Relocating to Zurich from London & expat accommodation in Zurich – to rent or buy?

When relocating to Zurich from London as an expatriate, securing the right accommodation will be top of your to-do list. The standard of homes, both for sale and for rent, is excellent, as it is across the whole of Switzerland.
In the city centre, most residents live in attractive apartment blocks, with stylish character that varies from street to street. There are a few detached townhouses and larger properties. For those moving to Switzerland with children, finding a family home means extending your search to the pretty outlying suburbs.
Renting is commonplace in Zurich; most expats and local residents will rent a property rather than own. However, the property market is becoming increasingly attractive, so should you rent or buy?

The popularity of renting

Rental prices in Zurich are traditionally high. They are currently the third most-expensive in Europe, according to recent data from ECA International. However, the top spot goes to London, which has been the most-expensive location for rental accommodation for three years. If you are relocating to Zurich from London, the price of renting a property is likely to be similar.
A high proportion of both expatriates and local residents opt to rent in Zurich. This means there is a large rental market, but properties in desirable locations are popular and go fast. Due to this demand, it’s a good idea to start looking at potential homes as soon as possible.
There is usually an application process to secure a rental property in Zurich. You will need to provide more information about yourself, your work, your family, any pets and a couple of references. The landlord can then review the applications of all interested parties and select the right tenants. There are often dozens of applications for every property. You will need to pay a month’s rent in advance, as well as a deposit of up to three months’ rent.

The property market

While buying a home is less popular than renting, it’s an up-and-coming market. Well-priced properties in desirable locations are in demand. The standard of property available is very high and they make a good investment, holding their value well.
Switzerland tightly regulates its property market. You can buy with the same rights as a Swiss citizen if you are an EU national with a Swiss residence permit or you hold a Swiss C-Permit. This covers all kinds of purchase types, including your main residence, as well as investment properties and business premises. Those with a Swiss B-Permit can only purchase a primary residence.
In contrast to the fast-moving rental market, house sales move at a slower pace. Use this to your advantage and take the time to find the right property in the best location. Start your property search online through portals such as ImmoDreiL and

How to buy in Zurich

The actual buying process is like it is in the UK. You make an offer, arrange a mortgage, agree to the terms and sign a contract. This process will take around three months, if not longer, and there are various fees and charges. In the UK, a professional property survey is a standard request, but in Switzerland, it isn’t very common. We advise you to get a structural survey, as the seller doesn’t have to disclose any issues.
Be sure to check for ongoing financial commitments. Many properties have an annual service charge to cover shared areas, such as secure parking or private road access.
You will need to use a notary to draw up the contracts, which will cost about 5% of the total purchase price. It is the notary’s job to complete all the paperwork and ensure that you pay the right property transfer fees. In the canton of Zurich, there is no property tax, but you will have to pay other fees. The notary isn’t a legal advisor and acts as a neutral party. You may also wish to engage the services of a lawyer during the buying process.
If you are relocating to Zurich from London, see our detailed guide to moving to Switzerland.
If you’re moving to Switzerland, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.