Most people in Switzerland live in apartments. The key to finding one that's right for you is knowing how the market works. This will help get you started.
With 210 people per square kilometre in 2015 according to the World Bank, Switzerland ranks lower than many European countries in terms of population density. That said, most people live in rented apartments.
Places to live can now be found largely through the internet, with agencies like Homegate or Immoscout24 offering easily searchable databases for places to rent or buy, and temporary housing with furnished apartments like UMS. WGZimmer is a popular site for posting rooms for rent in a shared living situation or even entire apartments.
Often, Swiss will rent out their entire apartment while they are on holiday or working abroad. Accommodation-sharing via the online platform Airbnb is becoming increasingly popular, with the number of people renting flats and rooms this way in Switzerland doubling between 2014 and 2015 to 300,000.
Relocation agencies are also very active in Switzerland and often help Switzerland-bound executives and managers (or those with larger relocation budgets) find a place to live, as well as assist in finding appropriate insurance coverage and registering with the local authorities.
Terms and conditions
Rental properties often come with a year-long lease that can subsequently be extended. Moving often requires a three-month notice sent via registered mail. The tenant is expected to find a replacement tenant if he/she wishes to move before the terms of the agreement expire.
Rental properties are expected to be well maintained and to be returned exactly as they were when rented. This means that what is considered “normal wear and tear” on property in the United States is not generally acceptable in Switzerland. Cleaning companies are very active in Switzerland and can be specially hired to assist with an apartment handover.
The website ch.ch, maintained by the Swiss authorities, is a good starting point for learning about rental agreements, what is expected of tenants, and the standard procedures for accepting and terminating a contract.