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Where in Switzerland are you most likely to find flats for rent?

The housing shortage in Switzerland is getting worse, with fewer apartments available for rent. But the situation varies from one region to another.

Where in Switzerland are you most likely to find flats for rent?
Depending on region, vacant dwellings may not be easy to find. Photo: Unsplash

There are currently just over 60,000 vacant dwellings in Switzerland — 1.3 percent of the total number of apartments in the country — the rate which is “particularly low”, according to data released on Tuesday by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

The number of available apartments is the lowest in 20 years, FSO said.

This finding corresponds to the results of a study released earlier in September by Credit Suisse, which reported that “this decline is due to the slowdown in construction activity and the sharp increase in demand linked to economic growth and immigration”.

All that, in addition to the scarcity of building land, and the shortage of dwellings is expected to continue as demand rises.

Where is it easiest and hardest to find apartments for rent right now?

This situation doesn’t impact the whole country the same way — this means that while in some cantons and cities housing is scarce, in others there are enough vacancies.

Not surprisingly, the most in-demand markets are also the ones that are most affected by shortages in homes for rent.

The canton of Geneva is the most affected, followed by Vaud, Zurich, Zug, and Basel-Country.

Unfortunately for new arrivals from abroad, these are also the areas where most of Switzerland’s international community chooses to settle because most job opportunities are found there.

READ MORE: Where do Switzerland’s foreigners all live?

Basel-City, Bern and Lugano are the only cities that are bucking this trend.

However, the picture is not totally grim.

If you don’t have your heart set on living in, or very close to, a large city, then your chances of finding a dwelling are bigger.

And if you are not averse to living in a rural area, you can probably find a flat relatively easily in the cantons of Jura, Schaffhausen, and Glarus.

But it is the Fribourg village of Montet that has the highest rate of empty apartments.

Size matters

The shortages exist not only in certain regions but also in the types of dwellings.

Three and four-room accommodations (which in Switzerland means a living room, bathroom, kitchen and two or three bedrooms) are most in demand and therefore hardest to find.

Smaller flats, with only one bedroom, are also not easy to come by, according to FSO.

This interactive map shows what the housing situation is right now in all Swiss communities.

Highest and lowest rents

As a rule, areas in and around major cities and economic hubs (especially multi-national ones) have higher rents 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.

This means, unsurprisingly, that areas where the demand is highest and the number of available units is lowest are also the areas where rents are the steepest.

READ MORE: Swiss rents: This is where cheapest and priciest apartments are

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How property and rental prices in Switzerland are rising

Buying a property in Switzerland is still getting more expensive every month, and rents are set to increase too.

How property and rental prices in Switzerland are rising

Property prices continue to rise in September in Switzerland, despite the end of the negative interest rate policy, the Swiss Real Estate Offer Index, jointly compiled by ImmoScout24, SMG Swiss Marketplace Group and Cifi, said.

“Strong demand for living space and limited supply are driving the Swiss real estate market, despite the end of the negative interest rate policy,” the study stated.

During the month under review, house prices rose by 0.8%, while the price of a flat increased by 0.2%.

READ ALSO: Is now a good time to buy property in Switzerland?

On the other hand, tenants looking for a flat are seeing basically the same prices as in August, since rents grew an average of 0.3 percent month on month, according to the index.

Rents should rise too

Immoscout24 said they expect rents to increase as demand soars with increasing migration levels to Switzerland.

“Due to the strong immigration in the current year, rents are likely to increase in the coming months. The increasingly scarce supply of flats also contributes to this assessment”, it said.

“According to the current vacancy census, around 60,000 flats were vacant in Switzerland on 1 June 2022, which is 10,000 fewer than the previous year.

READ ALSO: Where in Switzerland are you most likely to find flats for rent?

“The vacancy rate is 1.3 per cent”, explained Martin Waeber, Managing Director Real Estate, SMG Swiss Marketplace Group. “According to the official definition, there is, therefore, an overall housing shortage, although the situation varies regionally here as well,” he added.

Rental prices also vary regionally. Though the national average prices increased by 0.3 percent from the end of September compared to the month before, some regions saw rents soaring while others had prices going down.

READ ALSO: Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

While the advertised values in Ticino (3.1 percent) and the Central Plateau (2.1 percent) have risen significantly, there are hardly any changes in Northwestern Switzerland (0.3 percent), the Lake Geneva region (0.3 percent) and Eastern Switzerland (0.2 percent).

In contrast, rents fell in central Switzerland (-0.7 percent) and in the greater Zurich region (-0.8 percent).