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Old 24.03.2017, 20:34
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Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Hi all! WE are about to relocate to Basel for my husband's job. I know that Basel if very expensive to live, but I am trying to get a handle on it.

We are moving as a family of 5 (three kids ages 14,10,10) plus two large dogs. The prices look CRAZY, and I am from Massachusetts (if you know the US - you would know this is a pricey area to live in).

We would be in Basel about 3 years. Is it just better to rent? We aren't going to be giving up our US house (we are renting that out) so we don't really have a large downpayment to make on a house. Or do you suggest living in an apartment for a year and then searching? Or not living in Basel?

My husband is going to work at Roche. We are going to TRY and get away with not having a car, or just one car, so he wants to live close to work. Any help would be appreciated. We aren't familiar with the area at all.
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Old 24.03.2017, 20:46
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

* Without a doubt, rent. First of all, unless one of you is Swiss, I don't think that you *can* buy even if you chose to.

* Don't worry about the prices. Yes, it is expensive but the salaries at Roche aren't shabby. Plus, if you look outside of the city (Baselland), you'll find that the prices are more reasonable.

* With 3 kids and two large dogs, perhaps you can find a garden apartment (that means ground floor) in the area

* Two large dogs - do you know the requirements to bring pets into the country? Note that there are restrictions on dog breeds allowed.

* The public transportation here is amazing. You should be able to get by with one car (or none, if you chose; there are great car-sharing programs here, in addition to the public transit).

* Will the kids go to the International School? If so, the check for housing on the leg between Basel and Aesch. That will be the closest for them to attend classes.

Best of luck!
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Last edited by DantesDame; 24.03.2017 at 20:56. Reason: added more information
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Old 24.03.2017, 20:48
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

If you are only here for 3 years buying would be a risky thing to do.

Most cantons have a penalty for short term sales, in order to discourage speculation. I'd need to look up the percentage in Basel, but generally this penalty increases the CGT.

Asuming, of course that you'd realize any profit in such a short time.

Additionally, you are a US citizen. Welcome to a world of pain. Uncle Sam sees sale of foreign property as not only a property transaction but also a currency trade.

You would need advice from a qualified US/CH tax person before you even think of doing this for a short term stay.

Additionally, buying here is not like in the states, The market is so tight that it can be hard to get a handle on real property values - this is something you learn really only by watching the market a while and knowing the neighborhoods well.

Also, there are few consumer protections when purchasing Swiss property, quite unlike the US. If you don't know Swiss property law, or Swiss customs, or have someone you really, truly trust... There Be Dragons.

Buying sometimes makes financial sense for long stays, but can be risky in the short term.

If you can afford to gamble... your decision. But if you can't - tread carefully.

---

By the way, as you mentioned dogs. Both Basels are BSL cantons - what breeds are your pooches?
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Old 24.03.2017, 20:53
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Basel is not so bad. There's a glut of decent family apartments availible to rent.

Basel spent the past few years building for a big expat/professional population that's since been offshored.
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Old 24.03.2017, 20:58
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Thanks for the advice - renting it is!! I figured this was the case, but wanted to make sure that made the most sense.

Now that this is out of the way - I am concerned about the dogs. The are both goldendoodles and weight about 50 pounds each (golden retriever/poodle mix). Please explain the restrictions - I don't know if we could part with our doggies!
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Old 24.03.2017, 22:13
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Fortunately your dogs' breeds are not restricted in either Basel.

Your German lesson for today, brought to you by the good folks at Tier Im Recht:

A summary of cantonal dog law in Basel Land:
https://www.tierimrecht.org/de/recht...el-landschaft/

And in Basel Stadt:
https://www.tierimrecht.org/de/recht/hunderecht/basel-

Since this is the wrong section for critter talk, I'll spare y'all my usual missive other than to say that there are three levels of dog control law: federal, cantonal, and Gemeinde. Then there may be house rules in your apartment building.

Hop on over to the Pets section some time to learn more about the various levels of dog law, and about dog etiquette and expectations here.

But the good news is that you are not affected by Basel's BSL.

Last edited by meloncollie; 24.03.2017 at 22:23.
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Old 24.03.2017, 23:43
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

The rents in basel are not expensive, have a look at zurich or geneve.
But the taxes are really high (what you save at your flat in rent will be taken by the tax department).
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Old 25.03.2017, 10:23
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

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The rents in basel are not expensive, have a look at zurich or geneve.
But the taxes are really high (what you save at your flat in rent will be taken by the tax department).
We also have one of the highest Health Insurance costs, so that's something to bear in mind when budgeting.
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Old 25.03.2017, 13:13
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

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The rents in basel are not expensive, have a look at zurich or geneve.
But the taxes are really high (what you save at your flat in rent will be taken by the tax department).
Doesnt matter, Trump will take even more. In fact it's better that they pay more taxes here - then a larger part of it will go into local schools
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Old 25.03.2017, 14:45
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

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Doesnt matter, Trump will take even more. In fact it's better that they pay more taxes here - then a larger part of it will go into local schools
While I agree, the OP should also be aware of the AMT. Depending on the individual situation, a larger deduction for CH taxes could tip one into that little 'gotcha'.

The oft repeated suggestion for every American contemplating a move to Switzerland:

Seek professional advice from someone qualifed in both US and CH tax matters before making major move-related decisions. And make sure this is negotiated into you relocation package. The cost of qualified professional advice is not insignificant.
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Old 25.03.2017, 17:55
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Your most reasonable option to buy a house would be just over the border in France. Have a look at leboncoin.fr

But in general.. if you're sure about the 3 year timescale.. renting somewhere like Allschwil, Riehen, Oberwil would probably work best
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Old 25.03.2017, 18:16
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

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Your most reasonable option to buy a house would be just over the border in France. Have a look at leboncoin.fr

But in general.. if you're sure about the 3 year timescale.. renting somewhere like Allschwil, Riehen, Oberwil would probably work best
We've looked into buying in France vs. Basel and finally ended up buying in Baselland simply due to liquidity. Selling something in Basel/Baselland is quicker than selling in France and if you make a simple test by selecting 20 properties in Alsace border villages and 20 in Baselland, the ones in Basel will disappear much faster. It's cheaper to buy in France, true, but you might end up sitting on the asset for longer. Given the fact that OP is planning initially only 3 year stint, renting in Baselland/Basel is a much better option to asses the situation prior to committing to a major investment.
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Old 26.03.2017, 09:45
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Hi fellow American,
Basel is a great place and Roche will give you all the help you need to get settled. We just moved back 7 months ago after 4 years in Basel. As one typical American to another. Here is what you can expect. You don't need a car for daily errands. Your kids, husband and yourself can do and get everywhere by Tram, train, bus. Your grocery store will be accessible by the same public transport or your trusty bike. Your refrigerator in your apartment will be tiny, you will do more daily shopping for perishable items and weekly shopping with the car for the bulky items.


You will not be buying any real estate, you will be renting an apartment that will seem to be crazy small.

We did not bring our furniture - we put some in storage in the US and sold the rest. My US furniture would not have fit in this apartment. IKEA will be your friend. So forget that overstuffed couch, that big lazy boy recliner, the china cabinet, side board, big dining table, Big dresser and bedroom suite - it won't fit. Don't bring a lot of "stuff". You will not have the storage and you don't need it.

Since your 14 year old will either be at the International school or the Swiss International School, you have a choice of being either in town or out toward Aesch, Reinach area. If you can, arrange for your 14 year old to visit a day at both the ISB and the SIS. They are different.

My daughter was 16 when we moved. We enrolled her in Black Forest Academy which is about 20 miles from Basel over the border in Germany. It is an American curriculum. There is a school bus that takes kids from Basel to the school. She graduated from Black Forest Academy and loved it. We could not afford the international schools in Basel, my husband's employer was a small swiss company, so no school tuition help.

My son was 11 years old when we moved to Basel, he attended the local swiss school first and was fluent in speaking German/Swiss within 6 months. He struggled with the school work - the grammar was impossible for him. After two years, we changed him to Black Forest Academy so he could transition back to an American curriculum for our return back here to the US. for High School.

Finally - read everything in this Forum on every topic and follow the rules. There are lots of rules to live by, and that is what makes Switzerland a great place to live, most of the time.
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Old 26.03.2017, 14:46
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Re: Buying/Renting a House in Basel

Wow, Janice, thanks, and amazing that you summed up so much information in less than 20 lines of text. Impressed.
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