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Old 19.09.2011, 12:20
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Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Welcome to Switzerland!

So you took on the endeavour of moving to a brand new country and you are eager to start your new life! But you find out you are a bit lost when it comes to Housing, probably even in panic after reading out the Housing Thread. Well, I have only one thing to tell you:


Let’s start at the beginning:

Go read FAQs - you SURE your question/problem/requirement is unique? Look here before asking.

Use the search funtion for your questions!


1. Finding an apartment/ house to rent

Maybe you noticed already, housing in Switzerland is, as a general rule, very expensive. And good flats are sometimes really hard to find. But your dream home is out there to grab. Here are some good search points:


2. Learning to read the plan

The Swiss system of room counting might confuse you, probably because it is different from your home country. In the number of rooms it includes: living room, dinning room, sleeping rooms. In the most typical modern Swiss apartment, the kitchen is open to the living/dinning room, counting as a half room.


2 ½ room = 1 sleeping room, 1 living room with an open kitchen
3 ½ room = 2 sleeping rooms, 1 living room with an open kitchen
4 room = 3 sleeping rooms, 1 living room (kitchen is an enclosed room)

This here is a 3 ½ room apartment.

Note on regional differences in Geneve, provided by miniMia.

Most kitchens are already furnished (fridge, stove, oven). Appliances like microwave, boiler, coffe machines are not included.

Not every home has clothes washing machines! Some have communal rooms with a washing cycle schedule, others include a washing machine and dryer, and others have the space for it but do not provide the apparatus. Best to ask directly (this information is usually included on the offer).

You don’t need to be a savant for lights: either simple bulbs are already provided, or you can buy a bulb in www.migros.ch, www.jumbo.ch or www.coop.ch and screw it yourself.

3. Finding the apartment

Finding an apartment is hard. There is a lot of demand, and not enough offers. This gives the landlords the possibility to choose between the possible applicants. You might have found a gorgeous flat, but the landlord still has to accept you! Some tips to help you:

- go visit the apartment in person!
- talk to the landlord in person and be polite and friendly.
- take the application form seriously and fill it out correctly.
- make sure the flat/house applies correctly to you (children friendliness and pet allowance).

Good luck!

Disclaimer: You might still be refused for outrageous reasons such as being a foreigner, having/ not having a family, etc. Just relax and continue searching.

4. Applying

You found the apartment of your dreams? Congratulations. To apply you will need to fill out the contract and probably present a bunch of documents:

- The list of paperwork you need to rent a flat by jumpingrat.

You will also have to pay a caution (which is usually what really hurts).

- Laws on deposits, so well put by Mrs. Doolittle.

„Bei der Miete von Wohnräumen darf der Vermieter höchstens drei Monatszinse als Sicherheit verlangen.“

Rough translation:

"On the rental of residential premises, the landlord may require at the utmost three months rents as collateral."
It is legal for the landlord to ask up to 3 months of rent as a caution. This will probably amount to something you cannot afford. But even for that there is a solution:


One thing you must pay attention: the caution money should be put on a bank account created for that sole purpose, to avoid future problems! This is in the landlord interest, but especially for your own protection.

5. Insurance

Get yourself insurance!


I would also advise you to join the Mietverband http://www.mieterverband.ch/. You have to pay an almost symbolic fee every year, but their advices are priceless when Murphy’s laws apply and things go bad to worse.

6. Taking over

You did it! You have been accepted! Congratulations! But hold your horses there, before you sign and get the keys. You will have to sign a document stating how the house was when you took it. Read the whole document which has been filled up by the landlord, make sure everything fits, don’t be ashamed to take pictures and contest his notes when needed.

Here are some tips (personally collected after a couple of nightmares from previous landlords):

1. check inside fridge and ovens if any parts are missing/ broken
2. check if inbuilt furniture is in good state inside and outside
3. check if tubing from kitchen counters/ toilets are correctly placed and not leaking
4. check if bitumen from the windows is in good state or falling/ attacked by sunlight or fungus
5. check for fungus inside bathrooms, also behind mounted mirrors
6. make sure to notice deep scratches on parquet and get it written. In some cases, make pictures to prove later it wasn’t you. Same applies for walls. (best time to check it when there is enough daylight)
7. check if heating is functioning properly (if you can turn if off/on, leaking or not working at all)
8. check if the lock in the basement and mailbox are working properly and have not been vandalized

7. Leaving

Moving out? Make sure to see what you damaged during your stay (this is where those pictures come in handy) and get it repaired when possible. Fill in wholes on the walls (you can get appropriate filling in Jumbo www.jumbo.ch). Here are some extra useful tips from Mrs. Doolittle. If you damaged a wall badly or decided to go crazy and paint it neon pink, I would advise you to paint it white yourself since painters are quite expensive.

You will have to leave the house sparkling. You can do the cleaning yourself or hire a company/ EF fellow if you don’t trust your cleaning skills:


Company example:


It might have also been specifically written on your contract that the landlord will hire a company himself, and the payment will be deducted from your deposit.

If you encounter any serious problems, http://www.mieterverband.ch/ is there for you!

Some very useful tips:


Disclaimer: This post hasn’t been done to overlap the FAQ but merely to sum up info contained in several threads into a friendly post, proper for search-handicapped newbies. It came to be after reading things as “Things I wish I knew when I moved to Switzerland” which, in my case, would be Housing problems. If anyone has tips/advices to add, or you notice something wrong on this list, just let me know and I'll edit it!

Fighting for Pluto's liberation from the Dwarf League since 2006 @(°.°)=@)x.X)' ' '

Last edited by Ace1; 30.10.2018 at 14:34. Reason: information on washing machines, kitchen furniture and lightbulbs added
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