Relocating from Canada - housing, living & benefits

Hi, I am looking to relocate with my husband & child to Geneva from Canada and I have a few questions! I have researched some rental opportunities but from what I have found, I understand that it can take months to secure an apartment in Geneva. Do you know the rental/housing situation in Geneva? If it takes us a while to find a place, what are some temporary solutions while we wait (besides a hotel)? We also plan to live in Geneva for a few years, during which I will most likely have another baby. Are there any maternity or parental benefits? Would I be granted a parental leave? Would I still receive a portion of salary? Your help would be so much appreciated! Thank you very much!

2 Answers

bigtbigt20 Apr 2005
I am not sure what the renting situation is in Geneva as I live in Zurich. However, I would check the following websites, or They all provide information on the purchase and rental of properties all over Switzerland.
tturcotturco13 Apr 2005
Although I lived in Switzerland for many hears, I have never lived in Geneva. My friends there who do tell me it is difficult to find an apartment and It can take months for something to become available. Have you used this website: It may be helpful. If you are relocating with a company, have you asked them what they suggest as a good temporary situation? I hope the only answer isn’t that you look farther away from the city. Good luck finding something. As for your pregnancy and maternity leave, I can tell you that it will be wonderful to have a baby in Switzerland. My first child was born there (in Basel) and I was very, very happy with the whole experience. There are a few things to consider: 1. By law, everyone in Switzerland must have health Insurance. There are three tiers of health insurance. The first tier of health insurance is also called "first class." This gives you private rooms in the most luxurious hospitals, which serve better food than you'll find in some of the restaurants in the city. All the doctors in Switzerland work throughout the three-tier-system, it’s all a matter of choice. You get more choice the higher you go up the latter, and you pay for it. 2. The second tier of health insurance (also called semi-private) is the best choice for women of childbearing years. This is not as expensive as the first tier, you are able to choose your own ob-gyn and doctors, and you can choose from some of the private hospitals. Not that there are any "bad" hospitals in Switzerland. It's just the amount (and quality) of pampering you get that differs. And after giving birth, you deserve a bit of pampering. Your hospital room only has two beds hence, the “semi-private. 3. The third tier (often, but not always the cheapest) is similar to an HMO plan. This is the best choice for all your children under the age of 18. At this tier level, you can still choose your own pediatrician (though an adult on this plan will have to go to a “gate keeper” doctor first to be referred to a specialist) and most of the child's health costs are reimbursed (medicines, doctor's visits, hospitals and emergencies). One "down side" is that the child (or adult on this plan) will not have a private nor semi-private hospital room , but instead will be in a room with 5 other beds. Some say this is better for children, that they don't feel so alone (perhaps, not so for adults). 4. After your birth, there is a mother's helper group (in German called mutersberatung, don’t know it in French) where you can get advice on everything from diaper rash, breastfeeding and weening, sleep problems, teething, etc. Some even help with grocery shopping and cooking meals. It is very useful when your own mother is an ocean away. The hospital can give you information on this if you ask. So might your ob-gyn. If you are working during your pregnancy, your ob-gyn may “prescribe” that you work fewer hours, depending upon how your pregnancy is going. Doctor’s tend to be very generous with this, and your company must abide by doctor’s orders, giving you full pay all the while. Pregnancy leave is generally 4 weeks, and maternity leave is generally another 12 weeks, all on full salary. After that, you are entitled to take un-paid leave for up to 3(?) years and the company must guarantee your same job or the equivalent when you return, with no cut in salary. Nice deal. Don’t worry, you’ll be taken care of. I could have had 6 children in Switzerland!! Most helpful book and website: Living and Working in Switzerland a survival handbook (available on It’s a bit tongue and cheek, but also very useful in preparing you for your move and helping you through the maze of paperwork and bureaucracy that is so Swiss. Lists expat organizations and clubs, embassies, how to buy auto insurance, etc. - Switzerland’s news and information platform in 8 languages. Click on Swisslinks for everything you ever wanted to know about Switzerland (politics, history, tourism, education, etc.) Bonne Chance!
authorvan_cdn 13 Apr 2005
Wow, thank you very much, that was very informative! I have another question in regards to health insurance. In Canada, most of our insurance is provided through our employers, is that the case in Switzerland? I am probably going to end up working for the UN, but my husband will be working for a private company. Do we both need insurance? Thanks again!
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