A Guide to Living and Working in Lausanne
The capital of Switzerland’s Vaud canton, Lausanne is a coastal city perhaps overshadowed by the larger, more populous cities in the country. A vibrant city that has become a hotspot for many businesses, Lausanne has the ingredients to become a home from home for any expat.
Lausanne at a glance
Lausanne is situated in the French area of Switzerland, meaning that French is the primary language spoken in the city although like most of Switzerland, many locals can understand English. The city has seen an increase in its expat population over the years due to continued job opportunities being available in the region. The people are very kind in nature, so much so, that locals offer free guided tours of the city for visitors, giving them a very personalised and authentic view of the city.
Lausanne is one the smallest cities in the world to have a Metro system which connects the city’s major areas. The Metro has two lines and 30 stations allowing a quick and easy way of manoeuvring around the city. Moreover, Lausanne shares the same characteristics of all major cities in Switzerland in that it has excellent rail links across the rest of the country and Europe. They also offer shorter commuter services for those who live in the suburbs or outskirts. Like in all of Switzerland, travel cards and passes make the reliable public transport system the best way of commuting around the country.
Lifestyle & Leisure Time
For a small city, there is an abundance to do in Lausanne. It is often described as being very multi-dimensional with something to match everyone’s leisure interests.
Sports enthusiasts should find themselves in a blissful environment with an array of activities to enjoy after all Lausanne is the Olympic capital of the world and home of the Olympic museum. The museum is home to a fascinating collection of Olympic sporting memorabilia and exhibits, which can excite those of all ages. On a more practical level, there are a wealth of sporting facilities and clubs to go out and enjoy. For those who have more an interest in sport rather than a passion, there are also plenty of ways to participate without paying or needing expensive equipment. If you want to experience skiing, Lausanne’s proximity to the Alps makes it a prime location to get to many major ski resorts by rail or road.
Walks and Sailing
Instead of exertion, why not just go at your own pace and stroll along one of the cities many walking trails. There are a variety of guided tours available and of course, you can explore for yourself if you want to be your own guide and discover what the city has to offer. You can also take to the water and have a leisurely sail on Lake Geneva, which is one of the largest in Western Europe and is extremely popular with tourists. It is also often used as a way of travelling to Geneva if you are planning a weekend there, as the boat ride only takes around 4 hours.
Culture & Art
When walking around the city, it is impossible not to notice the spectacular Cathedral of Lausanne with its beautiful architecture and lofty spires dominating the skyline. The building was built in several stages and was subject to many changes after the Reformation. The Cathedral’s interior matches the exterior in terms of allure, with medieval paintwork and building still intact, including the 6000-pipe organ.
As well as the cathedral, art lovers can dwell in Switzerland’s second oldest art museum, the Cantonal Museum of Fine Art which is home to historical artwork from the canton of Vaud as well as international pieces.
Lausanne is a city that will appeal to the proverbial shopaholic. It boasts a variety of stores across many fields ranging from designer clothing stores to quintessentially Swiss traders, meaning the city has something to suit everyone’s shopping interests. Most shops, particularly high street names, are found in the malls of the Flon area of Lausanne which is considered the heart of the city and beaming with life day and night. The city also welcomes weekly and monthly markets which offer fresh foods from the local area, antiques and second-hand materials. The markets provide a great way for people to give back to the local area and community.
Eating and Nightlife
There is no lack of places to dine and wind down in Lausanne. The city is home to many quality restaurants which will be sure to suit the tastes of everyone. For the fine dining experience, there are 9 restaurants around the city that hold at least one prestigious Michelin star. Lausanne prides itself on having varied options for vegans and vegetarians to eat out, with a selection of restaurants showcasing that vegan food can be held in high regard. As well as restaurants, there are many local cafés to enjoy for some lighter bites.
Lausanne also boasts a very lively nightlife scene, with a variety of bars for everyone, from beer lovers to wine connoisseurs. Most bars in the city generally close between 1am and 2am. If this is too early for you, then there are a range of nightclubs which are very popular with students that open until nearer 4am.
The Swiss schooling system is held in high regard both in terms of government-run schools and private education. Classes in the state-run schools of Lausanne are taught in French, with English and German taught additional languages. There are also some international schools, where classes are taught in English to students. The GEMS World Academy, the International School of Lausanne and the Brilliantmont Boarding & Day School are the 3 international schools in the area, all of which offer internationally recognised qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate. Although these schools may be slightly more expensive, they often prove to be a more comfortable learning environment for foreign children.
The city is split up into a variety of different neighbourhoods. Similar to Switzerland as a whole, most people in the canton of Vaud rent their properties. This is certainly the recommended option if you want to live in around the city centre. Indeed, foreigners must have appropriate Swiss permits before being sanctioned to buy any property on Swiss soil. Therefore, for short stays, in particular, renting is essentially the only option. There is generally less availability of accommodation in Lausanne, where demand can sometimes outweigh supply. However, the good news for expats is that rental rates are generally slightly lower than other parts of Switzerland, of course, rates vary depending on location and size of the property. It is highly recommended to make housing a priority when moving to Lausanne due to the high levels of demand.
If you are interested in a move to Lausanne or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about international tax opportunities, please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, please browse our current international tax vacancies.