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HOUSING

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.

A sign saying 'for rent' against a blue sky background. Photo by chris robert on Unsplash
A sign saying 'for rent' against a blue sky background. Photo by chris robert on Unsplash

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.

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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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