Basel advice

Basel advice

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monty999

Original Poster:

896 posts

72 months

Friday 5th March
quotequote all
Hello,

My daughter has just taken the offer of a job (fashion buying for a company called Telly Weijl) in Basel. While I am very pleased and excited for her to have the opportunity and the experience of working in obviously a lovely place, I have some reservations regarding the living costs involved having read some of the other posts on here which are all very informative but worrying. Are living costs any different than Geneva or Zurich which other discussions I have read about. For some clarity, her annual salary is somewhere around 60k-65k CHF which I understand to be quite low for living in Switzerland. She will get an apartment from the company for the first 3 months then has to find her own accommodation. They also supply local commuting transport ( I take it that will be a tram pass or similar).
She is really looking forward to the adventure but could do with a bit of inside knowledge from you good people on how best to make the most of it. She has a start date of middle of April.

Thanks in advance.

eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
monty999 said:
Hello,

My daughter has just taken the offer of a job (fashion buying for a company called Telly Weijl) in Basel. While I am very pleased and excited for her to have the opportunity and the experience of working in obviously a lovely place, I have some reservations regarding the living costs involved having read some of the other posts on here which are all very informative but worrying. Are living costs any different than Geneva or Zurich which other discussions I have read about. For some clarity, her annual salary is somewhere around 60k-65k CHF which I understand to be quite low for living in Switzerland. She will get an apartment from the company for the first 3 months then has to find her own accommodation. They also supply local commuting transport ( I take it that will be a tram pass or similar).
She is really looking forward to the adventure but could do with a bit of inside knowledge from you good people on how best to make the most of it. She has a start date of middle of April.

Thanks in advance.
That sounds like quite a low salary. It‘s a bit below the Swiss average which I think is about 70k and average household income is about 120k. That average obviously includes high and low paying locations. I would say Basel is at the higher end. For reference I saw an advert the other day from Lidl saying they pay the most of the supermarkets and it works out about 57k a year. Basel has a lot of Pharma and Chemical, as well as some banking. I‘d say it‘s cheaper to live than Zurich and Geneva overall, but probably not hugely.

What you need to bear in mind with Switzerland is that where you live determines your tax rate and also can have an impact on health insurance and clearly also your rent. Basel City (Basel-Stadt) taxes are higher than Basel Country (Basel-Land) and both higher than the neighbouring canton of Aargau. I would expect the rents to be highest in the city.

If she lives in the city, she‘s going to be paying about 17% of her income in tax and social security plus whatever pension contribution she has to make (legal requirement) and maybe another 3-500 a month for compulsory health insurance (depending upon what model and deductible she goes for). So from 60k she’s going to be left with about 3.5k per month. No landlord will rent her anything for more than 1/3 of her income, but I‘d have thought she wants to be looking at less, which looking at Homegate.ch (equivalent of Rightmove) seems achievable even in the city centre, depending on what she is looking for. Leaving 2-2.5k pm to live on. It‘s certainly doable, but I can’t see there being a lot of saving or luxuries. Worth noting that socialising the UK way (i.e. going to the pub or out for dinner) is expensive in Switzerland. Figure on a pint at an expat pub being 9, a vodka and coke 13, a cheap main course starting around 20, but 30 being more common (and the sky is the limit). One of the great things about Basel is that you can hop across the border to France or Germany for cheaper and better shopping. I would probably look at living a bit further out to save on taxes and rent, but I can see the appeal of living in the city centre and it being easier to make friends etc. at least to begin with.

I don‘t know the industry or what your daughter‘s qualifications are, nor what a comparable salary would be in the UK, but there are often stories in the expat community of companies waving high sounding salaries, when translated back to their home currency, at foreigners, who then get a serious shock at the cost of living.

www.englishforum.ch is a great resource. But do use the search before asking lots of questions. The regulars get pissy if a newbie comes across as lazy.

There are also lots of expat groups on Facebook. I‘m sure there will be something like „English speakers in Basel“ or similar.




monty999

Original Poster:

896 posts

72 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
Thank you very much for taking the time to give us some very useful information. Her profession is in fashion buying with a first in her degree in "Fasion Buying and Merchandising" having worked in Manchester for 5 years at assistant level this is the next step (junior buyer) in progressing her career. We understand that this is not a 'money making' move for her, rather an experience gaining exercise which will go down well on her CV for future moves. I think these companies know the value of this when determining the low salaries, progressing through the ranks at different companies apparently is looked on as better than staying at one company waiting for promotions. As far as I understand, this industry is one of those 'top heavy' paid professions where the initial few roles are not well paid but then from the next level and upwards get very high salaries. It is a big move for her (and we get a spare room for the first time !), but we really want her to take the chance and not be left wondering in another 5 years time, one life eh? (Personally I'm much more comfortable with it than a move to London !)

Thanks again for the info, particular attention needs to focussed on location after the initial 3 month provided accommodation and the differentiations in tax depending location just seems so strange and complicated to us back home.

eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
The 3 months accommodation is very generous btw. I suspect that one of the reasons they offer it is because the competition for cheap accommodation is fierce and there are also standard moving days typically the first day of the quarter. She would do well to look for a permanent place to live quickly and not leave it until the last minute. Even to the point of if she is able to get somewhere she likes but has to move in before the end of 3 months, she considers doing it.

Good luck to her!

monty999

Original Poster:

896 posts

72 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
Sound advice, thanks.

chris_gilmartin

26 posts

167 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
eyebeebe said:
there are also standard moving days typically the first day of the quarter. She would do well to look for a permanent place to live quickly and not leave it until the last minute.
Very good advice, get on with it right away!

monty999

Original Poster:

896 posts

72 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
chris_gilmartin said:
Very good advice, get on with it right away!
Thanks, she will be getting straight on it when she gets over there in April but in the mean time we are already doing a bit of internet research on apartments and suitable affordable areas. I'm sure she will be quizzing the other girls she'll be working with but also we've been reading up on the article you posted on the other thread regarding frontier working to see if that may be possible living in Saint Louis just over the French border. Lots to investigate.

Thanks again for your input, most helpful which is a refreshing change from other areas of PistonHeads forums where asking for help/advice usually attracts someone who just wants an argument. Cheers.

eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
monty999 said:
Thanks, she will be getting straight on it when she gets over there in April but in the mean time we are already doing a bit of internet research on apartments and suitable affordable areas. I'm sure she will be quizzing the other girls she'll be working with but also we've been reading up on the article you posted on the other thread regarding frontier working to see if that may be possible living in Saint Louis just over the French border. Lots to investigate.

Thanks again for your input, most helpful which is a refreshing change from other areas of PistonHeads forums where asking for help/advice usually attracts someone who just wants an argument. Cheers.
A lot of people do that. On her income I don‘t know if the rent savings will offset the increase in taxes though. Something else to check out is whether she is actually allowed to do that from a permit/visa perspective, now that the UK is no longer in the EU. The good people of EnglishForum will probably be able to answer that. My gut feeling is that it‘s not as simple as it used to be.

On the rent side again... one of the moving days will be 30 June/1st July with people giving notice on their apartments before the end of March (you have to give 3 months‘ notice from the end of the month), so there will be property starting to show up in the next weeks for moving in at the beginning of July. She should already be looking into this.

While talking about giving notice, make her aware that the Swiss love contracts and notice periods which must be given in writing sent registered delivery and received before the end of the period. Failure to do this can lock you into contracts for another year. Examples being mobile phones, cable and particularly gyms, who can charitably be described as predatory. Also when moving it will be the aforementioned three months notice and likely only from the end of the quarter. To get out of paying to the end of the next quarter you need to find a suitable person to replace you. Also expect a minimum one year rental period and look out for landlords who try to lock you in for longer. Five years isn‘t unheard of.

Mogul

2,557 posts

190 months

Sunday 7th March
quotequote all
Sound like a great opportunity. Tally Weijl is a cool brand - for the young!

You have received lots of good advice already.

One point about accommodation is that it’s most often unfurnished. Probably not to quite the same extreme as in Germany where you might have to start with bare wires hanging down from where the previous tenant’s light fittings used to be, but something to bear in mind.

The quarterly changeover dates are also seemingly rigid as so many folk want to move on 01/4, 01/07 etc. that it can cause problems, but against that, you can normally find a solution to sub-let, both on the way in and on the way out of leases...

Worth picking up a copy of « Living and Working in Switzerland » from the usual sources.

Carmo99

1,299 posts

153 months

Tuesday 9th March
quotequote all
Also check out comparis.ch for accommodation
https://www.comparis.ch/immobilien/result/list?req...

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Wednesday 10th March
quotequote all
eyebeebe said:
That sounds like quite a low salary. It‘s a bit below the Swiss average which I think is about 70k and average household income is about 120k. That average obviously includes high and low paying locations. I would say Basel is at the higher end. For reference I saw an advert the other day from Lidl saying they pay the most of the supermarkets and it works out about 57k a year. Basel has a lot of Pharma and Chemical, as well as some banking. I‘d say it‘s cheaper to live than Zurich and Geneva overall, but probably not hugely.

What you need to bear in mind with Switzerland is that where you live determines your tax rate and also can have an impact on health insurance and clearly also your rent. Basel City (Basel-Stadt) taxes are higher than Basel Country (Basel-Land) and both higher than the neighbouring canton of Aargau. I would expect the rents to be highest in the city.

If she lives in the city, she‘s going to be paying about 17% of her income in tax and social security plus whatever pension contribution she has to make (legal requirement) and maybe another 3-500 a month for compulsory health insurance (depending upon what model and deductible she goes for). So from 60k she’s going to be left with about 3.5k per month. No landlord will rent her anything for more than 1/3 of her income, but I‘d have thought she wants to be looking at less, which looking at Homegate.ch (equivalent of Rightmove) seems achievable even in the city centre, depending on what she is looking for. Leaving 2-2.5k pm to live on. It‘s certainly doable, but I can’t see there being a lot of saving or luxuries. Worth noting that socialising the UK way (i.e. going to the pub or out for dinner) is expensive in Switzerland. Figure on a pint at an expat pub being 9, a vodka and coke 13, a cheap main course starting around 20, but 30 being more common (and the sky is the limit). One of the great things about Basel is that you can hop across the border to France or Germany for cheaper and better shopping. I would probably look at living a bit further out to save on taxes and rent, but I can see the appeal of living in the city centre and it being easier to make friends etc. at least to begin with.

I don‘t know the industry or what your daughter‘s qualifications are, nor what a comparable salary would be in the UK, but there are often stories in the expat community of companies waving high sounding salaries, when translated back to their home currency, at foreigners, who then get a serious shock at the cost of living.

www.englishforum.ch is a great resource. But do use the search before asking lots of questions. The regulars get pissy if a newbie comes across as lazy.

There are also lots of expat groups on Facebook. I‘m sure there will be something like „English speakers in Basel“ or similar.
eyebeebe - Without wanting to hijack the thread, I'm due to move to Basel in a couple of months and I've been trying to get clarity on the required taxes etc. Would you mind if I sent you a PM / email with a couple of questions?

eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Wednesday 10th March
quotequote all
Pete102 said:
eyebeebe - Without wanting to hijack the thread, I'm due to move to Basel in a couple of months and I've been trying to get clarity on the required taxes etc. Would you mind if I sent you a PM / email with a couple of questions?
Sure happy to try and help. Please do bear in mind that I live in a very different Kanton to Basel (Schwyz) and as you will discover the answer to many questions in Switzerland begins with „depending upon the Kanton...“

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Wednesday 10th March
quotequote all
eyebeebe said:
Sure happy to try and help. Please do bear in mind that I live in a very different Kanton to Basel (Schwyz) and as you will discover the answer to many questions in Switzerland begins with „depending upon the Kanton...“
Haha, thanks. It's more about general taxation requirements.

I'm moving on a permanent contract and I as I understand my tax will paid at source (B-type permit) until I eventually move to a C-type permit (many years down the line). My query is mostly around what type of taxes I'll need to pay (as opposed to how much). I've done a little bit of googling which has thrown up several types of tax, I'm just not sure if they are applicable or not? e.g.

Cantonal tax
Direct federal tax
Communal tax
Church tax
Old age and Invalidity
Unemployment insurance

2nd Question - If I am taxed at source does this encompass all of the applicable taxes or would I still need to submit a separate return?

Any help you can throw my way would be greatly appreciated,


eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Wednesday 10th March
quotequote all
Pete102 said:
Haha, thanks. It's more about general taxation requirements.

I'm moving on a permanent contract and I as I understand my tax will paid at source (B-type permit) until I eventually move to a C-type permit (many years down the line). My query is mostly around what type of taxes I'll need to pay (as opposed to how much). I've done a little bit of googling which has thrown up several types of tax, I'm just not sure if they are applicable or not? e.g.

Cantonal tax
Direct federal tax
Communal tax
Church tax
Old age and Invalidity
Unemployment insurance

2nd Question - If I am taxed at source does this encompass all of the applicable taxes or would I still need to submit a separate return?

Any help you can throw my way would be greatly appreciated,
The first three and the last two are compulsory, as is health insurance, which is essentially a tax, but you are free to choose your provider and they cannot reject you for the basic insurance.

Starting with the last two (and some other minor ones that really aren‘t worth concerning yourself with)... these are essentially the equivalent of national insurance. The numbers move around a tiny bit most years, but figure on paying 6.5% in total for social security up to about CHF 150k, then the percentage decreases a little. Your employer will also pay 6.5%.

The first three will move in relation to your income on a progressive scale. It‘s not like the UK where you have a tax free allowance, a 20% band, 40% etc. The federal tax rate at a given income point will be the same everywhere in the country. The cantons are then free to set their own tax rates - at a given income the tax will be the same across the canton. This amount varies massively between cantons. Then the Gemeinde you live in can set its own tax rate as a percentage of the cantonal amount. This amount can vary quite a lot between Gemeinden within the cantons. Therefore deciding where to live can have a massive impact on how much tax you pay.

As you rightly say, you will be taxed at source and will continue to do so until you get a C permit, marry a Swiss or buy Swiss property. What this means is that you will have tax deducted from your pay at the average amount for the canton (with a standard set of deductions assumed). If you earn under CHF 120k to all intents and purposes that‘s it done. However, if you earn over CHF 120k you will be obliged to complete a tax return and your tax at source becomes a downpayment. Depending on the tax rate in the Gemeinde that you live in (above or below the cantonal average) and what individual deductions you can claim for you can end up owing money or getting a refund. As of this year if you earn less than CHF 120k and you want to do a complete tax return you now have that option, but you need to weigh up whether it is in your favour or not. I‘ve read many stories of people insisting they want to do a return, not fully understanding the system and ending up with thousands to pay.

To add to the complexity... if you have a wife and kids you will pay a different level of taxes. You get deductions for kids and non-working spouses. If you both work and are married you will be jointly assessed, which actually means you end up paying more tax, as they combine your income and base the tax rate on the combined higher amount!

Church taxes are completely optional. If you don‘t want to pay them, tell your Gemeinde that you don‘t have a religion when you register, otherwise they will mark you down for church taxes. The amount varies depending on catholic or protestant or other.

One more deduction from your payroll is the compulsory company pension scheme. The amount varies between companies and yours will be able to give you more details.

If any of that doesn‘t make sense or there‘s anything else, just let me know.

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Thursday 11th March
quotequote all
Edited to remove my previous post, following some research it wasn't completely correct.

Edited by Pete102 on Friday 12th March 11:02

JMGS4

8,558 posts

237 months

Friday 12th March
quotequote all
I live directly over the border in Lörrach, my daughter lives in Riehen (part of Basel), Rents can be huge!!! as an example, when my daughter first went to live in Basel she paid well over SFR2000,-/month for a 2 room flat (NOTE! NOT a 2 bedroom!) in the city near Claraplatz. They now live in Riehen. Make sure that the rented accomodation has a kitchen (cupboards sink and cooker) as these are often taken out and are not necessarily part of the rent!
Their first rent in Riehen for a 2 bedroom terraced house was SFR 2500/month PLUS all services, so it came to almost 3250,-pM....
They have now bought a house as the mortgages are very low, and there are HUGE tax advantages for owning a house. If you invest in the house a certain amount per annum you'll pay absolutely NO tax!!!
BEWARE of 1 thing, cars are damned expensive to run, and Basel are car haters.. parking can cost an arm and a leg. If you are thinking of bringing one, don't... the swiss Tüv is stupidly strict....e.g. if the car is dirty it will fail, if you don't arrive at the EXACT appointment time you'll not get inspected etc etc etc...... lots of info on this on this site somewhere...
If you want international contacts go to the Basel Rugby Club, a meeting place for all non-swiss and some swiss...

Food shopping! a huge amount of Swiss shop in Germany, recently published factors are level 100 for D and level 164 for CH.. I see it in the prices as almost 50% as the Swiss get their 19% VAT refunded at the border/shops and the food costs at least 30% less here!
and restaurants are very expensive, thats why all the swiss come to Germany for a decent affordable meal....
Of course under Corona regs its a bit quieter here!

Edited by JMGS4 on Friday 12th March 09:37

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Friday 12th March
quotequote all
Ok, so after some pretty extensive research I've settled on the following deductions, note that these are all based on a 'withholding tax', in german - 'quellensteuer' which is deducted at source by the employer if you earn under 120k CHF /year and/or you are on a B permit (which all newcomers from the UK will be). If you earn over 120k then you have to complete a tax return in the normal way and make the appropriate deductions.

As previously stated there is always an option to complete a separate tax return below 120k but from everything I've read the Withholding tax is actually not too bad and unless you have a lot of deductibles (due to your situation) then it may well not be worth it.

The online calculator I used is here: https://www.lohncomputer.ch/en/

Deductions at source will consist of:

  • AHV/IV/EO Contribution - AHV = Old Age and Survivors Insurance, IV = Invalidity Insurance, EO = Loss of Earnings Compensation
  • ALV Contribution - ALV = Unemployment Insurance
  • NBU Contribution -NBU = Non-Occupational Accident Insurance
  • KTG Contribution - KTG = Salary Continuation Insurance
  • Pension Fund Contribution (Tier 2) - Amount depends on personal circumstance but 5% minimum
  • Church Tax - Not applicable for me, not religious
  • Withholding Tax - Cantonal, Federal and Communal taxes, Cantonal and Communal amounts dependent on where you live, Federal is set
The applicability of each deduction is also down to personal circumstances, for example my employer will be paying 100% of non-occupational accident insurance and Salary continuation insurance (0% deduction).

For me, I will be living in Basel-Land, the effective tax rate on a normal month i.e. not months 12/13 where I'll get double, is just under 26%. Due to the progressive nature of taxation, on a double month this jumps to 36%. I've read that tax rates in Basel-Stadt are a little higher.

Rents don't look "too bad", I use that term relatively loosely, but for a small apartment / studio (I will live alone, 1200CHF /month + utilities + parking seems to be about the going rate). Also can't forget the obligatory health insurance (anywhere between 300 up to 600 depending on cover) and personal liability insurance (circa 30 CHF / month).

I'll definitely look to do some food shopping over the border, I'm relatively fortunate in that I'll get subsidised meals at work also (5.50/day).

Re. car ownership, I'm hoping to take my UK car across for the permitted period (1 year) assuming my UK insurance is ok with it (its quite possible they wont be!) since I'll still have a house in the UK. After which I'll look to get a car in Swiss and bring mine back to the UK to sell.



Edited by Pete102 on Friday 12th March 11:16


Edited by Pete102 on Friday 12th March 11:39

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Friday 12th March
quotequote all
JMGS4 said:
I live directly over the border in Lörrach, my daughter lives in Riehen (part of Basel), Rents can be huge!!! as an example, when my daughter first went to live in Basel she paid well over SFR2000,-/month for a 2 room flat (NOTE! NOT a 2 bedroom!) in the city near Claraplatz. They now live in Riehen. Make sure that the rented accomodation has a kitchen (cupboards sink and cooker) as these are often taken out and are not necessarily part of the rent!
Their first rent in Riehen for a 2 bedroom terraced house was SFR 2500/month PLUS all services, so it came to almost 3250,-pM....
They have now bought a house as the mortgages are very low, and there are HUGE tax advantages for owning a house. If you invest in the house a certain amount per annum you'll pay absolutely NO tax!!!
BEWARE of 1 thing, cars are damned expensive to run, and Basel are car haters.. parking can cost an arm and a leg. If you are thinking of bringing one, don't... the swiss Tüv is stupidly strict....e.g. if the car is dirty it will fail, if you don't arrive at the EXACT appointment time you'll not get inspected etc etc etc...... lots of info on this on this site somewhere...
If you want international contacts go to the Basel Rugby Club, a meeting place for all non-swiss and some swiss...

Food shopping! a huge amount of Swiss shop in Germany, recently published factors are level 100 for D and level 164 for CH.. I see it in the prices as almost 50% as the Swiss get their 19% VAT refunded at the border/shops and the food costs at least 30% less here!
and restaurants are very expensive, thats why all the swiss come to Germany for a decent affordable meal....
Of course under Corona regs its a bit quieter here!

Edited by JMGS4 on Friday 12th March 09:37
Thanks for the info! I've spent some time in Basel previously, it certainly doesn't strike me as a car owners city! Fond memories of the restaurant at the Feldschlösschen brewery in Rheinfelden!


Edited by Pete102 on Friday 12th March 11:43

eyebeebe

2,219 posts

200 months

Friday 12th March
quotequote all
Pete102 said:
Thanks for the info! I've spent some time in Basel previously, it certainly doesn't strike me as a car owners city! Fond memories of the restaurant at the Feldschlösschen brewery in Rheinfelden!


Edited by Pete102 on Friday 12th March 11:43
You seemed a decent chap until you mentioned the F word! Horrible horrible beer. The local craft brewery in Basel is called Kitchen Brew. Far nicer than the industrial ste that the Carlsberg subsidiary pump out. Pub wise, my mate runs the quiz and sings at the Pickwicks. Seems one of the better expat pubs in Switzerland (which is a bit of a low bar admitedly).

Pete102

1,787 posts

153 months

Friday 12th March
quotequote all
eyebeebe said:
You seemed a decent chap until you mentioned the F word! Horrible horrible beer. The local craft brewery in Basel is called Kitchen Brew. Far nicer than the industrial ste that the Carlsberg subsidiary pump out. Pub wise, my mate runs the quiz and sings at the Pickwicks. Seems one of the better expat pubs in Switzerland (which is a bit of a low bar admitedly).
Hahaha, apologies for the F word...in my defence it was more the ability to sample several hundreds of beers!

I do like a good craft brewery though, I'll definitely check out Kitchen Brew. I've got some experience with Pickwicks in Zug, always seems like a decent ex-pat hangout (if a little American at times!), is the other Irish bar in Basel Paddy O'Reillys? (Near Radisson Blu)