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Housing in Switzerland

Renting a Property

A very high percentage of Swiss residents rent their homes, especially in the cities, and rental markets are very tight. In Geneva and the other main cities, rental accommodation consists almost exclusively of apartments, although it is possible to rent houses outside the cities. Properties are normally rented out unfurnished.

There are considerable variations in rental prices between regions of the country, and even within the cities, but on the whole rents are similar to those in other European countries. Typical monthly rents are CHF1,500 for a 100m2 town apartment, CHF3,000 for a luxury city apartment and up to CHF5,000 for a large house with a lakeside setting.

Accommodation is normally rented unfurnished in Switzerland. Note that unfurnished really means ‘unfurnished’ (e.g. without light fittings, curtains or other furniture). However, many apartments are equipped with a stove/hob (normally with oven), refrigerator and sometimes even a dishwasher. In larger apartment blocks, there are often joint washing machines in the cellar/basement.

For many foreigners, moving to a Swiss apartment can often be a little shocking. Not only are you supposed to supply your own light fittings, but you might have to buy and install everything from the washing machine to, literally, the kitchen sink. This does not come cheap, so allow extra in your budget to get established.

The types of accommodation you might be looking for can be especially expensive: partly or fully-furnished apartments rented at short notice for relatively short periods. Nor is it easy to find apartments for larger families at reasonable rents.

The number of rooms does not include the kitchen (except in Geneva), bathroom or toilet. However, these are included when calculating the apartment size in square meters.

Getting Started

Looking for an apartment in Switzerland can be a time-consuming and nerve-wracking experience. Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time as you will be much more likely to get what you are looking for this way.

It's best to start looking before you leave or plan for free time to be dedicated to the search. If you are coming with your family, it may be more comfortable for them to arrive after you have found suitable accommodation. If you are arriving alone, the best solution may be to initially stay in a hotel/guest-house or with friends or acquaintances.

Unless you want to depend on getting lucky, you should consider several options for your apartment search. The most important thing is to have a very clear idea of what you’re actually looking for, or it is very easy to waste time. The best start is to get familiar with your new environment by walking around, seeing how transport works and asking other people about different neighbourhoods and areas.

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