Does the 30 percent salary rule apply to renting in Switzerland?

Does the 30 percent salary rule apply to renting in Switzerland?

Many new arrivals ask whether the traditional rule for renting a house or apartment - that you should spend a maximum of 30 percent of your gross salary on rental costs - applies in Switzerland. To find out, a new study by HelloSafe has calculated how much people in the alpine nation really spend on rent, discovering that residents pay less of their salary towards housing than those in other countries.

How much do people spend on rent in Switzerland?

While many people will have heard of the 30 percent rule for rental costs in places like London, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Berlin, the same formula does not seem to apply in Switzerland. By analysing their database of 16.000 customers, and reports from the Federal Statistical Office, HelloSafe found that people who do not own property in Switzerland spent an average of 21,48 percent of their gross annual salary on rental costs in 2022. 

People in Canton Bern paid the highest percentage towards housing at 22,84 percent, followed by Geneva (22,57) and Zurich (22,16). On the flip side, some of the wealthiest parts of the country, Cantons Schwyz and Zug, spent the lowest proportion of income at 19,28 and 20,64 percent respectively.

People in Switzerland are spending less of their income on rent

Since 2019, the Bernese have seen the amount they have to allocate to rent increase by 21 percent. In contrast, the share of wealth given over to fulfilling rental contracts has fallen significantly in places like Geneva (-12), Vaud (-18) and Schwyz (-29 percent). Nationally and on average, workers in Switzerland devoted 9 percent less of their income to housing in 2022 compared to 2019.

While people are putting less towards housing on average, the last three years have seen rental costs increase in all but two Swiss cantons (Uri and Zug). Cantons Appenzell Innerhoden, Glarus and Obwalden have seen rents rise the most, increasing by 5, 5,27 and 5,21 percent respectively between 2019 and 2021.

Cheapest and most expensive places to rent in Switzerland

Despite not increasing in cost, HelloSafe found that Zug still has the most expensive apartments in Switzerland, with a three to four-room flat costing an average of 1.868 Swiss francs a month - 28 percent more than the national average (1.457 francs a month). Zug was followed by Zurich (1.696 francs) and Schwyz (1.657 francs) in the top three.

Conversely, the cheapest places to rent in Switzerland are in the Romande region. HelloSafe concluded that those seeking a bargain should start planning their relocation to Neuchâtel and Jura - where average rents are up to 31 percent cheaper than the national average.

For more information about other cantons, check out the HelloSafe website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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