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Old 29.05.2013, 18:09
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How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

I know the difficulty of getting apartment in Zurich has been covered many times. It goes anything from nightmarish to relatively easy. My question is related to the specific occupation, namely being a PhD in Zurich. As I know the PhD salary in Switzerland is good on an international standard, but it's nothing compared to salaries of any person working in a company. I'm curious as to how the low-wage situation affects your odds at getting something. The PhD typically earns around 3000 CHF/month, which is not a lot.

If you are a PhD or have been a PhD and successfully found yourself a serious apartment, I then 'd like hear your story. OBS! No story about WG for now!
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Old 29.05.2013, 18:14
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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I know the difficulty of getting apartment in Zurich has been covered many times. It goes anything from nightmarish to relatively easy. My question is related to the specific occupation, namely being a PhD in Zurich. As I know the PhD salary in Switzerland is good on an international standard, but it's nothing compared to salaries of any person working in a company. I'm curious as to how the low-wage situation affects your odds at getting something. The PhD typically earns around 3000 CHF/month, which is not a lot.

If you are a PhD or have been a PhD and successfully found yourself a serious apartment, I then 'd like hear your story. OBS! No story about WG for now!
All depends on what kind of standard of living your wish to have.

I lived happily for the majority of my PhD for under 300 francs per month, I also know people who lived happily for 1400 francs per month (speak of course just rent costs).

To find a nice apartment within the generally accepted living range (1/3 of your take home) isn't the easiest, and expect a one room apartment (separate bathroom, but kitchen/living/sleeping space all-in-one) not right in the city. Getting one of these is competitive, but doable with some effort and time.
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Old 29.05.2013, 18:38
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

Homegate.ch - look for the cheapest appartments - you should be able to then answer your own question.

I didn't even need a PhD to answer that
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Old 29.05.2013, 19:01
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

hmmm... Does having PhD make a difference in finding an apt in ZH? I mean.. having relatively low income but relatively higher degree (compared to BS or MS) makes it different in terms of getting an apt in Zurich? I'm just curious..
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Old 29.05.2013, 19:50
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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hmmm... Does having PhD make a difference in finding an apt in ZH? I mean.. having relatively low income but relatively higher degree (compared to BS or MS) makes it different in terms of getting an apt in Zurich? I'm just curious..
No it makes no difference at all.

The main thing that matter is money.
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Old 29.05.2013, 20:51
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

Yes, some PhD students live in apartments in Zurich.

Here's the link I post every week:
http://www.marktplatz.uzh.ch/wohnungen/

Top hit is a furnished flat for just over a third a PhD's salary.
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Old 30.05.2013, 09:44
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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Homegate.ch - look for the cheapest appartments - you should be able to then answer your own question.

I didn't even need a PhD to answer that
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No it makes no difference at all.

The main thing that matter is money.
Even though I appreciate your initiative to reply my post, you guys are missing the point... The question is EXACTLY about money, namely how bad/well positioned the PhD salary puts you when competing for a flat with other people with relatively normal jobs. It's not about degree or what you can afford, but what you can get even if the price is within your affordable range.

I searched in the forum earlier, some people claimed it was very easy to get apartment in Zurich. At the same time it was obvious that they worked for some company, where the pay is definitely higher than PhD. It could be that high income makes things easier. Although such stories are inspirational, they may not relate well to a PhD's situation in Zurich. I admit it's somewhat related to what the housing agencies and landlords are looking at when choosing tenant.

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All depends on what kind of standard of living your wish to have.

I lived happily for the majority of my PhD for under 300 francs per month, I also know people who lived happily for 1400 francs per month (speak of course just rent costs).

To find a nice apartment within the generally accepted living range (1/3 of your take home) isn't the easiest, and expect a one room apartment (separate bathroom, but kitchen/living/sleeping space all-in-one) not right in the city. Getting one of these is competitive, but doable with some effort and time.
This is a good input. Does it translate into: as long as the rent is equal or lower than 1/3 of your income, then finance shouldn't be a problem in a way that you can compete with guys with higher income? It's interesting to hear that some lived for 1400 CHF per month, that is almost 1/2 of the take home.
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Old 30.05.2013, 10:02
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

Landlords normally will look at your income and yes, they often will pick someone with the higher income. Simply because they want to be sure that you can and will pay the rent.
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Old 30.05.2013, 11:46
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

So you want to know basically if the PhD gives an added push for the same salary. Honestly, I don't think so, but it depends on the decision maker.

My husband is a full professor and it didn't seem to matter for flats when we started to look in and around Zurich. The first few we tried for, competition was stiff and we lost out. In one case at least, it depended on income, and someone else had a higher income.

Although we also have a dog, and i think that counted against us.
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Old 30.05.2013, 12:08
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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So you want to know basically if the PhD gives an added push for the same salary. Honestly, I don't think so, but it depends on the decision maker.

My husband is a full professor and it didn't seem to matter for flats when we started to look in and around Zurich. The first few we tried for, competition was stiff and we lost out. In one case at least, it depended on income, and someone else had a higher income.

Although we also have a dog, and i think that counted against us.
On the contrary, the OP thinks that her status might hinder her in her efforts of finding a proper apartment, if she and another one with a permanent real job (same monthly income) would compete for the same apt. to rent.
Or at least that was my undestanding. Answer: I think she is right, although she might be lucky enough to deal with a snobish landlord.
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Old 30.05.2013, 12:41
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

You are massively over-thinking this.

Is your salary below average? Yes.

Is your salary good enough to get a decent flat? Yes.

Not everybody with a 190kCHF wage wants to live in a studio flat in Affoltern, you may be surprised to hear, so there is no added "competition" from them. If you want a <1500CHF flat close to UZH or ETH, your competition is primarily other PhD students.

Check the website I gave you a link to earlier, send a few emails, and you will end up with a decent flat in a nearby area to the universities, just like thousands of PhD students before you have.
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Old 30.05.2013, 15:48
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

I'm a postdoc at the ETH, and the PhD students around here pretty much agree:

You'll need some time, and you'll need to be realistic about your budget (most spend around 1/3 of their salary on rent, and that seems pretty reasonable to me), but you'll find something.

Some tricks that they use:

1. Find out if you can get on the mailing list and either hear about apartments coming up for rent (that happens frequently among us Biology folks, at least) or (if it is acceptable) spam the department to ask if anyone has a place they're looking to leave or a roommate situation.

2. Try a shared flat. These can be considerably less expensive.

3. Concentrate your efforts on neighborhoods that are easily affordable, like Altstetten, Oerlikon, Affoltern, and Seebach.

4. Apply early and often. We found that when we were one of the first to see an apartment and were fast to get our rental application in, we got the place about 50% of the time. When we were at the second viewing or applied after the flat had been listed for longer than a few days, we never got it. This is, of course, anecdotal, but it also can't hurt.

Don't worry too much. It is bad, but probably not as bad as everyone has told you.
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Old 30.05.2013, 16:01
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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Even though I appreciate your initiative to reply my post, you guys are missing the point... The question is EXACTLY about money, namely how bad/well positioned the PhD salary puts you when competing for a flat with other people with relatively normal jobs. It's not about degree or what you can afford, but what you can get even if the price is within your affordable range.

I searched in the forum earlier, some people claimed it was very easy to get apartment in Zurich. At the same time it was obvious that they worked for some company, where the pay is definitely higher than PhD. It could be that high income makes things easier. Although such stories are inspirational, they may not relate well to a PhD's situation in Zurich. I admit it's somewhat related to what the housing agencies and landlords are looking at when choosing tenant.



This is a good input. Does it translate into: as long as the rent is equal or lower than 1/3 of your income, then finance shouldn't be a problem in a way that you can compete with guys with higher income? It's interesting to hear that some lived for 1400 CHF per month, that is almost 1/2 of the take home.
I was not actually replying to your post, but the post I quoted which asked whether having a PhD swayed your chances in terms of the qualification meaning something. Hence why I said no it doesn't, it's all about money i.e. can you afford it or not, likewise, do you have debts. That is all that matters.

By and large, the lower salary earners will be blown out the water by high earners, but high earners will not be competing for the smaller, low rent places as they got a bit more to play with. Some still do of course, as they are massive savers and/or comfortable with little room or luxury and thats fine. I suspect some landlords will still take the 150k a year guy for their 2.0 zimmer place thats only 1,100 CHF per month, despite it being more suited to the 40-70k, a year applicants, but at the same time, I think there is some appreciation and control over the market where those who can afford more expensive places do not sweep up the places the lower earners can only afford.

So in summary, you will find it tough, I think, finding a place on your own, as you will be searching for places where there is the biggest competition, who are not necessarily massive earners, and yet you will be a lower end earned in that group. It won't be impossible but it won't be easy either.

Given the most basic of places are 1-1,500k, thats above the recommended 1/3.

This is why a lot of earners on this level of salary share. So yes, it will be difficult, but it wouldn't stop me from trying. But you may have to concede to a share, perhaps until you find something better.

More opportunities arise once you get to know people here and the market etc.
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Old 30.05.2013, 16:24
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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You are massively over-thinking this.

Is your salary below average? Yes.

Is your salary good enough to get a decent flat? Yes.

Not everybody with a 190kCHF wage wants to live in a studio flat in Affoltern, you may be surprised to hear, so there is no added "competition" from them. If you want a <1500CHF flat close to UZH or ETH, your competition is primarily other PhD students.

Check the website I gave you a link to earlier, send a few emails, and you will end up with a decent flat in a nearby area to the universities, just like thousands of PhD students before you have.
That website you showed is really useful, in fact I found a very good apartment with good price, location and everything two weeks ago from there. The previous tenant studied at the same dept where I worked, we get along very well and she thinks me and my gf should take over (2 person could live there). We sent our application with the previous tenant trying to persuade the housing agent to give it to us. The problem is as the housing agent basically took over in the final week of May, now it has suddenly become the hottest apartment on immoscout. Competition will be fierce. Our slight advantage is we can combine the PhD salary of me and my gf to get a higher total income than some single person who apply. But again having two people in the apartment is generally more damaging to the apartment than having only one.

To be frank I'm okay with living in Oerlikon etc, but you still have to compete a lot.
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Old 30.05.2013, 16:53
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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That website you showed is really useful, in fact I found a very good apartment with good price, location and everything two weeks ago from there. The previous tenant studied at the same dept where I worked, we get along very well and she thinks me and my gf should take over (2 person could live there). We sent our application with the previous tenant trying to persuade the housing agent to give it to us. The problem is as the housing agent basically took over in the final week of May, now it has suddenly become the hottest apartment on immoscout. Competition will be fierce. Our slight advantage is we can combine the PhD salary of me and my gf to get a higher total income than some single person who apply. But again having two people in the apartment is generally more damaging to the apartment than having only one.

To be frank I'm okay with living in Oerlikon etc, but you still have to compete a lot.
well.. try to convince the landlord/housing agent that a couple takes care of the apt much better than a single person.. I have a rental property and I always give my preference for a couple over a single person because a couple do make a place more like home and better organized..
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Old 30.05.2013, 18:09
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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well.. try to convince the landlord/housing agent that a couple takes care of the apt much better than a single person.. I have a rental property and I always give my preference for a couple over a single person because a couple do make a place more like home and better organized..
Wow! This is some valuable insider info! I appreciate that. In our application we stressed that we want to live there for 3 yrs at least, which is how long a phd is. We have no pets, no music instruments and don't smoke, and our combined income is like 4 times the rent so we can actually afford it. Even if we don't get this apartment, next time I'll follow your advice!
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Old 30.05.2013, 18:18
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

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Wow! This is some valuable insider info! I appreciate that. In our application we stressed that we want to live there for 3 yrs at least, which is how long a phd is. We have no pets, no music instruments and don't smoke, and our combined income is like 4 times the rent so we can actually afford it. Even if we don't get this apartment, next time I'll follow your advice!
If I were the landlord of the apt you applied for, you could have been my choice Those are really good points. I hope you find a lovely place soon!!
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Old 02.06.2013, 18:35
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

Hi there,
I cant advertise my flat on here yet (due to rules as I am fairly new) but if you are looking to move please PM me.
I am moving on the 7th July, my flat is 3 rooms and around 1600 P/M.
It is located near Lochergut so its very central. I have already discussed with my landlord about advertising to students, and he was agreeable to this. My previous flatmate was a student too.
Thanks
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Old 03.06.2013, 13:53
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Re: How difficult it is to get apartment in Zurich, with PhD salary?

Hi Lei,
I have your PM, but I cant reply due to restrictions about amount of replied I can send! If you PM me your email address I will contacts you and send some photos of my flat.
Thanks,
Katy
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