Working and contracting in Basel


Basel is home to some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies with the likes of Roche and Novartis taking up massive swathes of land in the City itself. Following our recent visit to the city, we found out more about what life is like living and working in Basel.

Taking a short taxi ride from our hotel to visit one of our clients, it is evident that the pharmaceutical industry plays a big part in the local economy and community in Basel. Our driver was able to list at least a dozen local pharmaceutical companies and was friends with at least twice as many people that worked for them.

Walking down the street in Basel to the busy city centre involves taking some serious risks as you dodge the trams, buses, cyclists, taxis and cars. But as you walk down the street you can appreciate why Switzerland is not only known for its contribution to drug development but also for its banking heritage. On every street corner, you will find a bank or exclusive jewellery store. It’s clear to see that Basel is an affluent city.

If you are considering working in Basel as a contractor, there are a number of things you should be prepared for. Firstly, like most Swiss cities it can be expensive. The people we spoke with explained that as a contractor or permanent employee within the pharmaceutical industry, your earnings more than make up for this.

Basel is a beautiful place and like most Swiss cities it is very clean and remarkably safe with very low crime rates.

Getting around

Public Transport in Basel is very regular, it runs on time and is clean and reasonably priced. Taxis are also in ready supply and if you can’t find one from the many stopping points you can call one to arrive within minutes.


Finding somewhere to live in Basel is relatively straight forward. Although without the prevalence of letting agents you will find that your agreements are often directly with your landlord. If you are a pharmaceutical contractor in Basel looking for a flat, your landlord will often want proof that you have a contract for the duration of your stay. So we would recommend taking advantage of our support services as they will help you get local short term accommodation whilst you settle and decide where you want to be based.

At the time of writing, a studio or one bedroom apartment will typically set you back between 1100 – 1800 CHF a month.


You will find that most Swiss people speak fluent English and on a day to day basis in the workplace English is commonplace. German and French are also widely spoken and in the time we spent in Basel, we found that it was not uncommon for somebody to hold one conversation using all three languages throughout the discussion. If you speak some German or French or would like to improve your language skills, working in Basel will give you a supportive environment to do so.

For Contractors relocating to Switzerland, if at any point you do need help understanding French or German, our support service partners in Basel will help you. If you need help translating documents and contracts, they can also put you in touch with a reputable translator.

Earnings and Rates

Basel, like many Swiss cities, can be very expensive. But salaries and contract rates will more often than not make up for this. Tax in Switzerland can be rather complicated and to the untrained eye can appear to be pretty random. It is influenced by factors such as where you live, if you claim child care support, are married etc. But is still often less than you find you would pay in a comparable role in the UK.

Our partners in Switzerland, however, try to make the interpretation of your earnings and take home pay as straight forward as possible. If you require an illustration of what your earnings will be before and after tax they will take the time to go through an earnings illustration with you to give you an idea of your Net income so that you can decide if the move to Basel is a financially good one for you.

Basel is very close to France. So close in fact that you can walk out of one exit from the airport in Basel and be in France and out of another exit and be in Switzerland. Because of the close proximity to France, some people take advantage of the higher earnings potential of working in the pharmaceutical industry in Basel and the lower cost of living in France. Saint-Louis, Village-Neuf and Hegenheim are all popular places for people to live in France and commute to Basel.


Like most cities; Basel has its fair share of bars and restaurants, so your social life can be very lively. The Swiss are also very active and are keen skiers and within a matter of hours during the ski season, you can be on the slopes. For families, there are zoos, museums, water parks and sporting activities of all sorts.


For EU Citizens, getting a visa to work in Basel is relatively straightforward and our partners in Switzerland will arrange all of this for you for free. The process can be a little more complicated but not impossible if you do have a criminal record.

For Non-EU citizens, getting a visa to work in Switzerland can still be a relatively straightforward process but it can often take longer and you are unlikely to see much change from 500 CHF.

Getting to Basel from the UK

Getting to Basel from the UK takes you from most London airports to a small but very organised Basel Airport. There are regular flights that can be got relatively cheaply (try the money saving expert flight checker).

Upon your arrival, if you plan to take a Taxi you will need to have some Swiss Francs. There is a Cash point just before the Exit and a taxi to the city centre will cost you between 40 – 50 CHE.

Hospitals and healthcare

Being an affluent place with such a strong emphasis on the development of medicines, Basel has its fair share of hospitals and medical centres.


Basel has a very temperate climate with one person I spoke to describing it as “Just like England but a bit warmer in the summer and will proper snow in the ski resorts in winter.”

We went to Basel in late September and had bright sun with temperatures in the region of 23 – 25 C. Although I was told that it had rained for a full week before our arrival.


CK Clinical will give you all of the support that you need to find your job in Basel. We have made arrangements with a local company to give you support from the moment that you land in Switzerland. If you need it, we can arrange for you to be met from your plane and will find you a suitable place to stay for the first month or so. This also gives you the chance to get to know the area and choose where you would like to live before committing a long-term lease. We can also arrange for support on anything through from how to get your dog through customs to reviewing a rental agreement. We can also arrange for you to speak to somebody about what life is really like working and living in Basel before you commit to the contract.