For members


‘Shock trend’: Why are the Swiss leaving Basel?

Long a favourite destination, the Swiss are leaving Basel in droves. But with a rebounding economy and a strong job market, why is the northern Swiss city losing its lustre? 

At the start of the river Rhine, the Swiss city of Basel is an international drawcard. Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash
At the start of the river Rhine, the Swiss city of Basel is an international drawcard. Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

Basel’s status as a destination for both national and international migration has historically not only been fuelled by a strong job market, but a high quality of life. 

Tales of people floating down the crystal clear Rhine to work in the morning, or popping over the border to visit a German beer garden or enjoy some French cuisine have been a hallmark of an image Basel has worked hard to craft. 

However new statistics illustrate the city is experiencing an exodus in recent years – a phenomenon accelerated by the pandemic. 

According to figures from Switzerland’s UBS bank and reproduced in Swiss media, Basel is less and less attractive for locals due to a variety of factors. 

The UBS Real Estate Local Fact Sheet looks at trends in people arriving in and leaving particular areas – and provides reasons for why this is the case. 

The study cited three major reason why the Swiss are leaving Basel: expensive apartments, too few new construction projects and the appeal of other communities on Basel’s doorstep. 

The ease and prevalence of working from home, as well as a desire for more space which was accelerated by the Covid pandemic, has seen urban life lose some of its lustre – particularly for young families. 

“In view of the price differences, tenants with a small budget are increasingly deciding to look for an apartment outside the city, where you can get better quality for the same money,” Claudio Saputelli, head of property at UBS told the Basler Zeitung newspaper. 

Only minutes away in the neighbouring cantons of Basel Country, Solothurn and Aargau rents and house prices are much cheaper. 

The same goes just across the French and German borders, as The Local previously outlined in our report on commuting to Basel. 

MAPS: The best commuter towns if you work in Basel

So will Basel soon be empty? 

On the whole however, claims the city is being “abandoned” are mislaid. 

While more and more Swiss-born may be leaving the city, they are being ably replaced by internationals. 

The International pull of the city has seen the population remain stable over recent years, with new arrivals continuing to put upward pressure on rents and house prices in the city. 

Saputelli notes however that even international arrivals are soon following their Swiss-born counterparts out of Basel, largely for the same reasons. 

Saputelli said Basel “plays the role of a flow heater”, whereby people arrive but move on elsewhere before getting settled. 

Why Basel? 

As the figures show, the exodus is not limited to Basel but is part of broader trends across the entire country, which were of course exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. 

A similar phenomenon, though on a lesser scale, has been observed in Bern and Zurich, while suburban and rural areas of Graubünden, Vaud and St. Gallen recorded a “very strong increase in newcomers”, the study found.

If you are one of the people who moved, or are planning to move, away from city into the countryside, please take part in our reader survey.


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For members


How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Zurich.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

If you’ve bought a new piece of furniture in Zurich or a mattress, you may be faced with the problem of what to do with the old one. 

This is particularly the case in cities like Zurich, where space is at a premium and you may not be able to kit out your spare room with the old furniture. 

While there are waste disposal centres, even getting there without a car can be a problem. 

One man’s trash…

First things first, think about whether you really need to get rid of the thing in question. 

While you may not want it, there may be someone out there willing to take it off your hands – particularly if you aren’t going to charge them. 

The first point of call is to ask your friends and colleagues if they’re interested, with social media the perfect place to ask around. 

If you live in an apartment complex, you might try placing the item in a common area with a note saying “zu verschenken” (to give away) or ‘gratis’ (free). 

After that, there are several online options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Free Your Stuff Zurich, Ricardo, Anibis, Craig’s List and Tutti. 

Some of these sites will charge a fee – even if you’re giving something away – so be sure to read the fine print first. 

Another option is to donate the goods to a charity organisation. They will usually charge you money to pick it up and prices can vary dramatically. 

Caritas charge CHF35 per 100kg plus transport costs, while Sozialwerk Pfarrer Sieber will pick up small items of furniture for a flat fee, although you’ll need to send them pictures first before they give you a quote. 

Can I put old furniture on the street in Zurich? 

Although less common than many other European cities, occasionally you will see furniture out on the street in front of homes and apartment blocks in Zurich. 

While it might clutter up the sidewalk, it is technically not illegal – provided you only do so for a maximum of 24 hours. 

You also need to make sure it doesn’t block cars, bikes or pedestrians. If it does – or if you leave it out for longer – you risk a fine.

Entsorgungstram: Zurich’s recycling and waste disposal tram

One option is the Entsorgungstram, a mobile recycling centre on rails for all Zurich residents. 

This tram weaves its way through several parts of Zurich, picking up old bulky waste including electrical devices and furniture. 

If you are lucky to live near an Entsorgungstram line, just check the timetable and bring your waste items along to meet the tram. 

There are some rules, as laid out by the Zurich council. 

“The delivered items must not be longer than 2.5 meters (exception: sofa/upholstered furniture can be no longer than 2 meters) and no heavier than 40 kilograms per item. Separate the material beforehand according to its composition: flammable, large metal and landfill”. 

Unfortunately, only pedestrians and cyclists can use this service, i.e. you cannot drive from elsewhere and deposit the stuff. 

More information including route details can be found at the following link. 

Regular waste disposal

Your next option is to see whether you can get rid of it in your usual waste disposal. 

This being Switzerland, there are a lot of rules about what the waste management company will take and will not. 

If you’re throwing away a mirror, for instance, you cannot put that with your other glass waste and will need to dispose of it elsewhere. 

On the other hand, they may take things like carpets and mattresses – although you’ll need to pay a bit extra. 

The exact rules will depend on your municipality, but generally speaking you will need to buy additional waste stickers – which cost money. 

In Zurich itself, every household receives four coupons for disposal of waste (up to 100kg) each. 

When you run out of coupons, you’ll need to pay by the kilo. 

You’ll still need to bring it to the waste disposal facility, or pay a pick up fee of around CHF80. 

This may sound steep, but they do come to your home and pick it up – which will likely be cheaper than a rental car or van. 

In Winterthur, you will need to buy stickers for CHF1.80 from the council, with each sticker letting you dispose of 10kg of waste. 

Check with the retailer where you bought the new item

One option offered by furniture sellers is to buy your old furniture or whitegoods or accept them as a trade in. 

While this is likely to be more common with second hand retailers who might see potential in your unwanted item, it is also a service offered by retailers who only sell new goods. 

One example is Ikea, who will take your old mattress, furniture or electronic device and recycle it. 

This service is available at Ikea outlets for a cost of CHF10 each. 

It is also available when you get something new delivered, although you must pre-book so the driver can be sure to set aside enough space. 

This will cost you CHF80 for furniture, or CHF50 for electronic devices and mattresses. Keep in mind that (at least with Ikea) this service is only available when you buy something new. 

Several other furniture companies offer a similar service, including Schubiger Möbel, Möbel Pfister and Conforama.  

Electrical item retails will often take your old electrical goods for recycling, whether these are small like iPhones or large like fridges and washing machines. 

More information about which goods can be recycled and how in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

Moving companies

Removalist companies are another option – whether you are moving house or not. 

If you are moving house then a disposal service may be included in the overall fees. 

If not, you can still contact the company and get the item taken off your hands. 

While different companies will charge different amounts, you’ll usually pay per 100kg rather than per item, which can be a better (or worse) option than contacting the local council. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis has detailed info about how to find a moving company here