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MOVING TO SWITZERLAND

200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Around 200,000 immigrants will move to Switzerland in 2022, pushing the total population close to nine million.

A young Ukrainian refugee boards a plane headed to Zurich from Krakow. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
A young Ukrainian refugee boards a plane headed to Zurich from Krakow. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In January 2022, Switzerland’s population stood at 8.74 million people, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

However, by the beginning of July, 100,000 more people were registered in Switzerland, government data shows.   

This upward trend toward the 9-million mark got a major jolt after February 24th, when Russia invaded Ukraine, causing a massive westward exodus of Ukrainians fleeing the war.

While Ukrainian refugees constitute the bulk — 60,000 people — of this growth spurt, 32,700 immigrants from other countries also came to Switzerland in this period, along with 6,800 asylum seekers. By the end of the year, 200,000 are expected. 

The 200,000 immigrants is pushing Switzerland’s population close to the nine million mark. While this has not yet been reached, it could potentially be cracked before the end of the year. 

Who exactly are these foreign nationals?

The majority of immigrants currently in Switzerland — as opposed to refugees and asylum seekers — live here permanently or medium /long-term, on either the B or C permit.

They are predominantly citizens of EU / EFTA nations, mainly from Italy, Germany, Portugal and France.

READ MORE: Eight revealing statistics about Switzerland’s foreign residents

While third-nation citizens don’t constitute a large immigrant group because their residence and employment in Switzerland is subject to a quota system, Switzerland also has a sizeable population from Kosovo, as well as from the UK — about 40,000 people for the latter.

As far as asylum seekers are concerned, the additional 6,800 who came to Switzerland this year are, as is the case of nearly 15,000 already here, mostly from Afghanistan, Turkey, Eritrea, Algeria, and Syria.

The Swiss government expects that 80,000 more Ukrainians will come to Switzerland this year.

Taking into account net migration — that is, the difference between immigration and emigration — 60,000 more people will swell the ranks of Switzerland’s population by the end of the year.

This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone presently here or expected to come, will remain in Switzerland long-term.

The government expects Ukrainians to return home once the war is over, though the date of the ceasefire or the number of refugees who will actually go back is hard to predict.

READ MORE: ‘Cruel’ Swiss government video suggests Ukrainians to leave Switzerland

In regards to asylum seekers, statistics indicate that 22 percent of applications are rejected, which means some applicants will not be living here long-term.

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under CHF 100k.

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe and Switzerland is no exception. As the average salary is high in Switzerland, finding homes for under CHF 1 million in some parts of the country becomes almost impossible.

Even when you do find cheap properties, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. For example, Switzerland’s famous one-franc home scheme had to be scrapped after nobody signed up. The cheap homes were, actually, too expensive when considering the costs for renovation or even how remote they were.

READ ALSO: Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Some of the properties in the scheme weren’t connected to the electricity grid, sewer system or even roads.

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Switzerland – that are still liveable or could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

Not an easy search

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Switzerland (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at CHF 500,000 (while our colleagues in Germany had theirs set at €100k, but, hey, this is Switzerland).

As of August 2022, we found 203 houses and 80 apartments following these criteria on sale.

Most of these definitely need some fixing up, but you can still snatch a home for under CHF 500,000 with lovely views of lakes and mountains or big terraces and gardens.

Going through the addresses with some of the properties, some things stand out:

Head for the border – most of the most affordable places are in Italian-speaking Switzerland. However, you can also find some of them in the French regions. In both cases, they are located very near the border with France or Italy.

Forget about cities – All the properties we found are quite far from the major cities of Zürich, Bern, and Geneva, which makes sense as the cost of living tends to rise in those regions. If you’re looking for a cheap home, you’re highly unlikely to find one in city centres.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Consider property type – It is also worth mentioning that there seemed to be a distinction between the homes in the west and those in the south. In the French region, there are more apartments and newer properties, with some outstanding options.

While in the Italian south, most of the properties are houses – and you need to inspect well because some will need a lot of work.

Research services – You should definitely check carefully the property’s location – some are not connected to basic services or even roads.

Renovation costs – Almost all of the properties we found were ‘renovation projects’. Some can turn out to be very good investments, but it takes time and work to renovate. Before buying, get an estimate of the likely works so you can see whether the property really will save you money in the long term, and be honest about your level of DIY/building skills and how much work you are willing or able to do.

Extra costs – Besides renovating costs, you must be mindful of property taxes and other living costs and how much they are in the region where you are buying property. Prices can vary quite widely depending on the canton, so research well.

You can check all our Property in Switzerland stories here.

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