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PROPERTY

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
How expensive this apartment is depends on its location. Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels

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

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Do foreigners in Switzerland have the same legal rights as the Swiss ?

Foreigners living in Switzerland may be wondering what their basic rights are compared to Swiss citizens. The answer depends on several factors.

Do foreigners in Switzerland have the same legal rights as the Swiss ?

There are currently 2.2 million foreign nationals living in Switzerland — roughly 25 percent of the population.

Simply put, everyone residing in the country legally, regardless of nationality, has the same basic constitutional rights as Swiss citizens do — for instance, the right to human dignity, free expression, equality, protection against discrimination, and freedom of religion, among other rights.

They also have the right to fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, in terms of wages, work hours, and other employment-related matters.

As the law states, cantons and municipalities “shall create favourable regulatory conditions for equal opportunities and for the participation of the foreign population in public life”. 

If they are arrested or imprisoned, foreigners also have the right to fair trial and to the same treatment as their Swiss-citizen counterparts, including legal representation and due process of the law.

Even those who are subject to deportation have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

And the Swiss legal system doesn’t necessarily favour Swiss litigants over foreign ones. For instance, in some cases, foreign nationals whose request for naturalisation was denied but who then appealed the decision, eventually won.

The most recent example is a man in the canton of Schwyz whose application for citizenship was rejected due to a minor car accident, but a Swiss court overturned the decision, ordering that the man be naturalised this year.

READ MORE : Foreigner wins appeal after being denied Swiss citizenship due to car accident

Where the rights and privileges differ between foreigners and Swiss, as well as among foreigners themselves, is when it comes to work and residency rights.

 EU / EFTA nationals

People from these countries, who have B or C permanent residence status have sweeping rights in terms of residence, employment (including self-employment), and home ownership.

The only right that is denied them is the vote, though some cantons and communes grant their resident foreigners the right to vote on local issues and to elect local politicians. 

READ MORE : Where in Switzerland can foreigners vote?

Apart from the limit on political participation, EU / EFTA nationals can live in Switzerland in pretty much the same way as their Swiss counterparts.

There are, however, some groups of foreigners whose rights are curtailed by the Swiss government.

Third country nationals

They are people from countries outside Europe, for whom various restrictions are in place in terms of entry, employment and residency.

For instance, their “future employer must prove that there is no suitable person to fill the job vacancy from Switzerland or from an EU/EFTA state”, according to State Secretariat for Migration. This could be seen as a discrimination of sorts, but that’s what the law says.

Once employed, however, “their salary, social security contributions and the terms of employment must be in accordance with conditions customary to the region, the profession and the particular sector” — in other words, no discrimination is allowed.

Another area where non-European foreigners are disadvantaged in comparison with their EU / EFTA counterparts is home ownership. While third-nation B-permit holders can buy a property to live in (but not rent out), they can’t purchase a holiday or second home without a special permission.

To sum up, all foreigners in Switzerland, regardless of their status, are entitled to fundamental “human” rights, including freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from discrimination in life and employment.

They also have the right to legal protection and representation during litigation or other court actions.

However they don’t have the right to participate in the country’s political process and, depending on their status, have equal access to residency and employment.

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