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Old 23.07.2007, 22:19
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Living in Bern...opinions?

Evening

Been a while since we posted here. We're still looking at a move to CH and after some good trips have ruled out Zurich...mainly due to costs and my lack of german language.

As a recap i am english and my girlfriend french, 28 and 27 respectively. We live in Strasbourg, having sold up and moved here one year ago from England (no regrets there!). I have a business supplying people with very highend audio setups, my girlfriend is currently a language teacher to business.

Strasbourg is wonderful but jobs and pay here for the young and women in general are very low..2000eur net if you're lucky. French taxes are high, VAT is high and property prices relative to income in Strasbourg are very high.

We recently went to Montreux and Lausanne for a second look. We really love that area, so beautiful. However on the way back we passed by Bern...and found it very cool. Was quite impressed with the people floating down the river in the sun and the nice city layout.

We're thinking about settling down and maybe in 4/5 yrs having kids...so getting this right is important!!!!

We're after some opinions of Bern for nightlife/schools/living costs.

Where do most people live in and around Bern? Do the tram lines go far out?

Do many people buy homes in Bern? I know this is a parculiar english habit but i have to ask? I'm not expecting great capital appreciation or anything, just a place to call home...maybe to build even. It seems so easy to commute from smaller towns...in that case, what is the traffic like at rush hour?

How do taxes in Bern compare to other cantons?

Are the schools in Bern free for all children? The private international school seems very expensive...

Looking forward to any responses and advice. I found the 'living in bern' expats website and we are trying to collate as much info here as possible from other threads.
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Old 24.07.2007, 11:24
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Been here in Bern for 2 years now. We were previously in Ticino and comparing it to lugano, you have definitely a better nightlife here, although not at par with the big cities. there's a theater which offers Opera and modern dance etc. There are regular Jazz and classical music concerts around the old part of Town as well as bars, lounges and discos.
The public transport - buses, trams and S-bahns- is reliable and extensive. Schools in general are public and free in Switzerland.
In the city itself, owning a house with your own garden is almost impossible ( quite expensive). Now the situation is a different if you live just outside the city. If you don't mind buying an apartment then that's an option. Renting is still ok, more expensive than Ticino but definitely less expensive than Zürich.
Bern is one of the canton with the highest Tax rate, unfortunately....

hope this helps....
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Old 24.07.2007, 11:39
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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We're after some opinions of Bern for nightlife/schools/living costs.

Where do most people live in and around Bern? Do the tram lines go far out?

Do many people buy homes in Bern? I know this is a parculiar english habit but i have to ask? I'm not expecting great capital appreciation or anything, just a place to call home...maybe to build even. It seems so easy to commute from smaller towns...in that case, what is the traffic like at rush hour?

How do taxes in Bern compare to other cantons?

Are the schools in Bern free for all children? The private international school seems very expensive...

Looking forward to any responses and advice. I found the 'living in bern' expats website and we are trying to collate as much info here as possible from other threads.
On nightlife, its not as vibrant as Zürich or Geneva but ther are some good places & some more underground off beat stuff. Not really bar culture, but that is slowly improving.

In Switzerland, you will find that nursery / kindergarten is chargeable, but schooling is free. Private schools are v expensive & we have taken the decision to put our son in the local education system.

Bern taxation is more expensive than some of the other Kantons, however that is mostly within the city itself. I live in Ittigen, which is a low tax Gemeinde / local council & we pay a much lower tax compared to central Bern. Other areas to look at are Muri, Gumligen.

House prices are high within town, however 10 mins by train - tram will get you into the suburbs, outlying villages. House prices are fairly static & much cheaper than UK or Strasbourg. You can have a decent scout around on Comparis & I also recommend Google Maps to get yourself oriented. Basically anywhere within 10 km from Bern will allow you to commute into the main station within 20 mins.

Public transport here is very affordable,accessible & with good coverage. A Libero city pass covering the main two zones costs 69chf per month for unlimited travel.

Traffic at rush hour in the city doesn't really exist, however the autobahn from all three directions can be quite congested, but again, nothing like inbound M4 into London ..

any other questions, feel free to post or PM.
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Old 24.07.2007, 12:51
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Hi guys

Many thanks Aurora and Polarise for the quick responses.

I'll have a good look at the comparis website...seems full of facts! We have been searching for houses around Strasbourg but prices seem inflated by around 10-30%.

Do many people build their own property? Land prices in CH actually seem cheaper than Strasbourg....are the Swiss in general mad for renovation and building like the Brits (is anyone?!).

Good news about schools! thanks for that info...scary stuff to ask about but it's going to happen one day.

I've read about the arts and nightlife scene in Bern. Arts for me is extremely important...do think the coming of the European 2008 football championships will bolster the country/city? we noticed there is quite a lot of work on one of the market streets toward the station?

Funny you mention about Geneva...we walked around the centre for hours and couldnt even find two bars next to eachother! Did we miss something?

thanks again!

Richard
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Old 24.07.2007, 13:05
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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Hi guys

Do many people build their own property? Land prices in CH actually seem cheaper than Strasbourg....are the Swiss in general mad for renovation and building like the Brits (is anyone?!).

I've read about the arts and nightlife scene in Bern. Arts for me is extremely important...do think the coming of the European 2008 football championships will bolster the country/city? we noticed there is quite a lot of work on one of the market streets toward the station?

Richard
Building property is possible, but I would rent for a while & have a look at the situation. Land is difficult to purchase, a colleague "Swiss) has just done this & all in all it took him around 3 years from finding to finishing

All the construction work in Bern city centre is revolving around 2008. Better transport links, new square in front of the main station, a couple of new tramlines & refurbishment of the main station are all under way.
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Old 24.07.2007, 13:11
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Ok thanks.

Is there anything that has really disappointed or annoyed you since moving to Bern/CH?

My pet hates:

1. French beurocracy reallys gets me..and the inefficiency of french business. For example emailing for quotations or information and maybe you're lucky to have a response within a week!

2. Low wages and relatively few jobs for graduates. Lack of training for people in business.

3. Dirty cities...in comparison to the pristine cities in german for example.

4. Shit on the pavement (tasty)

5. Socialist attitudes that border on the annoying.

etc etc.

Cheers

R


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Building property is possible, but I would rent for a while & have a look at the situation. Land is difficult to purchase, a colleague "Swiss) has just done this & all in all it took him around 3 years from finding to finishing

All the construction work in Bern city centre is revolving around 2008. Better transport links, new square in front of the main station, a couple of new tramlines & refurbishment of the main station are all under way.
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Old 24.07.2007, 13:35
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Lived in Bern for 3 weeks now (just moved into my apartment). Love it. Keep telling friends that all it takes after work is the short stroll from the Hauptbahnhof to my neighborhood for all the stress from work to go away. The swiss really know how to build apartments here (lots of windows and oriented properly for maximum light influx) and mine gets sun from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. when it is not cloudy. Also, most swiss apts come with laminate or wooden floors which gives them a rather classy feel.

That being said, a couple of things that could be improved:

1. No shopping on Sundays makes Saturday shopping crowds a veritable nightmare.

2. The swiss are fond (or are right now) of rather "modern" trends in furniture which produces a lot of overpriced, uncomfortable, and boring beds and chairs, not to mention cutlery and dishware, which can only seem to be found in all white and silver (i.e. cafeteria dishware), or extremely overpriced (can you say over 100 chuffs for a colorful set of kinves spoons and forks?).

3. The people hanging out at Bern Hauptbahnhof. Lots of drunks, druggies and general nutsos with 3 or 4 flea-full dogs per person to boot. Very unpleasant. Someone should clean them up.

As soon as you get away from the HB, though, Bern is quite nice, small enough to walk across, but big enough to not be a "village". Plus, it is a nice thing to live in a UNESCO WHS.

For living, avoid Bumplitz/Bethlehem. Boring and ugly, if the apartments are cheap.
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Old 24.07.2007, 13:51
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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3. The people hanging out at Bern Hauptbahnhof. Lots of drunks, druggies and general nutsos with 3 or 4 flea-full dogs per person to boot. Very unpleasant. Someone should clean them up.
as part of the general clean up at the Bahnhof, Christalgasse (subway into Bahnhof) will be closed & 24 hr security on the new Bahnhof Platz, hopefully will move them along. Also there will no longer be a junkie Hubli for them to smack up in.

I remember Needle Park in Zürich from a long time ago & it was much worse ....
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Old 24.07.2007, 14:49
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

In canton Bern the German native-speakers outnumber the French ones 10:1, according to Wikipedia...
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Old 24.07.2007, 15:20
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

You could also look at living in Thun which is only a 20min train ride into Bern. It's right at the foot of the Alps and in front of Thunersee. There's lots of nice big new flats being built. The area also has other good facilities like a nice Migros Wellness center (gym/pool). It's high tax though but consequently, rent is generally lower than low tax areas. Would be great place to start family in a few years time!
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Old 25.07.2007, 11:01
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Hi guys,

Many thanks again.

We have the same issues in Strasbourg. I don't mind the junkies here on Grand Rue as long as they don't hassle me! However I agree it can be too much sometimes, many come from Eastern Europe for the long summers that Strasbourg offers. If i had children though maybe i would feel different.

Thanks for the details on Thun...so many beautiful places on the doorstep.

Ecole Migros...is this a wellness centre or school or both? How much does it cost to join? They seem to offer some excellent activities.

Hopefully we should travel down again after summer to visit. If there are any expat meetings at the same time it would be great to get an insight over a few beers!

We're also off to visit Leipzig and Dresden once more!

Cheers

Richard
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Old 25.07.2007, 14:03
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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Hi guys,

Many thanks again.

We have the same issues in Strasbourg. I don't mind the junkies here on Grand Rue as long as they don't hassle me! However I agree it can be too much sometimes, many come from Eastern Europe for the long summers that Strasbourg offers. If i had children though maybe i would feel different.

Thanks for the details on Thun...so many beautiful places on the doorstep.

Ecole Migros...is this a wellness centre or school or both? How much does it cost to join? They seem to offer some excellent activities.

Hopefully we should travel down again after summer to visit. If there are any expat meetings at the same time it would be great to get an insight over a few beers!

We're also off to visit Leipzig and Dresden once more!

Cheers

Richard
Richard,

Just a quick note on Thun, yes it is lovely in summer with the lake etc ... not so sure in the winter. Also please note that you are entering the Oberland here & they can be none too friendly to foreigners. (my opinion)

Suggest you get in touch with MissBehaving, as she is 50/50 English-Swiss lives there & can give you a candid run down ...

Last edited by Polorise; 25.07.2007 at 14:13. Reason: adding hyperlink ;o)
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Old 25.07.2007, 15:01
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Hi Richard

Thun is def. a great place to live, lots going on but very relaxed at the same time.

if you fancy a guided tour when you are over just let me know (my speciality is night life... )
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Old 25.07.2007, 15:39
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Indeed..your avatar certainly perked my attention!

Yes that would be wonderful i'll see what our diary is like and maybe during september we can visit. We are very keen to seek out a new destination, Thun looks to be very interesting having close links with the major Swiss cities.

Thanks for the offer! So is the nightlife in Thun pretty good then? In Strasbourg we have any cellar bars to fall into and out of + a number of fairly reasonable price student bars (where i am beginning to feel the wrong side of my 20's!).

Cheers

Richard


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Hi Richard

Thun is def. a great place to live, lots going on but very relaxed at the same time.

if you fancy a guided tour when you are over just let me know (my speciality is night life... )
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Old 25.07.2007, 16:20
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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Indeed..your avatar certainly perked my attention!

Yes that would be wonderful i'll see what our diary is like and maybe during september we can visit. We are very keen to seek out a new destination, Thun looks to be very interesting having close links with the major Swiss cities.

Thanks for the offer! So is the nightlife in Thun pretty good then? In Strasbourg we have any cellar bars to fall into and out of + a number of fairly reasonable price student bars (where i am beginning to feel the wrong side of my 20's!).

Cheers

Richard


Hi Richard,

I live in Thun, work in Bern, commute every day. It's very do-able, a lot of people live in Thun and work in Bern city because the rent is a lot more affordable for nicer housing. Thun nightlife sucks, that's my opinion, but it's a cute little place to live and since you're so close to Bern, you can def always go there for theater, music, bars, etc. Not much nightlife to speak of in Thun. There are some bars but they aren't very exciting. They do have some music festivals going on at different times of the year, but overall, don't count on having a really cool and active nightlife in Thun. (This coming from someone who has lived in big cities like Vancouver, Montreal...)
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Old 25.07.2007, 16:22
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

There are some great bars and cafés where people tend to meet up for a few drinks before going on to a club. What kind of music are you into?

Thun is also home to the weird and wonderful Café Bar Mokka, one of the best (small) live music venues in Switzerland. (Shameless plug, my BF works there...)
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Old 25.07.2007, 16:49
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Some facts:

-Bern has 3rd highest income tax in Switzerland (circa 50% more than in ZH)
-Fribourg is a compromise with a regular S1 train service taxes about 30% less, see tax calculator on credit suisse website for ex.
-Vehicle taxes are also about 50% higher than Zurich
-Rents are about 25% lower than Zurich
-Everyone goes out mainly only beginning Thu-Sat, apart from some club action earlier
-Thun old town is cool and the golf club on the lake is a fave (Great Thai food)
-More limited employment opportunities and marketing than in Zurich but Zurich,Lausanne and Basel all within an hour and a bit.

In general more family oriented attitudes as you head west from Zurich.
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Old 25.07.2007, 21:37
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

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(Shameless plug, my BF works there...)
you are generally shameless, non ?
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Old 25.07.2007, 21:52
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Yes, for anyone who was thinking visiting Bern then don't until next year. It's a mess with all the works going on.
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Old 25.07.2007, 22:20
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Re: Living in Bern...opinions?

Hi

I sell audio equipment so i have many many albums....everything from Arcade Fire (and other obscure US stuff) to electronica to blues and jazz. But if it's got funk then count me in

Shameless plugs...isn't that what forums were invented for? I take it it is this place?

http://www.mokka.ch/sites/home/home.html

How does Thun for example compare to Biel/Bienne?

Does transport run late/early am between Bern and outlying areas?
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