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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

EXPLAINED: How to legally hire a cleaner in Switzerland

In today’s busy world, cleaners are indispensable help for many households, but you may be surprised to find that hiring one (legally) in Switzerland is not as straightforward as you think. Here’s how you do it the right way.

EXPLAINED: How to legally hire a cleaner in Switzerland

First things first, there are two ways to hire a cleaner legally: you can become an employer yourself, or use a cleaning agency that will put you in touch with a cleaner. The latter will also take care of all the administration and is generally far more convenient (if your cleaning person is off sick for instance, you will be provided with a different cleaner) albeit, more expensive. The agency also assumes all ancillary costs such as AHV and insurance.

However, some people prefer to be more in control and hire a cleaner on their own. Here’s the lowdown on how to do that:

Draw up a contract

First, it is crucial to sit down with your cleaner and establish what kind of tasks and in what capacity they will be required to work for you. While a written employment contract is not mandatory, it is often recommended so you can both agree on the most important key points such as wages, payment method, working hours and areas of responsibility.

Additionally, if your cleaner is not Swiss, make sure they have the necessary work permit. If they are a recognised refugee or temporarily admitted in Switzerland, their employment must be reported prior to beginning to work for you.

After you have drawn up a contractual agreement, you will need to register with your local Ausgleichkasse. In order to register your cleaner, you will need to provide their necessary personal information, such as their AHV number. Ask your cleaner if he or she has a spouse and if they already receive family allowances. If not, you must also register them with a Familienausgleichskasse.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

Wages

Cleaners in Switzerland earn an average of 31 francs per hour, but how much you choose to pay your cleaner is ultimately up to you – and varies from canton to canton.

Should your cleaner be required to work irregular hours, make sure to agree an hourly wage including holiday allowance. A holiday surcharge of 8.33 per cent is usual across Switzerland and means that the salary is paid in for four weeks of vacation per year. Alternatively, should you require your cleaner regularly, a monthly salary can be agreed.

A home in Geneva.

A home in Geneva. Photo by Edi Bouazza on Unsplash

On January 1st 2023 the Swiss Federal Council adjusted the minimum wages for domestic workers working over 5 hours a week to an hourly rate of CHF 19.50 to 23.55.

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However, when agreeing on a wage for your cleaner do not forget about the deductions. You will have to deduct 6.4 percent from the gross salary for AHV and IV contributions as well as unemployment insurance and 5 percent withholding tax.

If you register for the simplified accounting procedure – such as with KLARA Home, a digital assistant that helps you hire and insure domestic workers in accordance with the law -, your employee’s taxes will be automatically deducted from their wage, and it spares you having to fill out a wage statement at the end of the year.

Register them with an approved accident insurer. 

As a rule, a cleaner will only work a few hours per week for any household. Despite this, you will have to make a few key arrangements for this work to be conducted legally.

Remember that every person living and working in Switzerland must be registered with an accident insurer, so be sure to register your cleaner with one, as health insurances only cover for non-occupational accidents. Should you require your cleaner for more than eight hours a week, you must also insure them against non-occupational accidents.

What about other obligations?

Once your cleaner is registered, all you need to do is report their gross salary to the compensation office at the end of the year. The insurer will then create a statement of the social security contributions and bill you for them.

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