So, living in Lausanne, even for a short period as a visitor, is definitely on your agenda. Is that a good idea you ask? Well, apart from the fact that Lausanne is one of the most picturesque places in the world to live, there are many other benefits. There are also, I think, some considerations you need to make, particularly if you intend to live there long-term or retire to Lausanne.
Is Lausanne a good place to live, visit, retire, work or buy a house? Undoubtedly, yes! Lausanne has many things in its favour including:
• A high-standard of living;
• Financial and political stability;
• A cosmopolitan outlook;
• A great work-life balance;
• A modern, efficient, integrated transport system;
• Good employment prospects; and
• An exceptional cultural life.
I am going to tell you more about all the above and more. From buying a home to work, leisure interests, tax requirements, finances and what to do with your spare time. You will find all you need to know to set you on the road and give you ideas for further research to inform the decision that you have to make. Such decisions should not be made lightly, so the more you know, the better the position you will be in.
Is Lausanne a good place to live?
Lausanne is the capital of the Swiss canton of Vaud which has a population of 150,000 (half-a-million when its suburbs are taken into account). It is situated close to the border with France, on the shore of Lake Geneva with the Jura Mountains to the north-west, guaranteeing spectacular vistas.
It’s a cosmopolitan city with much dynamism and is home to the University of Lausanne and the Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne. The presence of so many students has a tremendous influence on the social life of the city with its many bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
The standard of living is generally high, Lausanne is a very clean, pedestrian-friendly, safe place; violent crime is almost non-existent. The city prides itself on its integrated public transport system which includes national and international rail services, local buses and trolley buses.
Lausanne Airport is a short distance out of the city at Blecherette and boats can be taken on Lake Geneva. Lausanne is predominantly a French-speaking city although many other languages are spoken and English is taught in schools. An interesting feature of the city is its south-west sloping layout and the gorge of the River Fion which has necessitated a series of bridges which serve the different elevations of the city, so if you are new to the landscape it’s a good idea to plan your route before you set off. Is it sounding good so far?
Now we come to what will be the primary consideration for most people, the cost of living, which is 43% higher than London and the third most expensive out of 436 cities worldwide.
Switzerland is generally known for being expensive and this is brought home very clearly in Lausanne where a new pair of jeans cost 107.00 fr. a litre of milk 1.59 fr. and a dozen eggs 5.81 fr. to name just a few products. If good weather is an important consideration for you, then you will be interested to know that Lausanne has 120 days of rain on average each year and 9 snowy days.
The average temperature is 37 degrees centigrade with summer temperatures well above 30 degrees centigrade and the temperature in January and February, the coldest months, half that. Lausanne offers lots to do and see, including parks and open spaces where cycling, hiking and walking are popular pastimes. It is also home to a number of first-class museums and galleries. Lausanne can boast a lively and eclectic cultural scene and is also the home of the Olympic Movement and a centre for international sport.
Is Lausanne a good place to work?
Lausanne has a dynamic labour market which is competitive and diverse and offers employment opportunities to people from across Europe and the rest of the world.
The unemployment rate, recorded June 2018, was 4.7% with about 6,000 people job-seeking. Service industries predominate. Lausanne is the administrative centre for the canton of Vaud and the mainstays of the local economy are information and communication technology, financial services, health and public administration, light industry, including food production (Nestle has its headquarters in the city) and of course, tourism.
Lausanne is also a centre of excellence for education so is a good place to work as a teacher or university lecturer. Other major companies with headquarters in the area include KPMG, Ernst Young and Siemens. Company transfers are often the means by which employees find themselves working in the city with relocation expenses, fortunately, borne by the company.
The average salary after tax is around 5,000 Euros a month. Most Swiss nationals speak at least two languages, predominantly French and German. The ability to speak French fluently will enhance your job prospects and help level the playing field in terms of competition with those who speak more than one language. Nevertheless, in many of the big multi-nationals, English is used.
Switzerland generally and Lausanne, in particular, have generous tax regimes. Once you have lived in the city for more than 30 days and worked you are liable to pay tax. If you live in Switzerland for more than 90 days and don’t work, you become liable.
Switzerland has a number of multi-national agreements with other countries, including the E.U. aimed at ensuring people aren’t taxed twice. Tax bands range from 10%-30% depending on circumstances. Generally, the tax system is complex so it is best to do further research. It is also worth remembering that the Swiss are naturally reserved, there is nothing of the superficial friendliness of Americans but over time, as you win their trust, it is possible to build meaningful and lasting relationships, so patience is the watchword.
Is Lausanne a good place to buy a home?
Lausanne is the top of a lot of bucket lists world-wide in terms of where people would like to live in their dream scenario. The city is financially and economically stable and the rate of taxation is lower than in many other countries. It is also a family-friendly city with many shops and restaurants going out of their way to accommodate children and keep them entertained. Navigating the city with a pram is made easier by the provision of ramps and elevators.
Denizens report, that while there are very desirable conclaves in which to live, such as the La Cite area with its graceful avenues, you would enjoy living in any area of the city.
Renting is popular and apartments, certainly in the centre, are the most popular choice of housing. Rent on a one bedroom apartment in the centre will cost close to 1,500 Euro a month. It is possible to reduce this to around 1,000 Euro by living outside the centre.
Rent on a 3 bedroom apartment costs considerably more at 2,677 Euro in the centre and 2,100 Euro on the outskirts.
If you want to buy property in the city centre, you should budget for 10,425 Euro per square metre and 7,800 fr per square metre in the suburbs. In terms of other living expenses, monthly costs for a 4 person family amounts to just under 5,500 Euro.
Childcare costs are also high and the cost of sending a child to preschool for full-time 5 days a week is 2,214 Euro.
Is Lausanne a good place to retire?
Lausanne is a picturesque city with a high standard of living. It has a young vibe which will help you to keep active in your later years; possibly the reason the city has high life expectancy.
Lausanne has a strong sense of community and, with a little effort on your part, you should soon integrate well and find new friends among both other expats and the native community. Whether you can actually afford to spend your retirement in Lausanne will be largely down to the size of your pension pot because, as we have seen already, it is an expensive city to live in. If it is possible for you to cut back a little on unnecessary expenses like eating out too often or operating two cars, this might be a way to make living in Lausanne a reality.
Whether you want to get about in the city, cross over the border into France or visit other cantons, travel is easy due to the modern, efficient transport system. Fares are relatively cheap also. Certainly, you will never be bored because, whatever your interests, there are just so many things to occupy your time. Retirees can opt to pay a lump sum in tax annually unrelated to income or assets.
Is Lausanne a good place to visit?
This is possibly the easiest of the questions to answer with an unequivocal yes; the only caveat is that to enjoy everything the city has to offer, you are going to spend a lot more than you would in other cities.
The old town is dominated Notre-Dame Cathedral, regarded by many as the finest example of Gothic architecture in Switzerland. There are 46 buildings in the city listed as having national significance including civic and religious buildings and castles.
Popular attractions include the Swiss Reformed Church and City Hall. The waterfront area around Ouchy is always popular with visitors. Other outstanding features of the city include the amount of green space and grand palace hotels, such as Beau-Rivage Palace and Hotel de L’Angleterre.
For those interested in the Olympic Games, the Olympic Museum is the largest information centre in the world on the subject. For art lovers, the Musee de l’Art Brut houses one of the finest collections of that particular style anywhere.
There are also regular exhibitions at L’Hermitage. If it’s festivals you are seeking, Lausanne has more than its fair share:
• Estival a large music festival;
• The jazz festival held each October;
• Athletissima, a world-class athletics event held each July
• Tour de Romandie, a UCI Pro-cycling tour; and
• The Prix de Lausanne Ballet compétition held each January
There are also other events happening throughout the year. Visitors can attend the Lausanne Opera or go to a chamber orchestra concert. Finally, if you want to get away from it all and recharge the batteries, what could be better than a pleasure cruise on Lake Geneva?
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.