How to find a premium flat with attractive rent?

I noticed, that the quality of the place I live has a huge impact on my mental well-being. I like spacious and modern flats in quiet and green neighborhoods, but at the same time with many shops and a train station nearby. Having all these preferences, there isn’t really much choice left on the market, and it usually costs upwards of 3000 CHF around Zurich. Recently I found a really nice place in Wollishofen: Erstbezug, lake view, quiet, close to the station, 3.5 rooms, 85 sqm. But it costs 3300 CHF per month.

So I would like to ask if you know any tips or tricks that could make it possible to find such flats for a lower price? When I go to homegate or immomapper, I find places for 4000 CHF. I assume these are the ones that still didn’t get sold because of the steep price. So probably there are cheaper offers, they just get taken on the day of the offering. The market seems highly competitive for renters, at least when I compare it to how it used to be in Poland.

One strategy that I noticed to work is to look for “Erstbezug”. That is, a developer is building a whole community of flats and they all go for rent. Then you have to reserve the flat 1-2 years in advance. Any experience with that? If you reserve, do you have to make a deposit? Can you resign without any penalty?

I know my case is a bit special, because I’m not just looking for a cheap place, I’m looking for a premium place but at a reasonable price. Currently I pay 2300 CHF for a really nice flat, but it’s a bit loud here and the neighbourhood ain’t so nice. I feel like paying 1000 CHF extra just to improve a bit on these two qualities seems like a bad deal. OK, we share this cost with my gf, but you can do a lot with 12’000 CHF per year!

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I didn’t follow the market closely, but have some friends also looking for apartments in Zurich. I have the following theory as to why the market is hard to navigate at the moment :slight_smile:

In normal times, the Zurich market is already somewhat thin (not many offers).
During March-May+, most people who would have moved did not, starting in July people who want to move started looking. The issue is that since the market is thin, all those people are only removing offers from the market, even if in practice they want to leave their current apartment, they won’t put it in the market until they find a place.
So the main issue is one of liquidity, even with constant number of units needed in the market, the market is stuck until the backlog of people trying to move clears up.

(I guess it should be possible to verify the theory by looking at number of moves happening in Q2 vs past years, and net inflow of people vs. new units being available vs previous years, but I’ve been too lazy to actually do that homework :slight_smile: )

Now one way to provide liquidity is to find have people do market making, afaik this is already happening (some mailing lists are advertising swaps), but if this could be improved (e.g. you could make your apartment on the market conditionally) that would be much better.
(due to landlord having the last word I’m not sure you can have a massive improvement)

One way to optimize rent is also to try to take over an existing contract with a landlord who is picky about their tenants, for example somebody moving out before its expiration. The landlord has a partial incentive to accept you at the same conditions, rather than force an increase of the rent, because if they refuse for a reasonable new tenant to take over, the former tenant is freed from paying their rent nevertheless, and the landlord may lose rent until they find a new tenant, which could be worse if it takes time.

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I have a rent contract with a big developer/landlord company. In this contract there is a notice period of 3 months and only 3 possible moments in a year when you can end the contract:

  • end of March
  • end of June
  • end of September

If people have such restrictions, then it can for sure add to the liquidity problem. I don’t mind waiting, I could even wait a year. If you reserve a flat in a building that is being built, that is what you sign up for. The building I was looking at is still not finished, yet most flats are already reserved, and these are not cheap flats (2500-3500 CHF). I just feel uncomfortable, signing up for a deal where I haven’t even been in the flat to see if I like how it looks and what is the actual view out of the window. Seems like a reasonable requirement if you’re gonna pay 30-40k per year, right?

So I wonder how it actually works with the reservation. Do 99% of reservations convert in actual rent, or do you have a big chance if you sign up on the waiting list?

Do you really want to spend 40k/year for rent? I live in a nice 3.5 room 80sqm apartment for 1’178.- per month. I know what I could get for 2k or 3k, but is it really worth it?

Don’t you see that’s why I created this thread? It feels wrong to spend 40k on a flat, so I’m asking if these are the real prices or are these just the prices for suckers who don’t know any better?

How are you able to find a NICE flat for 1’178 CHF in Zurich? Is this the total rent? From what I know about the market, for 1500 you will get an old 2.5 room flat away from Zurich, 1800 gives you either a nice 2.5 room or a crappy 3.5. I pay 2300 for a 90 sqm modern (2013) flat with two balconies, a washing machine/tumbler, bike room, and just 10 min train ride from Zurich HB. I just don’t like that I live next to a busy street and that I always have to take the train to go somewhere nice.

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Well ok, I live next to Aarau, so apples and oranges I guess :smiley:

Zurich is crazy expensive! But the type of flat you are desribing will be expensive everywhere in Switzerland, even remote areas. 1 year ago I lived 10km away from Basel in a 91sqm 3.5 room apartment (build in 2016). Floor heating, great kitchen, green and quiet etc. and it was 2200.- per month with one garage. Same flat in Basel? 2500-3000 CHF. Close or even in Zürich? Even more.

No way you are getting this kind of flat in Zurich for less than 3000 CHF, but that’s just my opinion.


You all guys talk like it’s easy to find landlords that are frustrated or something…

I personally check every day a couple of Wohngenossenschaften that have very nice apartments… The negative side is that they always says no. This is the bad thing about zurich. Either you pay a lot or you have to be poor to be accepted by the WG mafia.


One thing I heard about are Genossenschaften. You become a member of a community, pay a buy-in of about 20k and then you pay rent of around 70% of market rate. But these communities can be picky on who they choose to live with them. They will more likely accept people they already know (friends & family). They also have some preconditions (need to have kids, need to have no car, etc). I don’t know any more about them, you won’t find these offers on homegate.

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How honest do you have to be with those Genossenschaften? I mean I don’t think there is a law that requires you to disclose your real salary to anybody (until they want to see some tax declaration or so).

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my next step maybe… less salary and wife instead of gf. :smiley:

Make it a pregnant wife :wink:

How about moving outside of Zurich? There is a train all 30 minutes from Aarau to Zurich (20 minutes train ride). You get a really beautiful appartements for 2,300 CHF next to Aarau train station.


If I wanted to commute 20-30 min to Zurich, I would move to Zug, Pfäffikon SZ or somewhere along the Zürisee: Kilchberg, Rüschlikon, Thalwil, Zollikon, Küsnacht.

Why? Because in Zurich I pay 49k income tax and in Pfäffikon it would be 29k.

But me and my gf do not want to commute so much. We need Zurich for work and for entertainment. Every weekend we go for brunch and long walk through the city. Aarau would kill me with its monotony. But mostly the commute time is the reason why I don’t consider this.


And how much more rent and commuting costs would you pay if you move to Freienbach, Zug or Kilchberg? Not to mention the lost time spent on commuting. Free time is money too.

I doubt you will be able to beat the CHF 2300 plus commuting costs you are paying now.

The reason I created this thread is to find out if there are any tips or tricks that can help find a flat at a lower price. The feeling I get is that the supply is usually low and the best offers go off the market instantly. Whenever a rent offer below market value appears, a hundred people want to have it.

Working and living in Zurich comes with a trade-off. You can earn a lot, but then you either have to pay a lot for rent or you have to settle for substandard living conditions. People will scoff at the idea of paying 3000+ CHF for rent, but that’s what it takes to have an upper-middle class living standard in Zurich.


I live and work in zurich city since 10+ years. Your last post is exactly the way it is.


If we want to get political: Zurich is killing the middle class. Either you are poor and get help (subsidized, WG) or you are rich (or pay rich-like prices).


This is a good way. However, if the old rent is really to low. It’s quite likely that the landlord will do improvements to increase the rent.

Most of the time, the rent are at the market rate or higher, because of the new building.

With a really high salary, one way i was thinking about is to buy a flat and use a margin loan on equity for the 20% to bring. In some cases, it would make sense

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What is a margin loan on equity?

What I’m aware of is a classic mortgage loan. Buying a 1’200’000 flat would mean saying goodbye to 240’000, and eventually 400’000, that would be otherwise invested in ETFs. With an interest rate of 1% that’s not a bad deal, but:

  • we don’t know if the interest rate stays low
  • we don’t know if these bonkers prices stay high
  • what if I want to move to another place? this flat would be like an anchor to me.
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