FIRE, minimalism and moving to France

Hi folks,
Thank you for your feedbacks
I am a Geneva worker, owner of our property in Neuchatel (mostly home office,commuting in train),30 years old, loving life in Switzerland where my daughter was born. I recently get the nationality too

I am also French. At work, I am surrounded by French inhabitants thinking they did the best choice (even if I am French, I must think they harden their life by not living in Switzerland). A

But the common sense say that “everything “ is cheaper in France. My opinion is “well, you still do not know what you lose by not living in Switzerland and you spend a lot in real estate while I invest “)

To follow the FIRE paths you need reduce expenses.
So to the mustachian community, may working in CH living in France, Germany or Italy be a good project ?

I thought yes, I now think “not so obvious “ and “no on the long term” :slight_smile:


How would that impact your daughter and your partner (if you are living together)? The place were we live is not just a financial decision, though that lifestyle, indeed, has a cost.


Hi. I live in canton Geneva on the border with France. Reasons for not moving:

-I value being able to cycle or bus to work and bars, restaurants (less relevant with current job as 95%wfh)

-I live in a small commune and I value my kids going to the local school, and being part of community life.

-taxes are a factor

I have friends who own villas in France but it is a trade off with time spent in car etc


Hi !
Thank you all for your feedback, so if I am not mistaken, it is more « mustachian » to stay living in Switzerland (as an owner) (financially, everyday life, school, etc) than moving (as an owner too) to French border :slight_smile:

However we also have taxes in Switzerland :slight_smile:

Really? Where would that be?
Rent nor groceries (except maybe meat) are definitely not 50% of CH prices, in bordering DE places at least.

Well I guess we’ll both be able to find counterexamples to each other’s claims quite easily. :slight_smile:
We should try to compare apples to apples as much as it gets, not some random villages vs. “cities”/towns.

  • Lörrach (small) or Freiburg (bigger):
    60sqm apartment is around 700-800€ (according to some study I quickly googled out).
  • Basel (at least 3x the size of Lörrach, smaller than Freiburg):
    60sqm apartment can be found at around 1200-1300chf.

Not 2x (especially before current chf-eur parity).

What are your data points?

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Well yes of course, I have a friend too with a 600chf apartment in Basel.
But I am not using that to compare.
That’s why we should talk averages/medians, not anecdotal evidence.
One can almost always work out a great deal for oneself, wherever one lives.

Fair point for the meat, but meat is not all groceries.
When I used to buy in Germany, I rarely saw a huge difference in prices for non-meat stuff.
Maybe things have changed (but I would still be surprised with 2x; in the BW/bordering region).

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Alrighty then - find me a 300€ apartment in a city in BW, to confirm your 50% or less, I’ll wait. :slight_smile:

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Depends where.

Have a nice eve :slight_smile:

I don’t have an answer but I have the feeling that taxes might play an important role :slight_smile:

Personally, I grew up in Italy next to the Swiss border. After working for 3 years in Italy, I have been transferred to the Ticino branch of the company and I became a cross-border worker (I was still living at my parents). Then I moved to Geneva but lived in France, then finally moved to Geneva.
For me, moving here was the right choice for several personal/family reasons and I love where I am now… from a financial point of view, it was not the cheapest option.

But… some random ideas to take into consideration:

  • if you work in Geneva and have ~90% of your income here (as far as I remember), you have the “quasi-resident” status and you are taxed just in Geneva (they send back a part to France, but you basically pay the same amount as if you were living in GE)
    Already if you change job and go to work in Vaud, it’s a different story. As far as I know, you will be taxed in France and the “barèmes” % are not at all the same.
    Same if you live live in Alsace and work in Basel area, or if you live in Germany and work in Zurich etc.
    Apparently it might be expensive.

  • What if you have significant investments / properties / returns, and you have less than 90% income from GE? Will you be taxed completely in France at that point? Idk but I would check before

  • Ticino and Italy had an agreement similar to Geneva with France: at the time I was paying taxes just in CH… so basically my gross income was the same than Italy, but the net was higher.
    Now Italy would like to collect all the taxes and do like Germany and France (with the exception of Geneva). Who knows if and when it will happen? It might change the plans.

  • France would like to tax the home office work for people employed in Geneva. They didn’t find an agreement yet, and they might never find it
    For the moment, they are just extending COVID exceptions for work-from-home… but our company already told to border-workers (~50% of the workforce) that without an agreement, they will have to come back 100% at the office and they won’t be allowed to connect from home at all.
    So, if you are used to flexibility and you can go pick up the kids at school at 4PM, then connect again in the evening to send a couple of mails… it might be annoying.

Also, if they don’t find an agreement, border-workers will be less attactive for employers imho companies are shrinking their offices but they need to keep enough room for border-workers, while swiss-residents can work from home (in our case, we already closed 1 floor out of two in our building, after COVID).

In CH, I can work from home and when I go to the office I have just 2km of walk.
If you live in France, you might need to take the car (unless you are not in the expensive Saint Genis or Ferney-Voltaire area).
Also, border-workers can’t have the company car anymore unless the company is paying VAT on it in France (for sure no company wants to do that).
I know most of people don’t have this first-world-problem, but for me it would be annoying… I use the car for customer visits, in Switzerland I can get a company car and use it as a personal vehicle as well. In France I would be obliged to switch to a car-allowance payment and lease a car compliant with the company policy.

  • 3rd pillar taxes? It looks like border-workers can’t deduct anymore, I didn’t investigate much but some of my colleagues were complaining.
    And what about when you will withdraw it? I have no clue but I would try to understand before moving

But it depends a lot on your personal situation, I think… kind of job, if you would like to keep working from home, how much do you earn and spend in Switzerland, potentials savings in FR/DE/IT, how you would be taxed, what about the school for the daughter, healthcare, etc
For sure if you are Swiss now, it’s easier to find a job even if you live in France and you won’t need any work permit… but other factors might play a role.

It might also depends on your FIRE goals. If moving to France would really make a difference, why not…
In my case, I’m still too far :slight_smile: so for the moment, I prefer to stay in Switzerland and have the flexibility to work from home, to move to another Canton, to be employed in another Canton (with the same taxes), to have less commuting etc.
Maybe at some point I will be closer to FIRE, it will be worth tax-wise and I won’t stand my job anymore :slight_smile: then I’ll go for it. But not so soon… (even though I enjoyed France and the village where I lived)

(all the ideas are “as far as I know” / “as far as I remember”, please forgive me if it’s not accurate)


Just to add some anecdotal data. My rent is CHF 550 for a 40 sqm in a mountain resort. I used to live in Vevey with a CHF 700 rent and my sister has long rented in Lausanne for CHF 1100. You can also find deals in Switzerland if you are willing to compromise, not all of us need to live in a modern appartment in the Zürich area.

That being said, I wouldn’t say there’s no geo-arbitrage possibility and I would fully expect to be able to afford a higher lifestyle in France or Germany than in Switzerland with a swiss salary/pension.


There’s a simple reason for that: if border-crossers work more than 25% from home (non COVID times), it has tax implications for the employee, but also operational implications for the employer. If e.g. a German border-crosser works more than 25% from home, it might lead to a new “office” for the company. Don’t blame me - I didn’t make those laws. The new “office” will have A LOT of consequences for the company, e.g. having to pay taxes in Germany, having to follow all administrative laws etc.

That’s the main reason why companies don’t want border-crossers to work from home only.


To add on the topic, you must be aware of the PUma contribution in France that target early retiree.
I have mentioned it on another thread.

Planning on moving back to France in about 18 to 24 months. Does anyone know how to withdraw the money paid into the swiss pension fund once I check out?

This thread should sort you out:

Pension fund withdrawal (pillar 2)

(Note though that benefits are, by law, supposed not to be withdrawn when you’re planning to return to Switzerland)

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And unless you need the money, I’d consider not cashing out, the pillar2/3a options are competitive for tax-free growth vs what you can do in France.


thanks to the both of you for your advice. I’ll look into it !

  • Buy 100k$ of VT
  • Sell 5 years later for 200k$.

Option 1: French resident, capital gain tax = 30k$.
Option 2 : Swiss resident, capital gain tax = 0.

Latin people prefer to live in France because they love to own real estate on a budget.
Not sure it’s a good deal when you have a high saving rate.


Hi !

You’re right, thank you for your feedback

I am a homeowner (4.5p, 500k) with a mortgage of 400k at a rate of about 1% until 2030.
So a high saving rate, mostly invested
Nice thing

My wife wants to move into a villa with at least 5 rooms (we are expecting a second child + I work at home a lot).
Her family is in Pays-de-Gex in France, near Geneva (easier with child sometimes)

However, here, that’s a minimum of 1 million CHF.
In contribution, there would be easily 300-400k contribution (current contribution, current home capital gain, personal).
We add the current 400k mortgage at 1% (i.e. 350 CHF/m)
Then 400k minimum mortgage to contract at 2-3% (i.e. 1000 CHF/m)

At these levels, you might as well rent… or contrat a home in France at 2/2.5k per month, amortization included.

So the reflection was made on moving to France as owners.
And rent our actual Swiss flat.
Apparently, our children will be able to continue school in Switzerland.

Regarding capital taxation, you are right. My investments are made for the long term and we have planned, when the children will be independent, to return to Switzerland.

We did not see any particular constraint.
I am looking for all the arguments to stay in Switzerland. But it is this 5-room villa project, which pushes us to consider France…

Conclusion: thank you my wife :joy:

Financial aspects aside, are you sure you can pull this?