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Old 20.05.2021, 07:54
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Moving to Bern

I have been trying to move to Bern for over a year now (from within Switzerland) and I'm really struggling. I just had another rejection for a flat yesterday. I live in Romandie but I never liked it here particularly and never put down any roots. Both work (well, from home office now) and all of my social life is in Bern now, so this move is long overdue. Over the past few months, I have seen so many flats. It's always a huge hassle, because viewings are often on weekdays during the day and I live 2-3 hours away and work full time - so these trips are both expensive and exhausting, and so far they have been fruitless as well. Given that I'm on a B permit and I have a temp contract that gets renewed every 6 months, I am wondering if I'm wasting my time and money on these trips.

I have asked my friends in Bern for advice. They look at me blankly and say, "just move into a WG, that's what everyone does here, there are hundreds of listings online". Which is true. But even that isn't so straightforward, as I don't speak Swiss German and only limited high German - people don't tend to like that, in my experience. Also, I'm in my 30s, and I find that people - quite rightly - prefer to live with people their age, and the majority of the adverts are posted by students/20-somethings. I have nevertheless managed to arrange a few interviews, but they were awkward and there was no chemistry. I also don't know what I would do with all my furniture - I live in a 50m2 flat now that I painstakingly furnished with antique stuff that took ages to hunt down, and I'm not sure if I would be ready to sell/get rid of all of it at this stage, so some of it would have to go to some kind of self-storage, but that would cost money on top of what I would be paying for a WG.
Another issue is that I'm working from home full time for now, and once we return to the office, I will be home 1-3 days a week. In my experience, people in shared living situations hate that. Back in London when I was a student, I got kicked out of my room when I started writing my MSc dissertation (i.e. started spending a lot of time at home), and another time when I was unemployed (again, spending a lot of time at home). It's especially fun to be homeless when you are supposed to do demanding academic work or you don't have a job either. So yeah, I would be keen not to repeat these experiences.

I really don't know where to turn now. Do I go find expensive short-term accommodation such as an Airbnb while keeping my current flat - at least that way I can attend viewings more easily during the week? While I have been to many viewings before, I have only applied and got turned down for about 3-4 places so far - so could this be worth exploring further? Or given my B permit and 6 month contracts, would that be a further waste of time, money and energy?
Does anyone have any alternative ideas about what sensible people tend to do in my situation? Is there some kind of option I haven't considered?

Thanks for reading this far and many thanks in advance for any input!
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Old 20.05.2021, 08:47
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Re: Moving to Bern

Oh dear, we experienced the same kind of difficulty finding a flat here and we are "Swiss" (American born, married to a Swiss husband, now Swiss).

The best thing I can recommend is to find someone i.e. a friend who is moving out of an apartment and can refer you personally to the landlord. Another option would be to up your price range / be flexible on what it is you are looking for. We were able to find our home because we increased our price range and there were less applicants that way ... Also, keep in mind 3-4 apartments isn't that much, I've heard some people have to apply to 50+ before they get what they are looking for. Have you considered looking just outside of Bern too? I use the Comparis app on my phone which combines all of the relevant real estate sites into one search.

I wouldn't do the Airbnb while keeping your flat in Geneva - you don't want to be broke upon moving here and the instability would be taxing.

Best of luck Would be happy to meet up for a drink when you are in town! I live in the old town.
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Old 20.05.2021, 08:57
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Re: Moving to Bern

The type of place you're looking at will likely be relatively cheap and have lots of people applying for it. Your short-term contract will certainly not count in your favour, unfortunately.

Are you attending the viewings? Are they public viewings? I would assume they are.

What I would recommend when you apply is that you call the agency and try to speak to them in your best German. This will show you're trying, remind them of you and give you more chance. They may even switch to English for you
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Old 20.05.2021, 11:17
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Re: Moving to Bern

A room in shared flat is very common. I managed one once in the French speaking part.

Not mastering Swiss German should not be a problem because we're all foreigners. If I remember well the youngest coloc was 25-26 YO. It was a parade of people with different nationalities, 1st languages and occupations.

Quite strange that only students shared flats because among the colocs I had a carpenter, an elementary school teacher, a painter, a private security guy, a restaurant manager, a bus driver, industrial electronics sales guy. All adults above 30 YO.

Of course, also students. PhDs and postdocs are broke (been there done that ) so sharing a flat is a way to make rent more affordable and have disposable income at the end of the month. The point is lots of people in different stages of life live in a shared flat.
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Old 20.05.2021, 11:46
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Re: Moving to Bern

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.......Given that I'm on a B permit and I have a temp contract that gets renewed every 6 months, I am wondering if I'm wasting my time and money on these trips.
I will concentrate on this one as you got some good input already for other areas.
I am not sure if what your employer is doing is legal. In fact I think its not. So please look into this. In what area do you work? Are you a teacher. Please start to read up on this. Start with https://www.arbeitsrecht-aktuell.ch/...eitsvertraege/

There is the option of free legal service in every city (usually organised by the lawyers association of that city). Its only 30 minutes usually but if you have all your documents ready this should be enough to give you some insight.

The reason you need to look into this is because yes, of course your only 6 months contract has an influence. Who would you rent a cheap apartment to? A guy with a big salary who wants a cheap apartment (but could easily pay more) or a single mother with a small child with little income? Or a young person looking to move out from home? All of these will be before you. Landlords want long tenants. And the rent needs to be "right" i.e. cheap artments will not be rented to someone with a high salary.

So either you go for a bigger aprtment (more expensive and less demand) and try to rent out a room yourself if you don't want that much space or you look for a "befristet" apartment. These are usually older apartments who will be demolished. There competition is less fierce. And given that you a limited contract that might actually work. It will also give you the option of finding another apartment while living close to Bern.

Last edited by irish_temptation; 20.05.2021 at 12:05. Reason: Added additional information
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Old 20.05.2021, 13:19
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Re: Moving to Bern

If you are looking for a room in a shared flat, it is better to put up your own ad and let people contact you. There are shared apartments with working people who prefer older flatmates.
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Old 20.05.2021, 13:33
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Re: Moving to Bern

Thank you so much for your reply! They have a special scheme set up, it all goes through an agency, to whom they are paying a fee. I understand that this is in order to avoid a chained contract. I work for a so-called "reputable" employer in a white collar job, and a lot of my colleagues are on similar contracts. Very bad conditions with the notice period and sick leave as well, but it seems that they are exploiting a legal loophole.

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I will concentrate on this one as you got some good input already for other areas.
I am not sure if what your employer is doing is legal. In fact I think its not. So please look into this. In what area do you work? Are you a teacher. Please start to read up on this. Start with https://www.arbeitsrecht-aktuell.ch/...eitsvertraege/

There is the option of free legal service in every city (usually organised by the lawyers association of that city). Its only 30 minutes usually but if you have all your documents ready this should be enough to give you some insight.

The reason you need to look into this is because yes, of course your only 6 months contract has an influence. Who would you rent a cheap apartment to? A guy with a big salary who wants a cheap apartment (but could easily pay more) or a single mother with a small child with little income? Or a young person looking to move out from home? All of these will be before you. Landlords want long tenants. And the rent needs to be "right" i.e. cheap artments will not be rented to someone with a high salary.

So either you go for a bigger aprtment (more expensive and less demand) and try to rent out a room yourself if you don't want that much space or you look for a "befristet" apartment. These are usually older apartments who will be demolished. There competition is less fierce. And given that you a limited contract that might actually work. It will also give you the option of finding another apartment while living close to Bern.
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Old 20.05.2021, 13:42
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Re: Moving to Bern

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Thank you so much for your reply! They have a special scheme set up, it all goes through an agency, to whom they are paying a fee. I understand that this is in order to avoid a chained contract. I work for a so-called "reputable" employer in a white collar job, and a lot of my colleagues are on similar contracts. Very bad conditions with the notice period and sick leave as well, but it seems that they are exploiting a legal loophole.
Yea, this is very common in pharma (not sure if that is your industry) ... I got on an offer for a big project yesterday for until December only. I really don't get it as it is impossible to complete the project from August - December. They say there is a good chance for extension, but that is no way to live life - at least for me.
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Old 20.05.2021, 20:42
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Re: Moving to Bern

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If you are looking for a room in a shared flat, it is better to put up your own ad and let people contact you. There are shared apartments with working people who prefer older flatmates.
I just wanted to say that this is probably the single piece of most useful advice I've gotten so far. I just posted an advert on one of the sites saying that I'm *looking for* a room, and to my greatest surprise, all sorts of cool people started responding - including someone I know through a friend, but didn't know she was looking. I'm meeting at least one of them this weekend. This really was a game changer. So thank you, kind internet stranger for your useful advice.

Is there a way to "super-thank" someone?
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Old 20.05.2021, 21:47
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Re: Moving to Bern

your post did this. Just be happy, good luck. Different points of view are always useful.
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Old 21.05.2021, 09:07
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Re: Moving to Bern

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I just wanted to say that this is probably the single piece of most useful advice I've gotten so far. I just posted an advert on one of the sites saying that I'm *looking for* a room, and to my greatest surprise, all sorts of cool people started responding - including someone I know through a friend, but didn't know she was looking. I'm meeting at least one of them this weekend. This really was a game changer. So thank you, kind internet stranger for your useful advice.

Is there a way to "super-thank" someone?
I accept Bitcoin!
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