Monday, April 29, 2013

Canton Vaud, home of the rich and famous - and me

Before moving to Switzerland, I always knew the country and its inhabitants were wealthy. That it was the land of low tax rates and attracted the rich and famous. But reading an article recently, I was surprised just how many famous people called Switzerland home. Tina Turner lives near Zurich. Roger Federer lives near Basel. But it seems to be canton Vaud, the canton that I call home, that seems to be the most popular.

Canadian singer Shania Twain lives near Vevey (also the home of Nestlé),
Ikea's Ingvar Kamprad
singing legend Phil Collins lives about a 20 minute drive away, while former F1 driver Michael Schumacher lives in Gland, the next town over. Ingvar Kamprad, the founder and owner of Ikea, is actually the richest person living in Switzerland and lives in a modest house near Lausanne. Most exciting of all is that I've heard rumours that none other than George Clooney has a residence in Switzerland with a 1260 post code - my post code. George Clooney could have a house in my neighbourhood! 

Aside from celebrities living in the neighbourhood, the signs of serious wealth and privilege are around. At nearly $100,000 per year, the most expensive school in the world, Le Rosey, is just up the road in Rolle. It educates the children of the seriously rich, celebrities and royalty. 

Down along the lake, and up in the foothills of the Jura, sits the nice houses and sprawling estates of these people, living in quiet anonymity. Sheltered from view behind thick trees and high walls, you only get a sense of the luxurious scale of these places from a plane as it comes down the lake, getting ready to land at Geneva airport. I always like to grab a window seat on that side of the plane since it's the only way I get to see how the one percent live. 

Nyon and Geneva also put on a bit of a luxury car show each weekend, with the latest model Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin and Maserati cars out in town. And Geneva has no shortage of high end jewellery stores either. Got a penchant for diamonds? Bulgari, Chopard, De Beers can sort you out. Have a taste for fine clothes and accessories? Gucci and Hermes will help sort you out. 

But expensive cars, shops and the rich and famous aside, Switzerland is just like any other normal country. Not having millions of Swiss francs in the bank doesn't mean life here can't be enjoyed - the simple pleasures here are free or affordable. I guess having the wealth which many in the country enjoy simply makes things a little easier. While that kind of money wouldn't hurt, there's little to complain about the quality of life here.

No comments:

Post a Comment