Most people in Switzerland live in apartments. The key to finding one that's right for you is knowing how the market works. This will help get you started.
With 214 people per square kilometre in 2017 according to the World Bankexternal link, Switzerland ranks lower than many European countries in terms of population density. That said, most people live in rented apartments.
Places to live can now be found largely through the internet, with agencies like Homegateexternal link or Immoscout24external link offering easily searchable databases for places to rent or buy, and temporary housing with furnished apartments like UMSexternal link. WGZimmerexternal link is a popular site for posting rooms for rent in a shared living situation or even entire apartments.
Often, Swiss will rent out their entire apartment while they are on holiday or working abroad. Accommodation-sharing via the online platform Airbnbexternal link has expanded exponentially in Switzerland in recent years – with more than 80,000 beds advertised as of June 2017. This represents a 66% rise from the same time in 2016, and twice as many as in June 2015.
Relocation agenciesexternal link are also very active in Switzerland and often help Switzerland-bound executives and managers (or those with larger relocation budgets) find a place to live, as well as assist in finding appropriate insurance coverage and registering with the local authorities.
Terms and conditions
Rental properties often come with a year-long lease that can subsequently be extended. Moving often requires a three-month notice sent via registered mail. The tenant is expected to find a replacement tenant if he/she wishes to move before the terms of the agreement expire.
Rental properties are expected to be well maintained and to be returned exactly as they were when rented. This means that what is considered “normal wear and tear” on property in the United States is not generally acceptable in Switzerland. Cleaning companies are very active in Switzerland and can be specially hired to assist with an apartment handover.
The website ch.chexternal link, maintained by the Swiss authorities, is a good starting point for learning about rental agreements, what is expected of tenants, and the standard procedures for accepting and terminating a contract.