Living in Switzerland
Get settled in quickly and feel at home
Read here how to find your new home in three steps, what is typically associated with a Swiss flat and whether the rent also includes incidental expenses. Find out what role taxes play in the choice of the canton to live in.
Three steps to finding the right flat
1. Search: The Property Market from comparis.ch gathers all of the listings published on the largest Swiss property portals. Set up a search alert using your personal criteria. A rule of thumb for determining the budget is that rent, including incidental expenses and parking place, should not exceed one-third of your net income.
2. Viewing: No one wants to buy (or rent) a pig in a poke. If you are interested in a flat, it is always worthwhile to view it. Take the first possible appointment for a viewing if you can. The best and cheapest flats go quickly.
3. Application: The flat that you looked at perfectly meets your needs and you have a good feeling about it? Then apply right away. Applications are generally processed according to the order in which they were received. If the landlord is present during the viewing, you can, for example, bring your documentation with you and hand it over personally. Otherwise, send it as soon as possible by post or e-mail.
These documents are needed when applying for a flat:
- Completed application form (see below)
- Copy of your residence permit
- Current record of debt collection
- Personal application letter: you can increase your chances by succinctly describing in your letter why you would like this particular flat and why you are an appropriate renter.
Good to know:
Some landlords indicate on the application form that you must pay a fee if you do not sign a rental contract that has been prepared especially for you. According to the Renters' Association, however, you do not need to pay anything in this situation, even if you signed an application form to this effect.
Standard of housing in Switzerland
Renters in Switzerland enjoy a relatively high standard of housing. Usually, rental and owner-occupied flats are fully outfitted. The following are associated with a typical Swiss flat:
- Built-in kitchen: You need not and cannot bring your own kitchen into a new flat.
- Laundry room with washing machine: You typically share a washing machine with your neighbours. An appropriate connection in the flat is rather rare.
- Impeccable cleaning prior to moving in: The previous renter must hand over the flat perfectly clean.
- Small-scale renovations: Before a flat is handed over, it is common for renovations to be done, such as painting of heavily marked walls. Inevitable wear in a flat is considered normal and is already accounted for in the rent. Larger-scale damage and above-average wear get charged to the tenant. Protect yourself against this and other expenses by taking out home contents and personal liability insurance. You can find the premiums of different providers here:
What is included in rent
- costs for heating and hot water
- stairwell cleaning
- sewerage fees
An additional settlement of incidental costs is also common, but this applies only if arranged in the rental contract.
Tax differences among cantons
Taxes vary in Switzerland according to canton. If you want to save on taxes, you can seek out a low-tax canton to live in. The place of residence and not the place of employment determines the tax rate. This applies to regular taxation as well as to withholding tax. A comparison can definitely pay off.
This can be done with the Withholding Tax Calculator from comparis.ch.
If you are taxed regularly (with an annual income of at least 120,000 francs or a C permit), regular tax can also be compared using the Tax Calculator.
Comparing pays off when you are looking for the right mobile operator. Generally speaking, prepaid (or pay-as-you-go) plans are considerably cheaper than pay monthly plans (called "Abonnement" in Switzerland, which means subscription). The market leaders in Switzerland – Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt – tend to be more expensive than others. The prepaid products from major distributors such as Migros (M-Budget), Aldi or Coop, which use the networks of Swisscom, Sunrise or Salt, respectively, offer more affordable alternatives, especially for heavy internet users.
Many providers offer interesting bundles for international calls to supplement your mobile plan.
comparis.ch keeps you up-to-date on the most recent developments and products on the Swiss telecom market.