Getting an Apartment in Switzerland: A Guide for Expats

Housing in Switzerland is pretty complicated. Homeownership is not common here, and accommodation in cities is a high standard, and one can get a place to live on rent more easily than to buy.  Around 65% of the Swiss population, including both national and expats, prefer renting than buying places to stay.  

It could be challenging to find an apartment in Switzerland, and prices differ at each canton. The average cost of renting an apartment in the main city centre is almost CHF 1,400 per month, and this cost varies from city to city. The larger expat communities in big cities like Lausanne, Geneva, Zurich, and Basel are more expensive and luxurious. It will cost almost CHF1,900 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. If anyone wants better space for the same amount of money, one can look for places on the outskirts. 

About Renting or Buying In Switzerland

As an ex-pat, there are different sources available where one can find a property to rent or buy in Switzerland. One can look on online portals that rent and sell property online in Switzerland, advertisements boards for housing, newspapers, and contact real state agents in Switzerland. They can provide properties at your wanted locations. One also needs a bank account in Switzerland to lease property here. 

Online Portals 

It is always better to contact experts and prices of housing have been rising here every year, and experts can help you there. Some local portals that may be helpful are homegate, Immoscout24 and Immostreet. 

Newspapers

Every local newspaper in Switzerland has listings of properties on sale or on rent. One can also ask locals about properties listings and information on them. 

Real-state Agents

Real state agents handle most property rentals or buying in Switzerland. As competition for a single property here is very high, it easily gets sold or rented. Contacting an agent is an easy way out. If any property gets available, they directly contact those who have already made the inquiry and strike a deal on it. 

Switzerland’s Housing Market

The housing market in Switzerland is one of the most competitive globally. It is the world’s third most expensive country for buying property per square metre. Its average prices are-

To Buy-

CHF 670,000 for buying an apartment (CHF 6,400 sq meter)
CHF 1,030,000 for buying a house (CHF 6,000 sq meter)

To Rent-

CHF 1,600 to rent an apartment (CHF 260 per square meter)
CHF 3,000 to rent a house (CHF 230 per square meter)

However, these prices vary from canton to canton, and it’s cheaper on the outskirts. Cities like Geneva and Basel is the most expensive one while Jura is the cheapest. 

Housing Laws in Switzerland

Foreigners can buy property in Switzerland, same as Swiss residents either as EU/EFTA residents or residents with C residence permits. Those having B permits can buy one property to live in. The Lex Koller law of 1983 restricts non-residents from buying properties in Switzerland. One has to get authority from the specific canton. Once fulfilling all the buying documentation, you will be registered as a landowner in the Swiss land Registrar.  

However, renting in Switzerland is less complicated than buying. Anyone legally residing in Switzerland can rent property here. Once the deal gets done, both parties receive a tenant contract stating the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. The duration is usually 12 months, and the rental deposit cannot be more than three months. The termination of the agreement is also mentioned in the contract, and any disputes have to be resolved in Swiss’s housing arbitration agency. All utilities provided and bills payments get mentioned in the agreement. 

Documents Required for Renting or Buying

A lot of documentation work is required before moving with buying or renting in Switzerland. The first requirement is resident permits and a bank account in a Swiss bank. Other requirements include-

Prove personal information like age, marital status
An employment contract or proof of job
Salary slip as proof of income
Visa status document
Copy of passport
Document stating you are not involved in any illegal prosecution

These requirements are almost the same for all cantons, with only slight differences. 

Conclusion 

If you are an ex-pat and planning to buy property in Switzerland, there are two steps you have to follow. You should have a mortgage, and then you can offer the price you are ready to pay, and also, you can negotiate.  

Being an Expat and wanting to live in the world’s third most expensive country is not easy but with search and backed by money, one can easily get it. However, renting is more advisable if you are not planning to settle here. 

One may also think of short-term rentals as it is cheaper and can easily be available if you are not planning for a longer stay. With all the knowledge above, your search for a property in Switzerland shall be much easier now. It is always recommended to look for places where they rent and sell property online in Switzerland; this will make your search comfortable and also provide loads of choices.

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