A prominent global centre, the French-speaking city of Geneva is the second biggest city in Switzerland (after Zurich) and a hub for diplomacy and banking. Popular with working expats, Geneva is constantly growing and evolving, with 90 new firms opening in 2019 in the city alone. Taking a step away from the city centre, Geneva also has excellent public transport links to a number of highly desirable locations along the left bank of its eponymous lake, close to some of the country’s best schools.
As home to the United Nations and the Red Cross, Geneva is relatively small in size given its status. Its reputation is multifaceted: primarily considered as an important business city, an intellectual and research hub, but also as a busy luxury shopping destination. Geneva is also home to the world’s largest particle physics research laboratory in the world – CERN.
With a long-standing reputation as one of Europe’s most privileged cities, the cultural scene is rich and diverse, offering world-class music, theatre, museums (Musee d’Art Histoire or Fondation Baur are superb examples), restaurants and a vibrant nightlife and club culture. For many, the draw of Geneva is its proximity to the mountains and lake, and all the sporting and recreation opportunities they offer – from winter and adventure sports like skiing and snowboarding to hiking, sailing, golf, horse riding and cycling to name but a few. There are 288 ski resorts all within three hours of Geneva, the closest, Saint-Cergue, Les Brasses and Montriond, only 45 minutes away.
Families have historically favoured Geneva as a city to raise children, with safety standards notably high, the mountains and lake on the doorstep and numerous world-renowned public, private and international schools all within the city and its surrounding communities. The internationally recognised Geneva University was founded in 1559 and is attractive to many international students
"Families have historically favoured Geneva as a city to raise children, with safety standards notably high, and the mountains and lake on the doorstep"
Neighbourhoods to watch
Les Eaux Vives
Les Eaux-Vives is a well-known district on the left bank of Lake Geneva. Positioned on the lake's southern shore, between Genève Plage and Rue de l'Arquebuse, and surrounded by water, it is home to Geneva's main attraction, the Jet d'Eau Fountain. Thanks to the number of attractions such as museums, theatres and the beautiful Parc des Eaux-Vives, the district is a lively and friendly area and offers the perfect place to recharge batteries after a busy day in the heart of Geneva.
Le Parc des Crêts – Troinex
The Parc des Crêts is a project that promises a unique living environment with something for everyone in Troinex, just a few miles from downtown Geneva. Its proximity to the international airport, as well as the motorway, makes it well connected to the city centre and the rest of the world. This project integrates respectfully and harmoniously with the surrounding natural environment, while meeting the residential needs of the city’s growing population.
What’s driving demand
12 Universities / 50 international Schools Low tuition fees Exceptional standard of education Flexibility – can attend a school in the mountains for just the winter
Reason for buying?
Price per sq m:
Core: CHF 13,000 / €11,800 Prime: CHF 27,000 / €24,500 Super Prime: CHF 33,000 / €30,000
Did you know
Switzerland ranks as one of the top 10 safest countries in the world
70% Local 30% International
Reasons to buy
It’s not just the landscape around Geneva that offers variation, the socioeconomic factors of the country share their own desirable topography of highs and lows: consistently rated high standards of living, education, quality of life and work, a strong, stable economy and favourably low levels of tax, crime and poverty – Switzerland ranks as one of the top 10 safest countries in the world. Knight Frank’s recent Swiss Insight Report found that purchasing Swiss property holds enduring appeal for overseas investors, despite the highly regulated procedures involved.
When it comes to residential property, prime areas are split between the Left Bank and the Right Bank (determined by the flow of the water.) The Left Bank faces west and enjoys views of the Jura mountains while the Right Bank faces east and benefits from dramatic views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding Alps.
It used to be that International clients mainly sought Swiss residency and property for tax reasons. Now it is more about personal safety, education, good quality health care and economic stability, with tax taking a back seat. We are noticing a significant uplift in the number of international clients wanting to relocate to Geneva, whether they are non-doms from the UK or people from less fiscally and personally secure spots around the world.
Geneva market in numbers
Whether it is for lifestyle or investment purposes, there can be extra costs that need to be considered in addition to the purchase of the property itself. While the cost of the property is by far the most significant expense, additional costs you may need to cover can include local fees, taxes, running costs and possible charges that will need to be factored in.
The total percentage of purchasers costs involved in buying a property in Geneva, which includes:
Taxes of 3%. Land register fee of 0.25%
Rental yields: Based on gross income. Average rental: Based on prices per month. Prime market: The most desirable and most expensive property in a given location, defined as the top 5% of each market by value. Super prime market: The most desirable and most expensive property in a given location, defined as homes priced at more than US $10 million.
Rental yield: 4.5% Expected running costs: CHF 6 / €5.5 sq m Average rental: CHF 25 / €22.5 sq m
Rental yield: 3.0% Expected running costs: CHF 7.0 / €6.4 sq m Average rental: CHF 38.0 / €34.5 sq m
Super prime market
Rental yield: 3.5% Expected running costs: CHF 8.0 / €7.3 sq m Average rental: CHF 55.0 / €50.0 sq m
What can you get for your money in Geneva?
Knight Frank has listed all properties within the past 12 months. The price per square meter shown for all sold property is representative of their appraised pricing and not their final sale price.
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Sources: 1. Naef prestige. This city guide is provided for general information only. It is not definitive, nor is it intended to amount to advice on which you should solely rely upon. As far as applicable laws allow, we do not accept responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions, nor for loss or damage that may result directly or indirectly from reliance on or use of its contents.