Moving to Lausanne


Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 3 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 5 out of 5

  • Property affordability 3 out of 5

  • Climate 4 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Lying on the northern coast of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is the second largest city in French-speaking Switzerland after the city that gives the lake its name. The crystal clear waters of the lake, the mountain air, the excellent infrastructure and the liberal, tolerant atmosphere have attracted foreign born nationals from all over Europe. In 2008, 39% of Lausanne’s inhabitants were of non-Swiss origin.

Once the site of a Roman military camp, Lausanne became part of the Swiss federation in 1803 and is capital of the Canton of Vaud. Traditionally a seat of agriculture, forestry and fishing the modern Lausanne has a large manufacturing sector, many education, research and scientific organisations and a significant percentage of its population are employed in financial or professional services.

Switzerland is now limiting the number of foreign nationals from the EU who are allowed to live and work in the country. If you’re lucky enough to obtain permits to live and work in Lausanne you’ll be able to enjoy 350 hectares of public parks and gardens, 1,882 hectares of managed forest, a huge portfolio of architectural styles, a large number of galleries and museums, the Lausanne Opera and the Béjart Ballet.

Lausanne is also the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, home of the Olympic Museum, has some world class sporting facilities and is near to several ski resorts.

Moving to Lausanne from the UK

With a population of around 130,000 and covering an area of just 41 square kilometres Lausanne is roughly the same size as Telford in Shropshire. Those moving from the UK to Lausanne will probably find it cleaner, better organised and offering much more in the way of cultural and leisure activities than the midlands town.

Lausanne is, for example, probably the smallest city in the world with its own metro system. It also has extensive sustainability and environmental legislation.

In Switzerland most people rent their homes rather than buying – about 70% in fact – which has led to government initiatives in recent years to boost home ownership and drive up demand. This, along with lots of foreign investment in Swiss property, has led to increasing house prices for a number of years.

In Vaud, property transfer tax and notary fees come to 5% of the property value and foreign buyers are not allowed to resell for five years.

Those unwilling to purchase a property in Lausanne due to high prices, the strength of the Swiss Franc or fears of the bubble bursting will be looking for rental properties.

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You can rent a three bedroom apartment in Sallaz-Vennes-Sechaud for as little as CHF 1,500 (£1,035) per month.

Comparing Lausanne vs London

The climate of Lausanne is not entirely dissimilar to that of London but has some significant differences. Winters tend to be colder (average lows of -0.5 °C in December, January and February) with much more snowfall (about 42 cm per year on average). Summer temperatures are almost identical but Lausanne sees about 20% more sunshine than London.

While rents are cheaper in Lausanne than in London, property is no cheaper while groceries, restaurants and consumer goods are all significantly more expensive. Because salaries are generally higher in Lausanne though, the purchasing power of the average Lausannois is greater than that of the average Londoner.

Inhabitants of Lausanne report feeling slightly safer than residents of the Uk capital, on average. They also report lower pollution and less time spent commuting. They’re not as keen on their level of health care though.

Lausanne’s chief cultural attractions are its impressive array of architecturally significant buildings ranging from the 12th Century cathedral to the Tour de Sauvabelin – a 35m high wooden observation tower that affords panoramic views of the city, the lake and the surrounding countryside. The Swiss Film Archive is also based in Lausanne and runs festivals throughout the year.