, Russia, and now calls São Paulo, Brazil home.
Easy one to start, tell us about yourself!
I’m from a small town in Ontario, Canada. I spent the first 25 years of my life living within a two hour drive of where I grew up. At 25, not entirely satisfied with the IT support job I’d been working for the past 14 months, I decided to uproot and go to South Korea for a year. After living in Busan for two months, teaching English, I realized that I liked doing this much more than the other options available to me at that time. So, I stuck with it, and multiple locations and jobs later, I’m now managing a language school in São Paulo, Brazil.
Why did you move abroad in the first place?
I moved for several reasons. I didn’t come from money, so I hadn’t had a lot of opportunity to see the world. I was a huge tennis fan growing up, so I knew a lot of random things about different places around the world, and certainly had my sights set beyond the backyard. The summer after 9/11, I took my first solo holiday, to New York City. After that I went every year, for 4 years in a row. I don’t know how to properly describe it, but something about these trips made me feel like there was something more out there for me; that the opportunities available to me where I grew up were not the whole story.
When I graduated university in 2005, real responsibilities happened, and I could no longer afford to go on my solo trips. I didn’t particularly like what I ended up doing, but the alternate options available to me in my home province were pretty bleak. I could either stay in Ontario and barely earn living wage doing something I probably wouldn’t like anyway, or take a huge leap of faith and fly to South Korea with $200 to my name. I chose the latter, and it’s the best thing I ever did for myself.
What do you like most about where you live now?
The thing I love most about São Paulo is how incredibly diverse it is. I’ve lived in a number of great big cities – Busan, Nagoya, Budapest, Moscow – but none of them have impressed me as much in regards to the diversity of food, culture, and people. The previous places I’ve lived all have their charms and unique cultures, but I feel like I have access to so much more here.
What (if anything) do you miss from home?
The longer I am away, the more I miss my friends and family. My friends are very spread out at this point, though. It’s also difficult for me to pinpoint one place that I consider home. I’m Canadian, of course, but I spent more than two years in South Korea and another two and a half living in Russia; There are parts of both those places in my definition of home. Still, every time I go home, my parents have gotten older, and I see the years of my nieces and nephews childhoods pass by, and it hurts to know that I’m not a more active part of that.
If you could change one thing about where you live what would it be?
I’ve only lived in São Paulo for two months, so it might be a bit arrogant of me to offer up some suggestions for change… but I will anyway. The disparity between rich and poor here is incredibly jarring. In the same moment you hear a helicopter fly overhead you can look and see somebody crawling out of the hole they sleep in on the side of the highway. I haven’t the faintest idea how to change this, mostly likely am powerless to do so, but wish I could.
We’ve all made embarrassing expat faux pas – share one of yours!
My life has been a series of embarrassing faux-pas, so it’s only natural that I would make a number of the expat variety. My favorite is a bit juvenile, but here you are: The word for bread (pão) in Brazilian Portuguese is very, very similar to the word for dick (pau). Not knowing this, I spent about two weeks going into stores and ordering cheese dick. Thankfully, nobody made fun of me for this (Brazilians, generally, are pretty awesome about people mangling their language). I only learned I’d been making this mistake when my coworker caught me saying it and corrected my pronunciation. I haven’t ordered cheese dick since.
Do you plan on moving again in the future? If so, where and why?
I don’t plan on moving to another country after this. I actually didn’t really plan on moving to another country after Russia, where my last job was posted. However, when I saw the posting for an company transfer to Brazil, I couldn’t pass on applying. I believe that I will move back to Canada after this. With years of international management experience and another language on my resume, I think that I will have more opportunities there than when I left, many years ago. You never know where the next opportunity will take you, though. I haven’t ruled anything out.
What was the most difficult aspect of moving abroad for you?
When I first moved abroad in 2007, I wasn’t in a great place emotionally. I was 25, going on emotionally 18. I hadn’t yet worked through all of those things that one must before becoming an actual adult. Insecurities, heartbreak, crippling self-doubt – I had to work through it all without a guaranteed support network, knowing that I was thousands of miles away from the only place I would be truly safe to fail to hold it together. Thankfully, along the way, I’ve met a number of people who were at similar points in their lives, and they have become life-long friends of mine.
Share your top three tips for people moving to São Paulo:
- Be patient. Things take time here. The Internet, for example. The Internet company came to my apartment three times without a modem, before actually showing up with all the tools they needed to install it. If I gave this too much thought, it would have been infuriating. Patience, a bit of humour, and the acceptance that there is nothing you can do to speed things along will get you through a lot here.
- If you’re not used to sleeping with a lot of noise, then bring earplugs, a white noise machine, or run a fan all night. With the helicopters overheard, a very central airport bringing planes in and out of the city, and general Brazilian life busying up the place, I’d never found so much noise in so little a space as here.
- Dressing for the weather in São Paulo means wearing something light, while also having a sweater and umbrella on hand. So, do that. Seasons change in a day here.
Rebecca writes about her expat adventures in São Paulo on her blog, Doing Stuff in São Paulo – check it out!
Coming in fifth place on the Expatistan’s list of the world’s most expensive cities, New York City (NYC) is no walk in the park if you’re on a tight budget. However, with a bit of knowledge and planning on your part, relocating to the Big Apple does not need to be a major drain on your finances. Here are some insightful tips on how to save money whilst living in NYC.
Move to an affordable neighborhood
It may be tempting to opt for Tribeca or West Village, but NYC has a ton of neighbourhoods to choose from. Broaden your horizons and opt for a less ‘trendy’ option. You may be surprised on how much more value you will get for your money.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint, two safe and up-and-coming neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, are on average $1,000 cheaper per month than most neighbourhoods in Manhattan. Neighbourhoods such as Sunnyville in Queens or Riverdale and Belmont in the Bronx are even better money saving alternatives while still being relatively safe to live in. However, you must always keep in mind the cost of daily commutes, so make sure the neighbourhood is well connected by public transport lines.
Ditch the cabs
Taking a taxi to get from A to B always seems like an attractive option, however, it’s one of the most reckless ways to spend your money. The New York City subway, open 24 hours a day, is one of the best connected subway systems in the world, sometimes getting you to your destination just as quickly as a taxi would, and at a fraction of the price. Make note of how often you would use public transport to see if it’s worth investing in weekly or monthly Metrocards which give you access to both bus and subway lines.
Another cost-effective option would be to cycle. Every year, New York sees more and more cyclists cruising its streets. Also, many neighbourhoods are equipped with bike lanes, just make sure you are familiar with traffic and safety regulations before riding off.
Food and drink
Unfortunately, for those who like to eat out, even an inexpensive meal out in NYC will end up costing you significantly more than if you prepare your food at home. Yet even groceries can end up costing you a fortune if you do not know where to shop for deals. Use coupons that you get with the newspaper or in the mail and always check your local food-stores for any sales. If you are wondering where you can find cheap, high quality, fresh produce you should join your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme.
For non-perishable items, try buying in bulk at wholesalers such as CostCo or Sam’s Club – you must become a member and pay a monthly fee to shop there, but if you make use of it, it should save you plenty of money.
Entertainment and leisure
Whether your idea of a good time is a night out on the town, a visit to one of the many museums and cultural sites, or an evening curled up on the couch watching your favourite series or film, there are always ways of reducing that outflow of cash from your bank account.
The great thing about NYC is that there are often things you can do for free : free concerts, free open bars, free exhibitions, outdoor movies, etc. Some museums offer free entry one day a week at certain times and others are always free, so do your research before stepping out of the house. Also, some neighbourhoods are cheaper to go out in than others, so take the party to East Village or Brooklyn and don’t get used to spending your evenings at swanky SoHo locales.
Regarding home entertainment, it would be wise to get Netflix, Hulu or an antenna as opposed to cable television. This could save you $60 per month or more.
If you have any money saving tips for living in NYC let us know in the comments below!