Living, working and migrating – tips for finding accommodation in Switzerland

Have you discovered an exciting job in Switzerland or can you imagine starting your new life here? Read our valuable tips and advice on working and living in Switzerland.

Work and residence permit

The applicable rules for staying in Switzerland depend on your nationality as well as the reason for your stay. For persons from an EU/EFTA country, the free movement of persons applies. You can enter Switzerland, live and work here.

For longer stays, a residence permit is required. This must be obtained before starting a job in a specific Swiss residential community. Europeans who live in Switzerland for work purposes have a legal right of admission to the labor market. The cantons are responsible for implementing the residence regulations. The Office of Economics and Labor (Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit – KWA) grants residence upon presentation of an employment contract with local and customary working conditions. This is finally reviewed and issued by the Office for Foreigners’ Questions (Amt für Ausländerfragen – KAFA).

For persons from a third country, special conditions apply. For example, you must submit an entry request to the Swiss representation abroad. In addition, you must have sufficient financial means to earn a living in Switzerland and not become dependent on social assistance as well as have health insurance that also covers accidents.

The job posting requirement (Stellenmeldepflicht) must also be noted. In particular, in the case of occupations in which the unemployment rate has reached or exceeded a certain threshold, the employer in Switzerland is obliged to notify the Regional Employment Centers (Regionalen Arbeitsvermittlungszentren – RAV) about the staffed position. This organization finally decides whether the person can be hired.

 

Finally, for admission to work in Switzerland, the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration regulates the granting of a residence permit. It should be noted that foreigners are admitted to work in accordance with Art. 24 AuG if they have appropriate housing. The meaning of «appropriate» housing is interpreted in each individual case. Basically, enough living space should be available and the apartment should not be overcrowded. However, in the sense of personal freedom, the authorities do not have the right to make detailed requirements concerning the housing situation.

Apartment search

Many people from other cultures are not very familiar with the rental system in Switzerland. Rental rates in Switzerland are rather high by international standards. In the cities they are higher than in the countryside, although there are also significant cantonal differences. Discover the current developments in regional and cantonal comparisons in the homegate.ch rent index.

 

From a legal point of view, there is no difference between a Swiss or a foreign tenant. The rights and duties are the same.

If you are interested in an apartment in Switzerland, first complete an application form. Include personal details, occupation, children, employers, pay, pets and important: residence status. Regarding residence status, questions about the type of residence permit and its expiry date must be answered. Furthermore, an excerpt from the debt register is necessary. If successful, a written lease will be signed.

Property acquisition

For EU/EFTA citizens resident in Switzerland, the same rights apply to real estate acquisition as for Swiss citizens. If your residence is abroad and you do not intend to settle permanently in Switzerland, real estate can only be acquired with certain restrictions. The applicable law «Lex Koller,» which requires a license from the responsible authority, applies here.

However, you can acquire a condominium for use as the main residence in Switzerland if you plan to move to Switzerland and if you have a permanent residence permit in Switzerland or if you have obtained a residence permit. There is no distinction between EU, EFTA and third countries. In addition, it is best to clarify with the competent authority, such as the Land Registry (Grundbuchamt) or Land Register Inspectorate (Grundbuchinspektorat), whether you meet all the necessary requirements.

 

Living and working

If your employer offers you a new challenge in Switzerland or you have another exciting job in view, it makes sense to inform yourself in advance about the living situation on site and learn the usual rental rates. In addition, you should inform yourself about the market wages in order to be prepared for wage negotiations and earn what you are worth with your experience and education. There are tools with which you can compare Switzerland’s market wages by job and region.

 

Anyone who finally decides to live in Switzerland needs a residence permit. This is most easily obtained if a job in Switzerland can be verified. If you have also found a suitable apartment, it is important to have all the documents together and observe the usual virtues of the apartment application.

 

The most important point of contact for migration information is the Federal Office for Migration (SEM).