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Old 16.01.2011, 04:45
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Dear All,

First of all, greetings!

I am considering moving to Basel to a CHF 140k job with one of the Pharma companies. I am now in London on a GBP 70k salary.

1. do you think it's worth accepting the job? I mean, would the quality of my life improve or get worse after accounting for taxes and cost of living, etc.?

2. is Basel a safe city to live in for a 35 yrs old single female (I read about drug dealers, pimps and people following women)?

Thanks.


Along the same line, is Basel more dangerous than London (Victoria area)?

Last edited by Longbyt; 16.01.2011 at 07:58. Reason: consecutive posts on the same subject merged
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Old 16.01.2011, 05:50
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

Quick answer after nearly 20 years in Basel

Much safer than London, but all cities have their dark parts.

Quality of life much better than UK

Ed
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Old 16.01.2011, 10:11
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

How's your maths? £70K at 1.53 CHF to the pound is how much? How are your reading skills? Try searching on a topic much discussed.

However, sarcasm aside, the phrase "bite their arm off" springs to mind.
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Old 16.01.2011, 10:17
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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Dear All,

First of all, greetings!

I am considering moving to Basel to a CHF 140k job with one of the Pharma companies. I am now in London on a GBP 70k salary.

1. do you think it's worth accepting the job? I mean, would the quality of my life improve or get worse after accounting for taxes and cost of living, etc.?
Hi and welcome to English Forum!

First, I'll admit that I've never visited let alone lived in London so it is tough for me personally to make a comparison between Basel and London. HOWEVER... I imagine in some ways, it is pretty similar to living in Chicago, which I have done, back in the day.

About salary vs living here, my husband and I live on not even one-third of the salary you have been offered so I can say without a doubt, it is very possible to live on 140k chf. Of course, this does depend upon what sorts of expenses you have which will follow you here such as debts (mortgage, auto, credit cards, other loans, etc) which you may have still needing to be paid off.

It is possible to find some comfortable (if not necessarily so fancy) apartments for less than 2000chf per month here in Basel - or you can find some fancier ones upwards of 4k / mo... depends on your tastes and what you consider comfortable.

Groceries can be expensive, there are high end stores here which follow an updated "general store" formula - everything from clothing and jewelry to housewares to groceries - but there are also some less expensive options as well, although nothing like ASDA (or Walmart in the US). Junk food and "heat n eat" type foods here are VERY expensive in comparison to the US and from what I gather, prices for these in the UK are pretty similar to what I was used to in the US. Here it actually IS less expensive to cook "real food" for yourself.

Dining out and entertainment can be expensive here as everyone (from "lowly" janitor on up) is paid a fair wage, partially because health insurance and such are required by law and (generally) paid by the individual rather than by the employer.

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2. is Basel a safe city to live in for a 35 yrs old single female (I read about drug dealers, pimps and people following women)?

Thanks.

Along the same line, is Basel more dangerous than London (Victoria area)?
The first year or so that I lived here, I had on some pretty rosy tinted glasses and didn't see those darker parts (mentioned by Constable) very well BUT over all, I'd say that it is still much safer here than in most of the similarly sized towns and cities I've lived in in my life.

Taking that into account though, just as it wouldn't be sensible to wander around anyplace else alone at 3am, it probably is a good idea to still avoid wandering around alone at 3am in Basel too. The public transport around here does run until a little after midnight about much of the city, although after about 11pm or so the frequency drops off.

(I have walked home from a friend's place at midnight before and been approached with an invitation for freakiness BUT wasn't attacked and when I declined the offer, my response was taken well... much much different than what I'd experienced in the US, no "aww, c'mon babe, you know you wanna" type stuff, let alone anything more forceful.)
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Old 16.01.2011, 10:24
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

Uhm, you'll be more than fine with these salaries.
And $$ aside, I think it's always worth it to try to live in a different country, get to know new culture and new people.
Basel is a very safe city. I'm a 30 y old woman, and have never had any problems.
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Old 16.01.2011, 10:36
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

The language is a big problem here.However if your German is good then you will be OK.Everything you receive in the post is in German.
Also just consider you come here and lose your job after a few years.Then
it becomes quite a challenge to find another job without fluent German.
This has just happened to me.
Finally its probably not where you would want to end up and retire, as its not easy getting a Swiss Passport anyway.
So consider that its probably a temporary visit then you are prepared.
I would say that London is much more vibey than Basel.
Almost like moving from the city into a small town.
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Old 16.01.2011, 11:07
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

I moved to Basel 6 months ago as a single 44 year-old woman, my first time living abroad. Financially, at the moment I would say better, but haven't done a tax return yet. Taxes are lower at source, but you have to pay quite a lot for health insurance, and when after my first few days here I had to buy my first roll of binbags (Bebbi-Saggs) I nearly fell over when the woman asked for CHF23 (GBP15), but then you don't pay council tax so that's a levy for refuse collection, which seems fair actually. To be honest, I haven't done any proper sums, but it seems to me it all evens out pretty much. Really depends on your lifestyle - eating out is phenomenally expensive, meat is 2-3 times more expensive to buy in the supermarket, etc., but in the summer there were loads of free music and arts events.

Generally quality of life is much better than at home. It's very clean, and very safe. In fact I was out on the streets on New Year's Eve in Basel and it was a bit disconcerting because everyone was so well-behaved! If I was being critical, I'd say it was too tame, but on the other hand I've been here visiting at Fasnacht, and that wasn't! I've been approached a few times around the station area for money, but never hassled, and feel perfectly safe tootling around on my own. It helps that the public transport is superb. I'm living in an area that some people said wasn't the greatest, but it's absolutely fine, never had or seen any problems. If you do a bit of a search on this forum you'll find plenty of threads about the various areas. Another eye-opener was walking along the Rhine in the summer on the Kleinbasel side - there was a huge group of teenagers sitting on the banks, drinking beer, with what we used to call ghettoblasters - now in the UK I'd have immediately turned and walked in a different direction, groups of drinking teenagers there are threatening and unpredictable, but this lot weren't at all, they were just having a nice time. I used to live in Manchester, so can hazard a guess that it's a lot safer than London Victoria.

My only thing as a single without kids is that I'm finding it difficult to find a life outside of work, but really that's down to me. There's plenty to do, but finding non-work-colleagues to do it with is my issue - I don't really like mixing work and private life, and the majority of ex-pat colleagues anyway have families with them. Having said that, I spent a lot of the last six months travelling out of the country, back to the UK and into Germany and France to see friends and family, and a couple of short holidays, so haven't given myself - or Switzerland - a chance - my New Year's resolution is to fix this. There are plenty of events organised by EF members, but because of work and my travels I haven't made it yet - I think that might help and I will make more of an effort this year. And there's nothing except my nerve stopping me organising something myself! Language is a bit of an issue, although I speak some German, a smile and the odd stumbling phrase generally receives a positive response, unfortunately mostly in Swiss German which leaves me then just with smiles...

But I came here because not only did I have a great job offer, but it was also a great opportunity to experience something totally new, broaden my horizons, etc. I think if you come just for the money, or expecting to reproduce exactly your life in the UK, you may struggle. If you embrace the differences and make the most of what's on offer here, you'll have a great time.

Good luck!
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:03
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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My only thing as a single without kids is that I'm finding it difficult to find a life outside of work
That is so interesting, my only thing is a single mum with a kid I find it difficult to have a life outside work
And I would not call "life" what is inside work

Back to the topic: financially Basel is great but my more important aspect is that the standards of life here is definitely higher.
No commuting on the Misery line, no crowd, lots of woods around, the airport is 20 minutes by bus the quality of the rental flats are better streets are cleaner.
I just wonder you are serious with the question about drugs, dealers and crime here? As if London was a clean city?
What I miss from London is the pubs and my dear colleagues

I moved from Budapest and beside monetary issues I considered the quality of life here - which is far better than anywhere I lived.
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:12
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

is 140k salary with or without calculating the bonus? Big pharma companies in Basel are very generous with the bonus so you might be talking for >180k which is more than enough to live a nice life in Basel.
Basel is a very safe city too

Having said that Basel is like a small village comparing to London so i will not be surprised if you get bored already the first week after you arrive.

I also work in one of the big pharma companies in Basel so if you need some more advise about the work, etc then pm me

cheers
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:20
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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I am considering moving to Basel to a CHF 140k job with one of the Pharma companies. I am now in London on a GBP 70k salary.
Life with either of the big pharma companies in Basel is pretty good. The working conditions are fantastic, the pay is good, and life is pretty easy. Despite what you'll read on here about high food prices, you'll be much better off on a salary of CHF140K than GBP70K, especially in London. The previous poster is right to point out the bonus issue as well -- the pharma companies pay generous bonuses, and unlike in the UK, they actually pay them out!

Quote:
1. do you think it's worth accepting the job? I mean, would the quality of my life improve or get worse after accounting for taxes and cost of living, etc.?
As one of the other posters here said, I'd bite their hand off. Taxes are lower, property prices are lower (vs. London), public transport is cheaper, and quality of life is much higher. Yes, food and dining out are more expensive, but you'll be in Basel, not Zurich. It's no problem to pop across the border to France or Germany, where everything is suddenly 30% cheaper.

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2. is Basel a safe city to live in for a 35 yrs old single female (I read about drug dealers, pimps and people following women)? Along the same line, is Basel more dangerous than London (Victoria area)?
I'm trying not to laugh as I answer this. Basel is probably one of the safest cities in Europe. People leave their cycles unlocked on the streets, or if they're really security-minded, with nothing but a skimpy lock through one wheel. Leave your wallet, full of cash, on a restaurant table and there's a good chance it will find it's way back to you with every franc inside. This is Switzerland!

That's not to say that it's totally crime-free, or that a single woman shouldn't keep her wits about her when she walks alone at night, or that there aren't certain dark corners of Basel that are best avoided after dark, but at the same time I wouldn't ever feel uncomfortable riding a tram late at night, walking down a main street, or living as a single woman alone is the vast majority of the city. Take local guidance on where to live (and where not to live) and you'll be fine.

In any case, it's orders of magnitude safer than London Victoria.

The flip side of such a safe, sleepy town is that some find the town dull. It's certainly less active and hectic than London, which suits me perfectly but may not suit you. There's an active expat community and it's fairly easy to make new friends among that community, but it's much harder to make friends with the wider community, especially if you don't speak the language. Basel's a very international city, and it's easy to settle in as an expat.

Contrary to other posters, I've never had a problem with not speaking the language. Everyone at work speaks English, and my few words of German plus a little common sense help me get by with everything else.

I'll sum up by saying this: I made a similar move a few years ago and it's the best decision I've made. Professionally, I'm extremely happy and personally, there's no other place I could imagine living after Basel. You couldn't drag me back to London for love nor money.

Good luck with your move!
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:33
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

My very personal opinion is very different. I lived in different big Cities and Basel is for me very boring, very expensive (compare to those big cities), little choices and options available.

The nature is absolutely great and the air is clean and everything is clean everywhere. It is perfect to live here with a small family with young children.

As a single woman in my young thirties, I would never ever want to move here.

As I said, it is a personal opinion based on what I like to do, my objectifs, my interests and what I want from the place I live in.

You have to see if it fits with you, YOU as a person having some free time outside of work. What do you like to do on your free time? Going in the nature? Doing Shopping? Partying? Meeting a lot of new people? Want to meet someone? Want to go hiking? Skiing?

You have to think about those things and make your decision on that. because if you are not a outside sports kind of girl, if you love fashion, shopping, going around town in bars, restos and meet a lot of new people, I'll say you'll find the place pretty boring. (Again my personal opinion based on my personal life experience)

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Old 16.01.2011, 12:39
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

Dear forum friends,

I would start by saying a big THANK YOU for all the replies, I do appreciate your inputs a lot. You all seem to be very warm people whom I would like to have as neighbors.

Honestly, I am still so scared after visiting the city a few weeks ago and projecting my taxes that I almost want to call the employer and revoke my contract before I even start working.

What the hell can I do--I am panicking! I thought I'd do such a great "deal" by moving here but it dawns on me more and more (and despite most of the posts) that I will actually NOT be able to increase my quality of life by coming here.

Please continue to let me know what you think.

THANK YOU!
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:52
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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Honestly, I am still so scared after visiting the city a few weeks ago and projecting my taxes that I almost want to call the employer and revoke my contract before I even start working.
Uh, I think you probably need to double-check your figures.

In Baselstadt, you'll be paying Quellensteuer (tax) of 19.45%. In the UK, on a salary of GBP70K, you'd pay income tax of 25.6%. If you had an equivalent salary in the UK, you'd be paying 29% tax on it. If that's still too high, you can move to Baselland, where taxes are even lower.

In short, you should be paying LESS tax here than you do in the UK, particularly when you consider the absence of council tax, etc. That, combined with a much higher salary and lower rent costs, means you should have more money at the end of each month.

And I'm not sure which parts of Basel you saw that made you scared, especially after London. I simply can't imagine Basel being a scary place!
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Old 16.01.2011, 12:56
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

What if the taxes are lower but all the other things are such expensive so as they approach the taxes of UK?

Except for the possibility of going to France for the necessary things.
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:04
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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What if the taxes are lower but all the other things are such expensive so as they approach the taxes of UK?

Except for the possibility of going to France for the necessary things.
It's easy to get fixated on a single number, but you need to look at overall spending. For most families, the single biggest expense in any given year is tax, followed by rent. Both of these major items are significantly cheaper in Switzerland than the UK.

Suppose you currently spend GBP600 a month on food and dining out. Suppose that it's 50% more expensive to maintain the same standards in Switzerland. That means you'll be spending an extra £3600 a year on food. Which seems like a lot.

Until you realise that you're getting an extra £20k in basic pay. And paying £7k less income tax on it. And saving £3k a year in rent for an equivalent place. And a £1000 savings for a tram pass vs. a tube pass.

Then the difference in the price of groceries doesn't seem so big.

It's just psychological -- the high price of groceries hits you every time you open your wallet; the missing money in your paycheque through taxes is deducted before it ever reaches your hands.

And if you really want to mitigate it, you drive across the border to France, where groceries are broadly the same price as in the UK. If you work at Novartis, the French border is a whopping 50m from the office, and the nearest French supermarket is a 5-minute drive. It's hardly inconvenient to cross the border to shop...

Reality is this: even accounting for the high cost of goods & services in Switzerland, you'll have far more money in your pocket at the end of each month than you do now.
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:09
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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Uh, I think you probably need to double-check your figures.

In Baselstadt, you'll be paying Quellensteuer (tax) of 19.45%. In the UK, on a salary of GBP70K, you'd pay income tax of 25.6%. If you had an equivalent salary in the UK, you'd be paying 29% tax on it. If that's still too high, you can move to Baselland, where taxes are even lower.

In short, you should be paying LESS tax here than you do in the UK, particularly when you consider the absence of council tax, etc. That, combined with a much higher salary and lower rent costs, means you should have more money at the end of each month.

And I'm not sure which parts of Basel you saw that made you scared, especially after London. I simply can't imagine Basel being a scary place!
Me either, I find Basel very very safe.

But no matter the figures and numbers, she needs to know if she is ready to leave what she knows, her friends, family and move here on her own. It can be frightening for someone who never did it before and the city has little to do with this.
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:11
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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Reality is this: even accounting for the high cost of goods & services in Switzerland, you'll have far more money in your pocket at the end of each month than you do now.
I don't agree at all with this. But I am not a single woman with that income here having just me, myself and I to spend on...
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:13
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

I am in total panic!
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:15
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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I am in total panic!
Why is this so ?
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Old 16.01.2011, 13:17
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Re: Moving into Basel--is it worth it?

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I am in total panic!
Here you go, luv. Have a nice cuppa tea. It'll all be alright.



Kidding aside, there are hundreds of people who have made a similar move to you. Many of our friends have moved from the UK to Basel as their pharma companies reduced headcount over the past few years, and they're happier for it. Most describe Basel as the "best kept secret that no one knows about" and few can imagine moving back after having adjusted to living here.

Why not share some of your reservations with your prospective employer and ask if they can put you in touch with your future colleagues who have made similar moves? That direct contact might help allay your fears.
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