Hallo Basel answers your questions about moving to Basel

Moving to Basel

A view of Basel to the south showing Wettsteinbrücke and Roche towers

When moving to Basel, like any new place, you will be faced with all the usual things: finding a place to live, knowing where to buy groceries, getting a local cell phone number, getting a car or working out the public transport system, registering for school, and many more. This page links to where you can find information about all those things, and and help you get started in Basel.

Finding a home when moving to Basel

If you don’t yet have somewhere to live you can search for property on Immoscout or Homegate

Unlike in some countries where  apartments and houses are described by number of bedrooms (for example, a one-bedroom apartment), in Switzerland, all the major rooms are counted. For example, an advertisement for a 3-zimmer apartment, that would be for a place with two bedrooms and one living room (the kitchen and the bathroom aren’t counted). If you see an advertisement for a 2.5-zimmer place, that likely has one bedroom and a  sitting room with a designated dining area. Check out the floor plan to see for sure. 

Rental contracts usually start with a minimum term of one year and then a three-month notice period. A deposit of between one and three month’s rent is usually requested and this money is held in a separate account in the name of the tenant. Banks have special accounts for the rental deposit so that neither the landlord nor the tenant can access the money until the end of the contract. 

Some people choose to be members of the Mieterverband (Swiss Tenants Association), which for an annual fee supports tenants’ rights (when problems occur) and can give advise over contracts.

Hallo Basel How to get around in BAsel

Public Transportation

Public transportation is very efficient in Switzerland. You can buy one-trip tickets from every bus or tram stop using machines like the one in this picture. You can change the language displayed by pressing on the picture of the flag for that nation on the touch screen. Tickets are valid for your whole journey, no matter whether you have to change bus, tram or train.

You can also buy tickets in the TNW Tickets app on your phone. (Just make sure you buy the ticket several minutes before you get on the tram, bus or train.)

You can also buy monthly or yearly tickets for a variety of distances. The ticket counter at the SBB or at Barfusserplatz can help you. 

The Basel & Regio app for you phone can also help you plan your journeys and includes a map of the network.

Getting a Car or Motorcycle when moving to Basel

Not everyone gets a vehicle in Switzerland because the public transportation system is convenient and clean. 

If you wish to buy a used vehicle, websites such as AutoScout can help you. There are also used car dealerships and these tend to be situated outside the city centre for space reasons. You can buy or lease a new car through the dealerships for the marque you are interested in. 

Don’t forget you will pay motor vehicle taxes and need motor vehicle insurance.

Moving to Basel: Education and Childcare

When moving to Basel with children you might have questions. Our Schooling in Basel page gives information on choosing a school or finding someone to look after your child while you work can be found here. 

Moving to Basel: Mandatory Insurance in Switzerland

When moving to Basel from outside Switzerland you might have questions about insurance. Our Insurance in Switzerland page gives information about all kinds of insurance in Switzerland, such as health insurance, accident insurance, liability insurance, householder insurance, and vehicle insurance, including explaining which insurances are mandatory in Switzerland and which are not. 

Moving to Basel: Banking

You may be unsurprised to discover there are many banks in Switzerland. Nevertheless, choosing a bank when moving to Basel might bring up some questions. 

It is straightforward to open a bank account when you can show your passport, proof of address in Switzerland and your residence permit (Ausländerausweis).

Banks in Switzerland often charge an annual cost for their services. 

Invoices for household bills can be sent straight to your banking app or by mail and then paid in your banking app. Your bank can give you information on how to set these things up when you open your account.

The phone app Twint is used by most major banks as a way to complete contactless or online payments from a Swiss debit (current) account. You can also use Twint to pay for car parking to send money to friends. 

Even though the currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF), many bank ATMs at train stations or in the city allow you to take out cash in Euros too.

Moving to Basel - Day to Day Living

Rubbish and Recycling

The Swiss are very proud of their clean country and environmentally sustainable culture. Rather than the costs for garbage being included in your local taxes, in most case residents pay for how much they use. Depending on your municipality you will either buy special, authorised garbage sacks or authorised stickers to put on regular garbage sacks. Your landlord, neighbours or  local municipal office will be able to tell you what system you live in. In most cases, you can get the garbage bags or stickers from the checkout counter at your local supermarket.

Basel-Stadt uses the same system throughout the city limits,but in Baselland it depends on your municipality. That means the system used in Allschwil is not the same as the one in Binningen. 

Recycling points are plentiful. In Switzerland we recycle glass, PET, textiles, and tins. All municipal offices ensure there are ways to dispose of large items or have a central location to which you can take large quantities of recycling or other items such a plastics or metal. The more you recycle the less you need to throw in those garbage sacks you pay for!  

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Still have questions about living in Basel?

If you have questions, Hallo Basel we can point you to the answers.

Ask us a question and we will call or email you back, completely free of charge. No strings attached. Simply a helping hand from those a few steps ahead on a similar journey.