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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:

DON’T PANIC!

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!

Renting

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:

http://www.englishforum.ch/adverts-property/
http://www.comparis.ch/immobilien/default.aspx
http://www.homegate.ch/
http://www.immoscout24.ch/

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.

Examples:

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.

Quote:
„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:

http://www.swisscaution.ch/
http://www.zurich.ch/site/en/priv/re...etkaution.html

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!

http://www.comparis.ch/versicherung.aspx

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:

http://www.englishforum.ch/jobs-offered/

Company example:

http://www.englishforum.ch/commercia...-services.html

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:

http://www.expatica.com/ch/housing/r...ent_15252.html






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!
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Last edited by Ace1; 30.10.2018 at 14:34. Reason: information on washing machines, kitchen furniture and lightbulbs added
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Old 19.09.2011, 14:43
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Helm, this is a great post and full of useful info! Perhaps it could be made into a Sticky by the mods?
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Old 19.09.2011, 14:49
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Thanks for the clear, linear steps to follow and all the links in one place. I wish we had this 8 months ago, but am realizing we did not too bad despite our ignorance.
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Old 19.09.2011, 14:50
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Please add a reminder that not everyone earning under 130K can afford to rent and that various tunnels and bridges exist for this purpose. Google StreetMap can assist the needy.
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Old 19.09.2011, 14:59
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

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Please add a reminder that not everyone earning under 130K can afford to rent and that various tunnels and bridges exist for this purpose. Google StreetMap can assist the needy.
You naughty, naughty monkey! Don't go scaring the poor people! (Though the Viadukt is a pretty good place to drown my under 130k sorrows... )
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Old 19.09.2011, 15:05
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

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You naughty, naughty monkey! Don't go scaring the poor people! (Though the Viadukt is a pretty good place to drown my under 130k sorrows... )

Oooh oooh ooooh you calling a Monkey ?
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Old 19.09.2011, 15:35
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

somebody wants to be a Mod........
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Old 19.09.2011, 16:43
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Excellent!

But just a tiny note, you may want to add that in Geneva the kitchen is also included in the number of rooms. So a 3 pcs is like a 2 pcs everywhere else. And... the 1/2 room can also be a large hall way or a small office, not always an open kitchen.

Thanks for this! It's great!!
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Old 19.09.2011, 16:46
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

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Excellent!

But just a tiny note, you may want to add that in Geneva the kitchen is also included in the number of rooms. So a 3 pcs is like a 2 pcs everywhere else. And... the 1/2 room can also be a large hall way or a small office, not always an open kitchen.

Thanks for this! It's great!!
Bah! I should have known... If in a tiny country like Portugal there are regional differences in room counting, I should have know it applies also here...

Will add a note! Thank you for the info ^^
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Old 19.09.2011, 17:07
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

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Bah! I should have known... If in a tiny country like Portugal there are regional differences in room counting, I should have know it applies also here...

Will add a note! Thank you for the info ^^
If Portugal is tiny then Switzerland must be micro!

Don't worry, it's only Geneva!
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Old 28.09.2011, 20:18
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Thank you for very useful post!

Just had the first experience of Swiss agents today.
It looks like we will be spending the next few years of our lives in a retro paradise. Or I hope not.
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Old 08.05.2012, 23:19
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

My advice would be to put Swiss people on your references list. Any that you know, boss etc etc.

I only say this because we just applied for a flat from outside CH. The flat was available from 1st June, We said we could move 1st July. The landlord recognized the family name and called my FIL - even though we didn't put any family on the references. The landlord said as he knew FIL that we could have the flat, despite there being other applicants who could rent from 1st June.

It worked out really well for us and I am relieved to have somewhere for when we arrive but I just wanted to share what everyone suspects. Swiss would rather rent to another Swiss or at least a friend of a Swiss.... so worth thinking about when you add peoples names to the reference list....
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Old 03.04.2015, 01:02
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Re: Housing in General - How to rent a home in Switzerland for Dummies

Thank you for this great post, it was quite useful for me
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Old 30.10.2018, 14:18
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Property terminology

Hello.
I am a little confused about the terminology in German for property rent. So what does a 4 or 4.5 zimmer Wohnung mean? As I understand it refers to the number of rooms in general? What does the 0.5 refer to? Does it mean one of the rooms is small? We are looking for a three bedroom flat. What would the equivalent, if any be to that in German?
Thanks,
Fiann
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Old 30.10.2018, 14:20
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Re: Property terminology

https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...d-dummies.html
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Old 30.10.2018, 14:21
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Re: Property terminology

For us, the 0.5 bit means the dining room which is just the smaller bit of the L-shaped lounge. Doesn't need to mean a full (but tiny) room.
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Old 30.10.2018, 14:30
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Re: Property terminology

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For us, the 0.5 bit means the dining room which is just the smaller bit of the L-shaped lounge. Doesn't need to mean a full (but tiny) room.
I think the half technically refers to the kitchen area rather then the dining part of the lounge. If there was a separate kitchen with dining space then it would count as a whole room.

P.S. I'm moving this to Helm's renters' guide mentioned above, and have made it into a sticky for ease of future searchers after knowledge.
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Old 11.04.2019, 03:08
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Re: Property terminology

I was in March in CH to find an apartment to rent. I saw different apartments I applied to 3, my bad luck was that I wasn't yet registered therefore couldn't provide the "Betreibungsauszug" showing about my debt status or owing money etc. like in US they have collection agency. I was told to put my mom as a Solidarhafter as a co-signee which I did, I provided income... but due not having an employer (because I don't need to) they denied any acceptance, I offered a rent prepay for a year... oh that's against the law, we can't request that....

I applied in my hometown for this particular reason that I would be likely accepted, but because of those 2 things they said NO. I felt totally unwelcome, some lied that they had someone, although their ads were still on all possibly immo websites like immoscout, comparis etc.
I went to my Gemeinde and they said I'd need to register so I can get the Auszug but I need an address in order to do it, he was convinced with making my case there shouldn't be a problem to accept me. I felt a treatment like if I was an alien honestly.... was it just perhaps my home town only?

I finally found an apartment through my son's acquittance... as you know in order to move duty free you need to provide one of the 3 attachments, either job contract, a rental contract or registration. - If I were a social welfare case that would mean a regular income from sozzi and that would be acceptable. No earning income isn't acceptable or wealth... money can be gone tomorrow according to their saying, which is a joke...
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