CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Physicists flock from all over the world to take part in the massive collaboration founded to study fundamental particles and their collisions. The best and the brightest combine their knowledge and ideas at CERN to better understand matter, the Universe, and the beginnings of time.
Moving to CERN is an excellent opportunity to work on a worldwide collaboration that is largest of its kind. The logistics of actually getting to and living in the Geneva area, however, are a bit less exciting. There are several factors to consider when moving to CERN and one of them is whether to live in Switzerland or France.
The CERN laboratory has a few different sites; some in France and some in Switzerland. The main site actually straddles the French-Swiss border. It is equally logical to live in Switzerland or France based on distance alone. The other factors to consider include cost, transportation, and convenience.
In general, Switzerland is more expensive than France. Monthly rent for housing, appliances, and food are all guaranteed to be significantly higher in Switzerland, although, many people view the Swiss quality as being superior to the French quality. French apartments are not as well cared for and tend to have more problems, i.e. broken outlets, no dishwasher, elevators out of service, etc. If you are willing to overlook the inconveniences, living in France will save you quite a bit of money. Food and appliances are notoriously overpriced in Switzerland, so it is prudent to buy these things in France. Officially, anything purchased in France must be declared before being taken over the border to Switzerland and a tax is enforced. This can be a tricky situation; so again, it is cheaper to simply live in France.
The transportation in Switzerland is reliable, but perhaps not affordable. The current cost for a monthly bus ticket that covers all of Geneva and one zone in France is 92CHF (Swiss Francs), which is about $92 depending on the exchange rate. Alternatively, there is little transportation in France. There are buses that can take you to CERN from a few of the closest towns in France, but they are less frequent and less reliable than those with main routes in Switzerland. It is best to have a car if you choose to live in France.
The lifestyle in Switzerland versus France is amazingly different considering they are a matter of miles apart. Life in Switzerland is a life of convenience in that everything you need is located close to you. Pharmacies, grocery stores, doctors, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and fitness centers are all at your fingertips. France is a bit more rural in that respect. There is a grocery store in every town, but the only large shopping center is Val-Thoiry, located about 10 minutes from CERN. The French towns that are nearest to the shopping center are rather small and have little in them other than housing. You cannot walk from the towns to the shopping center because it is too far. This is another reason to have a car if you choose to live in France. There is no night-life or entertainment in France either.
Overall, both countries have their pluses and minuses. When moving to CERN and deciding whether to live in Switzerland or France consider your budget, preferred transportation, and need for convenience. Switzerland is the better option if you have the funds, while France is more practical if you have a very limited income.
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