Basel, Switzerland’s third largest city, sits where the French, German and Swiss borders meet. It is a small, welcoming city, with around 32% of its population being expats. It’s a city with a rich cultural heritage which embraces everything modern-day living has to offer.
If you are considering moving to Basel, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the warmest city in Switzerland.
Quick Basel Facts:
- Population: 171,000 (2017 estimate)
- Official Language: Swiss German (de facto) with many other languages being spoken at home, including English, French, German, Italian, Romansch, Polish, Russian and many others.
- GDP Per Capita: $91,991.60 (US$ – 2021)
- Slamming Your Car Door: It is illegal to slam a car door. It’s considered extremely bad-mannered.
- Currency: Swiss Franc or CHF. As of early 2023, $1 USD = 0.94 CHF, €1 EUR = 0.99 CHF, $1 CAD = 0.69 CHF, $1 AUD = 0.63 CHF
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Basel
Sample international container shipping rates to Switzerland from various other countries
2. Basel Housing Costs
House and flat prices in Basel are far more affordable than in Zurich or Geneva. Prices vary from area to area, but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Basel:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: 1,390+ CHF
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: 1,100+ CHF
- 3 bedroomed flat in City Centre: 2,600+ CHF
- 3 bedroomed flat outside the City Centre: 2,000+ CHF
Basel Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: 9,400+ CHF
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: 7,400+ CHF
Basel Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Basel compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 31.7% more expensive
- New York is 55.1% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 39.3% more expensive
- Toronto is 7.6% more expensive
- Vancouver is 14.1% more expensive
- Sydney is 20.1% more expensive
- Melbourne is 14.2% cheaper
- Paris is 4.2% cheaper
- Dubai is 9% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: Sharing a house or a flat is very common in Basel, especially among its younger residents. With a house/flat share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house/flat. Have a look on Comparis, Just Landed and Room4all and find someone you can get on with to share the costs with you.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Paulus and Bachletten are very popular with singles and families alike. There are large high-end apartments and townhouses with small gardens and good schools nearby. The international suburbs of Gundeli and Kannenfeldplatz have a good selection of apartments, both old and new. These areas have excellent access to public transport. Many people choose to live in the villages surrounding Basel; villages such as Riehen, Bettingen, Biningen, Allschwil and Muttenz.
3. Basel Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Basel has its fair share of good international and traditional Swiss restaurants.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: 20.00 – 25.00 CHF
- Takeout Coffee: 5.20 – 6.00 CHF
- Bottle of Coke: 4.80 – 5.00 CHF
- 1L of Milk: 1.50 – 1.90 CHF
- Loaf of Bread: 1.50 – 4.00 CHF
- 12 Eggs: 3.60 – 7.00 CHF
- 1kg Chicken: 30.00 – 35.00 CHF
- 1kg Beef: 50.00 – 60.00 CHF
- 1kg Apples: 3.00 – 4.60 CHF
- 1kg White Rice: 2.80 – 3.20 CHF
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 15.5% cheaper and groceries are 30.8% cheaper than Basel.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 30.2% cheaper and groceries are 72.2% cheaper than Basel.
- London restaurants are 51.2% cheaper and groceries are 144.8% cheaper than Basel.
- Toronto restaurants are 52.5% cheaper and groceries are 95.7% cheaper than Basel.
- Vancouver restaurants are 62% cheaper and groceries are 88.6% cheaper than Basel.
- Sydney restaurants are 47.7% cheaper and groceries are 70.9% cheaper than Basel.
- Melbourne restaurants are 54.5% cheaper and groceries are 69.2% cheaper than Basel.
- Paris restaurants are 67.8% cheaper and groceries are 78.8% cheaper than Basel.
- Dubai restaurants are 61.2% cheaper and groceries are 170.7% cheaper than Basel.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: Manor Supermarkets are generally the most expensive supermarkets, where you’ll find exclusive, luxury goods. Migros is Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain and, together with Coop forming the middle of the road when it comes to prices. Denner is Switzerland’s third-largest supermarket chain and is also reasonably priced. Aldi, Lidl and Spar are the cheapest supermarkets in Switzerland. Basel’s Marktplatz farmers’ market is definitely worth a visit. It’s on every Saturday and has a good selection of fresh fish, fruit and veg and local and international delicacies.
- Find Cheap Eats: Iberia Joven and Trip Advisor both have suggestions for restaurants which offer affordable meals.
4. Basel Alcohol Costs
Basel has bars and nightclubs to suit everyone’s taste. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: 8.00 – 9.00 CHF
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: 6.00 – 8.00 CHF
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: 2.00 – 3.00 CHF
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: 2.20 – 2.50 CHF
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: 15.00 – 20.00 CHF
How To Drink For Less in Basel:
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Yelp and Trip Advisor have a few suggestions for finding cheaper drinks in Basel.
- Scour the areas around the university and other tertiary institutions to find the best alcohol deals.
5. Basel Transportation Fares
Basel’s public transport system consists of buses, trams, ferries and trains. Crossing the Rhine on one of the four ferries in operation is very popular with tourists and residents alike. Switzerland has an excellent rail network and they pride themselves on being on time.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – 3.60 CHF
- One-day ticket for bus and tram – 10.00 CHF
- Monthly season ticket for bus and tram – 80.00 CHF
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- If you are staying in accommodation of any type in the city, you are entitled to a free pass for all transport for the duration of your stay.
- Buy a bike. Cycling is actively encouraged and there is an excellent system of cycle lanes all around the city which many people use to cycle to work and school.
- Walk. The city is not that big and exercise is always good.
6. Cost of Internet in Basel
Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
- Sunrise: 49.90 CHF a month (Fiber broadband, up to 1GB of data)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Basel’s climate is the mildest in Switzerland. The hottest month is August with an average high of 25°C. January is the coldest month with an average high of 4°C. The wettest month is May, with an average of 80mm falling during the month.
Like most places in Switzerland, rain is always a possibility, so it’s wise to carry an umbrella or a fold-up waterproof jacket.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: 100.00 – 140.00 CHF
- Summer Dress: 40.00 – 60.00 CHF
- Running Shoes (Trainers): 110.00 – 160.00 CHF
- Business Shoes: 150.00 – 200.00 CHF
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): 115.00 CHF
- Deodorant: 7.00 CHF
- Shampoo: 5.00 CHF
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): 3.00 CHF
- Gym Membership: 65.67 – 150.00 CHF per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: 18.00 – 20.00 CHF
Source: Numbeo and Expatistan
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Basel
Everyone in Switzerland drives on the right. Driving in Basel is not a problem as long as you obey the rules of the road, but it’s best to avoid using a car during peak times. Fines are very high for traffic offences in Switzerland and the traffic police and parking attendants are very vigilant.
If you’re moving to Basel from within Switzerland, you’ll be able to keep your licence but need to update your address to your new Basel one. You can drive on a foreign licence for 12 months, after that you will need to obtain a Swiss license. Your foreign licence must be in either English, French, German or Italian. If it isn’t, then you either need a translation or an International Driver’s Licence. People from the EU/EEA don’t need to take a test to get their Swiss Licence. This list details non-European countries where you only need to take a driving test and not a theory test to gain your licence. Everyone else must take a theory test and a driving test.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Basel:
- Volkswagen Golf: 30,000 CHF
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of Gas (petrol): 1.88 CHF
- Registration Fee (if any): Varies depending on the vehicle
- Motorway Fee: 40 CHF per annum
- Other fees (if any): MOT every four years
Source: Expatistan, CH
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Basel:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Mobility, CatchaCar, BlaBlaCar and Carpoolworld.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Basel
No matter where you live in Switzerland, you will pay the same rate of tax. Sales Tax is 8% in Switzerland and is added to most goods and services throughout the country. Unlike in some countries, it is always included in the marked price.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will be subject to council tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Switzerland has a complex system where areas of a city with wealthy residents and commercial areas often pay lower tax than areas whose residents earn an average income. Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Basel, you should expect to pay 5% of the sale price to pay fees – 0.2 – 1% notary fees, 0.3 – 3% property transfer tax and 1 – 1.5% for registering the property deed.
10. Flight Costs from Basel
If you do make the move to Basel, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023. When flying long-distance, passengers living in Basel fly from Zurich. They either drive or take the Airtrain which takes you directly from Basel to Zurich airport.
- New York: 280 CHF
- Los Angeles: 430 CHF
- London: 35 CHF
- Paris: 60 CHF
- Toronto: 320 CHF
- Vancouver: 420 CHF
- Dubai: 220 CHF
- Sydney: 730 CHF
- Melbourne: 930 CHF
- Cape Town: 440 CHF
- Hong Kong: 700 CHF
Other Tips on Moving to Basel:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Basel but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Basel Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling into Basel.
- Meetups: Basel has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup.com. Find groups that do what you love, such as Basel Travel, Basel Wine Sharing, The Basel Book Club, Digital Experience and many more.
- Attend Local Events: There are always events going on in Basel at any given time. Find out what’s happening from Basel, My Switzerland, Basel in English and Trip Advisor.
12. Moving to Basel with a Family
Basel is a relatively small city which welcomes people and families from all around the globe. Its geographical position makes it the perfect city to take the family exploring other countries in Europe. Here’s some extra food for thought.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Check out the Basel Children’s Trust, Basel University Hospital and Anglo Info.
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Basel, like all of Switzerland, is a family-friendly place to live. Paulus and Bachletten have large apartments and townhouses which are good for families. These two areas are also close to both public and private schools. Families often opt to live in one of the villages just outside Basel. Villages, such as Riehen and Bettingen in the north and Binningen, Allschwil and Muttenz in the south, offer a wide variety of housing and proximity to good schools.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: Hello Switzerland, Basel in English, Travel for Kids and Trip Hobo all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Basel for Work
Moving to Basel for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. The majority of people already have a job when they move to Switzerland as acquiring a residence permit is almost impossible without a job. Like the rest of Switzerland, Basel has very high professional standards in all spheres of work. The city is well known for its excellence in life sciences and pharmaceuticals, together with chemicals, finance and logistics.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Basel are high. You can check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How To Find Work: To find a job before you move to Basel, have a look at the following sites: Jobs in Basel and Xpat Jobs. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Basel from Australia
There are a few Australians living in Basel. If you are considering joining them, here are a few added pointers.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of the city of Basel with a town in Australia, you’d be looking at Geelong, Victoria.
- Join Expat Groups: Both InterNations and Glocals offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Basel.
15. Moving to Basel from Canada
There are quite a few Canadians living in Basel If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: Basel’s population is around the same as Barrie, Ontario.
- Expat Groups: InterNations and Expat.com will give you a chance to meet other Canadians already living and working in Basel.
16. Moving to Basel from the United States
There’s a small American contingent living in Basel. If you’re considering moving to Basel, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: Basel’s population is roughly the same as Tallahassee.
- Expat Groups: InterNations and Expat.com will introduce you to fellow Americans already living and working in Basel, helping you to settle in with ease.
17. Moving to Basel from the United Kingdom
There’s a small group of Brits living and working in Basel. If you’re considering moving to Basel, here are a few bonus tips
- Size: If you compare the population size of Basel with a city in the UK, you’d be looking at Stockton-on-Tees.
- Expat Groups: InterNations and Expat.com offer opportunities for you to meet fellow Brits already living in Basel.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Basel you can start by comparing moving quotes here.