I am going to face a really troubling problem for the expat in Zurich: to find a house.
Let’s begin saying that most of the houses in Zurich haven’t a private owner but they are owned by companies. They always try to keep them well and they renovate them constantly. That’s why, for example, I don’t have a balcony at the moment; they are re-making all the building balconies and also the facade. They do these things continuously so they can maintain the houses rent costs.
Yeah, in Zurich the rent are higher than in other Swiss cities, that’s why some people prefer to live outside of the city. My boyfriend preferred to search something nearby his workplace, so we search apartments only in Kreis 9, 3 and 5 (Kreis = district). Practically, the south of the city.
So, first important thing, if you are not Swiss, it is obviously easier to find a house if you already found a job. The agencies want to see some documents to understand if you could be a nice tenant.
Second thing, you cannot visit the apartment when you want. The tenant that is leaving will give the date in which there will be a lot of other people looking for that.
So, we searched on the most important site used in Switzerland:
- flatfox.ch a good site (and app!) that has a chat in which you can communicate with whom post the advertisement. It is good also because, if they have decided a date for the visits, you will receive immediately a message with the details. We used the app a lot, even if we didn’t find the house with this.
- homegate.ch another good site with a lot of types of apartment (cheap and not)
- comparis.ch is THE Swiss site. As the name says, you can compare a lot of things, house rents, insurances costs, internet costs… We didn’t use it for the house, but to choose the right insurance and internet.
- immomapper.ch is the Tripadvisor of the Swiss house research. You have a big map, you zoom on the zone you are interested in and you have a red spot where there is a house in rent. Clicking on it you have the details and you are redirected on the site on which is the advertisement. We found our house through this site, but I can’t remember the exact site in which we were redirected.
- Facebook. There are a lot of groups dedicated to house searching in Zurich, the one that I prefer is “Housing in Zurich”.
You can also entrust with an agency, but we didn’t do it, so I can not give you advices about that.
So, what did I do?
- We knew that we could go to Zurich only 3 days during the week, so I searched for a looooot of houses and I selected the ones with the visit date in those days.
- I noted down 10 house visits. The more you see the better. I’ll explain why.
- During every visit, if you like the house (but I suggest you to do it for every house, because you never know) you have to fill a paper with a lot of your informations. Some will ask you also your bank account to see if you can afford at least the deposit. So, here’s why it is a point on your favour if one of you have already found a job in town.
- Then, you simply wait. You’re not the one who decide if a house is good for you, but the agency will. That’s why I think it’s important not to be choosy. When an agency choose you, take the house. Even if it’s not your first choice. My boyfriend found a really really good job, but only two of all the house we saw chose us. And one of our friend was choosy and didn’t find a house on time! Why? The demand exceed the offer.So, don’t be choosy, you always have time to find another house with leisure. Obviously if it’s a hovel… but I didn’t find a bad house in Zurich yet, so I think you don’t have to worry.
Obviously, the more you spent for a rent the more you have. AND the more you would like to spend, the less “rivals” you will find.
A quick note: your permit will arrive after you find the first house, so if the paper you have to fill ask for the permit you don’t have to write anything, because you just arrived in the country.