A few facts about living in Switzerland
Switzerland has a high population density and land is scarce, so living space is smaller than in many countries. Most people rent housing in Switzerland, and there are not many houses available. Washing rooms are often shared with neighbours. Because of their close proximity, it is important to maintain good relations with neighbours. Garbage disposal laws require strict separation of items. If attending a state school, children either walk to school or take public transport.
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The Swiss are generally strict about house rules. A copy is sent with the contract and is often posted at the entrance. House rules can include:
- A requirement to inform neighbours if you are planning a party
- A noise curfew after 10pm and no loud noises on Sundays or public holidays
- Use of communal space ie. garden, play areas, storage, bike racks etc.
- No pets without permission
- Conditions for laundry use
What is included?
Older apartment buildings have communal washing machines and driers in the basement area and washing is organised according to a roster. Newer buildings generally have private facilities. There is usually extra storage space in the basement. Freestanding houses have more available space. Unfurnished accommodation includes light fittings in the bathroom and kitchen only, and built in wardrobes are rare. Curtain rails are usually built in and use the Swiss runners. Cold water is included in the rent. Other utilities are extras, such as hot water, heating, and electricity, and are usually payable above the monthly rent. Utilities usually amount to around 10% of the rent. Parking space will cost extra.
Description of housing
Room count varies depending on the canton, but in Geneva the number of rooms advertised includes the kitchen and not the bathroom. Apartments in the Canton of Geneva are classified as follows:
1 ‘pièce' = studio
2 ‘pièces' = 1 living room and 1 kitchen
2.5 ‘pièces' = 1 big living room and 1 kitchen
3 ‘pièces' = 1 living room, 1 bedroom and 1 kitchen
4 ‘pièces' = 1 living room, 2 bedrooms and 1 kitchen
In the Canton of Vaud and in neighbouring France the description does not include the kitchen; a 1 bedroom apartment is therefore referred to as a 2 "pieces" (or T2 in France) and a 2 bedroom apartment is referred to as a 3 "pieces" (or T3 in France).
Things to consider before choosing accommodation:
- Nearby facilities such as sports clubs, swimming pools, etc.
- Public transport connections: