Are you looking for an apartment? Finding a suitable apartment or even just a suitable shared room in Switzerland is not easy – be it in Zurich, in Lucerne, in Basel or Bern – the situation on the real estate market is the same everywhere: affordable housing is scarce and therefore keenly contested. However, it is not only the market that determines how successful you are in your apartment search in Switzerland, but also how you approach your search. For this reason, you should read and follow the tips and tricks for apartment searching listed here.

A furnished living room

The first step in the apartment search: set criteria

Before you even think about browsing through any apartment listings, you should ask yourself one question: What do you want your new apartment to look like? And that doesn’t mean the wall color of the new bedroom. Rather, it’s about setting cornerstones for the new apartment:

  • How many people are going to move in?
  • How many rooms are needed?
  • What is the maximum rent that can be paid?
  • Which location is most convenient for you?
  • Do you need a balcony, a terrace and/or a parking space?

Tip: Remember that the rent for your new apartment should not exceed one-third of your income. It’s better not to calculate too tightly here. If you have to make a hefty additional payment at the end of the year, a financial cushion is an advantage.

The plan is in place: The apartment search can begin

Now you have defined the most important points and the search can start. The first step is definitely the online search. Here are some ways how you can find your perfect apartment:

Real estate platforms

First civic duty – don’t lose your head. A flood of information awaits you on the Internet. There are now a large number of Internet portals dedicated to the search for housing and real estate. We have listed the most important ones for you here:


To begin with, it is best to select three or four platforms that appeal to you the most. By the way, you will notice that the same apartment is often offered on several platforms. Before you click through the numerous advertisements yourself, you can alternatively create a search subscription – usually free of charge. The portal filters all advertisements according to your search criteria and regularly sends you the latest listings by e-mail. This saves you at least some of the information chaos and your information is always up to date.

Social Media

In addition to the classic real estate platforms, Facebook and the like are also playing an expanding role in finding a new apartment. It is definitely worth looking here for corresponding groups that deal with apartment searching. The groups are logically sorted by cities such as Zurich, Basel, Lucerne or Bern. If you don’t know how to get to these specific real estate groups, try using keywords like “apartment Zurich” or “apartment Lucerne wanted”. Enter these search terms on Facebook and submit a membership request to the group administrators.

The advantage:Tenants who are urgently looking for a new tenant often advertise here. It’s not exactly uncommon for people to want to leave their apartment before the end of the tenancy and to be somewhat pressed for time. So here you can also be spontaneously lucky.

Using your social network

And here we mean both online and offline. If you’re apartment searching, the golden rule is: spread the word! Post on Facebook that you’re looking for an apartment and spread the word about your relocation plans among your friends and acquaintances, too. Be sure to tell your colleagues about it, too. There is always someone who knows someone else who has an apartment available. Maybe it will even match your requirements? Tip: Just ask your own landlord if he knows anything. With “good conduct” you may get the preference.

Bulletin boards

Hard to believe, but true: The classic bulletin board has already helped some people find a new apartment. Whether in shopping malls, at the hairdresser’s or at university. Every now and then, a small old building gem with a sunny balcony that may become available next month is hidden among the chaos of notes. So it’s worth taking a look.

Administrations & Co

Instead of using the Internet, you can also ask property managers and housing associations in person. Who knows, maybe the person you call has a suitable apartment on the table right now? Otherwise, there are also waiting lists that you can sign up for.

Be found instead of searching

Some landlords don’t feel like making their apartment listings public and being contacted by countless potential tenants. Instead, they prefer to pick their tenants themselves. So try this: Place an advertisement. You can do this online as well as offline.

Is there more?

Despite the Internet, you should not forget to look in the newspaper. Many newspapers often have extra supplements with classified advertisements on the weekends. Have you ever thought about exchanging your apartment? Not only for the vacations is an apartment swap now possible, but also completely. Next time you go for a Sunday stroll, keep an eye out for any new buildings that will soon be completed. Here, the contact details are often posted on the construction fence, and after all, it doesn’t cost anything to ask, does it?

Looking for an apartment and the dear money: This is how it all works out with your budget

We already told you above: The rent should not be more than one third of your income. Easier said than done. Often the dream apartment is simply over budget. You really shouldn’t exceed the budget limit either – rent debt is not to be toyed with. Rather, you can look at which of your desires you are most likely to cut back on.

To do this, it makes sense to take another look at your search criteria and sort them by priority. What can you do without the balcony or the extra room? Is proximity to a supermarket more important to you, or do you want to be within walking distance of the nearest tram station? And does it really have to be the popular trendy residential district? Perhaps it’s worth considering where tomorrow’s prime location might be. By prioritizing your search criteria, you can sort through the ads pretty well and estimate which apartment will get the most plus points.

Dream apartment found: And then?

In addition to determining the most important points and calculating the budget, one thing, in particular, is important: the viewing of the apartment. You will find out whether an apartment suits you at the latest during a viewing appointment. After all, you should feel comfortable in your new four walls, and your gut feeling can and should play a role in deciding.

If you like an apartment, you should contact the landlord quickly and arrange a viewing appointment before someone else beats you to it. After all, speed is of the essence when looking for an apartment. You should also adhere to other rules. If you are asked to contact the landlord by e-mail, don’t get the idea of researching the phone number. It is also a good tip if you have already organized the documents (such as the debt collection register extract) for your application dossier.

For detailed instructions on how to arrange a viewing appointment, see our tips on viewing apartments. And to make sure your application documents look their best, we have listed exactly what you need to include in your application dossier in our article on applying for an apartment.

Now it’s time to get going on your apartment search adventure!