Bern, Switzerland Report of what it's like to live there - 10/19/19

Personal Experiences from Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland 10/19/19


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've also lived in Europe, India, and Africa.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC, direct flights from Zurich and Geneva, must take a train (one-two hours).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

LQA apartments and wonderful, now housing pool but mostly apartments and fewer than 30 minutes from work using trams/trains/buses.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

All available but at a cost, Aldi is cheaper.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Can find most anything, we supplement from base runs to Stuttgart (three hours drive).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are food delivery services and take out options. Restaurants are OK and overpriced.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not too many issues, spiders and webs.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?


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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

About USD $25-30 per hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are available at a cost.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are common and safe.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Local language is Swiss, can get by with German, some French.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots of walking and hills, would not recommend for someone with issues with walking on cobblestones, can't really park near places in the city.

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All available but can be pricey, without a half-tax card, the cost to go to Zurich or Geneva (by train) is more than US$50 each way.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most cars are fine but not always needed, it's very well connected by public, even ski resorts.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, pretty fast to get upon arrival.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local provider is reasonably priced and comparable to US.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Fairly casual, this is a jeans place but for work, business casual is fine.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Fairly safe, no issues.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good medical care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?


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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

All four seasons, never too hot or too cold.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly small but larger in Geneva and Zurich.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Join language or workout classes, there are some expat clubs.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

All of the above.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?


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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Not at first, takes time with the Swiss.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Skiing, floating down the river, traveling to Italy, France, Germany and other parts of Europe via Geneva, Basel or Zurich.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

if you are a good swimmer, must try floating and rafting down the Aare river.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Possible antiques.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Very small, easily navigable city, don't need a car.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It's very beautiful and more of a village than a large city.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, for sure.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Nothing, you can wear clothes for all seasons, you might not need a car.

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4. But don't forget your:

Ski stuff.

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