Finding an apartment - Tips and Tricks - Help Us Out

Hello Fellow Mustachians,

i am finding myself in a position, that many of you surely know:

Finding an apartment in CH while still living abroad.

Of course we chose the hardest rent market because we wanted to live in Kanton Zug, but we didn’t think it would be this insane. The lack of “Betreibungsauszug”, “Ausländerausweis” and 400 kilometers one-way-drive for a “Besichtigung” is killing us.

  1. Would some of you share their tips on finding an apartment? If many Mustachians contribute we could form this into a Sticky.

  2. As I know that many of you live in Kanton Zug: Could you hook us up with an apartment? Or maybe you know someone who is looking for a new tenant at the moment. Help is not taken for granted, so we would pay you a check or help you out, wherever we can.

  3. Do you have experience with “serviced apartments”? So fixed rent with everything included and designed for expats that live there for a few months. There are some in the Kanton and didn’t look to bad.

Thanks a lot and have a nice day!

Forget being able to get an apartment from abroad. This is locals’ game and seller’s market here. No sane landlord would pick you over an applicant next door, except if it’s ridiculously overpriced of course. Get a temporary airbnb or hotel or something for first few weeks and start looking once you are here.

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Get a temporary solution for the first 2-3 months, even if it’s more expensive.

I met a lot of expats in the last 2 years and for most of them it was close to impossible to rent something without local contacts.

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I second this.

Even in markets with higher vacancy rates this is often the only choice if you don’t have local connections. We rented a furnished apartment for 3 months upon arrival in Switzerland. It was about 25% more expensive than market for an unfurnished one, so not a terrible deal. This gave us time to visit several apartments so we had the luxury of only applying for the ones we really wanted. Finding these furnished, month-by-month rental flats is not the easiest, though.

Try contacting people via AirBnB (they usually have a limit of 28 days max but if you can strike a deal with them off the site, it can work), or look at anibis.ch and the other property sites.

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In canton Zug (city of Baar) there is Hochhaus (https://www.hh-landhausstrasse.ch/en/offering) that offers really affortable options for temporary living. I have had few colleagues who have stayed there over their internship (3-6months) and have liked the place. It is nothing fancy but meets the mustachian criteria for affordable temporary housing :grin:

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a.) Ok, so not too many positive experiences.

How did you go about it then? Sleeping in Hotels, serviced apartments or at a friends house for the first months? Did you get a “Wohngemeindeeintrag” and “Ausländerausweis” with your temporary residence?

What did you do after you settled in Switzerland and were searching for your first real flat? Applying to 50 different apartments, wasting time on short notice “Besichtigungen”?

b.) Is there something like a real estate agent in CH? Somebody who takes 1 or 2 months of rent to find you someplace to live? All companies that I contacted weren´t interested so far.

@Scrooge

Haha, I already found that one. Talked to the guy in person last summer. “You want an apartment beginning of next year? Talk to me again 2 months before you arrive. Maybe we have something, maybe not”. Like they don´t even want the money…

How was the experience for your colleagues? Anything special to know about this place? Maximum time of stay; silly swiss cleaning and clothing rules? I´m really curious to know.

What you also could do: offer to pay the rent for the first 6 months right away (if you have the liquidity).

When I moved into Switzerland, that’s what I did. They are much less restrictive than long-term renters. But they also cost a lot of money. I paid 2’400 CHF per month for what was basically a hotel room with a microwave oven. Then I got busy looking for flats and I managed to get accepted on the last day of the month, also for 2’400, but this time a 100 sq m flat. So I didn’t have to extend my expensive stay in the “apart-hotel”, as they call them.

Well, I can tell you what I did. I focused on modern architecture. The buildings were either newly built or a few years old. Due to this, most of these buildings are managed by a big company and all flats there are for rent. I highly recommend renting from a business. I could arrange a private visit to the flat on the same day or the next day. They didn’t care who I was, they just needed me to fill in the form. And when you get two IT guys with high salaries to sign up, then there is a high chance they say yes. In my case they agreed after 1 day :slight_smile:

Some company offer that as part of a relocation package (and afaik you can contact those agents directly). IMO the only benefit is to get some help if you don’t know the local language, other than that the service can vary widely (and the interests are not necessarily aligned, assuming you prepaid a for a number of hours they’ll want to find you an apartment in the quickest way possible, so most likely would apply for things that are more pricey with less competition).

I came three times from abroad to Switzerland. Every time I went through a WG to find a room first (through WGzimmer.ch). Mostly it was easy and then after few months I moved out to a full appartment.

Of course this works better as a single person (or at least no kids) or if you can leave partner/family behind for a few months, but pricewise there is nothing better. Lastly, this allows for some social contact in the beginning and some help how stuff works around here.

Each time it took me about one weekend there to get a room.

All the best.

While I was in the USA for 3 months I sub-rented my apartment. I noticed that short term sub-renter for a specific time period is a little more difficult to find, so should be easier to find something. In the end I rented my apartment to two students that didn’t have an apartment yet to stay. During this time they found another apartment, also because they already had an address in Switzerland and where able to provide me as a reference.

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Finding something while living abroad is a challenge for these two reasons:
Most landlords prefer the quickest applications and they tend not to like people who have not lived here before. Too many renters have gone back home after a couple of moths. There is nothing worse for them than fast moving renters.

We were aware of most of the problems mentioned here.
We tried to put all those objections out of the way in our first-response e-mails or phone calls:

“… yes, we´re both academics, yes we would earn a lot, yes we would like to stay at least a few years, yes we speak german, yes we are foreigners but we´re not muslims from Eritrea,…” —> didnt help us one bit.

Of course there is no giving up because of such small problems, but it makes us question our motives for Switzerland. Maybe we should just bang out 5-6 years of work (and hopefully good markets) and then head the fuck out.

To be honest, this has nothing to do with Switzerland. It would probably be the same in most of the world.

You are trying to find a flat in one of the hottest markets of the country, where even the locals have a hard time finding affordably. People born in Zug move away to the neighboring cantons, because they do not find affordable flats.
So ask yourself: why should a landlord take the extra effort to consider your application if he has no problem finding a renter within no time. That’s simple economical thinking.

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In general you should get used to the idea that nobody here is waiting for you. Anyway you should have the same problems in nearly any bigger western european city. This is not meant as an offense but if this makes you question your decision to move to Switzerland you will have a hard time.

When I moved to Switzerland (Zürich) 4 years ago I went in a overpriced shared flat. When you leave you usually don’t have to pay a cleaning company for at least 1000 chf like you have to in a normal flat and you don’t need to stay for at least one year. When you are here and have more time you can try to find something where you really want to live.

If this is not an option for you because you move with your family I would just get a more expensive flat for the first year. You say you earn a lot of money which means you should at least earn 120k per person. 240k combined income means people would rent you a flat up to 6k per month and in this price range and even far below that it’s no problem to find something. It’s only hard to find a cheap flat.

Why do you want to move to Zug? Are you both working there or for tax reasons?
If it’s for tax reasons please consider that it only matters where you live at the end of the year as long as you earn more than 120k as you will have to do a tax declaration. I moved from Zurich to Zug at the beginning of December and paid taxes for the whole year here.
If you earn less I wouldn’t bother as your tax savings might be lower than your costs for higher rent and commuting.

If you want to get real help here you should answer this questions:
Where do you work?
How much do you earn?
How much do you want to spend?
How big should the flat be?

It shouldn’t be that hard to find a solution in your case.

@Alvo We have zero expectations when it comes to the people of CH. Don‘t think any of the posts sounded like we wanted to be treated VIP. Just the general shenanigans (only move on those 3 times a year; throw all your personal information at us just to visit some subpar 40m2 flat in a concrete block; not calling back; isnt so nice)

Thanks for bringing up the year-end move for tax reasons. In the first year we will probably not cross 120k, at least not both of us. We checked other places like Horgen, Küssnacht SZ but it is not for us at the moment. Don’t want to go into details, but we calculated many times that Canton Zug is definitely the best mix of nature, low tax, jobs and mobility for us.

@Bojack Could you give names of the companies that rent out in Zug? Or is that classified information?:grin: Stumbled up on some myself, but from the outside it is often not clear if they are looking for tenants at the moment.

As several Mustachians have pointed out that more expensive=better renting process, we will look more into that.

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