Housing & Rentals in Switzerland

Regardless of the purpose of your arrival to Switzerland – working or studying, the first thing to ponder about is finding some housing in Switzerland to live in. Finding a proper accommodation in the property market of Switzerland is, indeed, an issue you must solve before arriving to the country. And there are several reasons for it.

First of all, you must consider the situation on the Swiss property market. It is actually hard to find suitable (or even any) housing in Switzerland, especially in major cities like Bern, Zurich, or Lugano – the majority of the expats comes to those cities. The Swiss bureau of statistics provided the data, pointing out the average cost of renting within the country: 1,284 Swiss francs, which is equal to around 1,000 Euros. The average rented housing in Switzerland is the following: an apartment or a small house with a living area per individual of 44 square meters and with overall size of the accommodation of 99 square meters.

housing in switzerland

The competition for affordable housing in major cities makes it barely possible to rent a decent accommodation

You have to keep in mind, however, that the statistics provided by the Swiss bureau is actually the average cost of renting within the country. So if you are going to live and work in such cities like Geneva, Zurich, or Bern, be ready to pay twice or even three times as much as it was reported by the bureau. According to the statistics, the average share of real estate property available in cities like Basel, Geneva, and Zurich is 0.10%, 0.33%, and 0.45% respectively.

If that high prices are not affordable to you, there are other options you may take advantage of. Look below about what options it is going about.

Housing in Switzerland or finding an alternative..?

The country’s geography – being nestled between Germany, Italy, and France – provides another opportunity for expats who came to Switzerland to work, yet for whom the costs of accommodation renting are a way too high. Namely, it is going about living as a frontalier, i.e. renting an apartment or a house in the regions of Germany, France, or Itally. If the town where are you going to live is chosen properly, then the road to your job must not take more than an hour.

Of course, this option will not be suitable if you are going to work in the country’s capital – the city of Bern. But if your workplace is in Lugano, Geneva, or Zurich – all of these cities are far more economically developed than Bern – then it would be a right decision to look for an accommodation in the neighboring regions of Italy, France, or Germany respectively.

Especially if you are a citizen of a country that belongs to the European Union, it may be a perfect solution – you will face no problems with passing the border everyday. Though, there might be another obstacle: you will have to pay taxes in two different countries, which discourages many people. But sometimes it is definitely worth it. If you are not a citizen of the EU country, we highly recommend you to find out about this matter on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

Housing in Switzerland: types of housing and its description

Typically, housing in Switzerland implies apartments in 5- or 9-storey houses. When you have a look at descriptions and advertisements of accommodation on offer, you can notice that the description contains information about the total and/or living area in square kilometers and the number of rooms. Usually, the number of rooms does not include bathrooms. So if you are looking at the 4-room apartment, it may be going about an apartment with two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Sometimes, kitchens are not counted as rooms either, so you should contact the landlord for more details in any case.

housing and rentals in switzerland

Typically, housing in Switzerland is rented completely unfurnished

Most often, housing in Switzerland is rented completely unfurnished, so you can expect that there will be even no curtains or light fittings, unless different is written in the ad. So when you are looking at an advertisement (even if its price is quite moderate), you should necessarily find out whether kitchen appliances are provided or not. Regarding the laundry issues, in most of the times facilities for laundries are communal for all inhabitants of the house, and so you will have a schedule, according to which you can use them.

It is also important to know whether your housing in Switzerland provides access to the garden and whether it has a balcony. You might find even social housing, partly funded by the government, yet such ads appear very rarely. If the price seems to be quite alluring, probably it is going about such a type of an apartment.

How to find housing in Switzerland

Basically, there are four ways of finding accommodation in this country. First of all, you should search online. There are websites of different companies – like this one – where you can find the largest possible in Switzerland choice.

Another option is a bit more retrograde, yet not less effective – checking advertisements in the magazines and newspapers (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, for example). Many landlords still advertise their available accommodation there.

accommodation in switzerland

It may be more reasonable to look for a house or apartment outside of a city

The third way of finding a suitable accommodation is as old as this world – with the help of your friends, acquaintances and other connections. Probably, you already know some people living in Switzerland and, if not them, perhaps some of their friends are willing to rent an accommodation. A clear win-win situation.

And the last and most expensive, yet the least problematic option is resorting to the services of a real estate agency. You can find links to the websites of some agencies at the bottom of this article.

What documents you need for renting housing in Switzerland

In order to rent an apartment or a house, you might be asked to provide the documents certifying the following:

  • The number of days you plan to stay within the country;
  • Whether and what pets do you have;
  • Copies of your foreign pass and visa;
  • Your residence permit, if granted;
  • Your salary;
  • A letter of indication/reference from the employer;
  • Occupation and the company that employed you;
  • Marriage and children.

What conditions should be covered in the rental agreement

Once you have found a suitable housing in Switzerland and you are going to strike a deal with the landlord, make sure that your agreement clarifies the following aspects:

  • Inventory of the property in details;
  • When you shall be notified about the rising costs, cancellation of the agreement, etc.;
  • Rent price and other conditions;
  • The period of rent;
  • Quiet hours;
  • Your rights to use shared services in the house;
  • Other conditions or rules of the house.

Useful sources

If you are looking for housing in Switzerland, the following links may help you:



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