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Old 17.04.2008, 19:56
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Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Hi there.

Sorry for the vague and confusing message. I'm really tired right now, but am looking for some advice as I really need to start home-searching these days. After I have a better idea of how things work I can start asking more elaborate and to-the-point questions.

I will be moving in to Zürich beginning of June, and so am looking for an apartment there. My requirements are not complex. Not big - around 2.5 rooms (I think - I've been told rooming configurations in central Europe are very different from what I used to, and rather spacious, with separate kitchens, etc.), in a relatively quiet area (don't want to be woken up by people screaming or loud music at night), and relatively close to the center (my workplace is around there) - according to the map, a distance like Oerlikon, Sihlfeld, or Friesenberg would be reasonable.

I will be moving alone, so I need nothing big, but I would like some room for a "study" and to do some artwork in, where I could also sleep when guests (someone from the family, etc.) are coming over.

First of all, any tips appreciated, and especially if anybody knows of something that will be available.

Now for more specific questions:

1. What would a reasonable budget for needs like mine?

2. Any special things I should be wary of? Like neighbourhoods to avoid, etc.?

3. I've been told the market is tight so I should take enough time in advance - so I will be in Zürich for a few days around the 24th of April, to see apartments. Thing is - I've been looking through homegate.ch - and almost everything seems to be listed for May already, so it'll likely not be available on June. On the other hand, apartments available by June will probably be listed only on May, which is too late... Are apartments listed to be available on May really only available for rent beginning with May, or are many of them likely to be re-listed next month?

Thank you,
-- Tom
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:06
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

There should be a lot of listings for June 1 as well. The market is VERY tight, so be warned that you may not get any of the places you see when here for only a few days. But hopefully you are lucky.

Be sure to check out the listings on this forum, as you'll have a much better chance with these if they are not posted to Homegate.

Things you should put in your application if applicable, in the following order:

(business card)
- application
- cover letter translated to German describing yourself and saying very nice things about the Swiss
- original english of above
- recommendation letter from your boss in German
- recommendation letter from local Swiss acquaintance
- credit check letter from kreisburo
- copy of permit

Good Luck!
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:12
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

background reading: http://www.englishforum.ch/housing-g...rich-city.html
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:29
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Thanks for the information. I know the market is tight. But if I see a place and sign a contract (and prove I can pay), unless there is some dirty business going on, it will be leased to me, right?

I wasn't sure what you meant by the process of application. Didn't know these things are so difficult. Here you only need to prove your financial capacity to pay the rent, perhaps a safety deposit, say who you are, and sign a lease contract.

I have no local Swiss acquaintances (yet).

What is the "copy of permit"? You mean the working permit? My employer takes care of that, and I will probably not have it (yet) when I come to see the housing options (around the 24th of April). I am an EU citizen, though (mother immigrated to Israel to live with my father).

Regards,
-- Tom
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:39
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Unfortunately, proving you can pay will not get you far here. There is a formal application process and the Swiss use many factors to decide. You will be competing with many others, and being a foreigner is typically a negative. Salary, your permit type, and even whether they recognise the origin of your name are all factors. It would be very rare that you get a place on the spot. It is not like elsewhere here. Not at all.

You should be prepared for a difficult search in which you have to convince the agency handling the apartment that you are worthy.
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:40
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

You will go to see a flat, so will 30 other people, everyone that likes it will be asked to apply, the landlord then decides who he wants to rent the property.
This decision is obviously based on income, permit type, nationality, eye colour etc.

You don't have anything special on your list of your requirements, I would say 2grand would get you a nice 75sqm-100sqm flat.
All area's in Zurich are respectable and quiet, even the noisy ones.
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Old 17.04.2008, 20:53
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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There should be a lot of listings for June 1 as well. The market is VERY tight, so be warned that you may not get any of the places you see when here for only a few days. But hopefully you are lucky.

Be sure to check out the listings on this forum, as you'll have a much better chance with these if they are not posted to Homegate.

Things you should put in your application if applicable, in the following order:

(business card)
- application
- cover letter translated to German describing yourself and saying very nice things about the Swiss
- original english of above
- recommendation letter from your boss in German
- recommendation letter from local Swiss acquaintance
- credit check letter from kreisburo
- copy of permit

Good Luck!
I didn't submit any of the above when renting my apartment - all the landlord knew was the name of my employer, that's it. Not sure if I was just lucky or if its because I first sent my Swiss girlfriend to see the apartment. Also didn't experience any of the other horror stories you can read here - I only shower after 11pm, and so far no complaints. Also, no problems with the laundry - we could even fit a washing machine in our apartment, but there's no need since the shared ones in the building work just fine. Also, our Swiss neighbors are very nice people and have invited us over for dinner a couple of times.

So - don't get scared when reading what happened to others. People always have a tendency to write about extremely negative or positive experiences (otherwise, it would be boring), but in 99% of the cases things are just normal.
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Old 17.04.2008, 21:00
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

What does the application form consist of? Is it in any way a commitment on my hand to rent the apartment? Is it a standard form, and if so can I see how it looks like (is it downloadable as a PDF or something)?

Obviously if I see 10 apartments that I like, I can't rent them all. On the other hand, not knowing if I get the lease (because the landlord may not like me) means I cannot only apply for one...

Can somebody explain the process a bit better? It's very different from the way I know it. Here too, the landlord may decide he doesn't like you and not let the apartment to you. But if he does, you sign a contract with him on the spot, which is binding for both sides. And then the landlord can't decide he leases the apartment to somebody else...
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Old 17.04.2008, 21:55
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Hi, our next door flat is empty (in Seebach) Call livit AG (tel 058 360 3333 or www.livit.ch) The address is Caspar Wuest Strasse 8, 8052 Zurich.
The flat has been completely renovated. Its 3.5 rooms (that's two bedrooms, around 75 sqaure meters). The rent is around CHF 1800. Its on the 3rd floor (no lift) There's a bus stop right infront of the flat which takes you to Oerlikon Train Station in around 12 minutes. The tram stop nr 14 is a 10 minute walk and will get you to the city center in around 20 minutes.
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Old 17.04.2008, 22:13
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

In Zurich and my experience.

You go and see 4 flats. You like all 4, you apply for all 4, the landlord then decides if he wants you.
The form includes things like, nationality, permit, income, company, references from previous landlords (overlooked if you explain you don't have any)
You fill in the form but you also need to phone the agent to explain why you want it, and hopefully establish some kind of feeling between you and the agent, or why you are better than the other 10 people who applied.
You will also have to pay a fine (usually) if you apply for a flat but decide not to take it, ie you apply for 2 and get both, you will have to pay for forftitting one of the flats.

You don't have many requirements so you will have a lot of flats to choose from. if you work for credit-suisse or UBS you will be pushed to the top of the landlords list.
I would imagine as long as you are not amazingly picky you will find a flat relatively easily.


Edit: search, the forum has a lot of threads about how to land the flat.
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Old 17.04.2008, 22:15
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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I didn't submit any of the above when renting my apartment - all the landlord knew was the name of my employer, that's it. Not sure if I was just lucky or if its because I first sent my Swiss girlfriend to see the apartment. Also didn't experience any of the other horror stories you can read here - I only shower after 11pm, and so far no complaints. Also, no problems with the laundry - we could even fit a washing machine in our apartment, but there's no need since the shared ones in the building work just fine. Also, our Swiss neighbors are very nice people and have invited us over for dinner a couple of times.

So - don't get scared when reading what happened to others. People always have a tendency to write about extremely negative or positive experiences (otherwise, it would be boring), but in 99% of the cases things are just normal.
In this post having a Swiss Girlfriend is the key sentence.
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Old 17.04.2008, 22:20
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Well I think ticino's reply is a bit overly optimistic on the ease of finding a place in Zurich. Swiss girlfriend probably helped a lot. Anyone else like to comment here. I wasn't trying to be negative, just realistic.

Some places do charge ~CHF200 if they accept you and you decline. But not all. The forms are similar for most places: personal details, employer, reference, previous landlord, salary, permit, ...

If you look in the outer parts of the city such as Oerlikon, it is much easier. I'd definitely consider the vacancy above posted.
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Old 17.04.2008, 22:56
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

My advice is to look just outside of Zurich. It is much nicer, cheaper and "outside of Zurich" is only a 10-20 minutes train ride from the city center.

The Swiss want to rent long term, that is why they are sometimes a bit suspicious about foreigners. Explain your situation, and you will be able to choose from great appartments, for a reasonable price (just not in the center of Zurich). Remember to check the tax rate - it varies greatly from town to town.
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Old 17.04.2008, 23:15
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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Hi, our next door flat is empty (in Seebach) Call livit AG (tel 058 360 3333 or www.livit.ch) The address is Caspar Wuest Strasse 8, 8052 Zurich.
The flat has been completely renovated. Its 3.5 rooms (that's two bedrooms, around 75 sqaure meters). The rent is around CHF 1800. Its on the 3rd floor (no lift) There's a bus stop right infront of the flat which takes you to Oerlikon Train Station in around 12 minutes. The tram stop nr 14 is a 10 minute walk and will get you to the city center in around 20 minutes.
I think there's also an empty flat in our building. Its around 80sqm, large living room, 2 bedrooms, should cost around 2000-2200. Its in Forch, which is rather rural and quiet and has one of the lowest tax rates in the Kanton. Not very convenient without a car though (there's a train that taxes 25min to the center, but doesn't go too frequently). Let me know if I should ask the landlord.
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Old 18.04.2008, 12:00
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Thanks for the information. But Forch is a bit too far from Zürich for me. I have no intention to own a car (at least not at this point), and I really want to be able to get to work and to the city in at most 25 minutes.

B.T.W. How is Adliswil? There appear to be some nice apartments in my there for rather little. Any opinions from anybody who knows the area - w.r.t things like local amenities (shopping basics, pharmacy, etc.), population, location, and transportation?

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I think there's also an empty flat in our building. Its around 80sqm, large living room, 2 bedrooms, should cost around 2000-2200. Its in Forch, which is rather rural and quiet and has one of the lowest tax rates in the Kanton. Not very convenient without a car though (there's a train that taxes 25min to the center, but doesn't go too frequently). Let me know if I should ask the landlord.
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Old 18.04.2008, 12:24
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Adliswil is a typical suburb of Zurich- easily reachable by train (every 15-20 mins or so, trip 15 mins to Zurich main station). Nice place to live, local tax rate not exorbitant, good choice of flats. Worth looking into: http://map.search.ch/8134-adliswil/bahnhofplatz
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Old 18.04.2008, 12:38
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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Thanks for the information. But Forch is a bit too far from Zürich for me. I have no intention to own a car (at least not at this point), and I really want to be able to get to work and to the city in at most 25 minutes.

B.T.W. How is Adliswil? There appear to be some nice apartments in my there for rather little. Any opinions from anybody who knows the area - w.r.t things like local amenities (shopping basics, pharmacy, etc.), population, location, and transportation?
Nice, but I think that's also not too close to the center (guess same distance as Forch). If you're alone and really look for something central, you're probably better off directly in Zurich. Go to homegate.ch and look for apartments in the price region you're willing to spend (probably 1500-2200 for what you described earlier). The districts most interesting for you are probably Wiedikon, Altstetten, Höngg, Oerlikon (you'll see the map on the site). Also Seefeld, and Kreis 6 or 7 are very nice, but might be too expensive.

A week or 10 days before coming to ZH start calling the agents or landlords for the apartments you're interested in and make appointments. Just keep in mind that usually appointments cannot be made on weekends. Try to see as many as possible within the given time and also "apply" for more than one.

If you cannot find anything suitable look for a furnished short-term rent for 1-2 months (quite expensive - 30sqm are around 2000-2500 pm). There are a few companies in Zurich that specialize in this - don't remember the names, but you'll find them on google. This would provide you with enough time to start looking for something else once you're here

Also talk to your future employer - they might be able to help.
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Old 18.04.2008, 13:40
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

Thanks everybody for the information!

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Nice, but I think that's also not too close to the center (guess same distance as Forch).
According to the map it seems much closer, and by SBB's schedule also somewhat easier to get from there to Zürich.

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If you're alone and really look for something central,
Well, different people have different perceptions of "central". I don't want to live in the city center (like the old town or near the Bahnhofstrasse), but also not in some suburb that's disconnected from the city and needs a highway ride (or train that gets every 30 minutes and takes 20 minutes to ride) to get there. Actually right now I live in such a suburb of Jerusalem which is rather quiet, but one of the most annoying things in that is the long time it takes me to get to work and back home, or practically anywhere of interest (add to it that public transportation in Israel is horrible and for reasons of religious lobbying does not work on Saturdays, and it's a real pain).

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you're probably better off directly in Zurich.
If possible in the outer neighbourhoods or outskirts of the city, that would be good. By the map, Zürich is not big (compared to other "major cities").

BTW, I know public transportation in Zürich (and in general in Switzerland) is very good and rather frequent. How is it at night? At what time does the regular schedule stop? I heard there is something called the Nachtnetz at night. Is it reasonably convenient? I'm not a wild nightliver, but I do sometimes hang out at night, and want to be reasonably independent and able to get home then too.

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Go to homegate.ch and look for apartments in the price region you're willing to spend (probably 1500-2200 for what you described earlier).
Yeah, by what I've seen now, that's pretty much the range of my budget , take a bit less at the top (right now I'm searching at around 1,500 - 2,000 CHF).

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The districts most interesting for you are probably Wiedikon, Altstetten, Höngg, Oerlikon (you'll see the map on the site).
Yeah I already got to know where these districts are - their distance from the center seems reasonable.

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Also Seefeld, and Kreis 6 or 7 are very nice, but might be too expensive.
They definitely are.

I see there are nice and close suburbs next to the city by the lake like Zollikon and Kilchberg, but I've hardly found apartments there and those I found are not less expensive than within the city. The Gemeinde tax rate is 40% lower, though. Probably rich people living there.

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A week or 10 days before coming to ZH start calling the agents or landlords for the apartments you're interested in and make appointments.
Well that's pretty much now, as on the 24th I'll be in Zürich for seeing apartments.

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Just keep in mind that usually appointments cannot be made on weekends.
No problem, I will not be there on a weekend (hotels and flights are more expensive for weekends anyway, and we have Passover holiday here next week so I have the time off from work anyway).

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Try to see as many as possible within the given time and also "apply" for more than one.
Yeah I'm still trying to understand the issue with the fine for not accepting after being offered the lease. Do I usually have to apply on the spot, or would landlords let me take the form, and give it to them signed after I've seen some other apartments? Given that there is such a fine (is it written on the form exactly?), I'd like to only apply to say, the 4 most suitable apartments I find.

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If you cannot find anything suitable look for a furnished short-term rent for 1-2 months (quite expensive - 30sqm are around 2000-2500 pm).
Yeah, I'm trying to avoid that due to the high price, as well as hoping to avoid having to move again a month or too after I arrive.

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Also talk to your future employer - they might be able to help.
Well they once said that if I don't find anything they could try to arrange for temporary accommodation for up to one month. But I prefer to find something in advance, as I'd rather not pack myself and move again after a month, and also I understood June is a busy month and the market is tight so it will be very difficult finding an apartment within a month (especially that I'll be working full-time then).

Thanks again,
-- Tom
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Old 18.04.2008, 14:37
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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Thanks everybody for the information!



According to the map it seems much closer, and by SBB's schedule also somewhat easier to get from there to Zürich.
Google maps says its both exactly 18 mins by car to "Central" in Zürich. But, you're right - public transport in Adliswil is better. I prefer Forch because of nicer views and more sunshine in winter (its often above the fog since its on a hill).

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Thanks everybody for the information!

Yeah I'm still trying to understand the issue with the fine for not accepting after being offered the lease. Do I usually have to apply on the spot, or would landlords let me take the form, and give it to them signed after I've seen some other apartments? Given that there is such a fine (is it written on the form exactly?), I'd like to only apply to say, the 4 most suitable apartments I find.
-- Tom
I've lived in 3 apartments in CH so far - in all cases I did not have to fill out any application forms, but could just make the contract with the landlord on the spot. However, while searching for apartments I did have to fill out several of these forms for other apartments I looked at. Typically, they give you the form and you fill it out afterwards - so you can decide in the evening after having seen multiple apartments. I wouldn't care about the fine - the risk of filling out one form too many (i.e., paying a fine) is much smaller than filling out one too few (not having a place to sleep).
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Old 18.04.2008, 16:32
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Re: Tips and warnings for home-search in Zürich

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In Zurich and my experience.

You go and see 4 flats. You like all 4, you apply for all 4, the landlord then decides if he wants you.

The form includes things like, nationality,
As for nationality, I come from Israel, but am a German citizen (never lived there though). Would it make a difference if I write German or Israeli (I imagine Germany being a neighbouring central European country could be an advantage. Or maybe not. And would it be fair to write German just because I have a German passport, or would that be "cheating"?)

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permit
Don't have it yet, still time for my employer to get me one. As I noted, though, I'm a EU citizen, so getting a permit shouldn't be a difficulty anyway (my employer doesn't require EU citizenship to get the permit, though).

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if you work for credit-suisse or UBS you will be pushed to the top of the landlords list.
Well I don't work for Credit Suisse or UBS, but neither for a small office on the verge of bankrupcy. My employer will be a rather wealthy company with operations around the world.

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I would imagine as long as you are not amazingly picky you will find a flat relatively easily.

Edit: search, the forum has a lot of threads about how to land the flat.
Yeah, thanks. I'm looking at them. Nonetheless some things are difficult to get a good notion off, and people say different things, so I thought to ask for general guidance.

Cheers,
-- Tom
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