Part of our Shopping Essentials series, this article will help you navigate home and hardware stores in Basel, including some key tips for the dreaded, but inevitable… trip to IKEA.
“What do you mean there are no light fixtures in my apartment?!”
When setting up a home in Switzerland expats often have this same question. To the Swiss it makes perfect sense, light fixtures are personal items that should be taken with you when you move, but for many expats this illuminating realization simply leaves them in the dark (pun intended 😉).
The same goes for closets. There are rarely built-in closets in Swiss apartments. This can be extremely frustrating when you are unpacking as you literally have no place to put anything. Make sure to try and order your closets as soon as possible as there are often lengthy wait times for delivery.
It can be pretty daunting setting up your house when you are not familiar with the store names, so this article provides a short break-down of the major stores in Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land. Online, second-hand and cross-border options will be covered in another article.
For the North Americans out there, OBI is the Swiss equivalent to Home Depot. It is the one-stop-shop for all your hardware needs including, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, home decor and much more. They have a very decent lighting department (including many reasonably priced fixtures) as well as a gardening centre. They even carry small furniture items like a Waschbeckenunterschrank, which you will learn, is the cabinet that goes under your bathroom sink (also not included in most apartments). The OBI in Basel is located at MPARC, which is the home shopping complex that is conveniently located on the 10 and 11 tramlines. This complex also includes a large Migros, a Micasa (Migros home store – see below), M-Electronics and Office World, so it is an excellent destination when setting up your new home in Basel.
Jumbo is very similar to OBI and the larger store in Allschwil has a similar selection of items. If you are in Basel-Stadt, there is a smaller store at Claraplatz, with a reduced selection, but still a great stop for general houseware needs.
Coop Bau and Hobby and Migros Do It + Garden
If you are able to travel a bit further, Coop and Migros also have large home and hardware stores in the surrounding area. Similarly stocked as OBI and Jumbo, Coop Bau and Hobby is located in Oberwil and Migros Do It + Garden is in Reinach.
IKEA is in Pratteln and accessible by Basel transit:
Tramline 14 - Stop: Pratteln Banhofstrasse (13 min walk to IKEA)
From Aeschenplatz bus 80 -Stop: Pratteln Grüssen (6min walk to IKEA).
A trip to IKEA can be a pleasurable experience provided you have two things: unlimited time and nothing in particular on your shopping list. Then you can enjoy a leisurely wander through the maze while picking up votive candles and finishing with a plate full of meatballs. However, if you’ve just moved here, with 100 things on your shopping list, little understanding of German and no car (which was my situation), it can be a bit more stressful. Here are a few of my IKEA tips to help get you through it.
IKEA is probably one of the most popular choices for closets. They are relatively affordable and reasonably good quality and can be easily customised to fit your new home. Make sure to measure your space (ceiling height included) before you go to the store and it is a good idea to go first thing in the morning if you can, as anything that is beyond the simple free-standing wardrobe, will have to be ordered with an IKEA employee and there is often a line in this area.
Also remember that, because of a high expat turnover in Basel, closets are often available second hand (on Facebook: Basel Buy and Sell and in your neighbourhood Brocki). Provided you have the muscle and can hire a ‘man with a van’ to pick it up, this is the most affordable option.
Delivery and Assembly
If you order small items, you can have them delivered for a relatively low cost (CHF 7.95). The package must weigh no more than 30kg and the dimensions a maximum of 100cm x 60cm x 60cm in size. You can see if your online order qualifies for this in your shopping cart.
Large items can be delivered directly to your home (for CHF 89.95 up to 3000 kg) or, a more recent development, to your curbside (in a limited delivery zone for CHF 49.95 up to 299 kg). Be aware that IKEA delivery can have very long wait times! Even though IKEA states that the typical time is 1-15 days, you may have to adjust your expectations. Also keep in mind that you must secure a spot for the delivery truck on your street. This goes for delivery from other stores as well.
Reserve your spot! Be aware! If you have furniture delivered and there is no place for the truck to park they will leave and you will have to re-book your delivery. This usually only applies if you are in a building with no loading zone. In this case, you must reserve a spot for the delivery truck with special city pylons. This can be done through the police department and if you arrange it with them ahead of time they will actually set up and take down the pylons for you. Details and fees are explained here .
Furniture pick up
If you don’t have a car (or one that is big enough for furniture) you can rent a van from IKEA. You need to have a driver’s license for at least one year and a cash deposit of CHF 100. After that it’s CHF 29 for the first hour and CHF 25 for each additional hour (evenings and Sundays CHF 100/hour). The van must be returned with a full tank (with receipt) and this can be booked ahead online.
Like every other IKEA, the Swiss IKEA has an assembly service. The price for this option ranges from CHF 100 to CHF 180 + 17% the cost of the item. Bathroom and kitchen assembly require a specialty quote. All services must be booked in advance and you can expect lengthy waiting times. Another option is to place an add on Facebook as there are often people willing to help with assembly at a much-reduced price. Expect to pay a minimum of CHF 50/ hour.
A Step Up
If you are looking for something a little beyond IKEA quality (and price), here are some other options:
Micasa is the Migros option for furniture and homewares. They aren’t as big as IKEA and the prices are higher, but the quality is very good, and these are pieces of furniture that are more likely to come pre-assembled. They also have a good selection of lighting and well as other decorative home items. They are conveniently located at MPARC on the 10 and 11 tramlines. Delivery is also available at a cost of CHF 98 per order and unlike IKEA they will take the packing material with them. For orders over CHF 3,000, delivery is free.
Pfister is one step above Micasa. With stylish clean lines and solid craftsmanship, this is more the furniture that you want to buy if you are looking for something to last. Delivery starts at CHF 9 for small things like curtains, CHF 79 for furniture to your curb and CHF 120 for delivery to your home. The estimated delivery time on their website is 1-2 days. They will also remove and dispose of your old furniture if you want. The Pfister is located in Pratteln, right next to IKEA.
I hope this guide makes things a little smoother when you are scrambling to unpack and settle. If I missed anything or you have any comments, please leave a message in the comments below.
alles Gute zum Einkaufen! Happy shopping!