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REVEALED: The six major Swiss cities where rents are falling

While prices of rental properties have fallen in some of Switzerland's major cities in the past four years, in others they have continued to climb. Here's a look at the current situation.

Apartment prices in Geneva have gone…through the roof. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Apartment prices in Geneva have gone…through the roof. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A recent study by Swiss comparison site Comparis shed light on trends in the country’s rental market. 

Somewhat surprisingly rents have fallen in the majority of Switzerland’s major cities in recent years, although there have been steep increases in both Zurich and Geneva. 

Geneva the rent rise champion

In the past four years, the median monthly rent for a 4.5-room apartment of 90 to 120 square metres in Geneva went up by 4.2 percent to 3,500 francs.

For a 3.5-room flat of 70 to 90 square metres, the rent is 2,640 francs — a hefty 9.5-percent increase.

These are the results of a study released on Monday by price comparison site, which looked at how rents in Switzerland’s largest cities changed between 2017 and 2021.

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland?

However, in the two-room category (45 to 55 square metres) Lucerne takes the lead — the median rent there has risen by 4.8 percent to 1,300 francs.

Zurich is the most expensive in the small-sized accommodation category: rents in Switzerland’s largest city climbed by 4 percent to 1,650 francs.

This is because the proportion of one-person households has dropped in Geneva in recent years, while it increased in Zurich, according to Leo Hug, real estate expert at Comparis.

READ MORE: Tent for rent on Zurich apartment balcony costs CHF500

Rents have also increased slightly in Lucerne (1.25%) and Bern (0.4%). 

Where have rents fallen?

One of the surprising findings of the study is that rents have fallen in six of Switzerland’s ten major cities. 

This includes Biel/Bienne (0.13%), Winterthur (0.45%), St Gallen (0.57%), Basel (4.5%), Lausanne (4.81%) and Lugano (10.53%). 

Lugano, in the southern canton of Ticino, has seen its rents fall by more than 10 percent in all housing categories.

It now has the cheapest rents of any of Switzerland’s top ten cities, with an average of CHF1,700 per month. 

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

The reason, Hug said, is because “the hoped-for economic recovery thanks to faster [train] connections with the rest of Switzerland has not materialised so far”.

The population of Ticino’s economic centre contracted by 2.1 percent between 2017 and the end of 2020, so rents are expected to decline further.

And the Lugano does not have the same appeal as Geneva, which can rely on its international organisations to attract foreign nationals, Hug said.

In Lausanne, median rents fell for large and medium-sized apartments, to 2,570 and 1,950 francs respectively, while they increased marginally for two-room dwellings, to 1,400 francs —10 francs more than five years earlier.

This chart shows how rents increased or decrease in 10 Swiss cities over the past four years. 

Image: Comparis

More information about renting in Switzerland can be found here:

In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?

Top ten tips for finding an apartment in Switzerland

How much can it cost you to change apartments in Swiss cities?

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How a cross-border train has pushed house prices up in Switzerland and France

A commuter rail link between Switzerland and France has caused property prices on both sides of the border to rise sharply.

How a cross-border train has pushed house prices up in Switzerland and France

When the Léman Express (LEX) was inaugurated in December 2019, its main goal was to connect the Geneva region with neighbouring French towns and provide a quicker commute for cross-border workers.

Established by the Swiss (SBB) and French (SNCF) railway companies, LEX is Europe’s largest cross-border regional rail network.

Some of the approximately 92,000 employees from France commute to their jobs in the Lake Geneva region by car, while others prefer to take Léman Express, which was launched specifically to reduce journey times and cut traffic in and around Geneva.

But while this goal has been largely achieved – the train carries 52,000 passengers a day — the rail link is also causing rents and property prices in the vicinity of the train’s 45 stations to soar by 8 to 9 percent on average — a sharper increase than elsewhere in the region.  

Prices rose in the French departments of Haute-Savoie and Ain, as well as in Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud, all of which lie along Léman Express’ 230-km track, according to Tribune de Genève (TDG).

Screenshot Léman Express

Why has this happened ?

As a general rule, transport infrastructure influences real estate prices, according to Dragana Djurdjevic, statistician at Wüest Partner real estate consultants interviewed by TDG.

Increases vary based on the type of transport —such as trains, buses or trams — as well as the frequency and the distance of the property to the nearest stop.

Typically, prices / rents are the highest within 300 metres around a station.

In general, Swiss and French municipalities with a LEX station have recorded significantly higher rents and sale prices than areas that have no access to the train, Djurdjevic said.

Just how much have prices increased along the LEX line?

On  the Swiss side, rents rose by 4.9 percent along the track.  In Geneva itself (already the most expensive rental market) , they went up by 1.5 percent, and only slightly less (1.4 percent) in Vaud.

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland?

In terms of properties, prices along the network rose by 17.7 percent; in Geneva the increase is 12.3 percent, and 13 percent in Vaud.

In neighbouring France, rents increased by 6.1 percent along LEX stops. In Haute-Savoie, the increase is 6.3 percent and in Ain 9.1 percent.

Sale prices went up by 15.7 percent along the track, 14.8 percent in Haute-Savoie and 23.7 percent in Ain.