5 Key Challenges facing Expat Families moving to Geneva

If you have children and you are embarking on moving to geneva, you’ll be concerned about how this will affect them. There is good news; The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey shows that, out of 39 expat countries, Switzerland ranks 4th for Quality of Life and 10th overall.

We’ve seen hundreds of expat families over 11 years relocate to Geneva.  They have one thing in common: they love it – because their kids are happy!  We’ve put together a list of what we think are the 5 key challenges for expat families in geneva:

1. Finding a home

The hardest one of them all, which is why in the HSBC Survey ranks Switzerland 38th. Make sure you allocate the right amount of time for this. Frequently there’s not much availability and there’s generally less space per property than you might be used to. Most rental property goes the same month it is put on the market.

Lower expectations about getting everything you want – decide on the most important things. With luck, you’ll have a relocation agent to help -if not, join some Facebook groups such as For Sale, Free or Wanted in Geneva to see what is coming up….

2. Choosing a school

Schools in Geneva are generally excellent – the HSBC Survey ranks Switzerland as 6th for “School Quality”.

The key question is whether you want an English or local language school. This is both a budgetary and personal choice. As English language schools are private, this may be a factor. Choosing a local language school can be brilliant, depending on your child.  If you choose an English language school, make sure there’s  a plan to learn the local language. If you choose  a local language school, make sure you find  extra curricular activities in English (of which there are plenty).

Once you’ve decided on your house and school, show your child pictures – that way when they see them for the first time they’ll see familiar.

3. Out of school activities

Book your child into something that they already do, but try something new too.  Use the fact that you’re in a new environment to create a sense of adventure (eg Skiing or Mountain Biking).

Many extra curricular activities in geneva  become full before the new school year starts, so make sure you’ve decided what your child should do. There’s a range of things to do in geneva from sporting, music, creative and performing arts activities. But don’t do too much! Perhaps choose one activity from each area (sport, performing arts etc).

Click here for a blog Geneva Family Diaries for suggestions of activities for children in geneva.

4. Friendships

Friendship and integration is a key part of enjoying your new life.  Switzerland ranks  low in the HSBC Survey for Making Friends (38) and Integration (35). Make sure you allocate enough time to this which will be fundamental in your child feeling happy from the start.

Almost all our students agree  their strongest friendships are made outside the school environment. Look to benefit from friendships with children in geneva made through extra curricular activities. Of course, Simply Theatre students are naturally strong at making new friends!

5. Language

If you send your child to an English-speaking school, remember they’re in a country with a local language.  Being able to speak it will really help integration in the environment outside school.

All English schools  do lessons  in local language, though this won’t be as intensive as at a local language school. To help exposure to the new language, choose one activity in local language.

Starting in a new country can be daunting – but Simply Theatre staff, parents and students are a great mix of expats (long term and short term) and locals.  If you need a little help or advice, contact us.  And don’t forget to check out our English-speaking Performing Arts Academy and Productions!  Find out more at www.simplytheatre.com or on  +41 (0) 22 860 05 18.

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