The checklist created below would have been immensely helpful to us upon selecting our first apartment in Basel and ultimately might have saved us the hassle of moving again. If you do not have a relocation agency assisting you with securing your new apartment, homgate.ch, comparis.ch, immoscout24.ch, and immoStreet.ch will provide a comprehensive list of the current apartments/houses available based on location, size, and price.
Often times when you call the agency to view the apartment, the current owner/renter will be the individual to show you around. This is the perfect opportunity to ask detailed questions about the apartment from the individual who knows exactly what it means to reside in the space on a day – to – day basis.
- Location: Get a feel for the neighborhood. Walk the streets during the day and the night. Take special note to what surrounds your building. Are there clubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants nearby? While these might be convenient, such establishments are often loud and carry a high level of noise throughout the evening and on weekends. Visit the local grocery store, talk to people and determine how you feel in the area. Walking the streets at night is especially important if you will be coming and going during the evening hours or spending a great deal of time alone due to a traveling partner/roommate or because you will be living alone. You need to feel safe in your neighborhood and secure in your building.
- Elevator: Does the building have an elevator and is that elevator big enough to fit furniture, a couple of people and/or a stroller? An elevator may not be necessary if you are childless and don’t mind walking up several flights of stairs, but if you are moving into a space with an established family or hoping to start a family in the near future, an elevator is essential. In addition, if you have elderly family members visiting and staying in your apartment, a trek up several flights of stairs may not be an option for them.
- Washer and Dryer: Does your apartment have a washer and dryer in the unit? If not, it is important to take a look at the communal space. Is the washing room well maintained, easy to access and a well-lit space? How does washing in the building work? Do tenants sign – up as they choose or are washing days selected for you? How many people share the washer and dryer? Having some flexibility in the schedule is invaluable, especially if you have children. Think sick children, dirty, wet clothes, spills, etc.
- Bathtub: Does your apartment have a bathtub? If you enjoy a good soak or have children, a bathtub is a must.
- Street Noise: Believe it or not, we never noticed the fact that we lived on a tramline until after we moved into our apartment. When selecting an apartment or house, consider the street noise from tramlines, buses, major roads, restaurants, cafés, bars, parks, churches, and/or stadiums.
- General Noise: Is the building well constructed, with solid windows and thick/well insulated flooring? This will determine the level of noise that carries from one neighbor to the next. Are there children in the building, musicians, etc? These are great questions to ask the current tenant.
- Public Transportation: Does your new home have easy access to public transportation? Will you have a car or will you rely exclusively on public transportation? Is there a parking garage in your building with an available space for your vehicle(s) and what is the monthly cost?
- Convenience: Does your neighborhood provide easy access to: grocery stores, banks, drug stores, green space, playgrounds, pools, schools, daycares, a post office and other daily essentials without having to walk too far or get into your car? All of these factors will greatly impact your convenience levels and overall happiness.
- Size: The size of the building. If you are coming from a home and downsizing to an apartment, consider the size of the building and how many tenants occupy the complex. The more people, typically the more noise, more use of the washing machine and dryer, etc. The size of the individual apartment – will you have space to host guests, house a baby if you plan to start a family, or simply have a home office?
- Safety: Ask about the safety of your neighborhood. Has your building ever been broken into? If so, when and how many times? Also, has there ever been a fire in your building and what was the cause?
- Fire Alarms: Inquire about fire alarms when visiting apartments. It is not standard practice for Switzerland to have fire alarms installed in apartment units. If you would like them installed ask the agency their policy for this. For a nominal fee, fire alarms can be purchased at a local hardware store and personally installed for safety (if this is permissible). If you are interested in hiring a company that specializes in safety, consider contacting a company such as SAFEHOME. http://www.safehome.ch
- Rules: consider asking for the house rules to become better acquainted with how your potential apartment functions. In addition, Integration Basel publishes a list of general house rules in multiple languages, pertaining to laundry, cleaning, recycling, trash days and much more. To view this list in several languages, please visit: http://www.immobilien.bs.ch/nachbar_machbar_2015.pdf
- Pets: If you are bringing pets or have the intent of owning an animal, check the rules and regulations of your building to determine whether or not animals are allowed and those rules associated with having animals in the building.
- Storage: Does your apartment come with a basement storage locker? This is important if you plan to store wine, spare tires, large furniture or seasonal clothes. Ask to see the storage locker that is affiliated with your apartment unit before you rent the flat.
- Bike Storage: Consider the availability and security of the bike storage unity for the apartment you will be renting. Some buildings have designated areas specifically designed for storing bikes, inquire with the agent about this when viewing the apartment.
- General Cleanliness of the Building: Most apartments have a general caretaker who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the public space. In addition, this person is often called when items in your home break or need repair. Ask about this individual, how often he or she is on premise and their general responsibilities.
- 220 volt: Switzerland uses 220 volt, which means do not even bother bringing television sets, vacuum cleaners and most of the appliances that are now collecting dust in our storage locker with you on your move.
- Check – List: When you are given the keys to your apartment, you will also be given a spreadsheet asking you to note any damages, scrapes, marks, holes, or general issues with your apartment. Take the time to be as thorough as possible with this and as detailed as process. You will be grateful for your diligence, which should save you money and hassles upon departure.
- Smoking: Finally, check to see whether or not your apartment building permits smoking or if there are rules regarding this for tenants. As a non-smoker, there is nothing worse than being surrounded by smokers, which will ruin your balcony experience in a flash! Bummer!