Relocation to Bern: Tips for a Smooth Transition to Swiss Life

Nestled in the heart of Switzerland, Bern is a city that offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern efficiency, making it an attractive destination for those considering a move. If you’re planning on moving to Bern, it’s important to navigate through the essentials of Swiss living. From understanding local bureaucracy and finding the right neighborhood to managing banking and healthcare, this guide will provide you with valuable insights for a smooth relocation to Bern.


The first step in your relocation to Bern involves navigating Swiss bureaucracy. Registration at the local residents’ office (Einwohnerkontrolle) is mandatory and should be done within 14 days of arrival. This process is crucial for obtaining your residence permit, which is essential for employment, opening a bank account, and accessing other services. Non-EU nationals will also need to secure a work visa. The Swiss administrative process is known for its precision and efficiency, so having your documents well-organized is key.


Bern’s neighborhoods each have their distinct character and charm. The Old Town, with its medieval architecture and cobblestone streets, is perfect for those who appreciate history and culture. Länggasse is popular among students and young professionals due to its proximity to the university and vibrant atmosphere. For families, neighborhoods like Kirchenfeld and Breitenrain offer a more relaxed environment with parks and good schools. Explore these areas to find the one that suits your lifestyle and preferences best.


Setting up a bank account is a crucial step after moving to Bern. Switzerland’s banking system is renowned for its stability and efficiency. Major banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse, along with cantonal banks like Berner Kantonalbank, offer a range of services. You’ll need your passport, residence permit, and proof of address to open an account. Online banking is prevalent, providing convenient access to financial services. It’s also advisable to understand the local currency, Swiss Franc (CHF), and manage your budget accordingly.


Switzerland boasts one of the highest standards of healthcare in the world. Health insurance is mandatory for all residents, including expatriates, and must be arranged within three months of moving to Bern. You can choose from various public and private health insurance providers, depending on your needs. Registering with a local general practitioner (GP) is also recommended for basic health needs. The Swiss healthcare system, though expensive, offers exceptional services and short waiting times.

Helpful Information

  • Language: The official language in Bern is German. While many locals speak English, learning basic German will enhance your daily interactions and integration into Swiss life.
  • Transportation: Bern has an efficient public transportation network, including trams and buses. Owning a car is not necessary for the city, and many residents prefer cycling or walking.
  • Cultural Integration: Engage with Bern’s cultural scene, which includes museums, theaters, and regular festivals. This is a great way to understand Swiss traditions and meet locals.
  • Employment: Bern’s economy is diverse, with opportunities in government services, healthcare, education, and small businesses. Learning the local language can significantly improve employment prospects.
  • Education: For those relocating with children, Bern offers excellent educational facilities, including international schools.
  • Social Life: Bern’s social life may seem reserved at first, but joining clubs, sports activities, and community events can help in building a social network.
  • Cost of Living: The cost of living in Bern is high, in line with Swiss standards. Planning your finances and understanding local living costs will help you adjust more smoothly.


Moving to Bern presents an opportunity to experience a high quality of life in a city that beautifully balances historical heritage with contemporary living. By preparing for the bureaucratic aspects, selecting the right neighborhood, setting up banking arrangements, and understanding the healthcare system, you can make your transition to Bern both seamless and enjoyable. Embrace the tranquility, orderliness, and beauty of Bern, and welcome to your new Swiss life!

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