Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland and has less than 200,000 inhabitants. It is located in the extreme north of the country, on the border between France and Germany. It is a city with a lot of greenery, parks and trees everywhere, a bit like all of Switzerland, after all. Despite its small size, the city is never crowded and life flows slowly and quietly. Living in Basel is synonymous with peace and tranquility.
It goes without saying that everything in Basel is well organized. Services work perfectly, transportation is punctual, bureaucracy is impeccable and compliance with the law is sacred.
Despite its small size, Basel is very well connected to other European and non-European countries via the airport and the train station. Urban and suburban transport is extremely efficient, clean and punctual. If a train were delayed due to a natural disaster, the news would be all the rage the next day, not so much because of the disaster, but because the train was late.
The climate, on the other hand, is certainly not the city’s strong point; the beautiful, unfortunately short summer days contrast with the long, dark, cold and rainy winter days. Lucky are those who can afford to go to one of the countless Swiss ski resorts to enjoy the sun and snow.
Life is expensive, the cost of living in Basel is high, but so are wages. Rent costs are high and it is not easy to find an apartment. Products are also very expensive and if you are used to dozens of malls and hundreds of stores offering everything, there is not so much choice here and it can be problematic to get certain items. Amazon does not exist in Switzerland, so you either send it to Basel and pay the high customs fees, or you send it to France and pick it up.
If you want to limit your expenses, you can follow the adage that goes like this: you have to work in Basel, live in France, and go shopping in Germany. All of this is easy to do given the geographical location of the city, which is practically between the Swiss, French and German borders. In fact, many people travel from Basel to Germany on weekends to shop. On the French side, just across the border, is the city of Saint Louis, and many people live and work in Basel.
Basel is an international city and almost everyone knows English, but if you want to move to Basel, you need to learn German. Remember that the city government offers a free German course for new immigrants. However, keep in mind that the everyday language in Basel is not “classical German” but a German-Swiss dialect. But everyone can speak German, so communication will not be a problem.
Basel is the cultural capital of Switzerland. There is never a shortage of events, exhibitions and festivals in the city. In particular, Basel hosts the famous Basel Carnival, the most famous carnival in Switzerland. If you like classical music, concerts, exhibitions, music festivals, film screenings, museums and exhibitions, you will not be bored here. But as in the rest of the country, all stores close at 7 pm and on Sunday the city dies, everything is closed and reopens on Monday,
In terms of labor, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries such as La Roche are one of the engines of the city’s economy. In addition, there are many small companies that operate mainly (but not only) in the field of biotechnology. This means that many foreigners work here.
Living and working in Basel, conclusion
Each major city in Switzerland has its own characteristics:
- Geneva is the center of the world in terms of international organizations
- Bern plays the political role of the country’s capital
- Zurich is the financial and banking center of Switzerland and beyond
- Basel is the cultural and the pharmaceutical center of the country
Living in Basel means getting used to the rules, getting used to spending a lot of money on everything, and getting used to not seeing the sun for several weeks at a time. But it also means earning well, living in a city where everything works perfectly, where the air is clean,where the bureaucracy is not oppressive, and where you can have a career based on performance and not on personal knowledge.
If you are interested in moving to other Swiss cities, read the article: Moving to Switzerland
If you are interested in working in Switzerland, read the article: How to work in Switzerland