Where in Switzerland are you most likely to find properties for rent?

According to an analysis of Swiss real estate market by Raiffeisen bank, some cantons have a larger selection of rental units than others.

Where in Switzerland are you most likely to find properties for rent?
The number of available properties depends on the region. Photo by AFP

The availability or shortage of flats for rent is driven by the development of new housing units, Raiffeisen’s report noted.

In areas where a lot of construction is underway, there are more rental options, while the opposite is true in regions where there is no, or little, building activity.

The average Swiss vacancy rate is 2.76 percent, but some cantons exceed that number.

For instance, while large urban centres around the Lake Geneva, as well as the Zurich and Basel regions don’t have much vacant housing, others have difficulty finding tenants for their apartments.

Among them are Solothurn, where the vacancy rate is 6.5 percent, Valais (5.4 percent,) and Appenzell Innerrhoden (5.3 percent).

In medium-sized cities “the number of empty dwellings has increased by almost 2.5 times over the past 10 years and the trend is still rising sharply,” Raiffeisen reported.

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“What is worrying is that the vacancy rate is increasing where there are already a lot of empty homes,” said Martin Neff, Raiffeisen’s chief economist.

On the other hand, the demand for private housing is increasing across the country, according to Raiffeisen.

This can be explained by a limited supply of properties for sale combined with a high demand driven by low mortgage rates.

Regional differences exist, however. In Valais and Jura, vacancy rates are 1 percent, while they are higher in Ticino, Aargau, Vaud and Glarus.

On the other hand, there is much less availability of properties for sale in Geneva, Zurich, and Basel — a situation that is similar to the rental market.

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In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?

The cost of renting an apartment in Switzerland varies largely from canton to canton. Here's where you might find a bargain.

In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?
Sign on this Swiss building says "for rent." Photo: FRED DUFOUR / AFP

Rented accommodations are most expensive in the Swiss canton of Zug, according to a study by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Average monthly rents for a three-to-four room property in the tiny canton, which is home to dozens of multinational companies, is 1,883 francs.

Due to its low tax rate, Zug is a major target for millionaires – with the most per capita in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Which Swiss canton has the most millionaires?

Average monthly rents for a three to four room property in the two cantons ranged between 1,486 and 1,508 francs in 2019.

In the second place is the canton of Zurich (1,663 francs per month), followed by Schwyz (1,612 francs) and Nidwalden (1,553 francs).

Geneva and Vaud are next on the list, with average monthly rents of 1,508 francs and 1,486 francs, respectively.

Where can I find a cheap rental deal?

In contrast, the same size apartment in Jura costs 967 francs — the lowest rate in Switzerland — and 1,000 in Neuchâtel.

The Swiss average for a three to four-room dwelling is 1,362 francs, the OFS reported.

READ MORE: Reader question: How do I challenge my rent in Switzerland? 

This chart shows how your canton rates in terms of rents.

For most tenants in Switzerland — 62 percent — the monthly rent ranged between 1,000 and 1,999 francs, while a quarter of households paid a monthly rent of less than 1,000 francs.

Switzerland had 2.3 million tenants in 2019, while 1.4 million people owned their homes.

An earlier study showed that residential property prices continue to climb in Switzerland despite the pandemic, having increased by 2.5 percent in 2020.

Both owned and rented housing is most expensive in the Lake Geneva region, which encompasses cantons of Geneva and Vaud.