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Old 19.04.2007, 19:55
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How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Hello,

From what I've been reading on this forum, finding an apartment in Zurich can be the stuff of nightmares.

Assuming one doesn't want to pay ~ 3000 CHF for a serviced apartment indefinitely.... how hard is it (for a foreigner) to find a halfway decent studio or 1BR apartment somewhere within commuting distance of central Zurich?

I find some of the horror stories to be quite incredible. (An "open house"... just to rent a bloody apartment?)

Thanks, Dan
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Old 19.04.2007, 19:57
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

On a scale of 1-10, it's about a 6.5

Don't be shy, approach the vendor and make contact. The main problem is competition.

Happy hunting
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Old 19.04.2007, 20:14
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

It's not that bad. I was in a corporate apartment for 4 months. Within the first two I had seen about 4 places within 2 weeks. I was offered one and I took it.

I have subsequently seen a few more and have come pretty close to either getting them, or I knew I could get them but then decided not to.

I would say if you're organised 6.

As Uncle Max says, get in there early and give it some.
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Old 19.04.2007, 20:42
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

As above, search daily for what you want and make appointments to see the place as soon as you can.
If you can get in there first it makes getting a place a lot easier, if you are the 5th person to see the place and express an interest then your chances are way down.

Also have all the stuff you need to show the letting agent ready to go for when you want to try for a place. Credit checks, proof of employment, erm..thats all I can think of actually, sure someone will chip in with more to add to the list.
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Old 19.04.2007, 23:05
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Not to scare you away but this is what I went through. The first 10 apartments I saw had about 50 applicants on an average for each place !! My budget was upto 2K.

Some of the factors which can influence the decision.

1) EU vs NON-EU vs Citizen
2) Permit (L / B / C)
3) At times, if your employer is a popular one, it will help.
4) Get a letter in german from your employer that you are in Switz for the long haul
5) Get a Swiss local to talk to the landlord right after you have applied and if you dont know swiss-german.

I finally got mine thro an internal site within my company.

Be alert, and apply right during the appointment if you like it and make follow up calls.

I heard from some people that offering a bit more than the asking price might help. Not sure if its true though.

Hope it helps.
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Old 20.04.2007, 00:38
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Thanks everyone for the advice. Useful to know how to prepare for the apt. search and what to expect when I move over.

Here in London its the opposite. Renters are spoilt for choice. Buying is... on the scale of 1 to 10, a 10.
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Old 20.04.2007, 11:04
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Funnily enough, I know some people moving back to London after having lived in Switzerland for a few years, and they think the rental market in London is a lot harder, stuff comes and goes so quickly they hardly get a chance to look at anything and make a decision.
At least here, you will see a place you can have a think about it and then decide if you want to apply, its not usually done on a first come first serve basis.
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Old 20.04.2007, 15:26
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

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Funnily enough, I know some people moving back to London after having lived in Switzerland for a few years, and they think the rental market in London is a lot harder, stuff comes and goes so quickly they hardly get a chance to look at anything and make a decision.
At least here, you will see a place you can have a think about it and then decide if you want to apply, its not usually done on a first come first serve basis.
Yes, but the problem is that usually the criteria for getting the apartment are far from transparent.


At least in the UK, as long as you check out (assuming the landlord even checks properly) and offer the money first, you'll get the apartment.

I'd hate to be someone of, for example, Yugoslavian origin looking for a decent apartment in a desirable area of Zuerich.
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Old 20.04.2007, 15:44
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

This is important. The selection procedure (if we can call it that) may be racist or dicriminatory in the extreme, all you can do is look at many apartments in the hope of striking lucky, and not be too fussy also helps..


dave

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Yes, but the problem is that usually the criteria for getting the apartment are far from transparent.
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Old 20.04.2007, 20:35
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

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Yes, but the problem is that usually the criteria for getting the apartment are far from transparent.


At least in the UK, as long as you check out (assuming the landlord even checks properly) and offer the money first, you'll get the apartment.
.
O so true.
Got rejected for a flat today, which funnily enough is opposite a flat we got accepted for today.
I've asked the land lord why, and all he would tell me is that someone else was first.
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  #11  
Old 20.04.2007, 21:47
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

London is incredibly difficult to rent in at the mo, places go in hours and often tend not to be advertised. We own one which we rented to the first person who saw it 12 hours after we posted the ad.. but then other places we know of have gone to sealed bid!

Have heard that when applying in Zurich that a biog of yourself and family can help, we were told that owning our own property held us in a good light. This is in addition to the usual employer, banker and personal ref. Is this true?
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Old 21.04.2007, 06:59
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

For me, I found it easier if I put myself in the Landlord´s shoes. I want to be comfortable that I will have the apartment let for a good time, with the minimum chances of any hassle in the contract term.

This is why I believe Landlords can come across as racist etc as usually they are Swiss, and I would think they can empathise (and judge) Swiss people from their own experience and find it easier to judge, communicate with and decide on a Swiss person. When an applicant is from further away, and certainly from another culture thi is a risk they would rather not take if they have 50 applicants for their prized asset.

I therefore wrote a two page CV cum biography, statsing how I understand I may not be the first choice candidate on paper (English with not great German skills) and basically answered what would be my concerns if I were them. And as advised above, evidence is helpful too such as unlimited contract, and a good reference.

I also think Landlords are fair and try and fit the best apartment to the most needy rather than giving a large apartment away to a single ´rich´ guy. For this reason, I applied to 4 room apartment in my block, which they gave to a family from the area, but then offered me a 2.5 room place in the same block.

As with all things in Switzerland my advice as a foreigner is to understand you have to go the extra mile, as you are an outsider and all efforts to bridge the gap are very much appreciated. They will open up and you will find Switzerland your oyster.

Good luck.
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Old 21.04.2007, 10:20
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

When I was looking for a place I checked the website homegate.ch daily, called the agencies and got 3 appointments per week on average. after 22 visits I found a place. 3 landlord reejcted me, around 5 did not reply and the rest was not attractive enough, so I did not apply. There were some open houses (less than half of the visits), which I found very odd.

The usual questionaires ask for references, like previous landlords, employers, ...
What surprised me most was, that some landlords actually call these references and ask whether an applicant e.g. regulary shows up for work and is doing a good job. I got this information from the HR department of my company.

So be persistent, and good luck with your search.
Marc
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Old 21.04.2007, 10:38
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

"
I find some of the horror stories to be quite incredible..... just to rent a bloody apartment?)
"

I am sure it must have got better over the years. It was difficult, I would certainly not describe it as a nightmare. I always searched from Meilen down to Tiefenbrunnen as I did not want to be right in town. The train takes about 20 mins to get to Zurich from Meilen.

My successful hit rate at application stage, in the places I was looking was 30%. (And I am FUSSY). I found there were lots of places to look at. The nightmare part was the time one has to spend to trawl around and look at all these places. THe apartment specifications are just the beginning, as I also wanted the right building and area. Make sure you ask about things like the washing facilities, rules, and the general attitude of the neighbours. In smaller buildings, up to 9 people, I have found it tends to be more laid back and reasonable. If you end up in a very large building, from the stories I have heard you may want your own washing machine, if you don;t want to be tied down by rigid rules. If one person in the building decides to enforce the rules, they can make everyone elses life very inconvenient, and it is ofcourse just a numbers game, the larger the building, the more likely one is to encounter a busy body !

If you are considering both sides of the lake, or a 30 minute door to door commuting distance, you have loads of options. GOOD LUCK, you will forget all the time spent and bad experiences when you find the right place ... it is all worth it ...

Homegate, and sites like them are an excellent by the way.
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Old 22.04.2007, 12:59
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Hello,

Until last October, I rented an apartment in Kloten. Three stops on the bus (or 20 minutes walk) from the airport; five minutes walk from Balsberg station, with 15 minute journey to Zurich main station, trains every 30 minutes.

The company that manages the block is Regimo (www.regimo.ch). They have a big cluster of similar, small blocks - four stories, 16 apartments per block - in the Balsbergweg part of Kloten. Rent was reasonable and Regimo was helpful whenever I needed to contact them.

When I left, all the apartments were being refurbished, including new windows, bathrooms and kitchens, and the work was scheduled for completion in February/March of this year.

You might try Regimo's web site.

Regards,

John
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Old 26.04.2007, 01:44
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

I had a relocator help me find somewhere.

In my head this was going to be great because he would look at places beforehand and the whittle them down to the best, but I don't think that happened (and may not be practical in Zurich).

Anyway, it was helpful because I had all appointments in one day, and he drove me round, so I didn't have the hassle of having to do all that myself. I saw about 8 flats, made a shortlist of 3, didn't get my first choice because someone got in before me who could move in sooner than me, but am hoping I have got my second choice (the contract is being drawn up as I write with any luck).

I was prepared not to be too fussy since I need somewhere to live and I needed it to be close to good transport links. I had found some places on homegate and wish in retrospect that I had suggested some of them to the relocator, but it may have been that the ones I saw weren't particularly well-linked for transport where I needed to get to for work. The relocator also seemed to have gone for the more expensive flats in my budget, but maybe they were also the better ones. I am happy enough with the one I have got (assuming I have got it).

kfc.
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Old 27.04.2007, 00:00
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

I think you should rename the thread 'how difficult is it really to get a very nice flat'

quite difficult in my experience.. guess i will have to buy..

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Old 14.08.2007, 12:48
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Well I would say ... very difficult, at least from my experience.

When I first arrived here last year, I spent 4 months, in average looked up more than 10 flats in the City. In the end, I got the current one via one of those expat website, who the person is kind enough to let me know they are moving out and they could hook me up with the landlady in renting their flat. I did and so here I am.

But then... unfortunately, my landlady wants the flat back for their fashion biz (they used the flat as their showroom before), so I have to move this year again.

Just yesterday, I visited a flat in Seefeld (the area I'm living now) 50m2, 2 rooms. When I arrived, there was already a long queue starting from the 1st floor to the ground lining up for visit already.. tough competition!

As said by Vishi, some factors can influence the decision

1) EU vs NON-EU vs Citizen --- I'm Asian, to be honest... I think that does affect it

2) Permit (L / B / C) --- I'm on Permit B ... don't see a problem

3) At times, if your employer is a popular one, it will help. --- Back in the time, I did hv my employer reference letter, but doesnt seem helping me a lot; but then, I have been told by a friend who work for Ernst & Young, she got her apartment and her landlord told her that it's because he knows the company and that it's a good one. So trust that's telling me ... maybe my company aint good enough? :-P

4) Get a letter in german from your employer that you are in Switz for the long haul --- As said I got my company letter and contract but well... anyway... should help to certain extend i guess.

5) Get a Swiss local to talk to the landlord right after you have applied and if you dont know swiss-german. --- I did... but my Swiss friend who actually talked to the property agent who told right in our face saying that... as a foreginer (me)... it wont be easy, as they would afraid foreigners will not pay the rent and run away.. and blah.... so to be basically, just an excuse.

Now... I could just wish myself luck in getting a new flat in the City.

Last edited by Mavis; 14.08.2007 at 13:04.
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Old 14.08.2007, 13:02
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

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How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?


Its like really, really, really, dead, dead, dead difficult.

Really.
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Old 14.08.2007, 13:08
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Re: How difficult is it REALLY to rent an apartment in Zurich?

Thanks for the truly terrifying help guys!

A quick question - we want an apartment in Zurich for 1st October - how long before then should we be looking at places? We're still in London. emailed some agents from Homegate last week and they wanted us there that day looking at them - is there usually a notice period before you move in or is it pretty much immediate?

Also, my husband is EU and a doctor, he is coming to work at a hospital in Zurich, I'm a Swiss citizen - well I've been Swiss abroad in London all my life - do I need anything to prove my Swiss-ness apart from my ID card? I don't speak a word of Swiss German. Not very good for a lifelong citizen of Zurich.

When you say we need guarantees from landlords - we actually own in London and we are renting it out whilst in Zurich - what kind of guarantee should we bring with us?

Thanks!
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