Living where and how you like
People who live in Basel have more time for life. Because distances are short, trips to the cinema, to friends, for going shopping or into natural surroundings are quick, and can often be carried out on foot. In addition to being a city of culture, Basel is also a child-friendly city, with a number of large, modern and family-friendly apartments being built in recent years. New residents quickly feel at home in the Basel area. The region offers a high standard of living for the working population and their families.
This also includes a wide range of housing options: whether you are looking for a designer apartment, a house in a family-friendly environment or a villa – you will find it in the Basel area. The variety within a small space is enormous. Only a few kilometres from the urban life in the city centre, you can find quiet residential neighbourhoods, attractive suburbs and idyllic villages.
In comparison with other Swiss cities, property prices are remarkably low in Basel.
Homes for every taste
If you like exclusive living, you could find an apartment in the historic old town. Many medieval buildings or stately homes from the 19th century have been carefully refurbished and equipped with modern fixtures.
There are also beautiful and unique residential areas outside of the old town centre. Over the last two decades, a great deal of money has been invested in building new spacious apartments in the most exciting parts of town. There are parks and playgrounds in every area of the city. Towards the south and east, you will find quiet residential areas with many single family houses, spacious gardens and parks. The west side of Basel is made up of a residential area with terraced houses, gardens and parks, while the north is characterised by continuous change and structural diversity. Basel North is an area of innovation, characterized by research, industry and urban renewal
The most popular places to live in Basel are along the banks of the river Rhine, St. Alban in Grossbasel, Wettstein in Kleinbasel, Gellert with many old and grand estates, and Bachletten near the Zoo. Bruderholz is on the southern edge of the city, seated on a hill. The two suburbs of Riehen and Bettingen both have a distinct character of their own. Riehen is a small, wealthy town with an excellent infrastructure, while Bettingen is a pretty village high above the city, yet only 15 minutes away from Basel.
Buying or Renting
Those who are planning to stay in the city for a longer period of time may consider buying a house or apartment. Almost all banks offer mortgages; buyers need to put up at least 20% of the purchase price themselves. In order to be valid, the purchase agreement needs to be attested by a notary, and must be entered in the Land Registry. Foreigners wishing to acquire land in Switzerland are subject to special rules and regulations: prospective buyers who do not have permanent residency status first need to have the deal sanctioned by the relevant authorities.
Around 84% of the local population in the Canton of Basel-Stadt rent their houses and apartments (Credit Suisse Economic Research 2014). Tenants’ rights are closely protected by corresponding regulations. A fully equipped kitchen and bathroom are always included in the rent, and flats and houses are generally rented unfurnished. There is a communal washing machine and drying room in every apartment block. A 3-month period of notice is common for apartments, while houses are often rented on a long-term lease. A rented room or small flat costs between CHF 700.- and 1,000.- per month, larger flats of three to five bedrooms will cost between CHF 1,200.- and 2,700.-.
Safe and Clean
Basel has a low crime rate and the residents feel safe in their city. Police stations are located throughout the city, and police patrols pass regularly through all neighbourhoods. Officers regularly take part in crime prevention work in schools and carry out traffic courses for schoolchildren.
Public waste bins and collection points for glass, aluminium and tins are available throughout the city. Household waste goes into special waste bags which include the charge for disposal. These ‘Bebbisäcke’ are available in all grocery shops and are collected twice a week. Full bags can be put out on the street after 7 p.m. on the preceding evening.
The same applies to small bulky waste. So-called "Sperrgut-Vignetten" (bulky waste labels), which are also available in all grocery shops, must be attached to the waste items. Larger bulky waste will only be collected on notification of the waste collection service. With the aim of promoting a recycling economy, Basel-Stadt is offering further disposal options: Paper, cardboard and metals up to 40 kg are collected from households free of charge. Glass and tins can be disposed of at the public recycling facilities, batteries and PET bottles at the grocery shops. Old household appliances and computers can be returned to retailers for disposal (free of charge).
For more information, check the website of the Basel waste disposal. You will find the exact dates and times for your part of town.
Further information on recycling is available in the „Richtig entsorgen von A bis Z” (Correct disposal from A to Z) manual.
Amt für Umwelt und Energie
Phone +41 61 639 23 24/25
The first point of contact: the Customer Centre
Are you new to Basel? Do you have any questions? The Customer Centre has all the answers. It is the first address for everything you wish to know about living in Basel. Here, you will also find the most important forms and applications concerning all dealings with the authorities (school registration, passports, papers for your car etc.), all brochures and official leaflets published by Basel-Stadt, as well as important contacts and addresses.
Opening hours (including passports and lost & found):
- Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
- Wednesday 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Customer Centre (Kundenzentrum)
Phone +41 61 267 70 60
Fax +41 61 267 70 80
Moving into an area or a change of residence causes lots of administrative work: the immigration conditions must be followed, and valid documents have to be presented in order to register yourself at your new place of residence. Suitable accommodation will have to be found, and household goods, your own car or a pet will have to be imported, while a suitable school will have to be found for the children and work permits obtained for members of the family. A move raises many questions, to which you can obtain the initial answers here – as well as links to take you further.
When living in a new place, even doing the simple everyday things in life can quickly turn into an obstacle course. There are countless jobs to be done, deadlines to meet, forms to fill out, government offices to find... The Canton of Basel-Stadt has a modern form of administration, which provides for a straightforward handling of matters concerning residents. The central institution for this contact is the customer centre of the Residents Office, which offers a wide range of services. Furthermore, the Canton of Basel-Stadt welcomes newcomers with an informative Brochure.
Registration and administrative details
Moving to a new home when changing jobs always raises many administrative questions. We want to answer the most important of these for you right away.
After entering the country, the newly arrived person must report to the Population Services and Migration office within 14 days, with passport, a passport photo (non-EU/EFTA citizens do not require a photo) and their entry permit/visa. We would also recommend that persons from non-EU/EFTA countries who require a visa should also report to their respective embassy or consulate. Newcomers to Basel will receive a comprehensive information package and city tours from the Canton of Basel-Stadt on registration. Some neighbourhoods organise special welcoming parties for newcomers.
Change of address
A change of address must also be reported to the Residents Registration Office of Basel-Stadt within 14 days. If you move to another canton, registration in the new municipality is necessary in addition to cancelling the registration with the Residents Registration Office of Basel-Stadt.
Newcomers must report to the Population Services and Migration Office within 14 days of entering Switzerland. Once this has been done, employees are generally issued a so-called "Aufenthaltsbewilligung B" (residence permit class B). EU citizens with employment contracts exceeding one year have to renew their residence permit every 5 years. Non-EU citizens need to renew it every year.
Entering and Importing Goods
The local Swiss consulate or embassy in your country will be pleased to provide information about the terms and conditions of entry to Switzerland, as well as details about visas, passports or ID requirements. For longer stays in Switzerland, newcomers are recommended to bring with them the most important original documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, employment testimonials and academic certificates, medical prescriptions, entry permits etc.
Citizens of Western European countries can enter Switzerland upon presentation of a valid ID card. For entry from Eastern European countries and overseas, a valid passport is required. Tourist visas or working visas are issued by the Swiss consulates.
Switzerland has signed the Schengen agreement, which eliminates border controls between the member states. Citizens of all other countries must adhere to the usual formalities.
Importing household goods
Once the Swiss entry permit has been obtained furniture and other household items can be brought into the country either by airfreight through EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg or by road. It is advisable to report major shipments in advance. As a rule, offices at the major customs crossings are open from 7a.m. to 5.30 p.m. In general, the import of used goods is duty free. Necessary documents include all personal papers as well as the notice of departure from the country of origin, the entry permit, leases of flats or houses, and a complete list of the articles imported.
Importing private vehicles
Private cars must be declared at the border. In the case of older or more exotic vehicles, please check the terms of registration in advance. If the car is less than six months old, customs duty must be paid. All car papers and insurance documents, as well as the driving licence of drivers, should be carried in the car at all times. Vehicles can be registered with the MOT directly after entering Switzerland. Otherwise it is possible to drive with foreign number plates, driving license and vehicle documents for up to one year. Owners are automatically called to register their car before the deadline. Further information is provided by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration.
Importing problematic goods and pets
The import of problematic goods, such as exotic plants, is subject to special regulations. You will find more details in the leaflets issued by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. For information concerning the importation of pets please consult the Veterinary Office.
Bringing family members to Switzerland
Before aliens are permitted to bring close family members into Switzerland, an application must first be made to the Population Services and Migration Office well in advance of the planned date of arrival. As a rule, the family members in question are then issued an «Aufenthaltsbewilligung B» (residence permit class B), too. Entering Switzerland for the purpose of preparing a wedding can also be approved; during this period, however, the partner is not permitted to work. Unmarried partners have to find their own job and must fulfil the statutory provisions of employment market law. Once they have been granted residence permits, spouses, parents and children are free to look for work themselves (i.e. without the same statutory employment market restrictions). Work permits are issued following an assessment of the terms and conditions of employment conducted by the «Einwohnerdienste» (Residents Registration Office).
The spouses and children of Swiss nationals, as well as those of persons with a residence or work permit or residence permit, who have entered the country in the context of family reunification may take up self-employed or employed work anywhere in Switzerland without any additional approval procedures.
The residential and commercial city of Basel-Stadt is shaped by its international character and the effects of immigration. People from over 196 countries live and work here, almost every second marriage is binational. But, newcomers and local people should be able to enjoy a sense of wellbeing in this urban diversity and attain success. That is why Basel-Stadt runs an active integration and anti-discrimination policy, which covers all aspects of life.
Newcomers in Basel have a comprehensive network of advisory services and contact points at their fingertips. It is considered as a prerequisite that all people who are committed to achieving personal success and the common development of the canton whilst respecting the Constitution and democracy are welcome in Basel-Stadt.
In the Integration Act, which has been in force since 1 January 2008, the canton is obliged to assist newcomers in their efforts to integrate. It is responsible for creating favourable conditions so that they may easily participate in all the social and commercial aspects of life in Basel. One of the many opportunities offered is, for example, the series of events entitled “Welcome to Basel" , which is held several times a year for all the ‘new arrivals’. Experts attend the evening event and provide useful information on the main topics of everyday life such as residence status, employment and education.
Language is a key factor in integration. A wide range of language and integration courses are on offer in the canton so that all interested parties can find suitable learning opportunities.
More advice for newcomers can also be found at the Gesellschaft für das Gute und Gemeinnützige GGG.
City tours for newcomers
Since 2011, newcomers to the city will be offered tours of the city featuring valuable tips on everyday life in Basel. Tips will be provided on shopping, cultural facilities and leisure programmes, as well as introductions to essential themes such as transport, postal, and health services. The tour lasts two and a half hours.
The start of the tour leads past Tourist Information, a central contact point for cultural and leisure planning in Basel and the region. Further stations of the tour include the SBB/SNCF railway station, shopping in Freie Strasse, the Tinguely Fountain and the Theater Basel, the suburb of Steinen, Barfüsserplatz, the public transport customer centre, Weisse Gasse 20 with its state and private agencies for child day-care services, the post office, a bookshop specialising in the requirements of expats and anglophile residents, Petersgraben with the emergency chemist and the university hospital and, of course, the centrepiece of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, the town hall or Rathaus.
The city tours are a joint project organised by the divisions of External Affairs and Marketing and Equality and Integration of the Department of Presidential Affairs of Canton Basel-Stadt and Basel Tourism. They will also be introduced at the Welcome initiatives for newcomers.
Registration with Basel Tourism on Tel. 061 268 68 68 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org