Moving to Basel?
Expat Housing in Basel
To Rent or Not to Rent
Most people living in Basel rent rather than buy their accommodation. Renting is very common among both expats and Swiss nationals. Property in Basel is rather expensive, and some foreign nationals face an additional obstacle when they intend to purchase real estate. They need to apply for special permission first, particularly if they intend to purchase a second home in Switzerland.
Basel's Popular Districts
The city of Basel is Switzerland’s third biggest city with lots of housing options in the 19 neighborhoods (quartiere). Depending on the size of your household, your budget, and personal preferences, you can focus your search on selected districts. The Altstadt (historical town center) and St Alban/Gellert provide exclusive accommodation and beautiful mansions to those who can afford it. St Alban and Gellert also offer plenty of green spaces for those looking for a near-idyllic atmosphere in the middle of town. However, watch out when house hunting in the eastern part of this neighborhood. The nearby ring road may spoil the peace and quiet in some places.
If green and quiet matches your taste, you have yet more areas to explore. Bachletten, Bruderholz, and Hirzbrunnen all fit this description. Bachletten does not only feature upscale villas, but lots of post-war family housing as well. Bruderholz, Basel's southernmost district, is a favorite recreational area among locals, due to its village-like character. It's a bit isolated and lacking in infrastructure, though. If you decide to move here, you should definitely get a car. In case that you don't mind leaving Basel’s city limits behind, the nearby town of Riehen is a good choice. However, it is quite an affluent community, and property prices may reflect this.
What to do if you rather prefer living in a busier neighborhood? Then you might narrow your housing search down to districts such as Matthaeus, Vorstaedte, and Clara. The populous Matthaeus neighborhood offers lots of small apartments, which singles and expat couples might be interested in, and more upscale accommodation near the River Rhine. The Clara district is mainly a bustling shopping district, where many international hotels and Basel's conference center are located. Near the Claramatte (a public park), you'll find recently built accommodation as well.
You can discover more information on where to live in Switerland in our article on Switzerland's most popular cities and cantons.
Things to Watch Out For
Even living in cozy Basel may have its disadvantages. For example, the Clara district has been the topic of local controversies over the past few years. The Claramatte park underwent a thorough redesign in the early 2000s, and its large playground is a favorite meeting point for families. Unfortunately, the park has also attracted people from Basel's drug scene, so that residents have complained about junkies, dealers, and prostitutes in the area.
As you can see, there are streets and neighborhoods you might prefer to avoid for various reasons. Lower St Johann, Kleinhueningen, Klybeck, and Rosental are the industrialized parts of town. Furthermore, St Johann houses the cargo train station, the abattoir, and the waste disposal plant, none of which you'd like to live to next door to. The same probably applies to the sewage treatment plant, which is located in Kleinhueningen.
In the districts of Breite, Gundeldingen, and Iselin, there is rather heavy traffic on several major thoroughfares. Housing near the City Ring Road, as well as in Klybeckstrasse and Feldbergstrasse, is less than popular for the same reason. So, when you go house hunting in Basel, you might want to cross these specific areas off your list.
Rental Housing in Basel
Apartments in Basel are usually let unfurnished, although they may come with a built-in kitchen (pay attention to the word Einbaukueche or the abbreviation EBK in the ads). A separate bathroom with toilet, shower stall and/or bathtub is standard, but the quality of the tiling and plumbing may vary, especially in older lodgings. Depending on the individual apartment, you can either install your washing machine in the bathroom, or there may be shared laundromats in the basement.
Single rooms and studio flats cost between 1,100 CHF and 1,600 CHF a month, whereas you have to pay 1,700-3,500 CHF for three- to five-bedroom apartments. However, at the higher end of the scale, you’ll find mostly luxury flats or fully furnished accommodation. When you go through the classified ads, make sure to check if the rental costs refer to the Bruttomiete or Warmmiete. This sum already includes various service charges called Nebenkosten (e.g. utility fees, waste disposal, facility maintenance, etc.).
The following online resources may come in handy when you are looking for your new home in Basel:
- Immobilien Basel-Stadt (website German only)
- Erstbezug (brand-new flats, website German only)
- Plan-it (temporary accommodation)
Read our article on renting in Switzerland to gain even more information.
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