Retiring in Geneva is Dreamy if You Can Afford It

Retiring in Geneva

By Lea Sitbon - Geneva Resident

Ideally located on the shores of Lake Leman and surrounded by the Jura, Geneva Switzerland is a great place to retire! With roughly 400,480 people, Geneva is just the right size, making it super easy to commute from one side of town to the other. 

The city is also known for its international dimension, being home of international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the ICRC and many more! Geneva’s international exposure makes it easy for expats to integrate and take part in the city’s bubbly cultural life, with multiple events, movies and plays offered in English.

Geneva, just like the rest of Switzerland, is a safe place to live and retire. Children, women and elderly people can go out at any hour of the day or night, without feeling any sense of insecurity.

Geneva is Expensive

Retiring in Geneva can be very expensive, the cost of a two bedroom rental is around $2,300 to $3,500 monthly and a 3-course mid-range meal for two will set you back about $110. According to Numbeo, Geneva has the fifth highest cost of living out of the 573 cities rated. 

Getting Around Geneva

While the city is ultra walkable and friendly towards both pedestrians and cyclists, the public transportation system is also very well served. You can navigate around the city using trains, buses as well as boats called Mouettes. All are part of the public transportation system with fares around $3 for a whole hour of traveling. 

Keep in mind that the traffic can get quite intense on weekdays during rush hour, making public transportation and soft mobility the two most effective options. Having a car though remains an asset to travel to nearby countries such as Italy, France or Germany, located only a few hours away!

For those retiring in and around Geneva, the location is perfect. You can visit so many other places by car or a train trip. You can get to Monaco for a long weekend in under 6 hours by train!

Fun Fact

Geneva can trace its roots back to 500 BC when it was a fortified settlement of Allobrogian Celts and then later conquered by the Romans in 121 BC. 

Is Geneva Dog-Friendly?

The city is very friendly to our furry friends, with more than 20 spots where dogs can run freely without a leash. Most shops and restaurants are open to dogs although grocery stores, schools, public pools, beaches, health and religious institutions usually prohibit dogs.

Before riding public transportation with your four legged friend, remember to buy a dedicated ticket as our loyal companions are considered just like other riders!

Do consider that Geneva doesn’t mess with cleanliness and has installed around the city more than 600 bag distributors called Caninettes for you to clean your dog’s mess. Not cleaning up after your dog constitutes an offense and can therefore result in a fine - there, you have been warned! 🙂

What Foods are Geneva Known For?

As you might already know, Switzerland is well known for its delicious chocolate and exquisite cheese! In other words, it’s a real paradise for foodies! Although Geneva’s culinary scene is pretty international, don’t forget to try those Swiss specialties when in the city: Fondue, Raclette, Rösti and Spätzli!

What Languages are Spoken in Geneva?

You’ve probably gotten it by now, Geneva is a very international place, a melting pot with French as its main language (spoken by 80% of the population) followed by English (11%). Therefore, having English as your first language isn’t an issue at all, as most citizens have a good understanding of the language given the international environment.

Fun Fact

Patek Phillipe of Geneva invented the wristwatch in 1868.

What Fun Things Can I Do When I Visit Geneva?

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Geneva, here are a few you will definitely enjoy:

  • Enjoy a Concerto at the Victoria Hall, this 19th century venue with its refined decor and amazing sound system will undoubtedly leave you breathless.
  • Explore La Cave de Genève, one of Satigny’s beautiful vineyards by bike and enjoy a well deserved glass of wine.
  • Head to La Fraisière to pick your strawberries and all kinds of red fruits directly from the field.
  • Visit the UN’s Palais des Nations and get an exclusive sneak peek into the Human Rights room, the council chamber, and the assembly hall.

What Do Geneva Locals Love to Do and Eat?

Now let’s talk local! Want to know what the people of Geneva enjoy doing? Here are a few insider tips:

  • Rent a boat on the weekend (usually from April to October) and swim in the middle of the lake where the water is nice and pure!
  • Enjoy an intense shopping session in Rive and Rue du Rhône followed by a cup of coffee with a view, in the city’s old town.
  • Stroll around Plainpalais’ flea market to discover hidden gems.
  • Head to Carouge for their beautiful architecture, bistronomic catering and famous market.
  • Take a boat, all the way down the Rhone.
  • Enjoy an exhibit in one of Geneva’s Museums, from Natural History to Art & History, MOMA or Patek Philippe, you will have plenty of choice!
  • Wander by the Bain des Pâquis and get your massage fix while enjoying creative vibes.
  • And finally, enjoy an outdoor movie screening by the lake in the summer, facing Geneva’s famous Jet d’eau (water fountain).

Food wise, locals enjoy having their Swiss food fix at Les Armures or at La Cave Valaisanne, where you can get state of the art Raclette and Fondue. Step away
from the city and swing by Corsier or Hermance, villages by the lake, to enjoy perch fillets with a view.

Enjoy warm chestnuts in the winter from merchants in their wooden sheds, right in the city center. Finally, sooth your sugar cravings by enjoying a delicious ice cream at Arlecchino and savor pastries from Bakery Mage not far from Geneva’s center.

Geneva Cost of Living Chart



Cost of Living Rank

5th out of 573
#1 is most expensive

1 Bdr Apartment in City

$2056 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City

$1580 per month

Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line

Retiring in Geneva can be an expensive undertaking. But, if your budget is up for it, you'll get a perfectly-sized city that offers amazing beauty, culture and proximity to some of Europe's best destinations. 

If Geneva is out of your budget, maybe Bruges, Belgium could be a consideration. 

Quick Facts about Retiring in Geneva, Switzerland






1220 ft


Warm summers and cold wet winters. Clouds are around throughout the year.  Average temps are from 30°F and 79°F

Flight time to U.S.

13 hours by plane to New York


Swiss Franc

Retirement Programs


Retirement Visa

Public Transportation

Trains and buses

About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.