What are the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in your city?
Accommodation in Switzerland can be hard to find and expensive, compared with other European countries. We suggest that you contact Crown's relocation department as soon as possible in order to help with your housing search.
When looking for a home, keep an eye out for the following terminology:
- One-family house (Einfamilienhaus) – a detached, stand-alone house with no partition wall. As the name implies, it will typically house one family.
- Semi-detached house (Doppelhaushälfte) – a house with a partition wall; it will typically accommodate two families; a duplex.
- Continuous house (Reihenhaus) – a row of several attached houses divided by partition walls; a terraced house.
Houses are hard to find in the Zurich city center itself so you will need to leave the city and search outside. It is more common to find 1-, 2- and 3-room apartments as Zurich is known for its high rate of singles living in the city itself.
Also, be advised that you will rarely deal with the actual owner of the property you are looking at. Typically, a real estate agency will be overseeing its rental/purchase.
What are the most popular neighborhoods in your city for expats?
A much sought-after residential area is Kreis 8 (Seefeld). It is near the lake and the neighborhood has a nice variety of restaurants, exclusive shops, clubs and bars. You may find the rent high for even average-quality apartments due to its popularity.
The other side of the lake is quite popular, too. It is Kreis 2 (Enge and Wollishofen) where you can get apartments for a better price, although clubs and restaurants are not as available here.
Höngg is the green and family area in Zurich itself. Zürichberg, near the Dolder Hotel and the zoo, is home to the rich and famous of Zurich. Outside Zurich, the eastern side of the lake is very popular, also called the "gold coast" because of the wealthy people living there.
Kreise 4 and 5 are the most vibrant areas and very popular with singles and young couples. You will find many restaurants, bars and cafes here. Also, the prices are lower here than in the city center.
Looking outside the city limits, Adliswil is also a good alternative for families and commuting time to Zurich is not more than 20 minutes by public transport.
Do expats tend to buy or rent their homes?
Typically, expats choose to rent. In fact, 75% of the population of Switzerland lives in rented apartments.
Apartments are usually let unfurnished but fitted with complete kitchens.
You do not require special authorization to buy property or land if:
- you are a citizen of an EU/EFTA state and your main domicile is in Switzerland or
- you come from a non-EU/ EFTA country and are a holder of a B residence permit.
This property must be for your own use, though, and you are not entitled to rent it out to others.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens with an L (short-term) permit are not authorized to purchase property or land. C permit holders are considered to be Swiss citizens and are treated as such when it comes to home purchase. They may also rent out their purchased property.
Consult a trustee or bank for information on how to finance a property purchase and for information about tax relief for mortgages and building maintenance costs. Property purchase must be notarized and recorded in the municipality's land register. Such purchases are mainly financed with a bank mortgage and, as a rule, purchasers must deposit 20% of the purchase price.
Typically, will I be required to pay additional money up front (such as a deposit) before moving into leased housing? If so, how much is common?
Two- to three-months’ deposit is usually required, depending on the landlord or real estate company you are dealing with. The maximum that can be requested by law is three months’ rent. A special bank account will be opened to hold the deposit; this account is then blocked for the duration of the contract.
The deposit payment as well as the first month’s rent needs to be paid before the handover of the flat. Depending on the landlord or agency, you might be refused the keys until the deposit has been paid and confirmed to be on the landlord's bank account.
Are utilities generally included in the price of rent, or are they extra?
Utilities ("incidental costs") are the actual expenditure for heating, water, electricity used in the building, maintenance of communal parts of the building, the caretaker and any other incidental costs. These are paid on a monthly basis, together with the rent and then settled annually when the landlord submits a bill for the actual costs incurred. The difference between what you have paid in advance and the actual costs will be refunded or you will be billed if the total costs are higher than expected.
Electricity used in your own apartment is billed directly by the electricity company and is in addition to the utility costs (unless specified differently in the contract).
In addition, telephone, Internet, TV and radio fees need to be paid and considered when working out your housing budget.
Are there special security concerns I should be aware of in regards to my home or choice of neighborhood?
There aren't really any specific security concerns in Switzerland. It is, however, always a good idea to get input from friends and colleagues who are familiar with the city.
I’m not sure if I should bring my appliances. What is the electric current, Hz and plug shape in your city?
Electric current: AC 220-240 volts
Frequency (Hz): 50
The local electrical current is compatible with electrical appliances from the UK; appliances from the USA (110 volts/60 Hz) will require a step-down transformer.
Plug shape: standard southern European two-pinned or Swiss three-pinned type. Plug adapters can be bought in most electrical shops.
Do you have any other accommodation information that might help me?
The indicated size of the apartment does not usually include the kitchen or bathroom/WC and a large corridor or dining alcove is counted as half a room. It does however include the bedrooms and living/dining room. So, a 3-room flat (3 zimmer wohnung) is a 2-bedroom apartment.
The house rules are part of the tenancy agreement. In the interest of maintaining peace with your Neighbors, you should observe them.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.