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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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Swiss rents: This is where cheapest and priciest apartments are

How cheap or expensive a rental property is in Switzerland depends on many factors, the primary one being location. Here’s an overview of where the highest and lowest rents are right now.

Swiss rents: This is where cheapest and priciest apartments are

This is what we already know in regards to Switzerland’s rental market: apartments are cheaper/more expensive in some cantons and regions than in others.

As a rule, areas in and around major cities and economic hubs (especially multi-national ones) have higher property prices — both for tenants and home buyers — than smaller, more remote towns and rural areas.

For instance, rents in the region of Zug and Zurich, as well as Lake Geneva (which comprises the city and canton of Geneva, and parts of Vaud), are the highest in Switzerland, while Jura, Neuchâtel and non-touristic areas of Valais are much cheaper.

READ MORE: These maps reveal where rent prices are highest in Switzerland

However, the news platform Watson took a slightly different approach in analysing not just the cantons, but 101 labour market regions within.

“These areas, which have been in force since 2019, are delimited according to living and working spaces, and are based on the movements of workers between their place of residence and place of work”, Watson explains.

The news outlet compared the prices for 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5-room apartments in various employment markets, based on Homegate listings.

The findings confirmed the general trend: “The closer to the centre of a large city, the more expensive it gets. The demand there is greater than the supply.”

3.5 room apartment

In 2021, the lowest median rent for a 3.5-room apartment (a two-bedroom flat) was in the labour market regions of Visp (Valais) and Samedan-Pontresina (Graubünden).

The lowest rent for nine flats of this size was 500 francs.

The other low-rent areas:

  • Biasca (Ticino): median price 950 francs
  • Tramelan-Valbirse (Bern): median price 995 francs
  • Delémont (Jura): median price 1,075 francs

On the other hand, “anyone who wanted a 3.5-room apartment in Le Grand-Saconnex near Geneva had to dig deeper into their pockets”, Watson noted.

The median price in 2021 in this posh district of Geneva was 4,950 francs, with the cheapest apartment costing 3,100 francs a month. The other two Geneva communities with the highest rents are Vernier-Lancy (3,500 francs median rent) and Thônex–Chêne-Bougeries (3,000 francs).

“Rents in the Lake Geneva region are among the highest. Not only the location on the lake plays a role, but also the economic potential”, Simon Hurst, Senior Consultant at the real estate appraiser IAZI/CIFI told Watson.

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

Rents in Geneva are among the highest in Switzerland. Photo: Pixabay

4.5-room apartment

The cheapest three-bedroom flats — 955 francs — can be found in Moutier, Jura.

The other ones are in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel, where the median price is 1,045 francs, followed by Brig-Glis, Valais (1,050), and Biasca, Ticino (1,075).

As far as the highest rents, they can again be found in the Lake Geneva region, with Zurich not far behind:

  • Geneva: median price 3,400 francs
  • Zurich: 3,130 francs
  • Küsnacht (Zurich) 2,990

5.5-room apartment

The rental market of this size is comparatively small, so there were fewer than 50 advertisements in 50 labour market regions, according to Watson.

The lowest median rent, 1,435 francs, was found  in Brig-Glis (Bern), followed by La Chaux-de-Fonds (1,490), and Widnau-Au (St. Gallen), 1,655 francs.

The highest prices are, again, in the Zurich and Lake Geneva  areas: median price in Zurich: 4,275, in Geneva: 4,200, in Nyon (Vaud): 4,000.

But if you think this is expensive, just wait: in the fashionable resort of St. Moritz (Graubünden), the median price is a whopping 13,365 francs for a 5.5-room flat.

However, Hurst put this numbers into perspective “We don’t have enough details about the properties there, but St. Moritz is a special market”.

“I assume that many of the advertisements are for holiday properties, mostly luxury apartments”, he said.

READ MORE: How rent prices vary in different cities in Switzerland