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HOUSING

Why it might better to rent property in Switzerland rather than buy?

New fluctuations in rent costs and apartment prices across Switzerland have shown that renting may be where the smart money is - at least in the short term.

Why it might better to rent property in Switzerland rather than buy?
Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

While nothing much might be cheap in Switzerland, it’s the cost of housing which is particularly expensive. 

Figures released at the end of October illustrate that renting is getting slightly cheaper across the country as a whole, while house prices are becoming more expensive. 

The statistics were compiled by the Swiss arm of real estate portal Immoscout. 

Whether in the major cities of Zurich and Geneva or in smaller villages and towns, the high costs of housing are a familiar topic for many of our readers. 

READ: New maps reveal where Swiss rent prices are the highest 

READ: How rent prices are fluctuating in Swiss cities

Rents fell by 0.8 percent across the country over the past year. The news was less positive for city residents however, with rents largely stable in both Zurich and Geneva over the same time period. 

In good news for owners but worse news for prospective buyers, apartment prices rose by 1.5 percent across the year. House prices grew by 0.8 percent across the year. 

The authors of the report said that while apartment prices were likely to remain stable, an oversupply of rental properties was likely to further reduce rental costs. 

“We expect stagnant or falling rents in the coming months. [Tenants] are spoiled for choice and they have increasing bargaining power relative to donors,” the statement read. 

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COST OF LIVING

Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law. 

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