Buying your own home in Switzerland is a big step toward making the country a permanent place to live for you and your family. The decision to purchase a house requires stringent research and preparation, considering location, cost, eligibility and the possibility of expansion. Here are some of the things you must consider when buying a house in Switzerland.
Finding the perfect house to buy in Switzerland
Buying a house is a decision that takes time. Switzerland is considered a prime place for real estate investments, meaning that many Swiss spend the majority of their early lives saving up for a house. As an expat, you must fully consider all of the following:
What is the housing market like in Switzerland?
Generally speaking, the Swiss housing market is highly stable and consistent in its pricing. All types of housing are available to purchase. Homeownership topped 33 percent for the first time in 2019, and many people who rent a house or apartment in Switzerland are moving into homeownership after their rental contracts expire.
Where should I buy in Switzerland?
Although every county (canton) has its own benefits, many choose to live close to the Swiss cities. This is mainly due to the proximity of work for expats, as many international companies congregate in the big cities. Some of these companies offer subsidies for accommodation in specific areas as part of your work contract. Choosing the right location for you and your family is vital and it’s wise to take into account schools, childcare and the proximity to public transport.
Financial, mortgage & residency requirements
In Switzerland, it is important to consider the taxes, costs & fees involved in purchasing a house. Mortgages in Switzerland are especially strict due to the additional taxes involved when purchasing a house, such as the income tax on the rental value of your home. Will you be able to afford the cost of your ideal home with your current job in Switzerland? Consider the cost of health insurance and any additional taxes. It is also advised to seek additional sources of income such as inheritance, pension savings, and loans from friends and gifts.
In addition, in order to purchase a house as an expat, you must have at least a Swiss B-residence permit. These are given to long-term residents of Switzerland and are given automatically if your work contract is longer than a year, but it is important to check that you fit the requirements for purchasing a house.
As a proud owner of your own home, you will be responsible for paying for your own utilities. Before you move in, it is vital to check that you or the previous owner have registered the property for electricity and water. Of course, as part of modern life, it is also essential for you to find the fastest Internet provider in your local community.
Registering yourself in your locality in Switzerland
As part of changing your address in Switzerland, you will have to inform your local council (Gemeinde) of your move. Your Gemeinde is at the centre of local life, providing local transport services, waste collections and social events for community cohesion. When choosing your house in Switzerland, see if your local Gemeinde is friendly to expats. Many communities have their own clubs for English speakers and participation can be a great way to start the naturalisation process of becoming a Swiss citizen.
Top tips for buying a house in Switzerland
When you are searching for your ideal home, it is important that you choose the right one for your needs. You will be spending a lot of time in your new home, so here are some top tips for finding the right one for you:
- Check whether you are eligible for a mortgage with your banking provider.
- Make sure to get in touch with your real estate agent directly, they may have new properties that have not been made publicly available.
- Bear in mind the “number of rooms system” for Switzerland. One room counts as a kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and lounge. Whereas 5 rooms count as laundry rooms, bathrooms and storage rooms. Balconies typically do not count towards a properties’ size.
- Be sure to ask as many questions as you want, your real estate agent may know a lot about the local area.
- Take your time when viewing and only look at two to four properties in a day.
- Calculate the cost of any renovations you might want to do.
- Be sure to take as many pictures as possible and bring a measuring tape to see if your furniture will fit.
- Although most Swiss houses come unfurnished, you can ask whether the seller will give them to you for an increased price.