Geneva might not be a particularly large city by area or population, but when it comes to financial services it is certainly big. According to the Swiss government, Geneva’s financial sector includes 140 banks and employs 35,000 people — not bad for a city of 200,000 people spread over 16 sq km. It is not all about work, however — the postcard-pretty financial hub is ringed by mountains that are perfect for summer hiking and winter skiing.
Quality of life
Geneva ranks among the top 10 cities worldwide for quality of living, according to Mercer’s annual survey. Salaries are high and foreign professionals do particularly well: expats in Geneva earn an average of $184,942, according to data released last year from HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey. This is the fifth-highest of cities surveyed, and well above the global average of $99,903.
Geneva has something to offer music fans of every stripe. The city boasts one of the world’s great opera houses, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, while each summer the city centre and its parks are taken over by the Fête de la Musique in which performers give free live concerts in every genre from classical to techno on more than 30 stages. The world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival takes place around early July every year at the eastern end of Lake Geneva, an hour by train from Geneva.
Switzerland is very generous to those who lose their jobs. Workers who are resident in the country and have been in their job for at least a year are entitled to benefit payments of 80 per cent of their salary for up to two years while they look for something new. This is capped at SFr148,200 ($147,500) a year.
The snow-covered summit of Mont Blanc, visible from Geneva all year round, is a constant reminder of the wealth of Alpine skiing available within a short drive of the city. The largest, most famous resort is Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, an hour-and-a-half away by car, which includes 10 ski areas on either side of the Chamonix valley. For somewhere smaller and more family-friendly, Praz de Lys-Sommand is less than an hour’s drive from the city.
Taking a dip
The city cradles the south-western tip of Lake Geneva, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe and the focus of much leisure activity. A 200km cycle route — mostly flat, despite the mountains on all sides — hugs the lake’s perimeter, while the clean, glacier-fed water is perfect for a cool-down swim (though this is not recommended before June). Hiring a small motorboat costs about SFr140 for half a day from Les Corsaires on Quai Gustav-Ador.
Photographs: Getty Images; Roman Babakin; Lena Serditova; Getty Images/iStockphoto