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Old 21.04.2017, 04:57
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Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Is it possible to live in Bern and work in Zurich? Looking for information on the commute, not about the city lifestyle.

Couple, 32/30, evaluating if it's feasible for us to work in different cities while living together.

Man: Work location 1min walk from Zurich HB
Woman: Work location 15min tram+walk from Bern HB

What are our options?

Live in Zurich, walking distance to HB, higher rent, lower tax (lohncomputer says combined tax saving of 500 per month) - Woman commutes 1h15 min?

Live in Bern, walking distance to HB, cheaper rent, higher tax - Man commutes 1h?

Live in the middle, Olten? Both commute 35-50 min? Rent is cheaper.

At this point, and without kids, I'm keen to continue working even if my salary is 10% lower than my partner's...

What's the IC like for the morning commute from Bern to Zurich? And Zurich to Bern?
Looking at trains that arrive between 8 and 9 am. Which direction is busier in the morning? I assume they're both busy, but please define busy: is it busy like sardines in a can where people's armpits are in my face? Or is it busy as no free seats and a few unlucky folk have to stand?

And finally, in terms of paying for this commute, any tips on the best ticket to combine with a halb tax?

Thank you
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Old 21.04.2017, 09:57
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

I did it twice, as a consultant living in Zurich and contracting in Bern. Contracts were for 1 year each.
Even though I live in 15 min by tram from Zurich HB and my work place was also in 15 min from Bern HB, I'd still say - it's acceptable, and I would consider doing it on permanent basis, as long as it buys the additional 3 hours per day for commuting.
I found GA (GeneralAbo, about CHF 3800 per year in 2015) to be the most price-effective solution for *my* commuting needs during that contracts. However, if you commute MainStation to MainStation only, your solution may vary.
Morning and evening trains are full. Sometimes you don't get a normal sit, but are free to sit on the stairs between the decks. Sometimes you can get a better sit if arrive 10 min before the train departure. There are slower single-deck trains that leave 15 min earlier than IC, and normally are much less crowded.
You may also consider 1st class, which, unlike air business, is not *too* much more expensive than 2nd/economy.
And, these days, with unlimited 4G internet, long commuting could be a good opportunity to read all books and see all movies and hear all news that you otherwise don't have time for.

Last edited by arz; 21.04.2017 at 10:10.
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Old 21.04.2017, 10:02
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

3 hours per day? And that on top of working 8,5 hours? Id move somewhere in between. Trains are always crowded those times of the day.

I have a 2 hour commute daily, by train almost 2,5 to 3 hours and it is tiring. It sounds nice catching up on books etc but for me this is not really leisure time at home, its traveling.
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Old 21.04.2017, 10:38
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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3 hours per day? And that on top of working 8,5 hours? Id move somewhere in between.


Do NOT move somewhere in between. The ICs between ZH and BE are direct and fast. Any place in between means commuting on an IR train and that is pure misery. For both.

I commuted over two years and it is not the most fun thing to do. At all. Like most people did I do it the other way around... you go to Bern if you have to for work, but no point living there... anyway: Totally possible. The ICs from Zurich to Bern in the morning are PACKED. Completely. Even in first class (if not more so there) as there are loads of SBB, Post, Swisscom and federal employees on that route who all get 1st class tickets...

Just an idea: Some of my colleague lived like me in ZH but rented a room in a shared appartment in BE on top - that was cheaper than the loss in taxes. For 1-2 nights a week he slept over.
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Old 22.04.2017, 14:35
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Look for a room in a shared apartment that's walking distance to your workplace. --> This would be cheaper. Let's say around 300chf-500chf per month.
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Old 22.04.2017, 15:41
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

For me this would depend on two things.

1/ Do you normally work fairly regular hrs without a lot of overtime? If so adding a very predictable commute to predictable hrs is not too strenuous.

2/ Can you work on the train and is your employer happy to give you credit for that? An hr on the train can be my most productive hr of the day. That should give you the flexibility to turn up a bit later, leave a bit earlier and reduces wasted travel time.

I would totally have the person with the shortest trip/least changes do the commuting (assuming the predictable working hrs hold true) because any changes and longer walks leave you a lot more vulnerable to local transport delays and wet/winter weather. A lot has to go wrong for the IC to stop running more or less on time.

Finally, 1st cl is totally worth it especially if you plan to work. I have never had a trip on an IC where I couldn't sit in 1st class although I once had to ask somebody to take their bike wheel off the seat next to them...and you have enough space to be able to work without elbowing the person next to you.
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Old 22.04.2017, 16:29
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Consider that health insurance etc also varies depending on where you live.
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Old 22.04.2017, 17:53
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Of course, if either of you has a job in which you can do the commute just outside the rush-hour, e.g. start work at 6h or 7h instead of at 8h or 9h, that could tip the scale, too.

In all cases, the actual train trip is predictable, by the time-table. You have to pay close attention to the minutes from leaving the flat (on foot, by public transport, or by bicycle) right up to the train, and the same at the other end, from the train to the office.

Many people in Switzerland do this commute, or a similar betweeen Zurich and Berne.
Some find it useful to buy two unattractive bicycles, even known as "Bahnhofvelo" (= station bicycle) for both ends of the commute, to and from the station. They choose fairly cheap, junky bicycles, and lock them with two locks, and hope for the best, but the initial price means it doesn't break their hearts if the bike gets stolen. It can just be replaced.

If the journey to and from the station is counted as "exercise", then that's another time slot each day, put to good use.
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Old 22.04.2017, 17:56
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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Look for a room in a shared apartment that's walking distance to your workplace. --> This would be cheaper. Let's say around 300chf-500chf per month.
Yes, have heard of this solution, too, though I think that you're being a little optimistic about the rental. Or perhaps this is more likely in Bern than in Zrich.

With such a room, it doesn't have to mean you're permanently living apart during the week. It just means that that person has the option not to come home, on any night when the commute feels too much.
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Old 22.04.2017, 18:57
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

My husband did this for 6 months. Bern - Zurich, or rather, Belp to Oerlikon, which ended up being 3 trains, and 1:45 each way. It was exhausting for him. I would think that main station - main station is much more doable, and I agree pretty much with what koahiatimadi (hope i got that right) said. The commuter should have the better commute.

A first class GA is really helpful in this case.

Taxes and health insurance are higher in Bern, but you might find a better place fot the money. In the end, it could be a wash. For an hour commute on a (usually) fast train, I would not waste the money on a second place. You can read, or even work on the train.

But best to look at your living options and then work out the commute. Good luck!
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Old 22.04.2017, 19:20
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Can either of you work from home every now and then? 1 day a week perhaps....
GA is the way to go for tickets
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Old 22.04.2017, 19:40
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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[B]

What's the IC like for the morning commute from Bern to Zurich? And Zurich to Bern?
Looking at trains that arrive between 8 and 9 am. Which direction is busier in the morning? I assume they're both busy, but please define busy: is it busy like sardines in a can where people's armpits are in my face? Or is it busy as no free seats and a few unlucky folk have to stand?

Thank you
Did you see that on the sbb (Swiss national train Company) Website, you can get an idea not only of the timetables, but of the typical passenger load?
See "Belegung" with a pictogram of how many people are likely to be using a particular train. It can be worth looking at a few trains earlier and later, to compare.

I did this exercise and came to the conclusion that the timetables from Olten are not bad. And certainly the rents there are lower than in Zurich. You'd have to check the other factors, like taxes and medical insurance premiums.

https://www.sbb.ch/de/kaufen/pages/f...7&zeit=07%3A34
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Old 22.04.2017, 20:02
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Hi everyone, thanks for your replies.

We've talked about it and we're not keen on living apart / having a second place, it's not only the cost, we'd just rather stay together.

Our main concern with the commute is that our previous experience was...



But I know it is wrong to compare commutes in vastly different countries. And from my experience with Swiss trains, it is all a bit "luxurious", you can get a seat (!!!) and there's even a toilet, there's a restaurant carriage and groping by sexual pervs is rare, aha, I am so very impressed

I am not sure if I understood correctly, but it's more common to commute INTO Bern? I mean, are people working in Bern and living near Zurich? I thought it was the opposite (people live in Bern and work in Zurich)

We will try to rent as close to Bern HB as possible, ideally within a 10-minute walk. I realise this is the old town, and availability and prices won't be great, but we will give it a go.

Thanks and have a lovely weekend everyone
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Old 22.04.2017, 21:15
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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Hi everyone, thanks for your replies.

....
I am not sure if I understood correctly, but it's more common to commute INTO Bern? I mean, are people working in Bern and living near Zurich? I thought it was the opposite (people live in Bern and work in Zurich)
Many people commute by train, daily, Zurich-Bern, and Zurich-Basel, Olten-Zurich, Olten-Bern, Olten-Basel, in all directions. Often, the direction is determined by where the rest of the family lives. Sometimes, by where a flat could be found, at all.

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We will try to rent as close to Bern HB as possible, ideally within a 10-minute walk. I realise this is the old town, and availability and prices won't be great, but we will give it a go.

Thanks and have a lovely weekend everyone
I wonder if you fully realise that finding accommodation in both Bern and Zurich is not an easy task, unless you, together, are very wealthy and can rent in the topmost range.

By all means give it a go, yes. You seem to be trying to do your research well, and there are many threads on this forum about finding accommodation, and what can help in the search.

Since there is a shortage of moderately priced accommodation, and many applicants for each apartment, you do well to consider, as you say, temporary (called "befristet" in German) accommodation as you look around. That, however, could be anywhere, and no guarantee of finding something within 10 minutes' walk of either Bern HB or Zurich HB.
Nothing wrong with having a dream, though...
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Old 22.04.2017, 21:59
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Plenty of people do that commute in either direction. With a work location right next to Zurich HB and provided you find an apartment within reasonable distance to Bern HB it's no problem. The problem only happens if you work and/or live far from either or both rail stations. Chances of finding an apartment within 5mins from Zurich HB are pretty slim unless you're very very wealthy. Bern won't be easy either but slightly easier. The train connections Bern-Zurich are frequent and fast. Buy a 1st class GA if you can, it will probably be worth it. The trains will be crowded but even on a bad day it won't look like in Tokyo.

This is all based on the assumption that you do not have the more stressful job and do not work considerably longer hours than your partner. If you do, then by all means, no need to add a good 2.5 hours of commute to a long day unless you can do some work on the train. My 2 cents.

Except for Baden, most places between Zurich and Bern are really not that awesome (no offense to anyone) and chances are if you live somewhere in the sticks, your commute will be at least as long if not longer. Worse yet, you would both look at some crappy commute and that makes just no sense.
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Old 22.04.2017, 22:08
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

We live in the town of Biel/Bienne, less than ten minutes walking distance from the train station. The direct trains to Zurich and Bern run every half hour. Train to Zurich takes 1:15, to Bern about 0:25hrs.

Housing here is definitely much cheaper than in Bern and the housing market is much more relaxed.

Biel has a terrible reputation but we are a family of five and really like living here.

Just to throw in another option!
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Old 22.04.2017, 22:37
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

I used to work on projects for a client in Berne for a while.
My Zurich apartment is about 15 mins (by foot or public transport) from Zurich HB, the client's offices in Berne were about the same distance from the train station.

I did not commute daily but up to three days a week. Perfectly doable but I would probably start to hate it if I had to do it all the time, five days a week.

What's really nice about that commute though is that you have almost an hour on a non-stop train which means you can actually get some work done on the train.
If one of you has a job which allows him/her to work on the train this can make quite a difference.

Last edited by Mark75; 23.04.2017 at 09:53.
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Old 22.04.2017, 22:43
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

Other option of course is that one of you finds work in the same city as the other has. Then little or no commute.
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Old 23.04.2017, 02:21
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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You didn't but no worries: Just call her "cowgirl" next time
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Old 23.04.2017, 04:09
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Re: Commute: Bern ←→ Zurich

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You didn't but no worries: Just call her "cowgirl" next time
lol now that you're saying this.. and here I was thinking, well that is an interesting somehow exotic-sounding user name
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