There are countless reasons why the Alps is a perfect location to move to as a family. With plenty of clean air, wide-open space and an abundance of activities, a life in the mountains is the dream of many. But, what about the practical things like schools, healthcare and so on? We take you through the best areas to move to the Alps as a family.
La Clusaz, France
La Clusaz is a family-friendly ski resort which has a great selection of runs for all abilities and ages. There are also some non-ski activities here to keep the kids entertained, including the Aqua Centre, which includes a variety of fun indoor and outdoor pools. You are also in a great position here to visit a number of other resorts if you wish, including Flaine, Les Carroz, and the Mont Blanc Ski Area.
The village offers a variety of amenities including a non-ski nursery, which accepts children from as young as 8 months. There is also a good variety of shops, bars and restaurants, all with a quintessentially French feel. A delightful outdoor market is held every Monday.
La Clusaz is just a 50-minute drive from Geneva airport. Although there is no train station in La Cluzas, you can travel to nearby Bonneville or Annecy and catch trains into Paris from there.
There are two medical centres in La Clusaz and if you are in need of a larger hospital, Annecy Genevois Hospital Center is the largest hospital in Haute-Savoie with a 24-hour A&E.
There are several schools in nearby Annecy, including a bilingual school in Annecy le Vieux.
Once a haven for partying, the ski resort of Söll has now shifted to focus on family-friendly skiing. The ski school takes children of 3 and over, however, the Snow Pirates kids club will ensure that children of all ages are catered for. There is also a ski fun park, as well as ski courses catered to children and teens.
The village itself is usually buzzing with activity. It’s a working village surrounded by farms and offers a plethora of things to do, including ice skating and bowling. A very popular event in summer is the “Z’sammkemma”, a market providing information on different handicraft trades of the region.
The nearby town of Kufstein, which is just a 25-minute drive away, has good transport links, including a train station which has services to around Austria and into Germany. Multiple daily Intercity-Express connections can take you to Vienna, Bregenz, Innsbruck, and Berlin.
Kufstein also has several schools, including an international school. The central hospital is Kufstein District Hospital.
You can’t beat the area of Villars in Switzerland for skiing. Suitable for all ages and abilities, with 125km of pistes and three snowparks, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The resort is family orientated, with good nursery slopes and child-friendly ski schools.
Apart from the skiing, Villars is also well connected and easily reached in 90 minutes by train from Geneva. It’s also very close to the smaller international airport at Sion.
The area is also good for schools and features College Alpin Beau Soleil, one of the oldest and most prestigious boarding schools in the world. The impressive school, located in the mountains surrounding Geneva overlooking the Rhone Valley, offers a full French language curriculum as well as the IGCSE and IB programmes.
Villars is also well served by two Riviera-Chablais Vaud-Valais hospitals in Aigle and Monthey.
You’ll find the well-established ski resort of Livigno just below the Swiss border and it is perfect for families. With snow parks, a kid’s fun park, a rubber dinghy slope, specialised kids ski areas and more, they’ll be no shortage of things to do and new activities to try. Ski lessons are available for ages 3-plus.
The town of Livigno offers many shops and restaurants. In fact, as a duty-free area, it’s a paradise for shopaholics! There are plenty of off-slope activities including horse riding tours, go-karting on ice, an ice driving school a snowmobile tour and more. It also has an international medical centre.
Livigno’s nearest train station is Tirano, which has direct links to Milan. There is also a regular bus to the nearby town of Bormio and airport shuttles to Milan and Bergamo.
Livigno is in a fairly remote area. However, just over the border and under an hours’ drive away is Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz, an international school in Switzerland.
Healthcare in the Alps for third-country nationals
If you’re thinking of moving to the Alps from the UK, there are a few things you need to consider post-Brexit. EHIC cards are now being replaced with GHICs, which cover you for basic state healthcare. However, for everything else, including mountain rescue and repatriation, you may need private health insurance or to get residency in your new country to enter the healthcare system. For more information, visit the gov.uk website.
Buying ski property for a family
If you’re looking at buying a ski property for your family, don’t miss your free buying guides for all the major countries. You’ll learn how to safely buy overseas, including how to make a successful viewing trip, what legalities to be aware of and what the purchase process entails. And, to find out how to protect your money against the risk of an international transfer, make sure to read your Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.