Buy or rent in Switzerland?

What characterises Switzerland is when talking about housing is the rental market. The vast majority of Swiss people (66%) have chosen to rent rather than to own their properties (33%). This is not least to apartments in Switzerland offering a high quality and great design options and since the owner-occupied property requires a relatively large down payment.

Where to live in Switzerland?
When choosing a place to live, it is in addition to the distance to one’s workplace also important with an appropriate school for the kids, great nature, potential leisure activities as well as a good infrastructure and public transport. The development in Switzerland shows that the public and reliable transport system makes the car more and more dispensable. The lack of stress regarding the transport to work by train, ferry, bus or tram has had the outcome that many people today only use the car for the weekend, shopping or even holidays. Another important factor which should be considered before you move to Switzerland is of course the human, linguistic and cultural composition of neighbours and perhaps the cities.

Rental accommodation
Despite Switzerland being one of the richest countries in the world, the majority of the population, as described above has chosen to live in rental accommodation. Another reason is that there is a complex set of rules that protect a tenant well. At the apartment market, there is usually a notice period of 3 months and at certain times. When renting a house, multi-annual contracts are not uncommon. A mixture between buying and renting is the so-called “Genossenschaftswohnungen” where each tenant holds shares of the house/unit as well as the maintenance.

Purchase of real estate in Switzerland
If you intend to stay longer in Switzerland, it may be a good idea to buy a house or an owner-occupied apartment (“Eigentumswohnung”). Land in Switzerland is expensive and varies tremendously. Around relatively big cities we have seen prices of CHF 900-1200 per. sqm. Also note that the speed of the turnover of real estate in Switzerland is significantly lower than what you may know from other countries in Europe.

Real estate financing can be done in banks and life insurance companies. Regarding mortgages, you are welcome to contact for home financing, click here. Keep in mind though that it is expected that the buyer pays 20% in down payment (equity) when signing a purchase agreement. For people without a residence permit it is required to have a special permit in order to purchase real estate issued by the authorities.

How to find an apartment
Searching for apartment can be done through the local newspapers, posters in supermarkets or on the internet. Many companies also offer new employees help in finding a suitable apartment.

If searching for accommodation on the internet, the following may be of interest:

Basic Facilities in apartments
Unlike many European countries, the basic arrangement in the Swiss apartments consist of a kitchen and laundry facility. The apartments are usually not furnished. Washing and cleaning services can be bought separately.

Costs to be expected for apartments in Switzerland
The rents in Switzerland are composed of the rent plus consumption expenditures (“Nebenkosten”). It usually involves costs for heating, electricity, water and perhaps television. The landlord will usually request one to two months of deposit and sometimes asks for a public liability insurance. The size of the rent is of course dependent on the apartment’s location and design and arrangements of the interior. For apartments in and around the cities, starting rents vary from CHF 800 to 1,000 for 2 – 3 rooms. It is advisable not to use more than 25% of one’s income for housing costs.

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