Zurich is one of the cities with the best quality of life worldwide. Clean, safe and stable are the most important attributes. But the Swiss metropolis is also one of the most expensive cities to live in and known for its housing shortage. Everybody who’s ever rented an apartment in Zurich knows how difficult it can be. Read about the biggest challenges, how you can increase your chances to find an apartment and when temporary living solutions are useful. Finding your dream home is not easy – especially in a popular city like Zurich. With over 400’000 residents Zurich is the biggest city in Switzerland, and provides the largest job market. Besides the thriving economy, the city offers very good infrastructure and public transportation, best possible education options and great leisure and entertainment offers. It is picturesquely situated by the lake with many green areas and parks. Ancient historic buildings can be found next to modern constructions, and the population is a colorful mixture. But what characterizes Zurich the most is the diversity of each district. And here the struggle begins.
Property market in Zurich
The rents in Zurich are the highest in Switzerland! But Zurich is not equal to Zurich. In best locations rents are easily twice as high as in less popular locations. The closer to the city center and to the lake, the more expensive it gets and the harder it is to find an apartment. Whereas a 3 bedroom apartment at Zürichberg or Seefeld costs over 4500 Swiss francs a month, the same apartment size can be found for less than 2500 Swiss francs at traffic exposed sites like Altstetten or on the outskirts. In general, Zurich’s housing market is very limited and affordable apartments are rare. In 2016 just about 180’000 apartments for rent were on the market with a vacancy rate of only 0.2 percent. This means the market is tight and demand is higher than supply which affects the price. Even though more and more new properties are built, the search for accommodation stays difficult due to exorbitant prices and high competition. The inflow from abroad and the increasing number of expats don’t make it any easier.
First step to your dream home – Search for an apartment
There are many online platforms to search for an apartment for rent in Zurich. The most popular are homegate and immoscout24. On comparis you can compare adverts from different providers. Another great marketplace is ronorp – here you can find anything, from accommodation to furniture and local tips. It might also be useful to check forums on Social Media or public boards in cafes, grocery stores or community centers. If you are looking for low-priced apartments try the property management of the city of Zurich. Another budget-friendly option are cooperative flats. But be careful , they have very long waiting lists. If you don’t have time to search for an apartment yourself or want to leave it to a professional, hire a real estate agent. They will help you find your ideal apartment and guarantee you get it in the end but they will charge you a commission. Many flats in Zurich are also traded on the quiet, so it’s always good to ask your friends and colleagues if they know somebody who’s renting their apartment.
Be patient – the apartment viewing
If you have found an apartment online which suits your needs, the viewing of the apartment will be the next step. Usually there is a public apartment viewing on a fix date. Be prepared for long waiting lines – sometimes even around the corner of the building! It’s important to leave a lasting impression on the landlord. Introduce yourself, ask questions and be well prepared with documents if requested. The application for the apartment should be handed over to you at the viewing. Now there is no time to lose.
The hardest step – Applying for an apartment
If you have found an apartment you like, it’s time to apply for it. Fill out the application form completely, with personal data of all people living in the household, nationality or status in Switzerland if from abroad, profession and yearly salary, use of the apartment, if you have pets and information about your credit history. They usually request some official documents like a copy of your salary statement as well as an extract from the debt collection register. Many landlords also ask for references, be prepared to have them call your employer. To increase your chances it helps a lot to add a personal letter of application, best with picture – this is you opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it even might help to handover your application in person to the landlord. But what’s most important: be quick. The principle of “first come, first serve” often applies here. If you don’t hear back from the company in weeks, it’s good to follow up, but don’t be too pushy. In case you want to rent an apartment from a private person – because they are leaving the apartment early and are looking for a new tenant – it usually helps if you are willing to take over some furniture or agree to other conditions of the current tenant. In return they can recommend you as a new tenant to the landlord. This procedure is very common in Zurich. If you are new in Switzerland, renting an apartment can come with a lot of challenges, but a few easy tips about living in Switzerland can help you find your way.
You made it – Renting an apartment
If you are lucky to get a commitment for the apartment, a written rental agreement is usually concluded. It’s important to read and fully understand the contract before signing it. Special attention should be paid to the notice period. Some apartments can only be terminated twice a year on fixed dates. If you already live in Switzerland and want to move into a new flat, make sure to terminate your old rental agreement according to your notice period or search for a new tenant. Tenants are often asked to provide a deposit, the amount of which can be three monthly rents maximum and has to be paid into a special bank account held in the tenant’s name. This deposit serves as security for the landlord and will be reimbursed after moving out. In general the tenant is obliged to pay the rent in advance for the following month. He usually also pays for additional costs, such as heating, hot water or cable television. It is said in Switzerland that the total rent should not exceed a third of your salary.
Let the adventure begin – Moving in and furnishing
Moving into a new apartment always involves obligations. If you are new in Zurich (or in the district) you have to register within two weeks at your district office. Inform the post office and important senders like bank or health insurance about your new address. If you would like TV and internet connection you will have to sign a contract with one of the providers. In addition, every household has to pay expensive annual radio and television fees. For electricity a separate contract with the local power station has to be signed. No apartment is complete without furniture. If you are moving into your first own apartment or are moving from abroad, furnishing a whole home can consume a lot of time and money! Ikea is also big in Switzerland and furniture stores like Interio, Möbel Pfister or Micasa provide everything you need. If you like it more individual Kare Design or Maison du Monde are great options and second hand furniture shops can be found all over Zurich. It’s always good to get some inspiration and ideas before buying furniture and decorating your apartment. A complete set of furniture tailored to your home will be available soon at the VISIONAPARTMENTS Concept Store. They also offer exclusive and stylish furniture items online or in the shops.
Renting an apartment in Zurich can be a great effort. If you don’t want to go through all this struggle or simply don’t have the time or opportunity to arrange everything, a temporary living solution is an ideal option. Whether you are moving from abroad, staying in Zurich only for a limited time or searching for a temporary home, Serviced Apartments provide a quick and easy accommodation, tailored to your needs. Serviced Apartments provide all the comforts of a home away from home. They are fully furnished and include a fully equipped kitchen as well as services like cleaning, TV and Internet access. All ancillary costs (water, heating, electricity etc.) are included in the rent price and washing facilities as well as a private letterbox are provided.
Benefits of Serviced Apartments
VISIONAPARTMENTS, the biggest provider of Serviced Apartments in Switzerland, offers temporary homes in different sizes and styles at 13 locations in Zurich. A studio apartment starts at 1’780 Swiss francs per month. Some might say the price is not justified, but if you compare it to an unfurnished property in the same area and add all the extra costs which apply, such as electricity, TV and internet connection and fees, furnishing etc. it pays off. Compared to short term accommodation like Airbnb for example where you pay about 90 Swiss francs per night on the average for a studio apartment in Zurich, Serviced Apartments are the less expensive option. It’s not only the price that is attractive but the “trappings” – at a Serviced Apartment you don’t have to worry about anything. You can book your apartment today and move in tomorrow. The company only needs a few contact details to prepare the contract and you will have to pay a small deposit, usually the amount of a monthly rent. The minimum rent period is one month and you can leave the temporary home whenever you like – without cleaning it or searching for a new tenant. This temporary solution is particularly suitable for expats, people relocating from abroad or searching for a long term temporary home.