Houses in Switzerland
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Updated 3 months ago

If you are moving to Switzerland, finding accommodation will be one of your priorities – in fact, you should be examining your options even before travelling to the country. Switzerland offers a wide range of accommodations; hundreds of apartments, studios or houses and villas are available in most Swiss cantons. Here’s what you need to know in order to find yours.

How to find accommodation in Switzerland

In terms of population density, Switzerland ranks lower than many European cities – with 210 people per s.q.km in 2015. However, most people live in rented apartments and rent prices are relatively higher there than in other regions. Before moving, you should inquire about the most popular areas and the types of housing which are available for rent, as well as the facilities and services available in the different cities and neighbourhoods. The best expat destinations in Switzerland are probably major cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne.

To find accommodation in Switzerland, you can start by browsing real estate websites and databases like Homegate and ImmoScout24. You can also check out classified ads in local newspapers, some of which are also available online. A real estate agency or a relocation agency can also help you find the most suitable accommodation according to your family situation and your budget. Finally, a temporary house may be your answer until you sort things out: Airbnb is quite popular in Switzerland and UMS offers furnished apartments for a temporary stay.

What you need to know about the lease

As a foreigner, you meet certain criteria to be eligible to rent a home. First of all, you have to find the accommodation which best suits your needs and apply for a lease with the property management office. Documentation needed usually includes your employment contract stating your salary amount or a recent copy of your payslips, your identification documents (identity card, passport or visa), an extract of your criminal record if you are visiting Switzerland for the first time and a copy of your liability insurance certificate. Once these formalities have been completed, the property management office will notify you if your application has been validated. You will then have to sign a lease document. The lease generally refers to housing characteristics, the rent price and additional expenses and terms. You need to read it thoroughly and understand your obligations before signing.

 Good to know:

Most leases in Switzerland are for a year and will need to be extended after that. If you want to move, you will most likely need to give a three-month notice via e-mail to your landlord or, if you wish to leave sooner than that, find a replacement tenant yourself.

When you sign the lease document, you may also be required to pay a rental deposit (or security deposit). This amount will be used as a guarantee against any damage you could cause during your stay. The exact amount will be indicated in your contract, however, it must not exceed three months’ worth of rent. You should know that the security deposit is only required if expressly agreed in your rental agreement and it is paid into a separate, rental deposit account. You can open a rental guarantee bank account yourself, by producing your lease and identification documents. The guarantee amount has to be paid within 30 days following signing of the lease documents whereupon the sum will be blocked until the contract expires. Provided all is well, you can recover this amount upon your removal.

 Good to know:

Your landlord will expect you to return the apartment exactly how it was when you rented it – even if it’s been many years since and the house has some normal wear and tear. Most people when moving out in Switzerland hire cleaning companies to help restore the apartment to a mint condition, in order to be able to get their deposit back.

 Useful links:

Switzerland Official Site - Rent
Homegate
ImmoScout24
UMS

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