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How the Swiss city of Geneva impacts rent prices across the border in France

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How the Swiss city of Geneva impacts rent prices across the border in France
The city of Geneva. Photo by Angélie Page on Unsplash

Geneva’s high housing costs — the most expensive in Switzerland — are spilling over to the neighbouring French municipalities as well.

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For the French, living close to Geneva is a double-edged sword: on one hand, the wealthy city and its job market provide better economic opportunities and higher wages.

On the other hand, however, this proximity means that tenants living in French municipalities of the so-called “Greater Geneva area” — towns located near the border — have to pay higher rents than their counterparts almost anywhere else in France.

They are among the most expensive dwellings per square metre in France.

This is the finding of a recent study by France’s National Agency for Territorial Cohesion, which shows that rents in the small French community of Divonne-les-Bains, located 20 km from Geneva, are third-highest in France, after Neuilly-sur-Seine and Paris.


Average rent per square-metre in Divonne is 23.7 euros (23.38 francs). As a comparison, the average rent per square-metre in France is 16 euros

Rents  for French and Geneva accommodations, as reported by the study, can be seen here

In all, rents are higher in 15 French municipalities located near Geneva than, for instance, in Antibes and Cannes.

Why is this?

As mentioned above, living in the vicinity of Geneva has its benefits as well as disadvantages.

Among the benefits for the people who commute from France to work in the Geneva area is higher pay — cross-border workers can earn up to double the salary they would get in France for the same job. Also, taxes are lower in Switzerland than in France.

READ MORE: Why French cross-border workers choose to work in Switzerland 


On the negative side, as Geneva rents continue to soar, so do rents in French border regions.

It could be said that these areas are also victims of Geneva’s geography and demographics, both of which are driving housing prices upward.

The tiny canton is nestled in the southwest corner of the country, where it is wedged between France and Lake Geneva, with no room to expand. Therefore, land for new constructions is limited.

At the same time, the demand for housing is increasing steadily; Geneva’s population had grown from 530,000 in 2010 to 620,000 in 2020, while not enough dwellings have been built to accommodate the new residents.

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland? 

Another rent “booster” in the region is the Léman Express, a train linking the Geneva region with neighbouring French towns to provide a quicker commute for cross-border workers.

Since its inauguration in December 2019, it has caused housing costs on both sides of the border to rise sharply.

In the vicinity of the train’s 45 stations, real estate prices soared by 8 to 9 percent on average — a sharper increase than elsewhere in the region.  

Prices went up in the French departments of Haute-Savoie and Ain, as well as in Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud, all of which lie along Léman Express’ 230-km track.

READ MORE: How a cross-border train has pushed house prices up in Switzerland and France 



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