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Old 06.01.2015, 12:08
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Applying for an apartment before arriving

Hi - I am sure this question must have been asked before, but I could not find anything sensible with a search.

Has anyone had experiences with applying for (and getting) an apartment before arriving in Switzerland? I would expect the main hurdle to be the Betreibungsauszug [debt register extract], but I am sure there are other issues as well.

We are currently living in London and moving back to Zurich mid-March, where I will start my new job beginning of April.

We have seen an apartment we would like to apply. It just seems so complicated as we have no Betreibungsauszug and we will be (hopefully) temporarily decreasing from a dual-income to a single income until other-half finds a job in Zurich.

We lived in Zurich until 2010 - do you think we could ask the Canton for the Betreibungsauszug from when we left to show that we left with no outstanding debts?

Has anyone had any positive experiences to share?

THANKS!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 06.01.2015 at 17:30. Reason: added translation for our users that don't speak German
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Old 06.01.2015, 12:27
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

I'd normally expect the landlord to want to size up the tenants.

Can your new employer assist? If they are a sizeable company, particularly one that employs non-Swiss people, they might have come across this need before. Though most companies, mine included, tend to arrange temporary accommodation for a month or two and expect you to find something permanent in that period. Unless the place you've seen is one-in-a-million, you might find it easier to do that.

Or if it really is an unmissable apartment, then it must be worth popping over for a day or two to secure it?
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Old 06.01.2015, 12:44
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

You can indeed demand a copy of the Betreibungsauszug, but it is a personal thing: other people cannot ask for your copy without authorisation. If you are not married you need one each. You can also apply to a large credit agency in the UK for a reference. Can you get a reference from your previous landlords?

But this is worth nothing when you cannot present yourself to the landlord, they like to see exactly who is living in their accommodation.

You won't be the only person applying, so you need to make a very good impression. Emphasize that you have lived here before and know about life in Switzerland. Looking at the price of EasyJet flights, I think it would be well worth coming here for a day and sealing the deal.
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Old 06.01.2015, 15:23
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

If it's just a case of landlord wanting/needing to meet us, we have no problem at all flying over for that. What I don't want to do is to fly over when we don't actually stand a chance at all.

It's just i'm guessing we cannot get a Betreibungsauszug since we are not currently registered as resident in Switzerland? I have no idea how it works.

We have been offered 1 month temporary accommodation, but would really prefer to just get settled in our own place from the get go if the right place comes up, especially since we have a young child.
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Old 06.01.2015, 17:18
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

We did not have a Betreibungsauszug when we applied since we had just moved here. We used a letter we had from my husband's employer saying he had a job, etc and that worked.
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Old 06.01.2015, 17:18
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

There is a service , the personal application file (will cost 49 sfr), who is doing this for you, you submit the details online, a employee will get the "betreibungsauszug"(you don 't have to get it yourself).
http://www.homegate.ch/rent/application-file
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Old 06.01.2015, 18:36
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

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What I don't want to do is to fly over when we don't actually stand a chance at all.
I take your point but it's something of a Catch-22 if you're not likely to be offered an apartment without meeting the landlord. The next best idea might be identify a few (4 or 5?) apartments that fit your needs and then try to arrange seeing them all over a day or two.

I may be wrong but I'm not convinced the Betreibungsauszug will be enough get a landlord to offer an apartment without meeting you.

If you speak German, why not simply call the landlord and discuss?
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Old 06.01.2015, 19:58
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

My impression is that the apartment rental market has changed a lot recently.

I lived here for 20 years and apartments in my village were snapped up as soon as they became available.
Now people are sticking adverts outside their places about apartments to rent; four of them have been there since October! Unprecedented in my experience, I never saw such adverts before!

If this is happening everywhere then possibly landlords will be more flexible about renting "unseen"?

Of course it might just be a local anomaly.

I looked in Comparis here which is showing around 1,200 rental flats currently available in Zürich and 300 for sale.

According to NZZ here there were only 471 unoccupied flats available in Zürich on 1st June 2014.
As always with statistics it is hard to be sure one is comparing apples with apples. Whether "unoccupied" is the same definition as "available to rent/buy" is a good question
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Old 06.01.2015, 22:00
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

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I looked in Comparis here which is showing around 1,200 rental flats currently available in Zürich and 300 for sale.
I see
* 352 flats <= CHF 2000 / month
* 385 flats between 2000 and 3000
* 548 flats > 3000

The market in the "reasonably priced" segment for the city of Zürich still seems be pretty, pretty tight. (A search for postal code 8000 and 15 km radius yielded more - about 3500 flats)

FWIW, I applied for my (first and still current) flat from abroad, via email. Was asked (via email) by the administration to please have a look first. Went to see current tenant. Got application form and sent that in.

Next I received the rental contract to be returned signed to the administration.

So - this is possible. I just suspect that the administration needs to see you as matching the property. Apparently, I ticked off the right boxes and found the right words?
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Old 07.01.2015, 15:22
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

Thanks for the input, all.

The flats we are interested in are actually brand new, so erstvermietung (first rentals). So there's actually nothing to look at right now as most are still a building site.

I have reached out to a couple of landlords. Will see what their requirements are.
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Old 07.01.2015, 15:43
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

racquelle,

we did something similar when we first came here in 2008. We were interested in a brand new apartment too - actually it was still in the final building stage when we applied for it. We had no problems with not being there in person. What we did was getting a letter from my husband's employer (some sort of confirmation that as of xx.xx.2008 he will start working there) and we also add employer's contacts into the application form.
And yes, we got the apartment.
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Old 07.01.2015, 16:13
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Re: Applying for an apartment before arriving

Does your company use a relocation agency? My wife and I moved here five years ago the agency provided us with a short-list of apartments and we flew in for two days to select one. The agency did all the rest.
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