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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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For members

HEALTH INSURANCE

How to save money by changing your Swiss health policy

Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance is notoriously expensive, but you can lower the cost of premiums substantially by changing your company or coverage.

How to save money by changing your Swiss health policy

The cost of health insurance premiums usually represents at least 7 percent of a typical household budget.

An adult spends nearly 4,600 francs a year on average on the mandatory basic coverage (KVG / LaMal) alone – covering only medical care, not dental. If any extra policies are taken out, the cost is even higher.

Not only that, but premiums have been rising practically each year, and look set to go up again in 2023, possibly by as much as 10 percent — the sharpest hike in 20 years.

READ MORE: Why Swiss health premiums are set to rise — and what you can do about it

Even though these costs are high and climbing, many people keep the same health insurance for years.

However, significant savings — to the tune of thousands of francs a year — could be made simply by switching carriers or plans, from the more expensive to the cheapest ones, according to a new study by the cost comparison site Comparis.

How much and where

The amount of the savings varies depending on policyholder’s place of residence, because rates are determined by cantons.

However, Comparis calculated that over a 10-year period, people living in Zurich could have saved 33,396 francs in premium costs and for those living in Bern this amount is 30,064.

Lausanne residents could cut their costs by 36,494 francs over 10 years, 31, 032 in Geneva, and 33,490 in Basel-City.

“With the strong premium increases expected this fall, the savings potential is even greater,” said Felix Schneuwly, health insurance expert at Comparis.

So how can you save money? Here are some of the ways:

Increase your deductible

In Switzerland, the deductible (franchise) ranges from 300 to 2,500 francs – this represents the medical costs that you have to pay out of your own pocket before your health insurance kicks in.

As with most types of insurance, the lower your deductible, the higher your premiums, and vice-versa.

If you are young, healthy, and are not on any long-term medication then you can save substantially with the highest franchise.

Keep in mind, however, that if you choose the highest deductible and end up having an accident or falling sick and needing medical care, you will have to pay a greater proportion of the costs.

Switch to a less expensive plan.

The standard model for healthcare in Switzerland is that you can consult any medic that you want, and you do not need a referral to see a specialist.

However, there are some types of health insurance plans that have cheaper premiums, but impose certain limits on your access to non-emergency medical care.

For instance:

Health maintenance organisation (HMO)

Under this model, policyholders are required to consult a particular HMO practice. Two disadvantages of this alternative is a limited choice of doctors and you also need a referral to see a specialist.

However, the benefit is a premium reduction of up to 25 percent compared to the conventional insurance.

Family doctor model

Your family doctor, a general practitioner, will be designated by your insurance company and will be in charge of all your non-emergency medical treatment.

He or she will refer you to a specialist if necessary. 

If you opt for this option, you could save 20 percent on your insurance.

READ MORE: Five tips for getting cheaper health insurance in Switzerland

The Telmed alternative

If you choose this option, you have to call a telephone service and get a referral to a doctor or hospital.

This does not apply to medical emergencies and there are other exceptions, such as eye exams and annual gynaecological check-ups.

Total savings could range between 15 and 20 percent. 

Cancelling or changing your policy

If you want to cancel your current insurance policy and take up a cheaper one , you have to do so by registered letter before November 30th.

By then, you will know what your premiums will be in 2023 because your carrier must notify you of the new rates by October 31st.

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