How to find an apartment for rent in Zurich

Zurich is one of the cities with the best quality of life worldwide. It’s most often praised for safety, stability and order. No wonder the Swiss metropolis is also one of the most expensive cities to live in, known for 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 options. It’s 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 among the highest in Switzerland! But there’s Zurich and Zurich. In city center, the rents are easily twice as high as in the outskirts. The closer to the city center and to the lake, the more expensive it gets and the harder it is to find an apartment. While a 2-bedroom apartment in Altstadt or Seefeld costs on average 4500 CHF a month, the same apartment size can be found for less than 2500 Swiss francs in the suburbs, for example in Seebach or Altstetten. In general, Zurich’s housing market is very limited and affordable apartments are rare. In 2019 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, thus inflating the prices. 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 ads from different providers. It might also be useful to check forums on Social Media or public boards in cafes, grocery stores or community centers. For the more budget-conscious, cooperative flats might be an interesting proposition. But bear in mind 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’ll get it in the end but you will have to pay them a comission. Many flats in Zurich are also traded via social circles, 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 next step will be the viewing of the apartment. Usually there is a public apartment viewing on a fixed 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 have your documents prepared. The application for the apartment should be handed over to you at the viewing. Now there is no time to lose.

apartment viewing

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, with personal data of all people applying to live in the household, their nationality and/or status in Switzerland if from abroad, profession and yearly salary, planned use of the apartment, your 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 for them to 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’s good to give your application to the landlord in person.

But what’s most important: be quick. The principle of “first come, first served” often applies here. If you don’t hear back from the real estate company in weeks, it’s good to follow up, but don’t be too pushy. If you want to rent an apartment after someone – 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 the best candidate 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 approved for the apartment, a written rental agreement is usually the conclusion. 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 up three monthly rents and has to be transferred to a special bank account held in the tenant’s name. This deposit serves as security for the landlord and will be returned after moving out. In general, the tenant is obliged to pay the rent in advance for the following month. They usually also pay for any additional costs, such as heating, hot water or cable TV. It is said in Switzerland that the rent with all additional costs 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), withing two weeks you have to register at your district office. Inform the post office and important mail senders like your bank or health insurance provider about your new address. If you would like to have 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!

furnishing your apartment

Temporary solutions

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, with all ancillary costs included. 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. 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 home.

Serviced Apartments in Switzerland


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