Which Swiss canton has the most affordable homes to buy?

Which Swiss canton has the most affordable homes to buy?

While the words "affordable" and "Switzerland" are paired together as regularly as "tuna” and "ice cream", it can be useful to know which parts of the country are the most economical. Now, a new report from real estate agent and consultancy company Wüest Partner has uncovered which parts of the country have the most affordable houses to buy.

Switzerland has lowest homeownership rate in Europe

In the report, given to Watson, the organisation noted that homeownership remains quite a rarity in Switzerland. They found that the proportion of people in the alpine nation that own property has fallen from 38,4 percent in 2015 to 36,3 percent in 2021 - the lowest rate of home ownership in Europe.

Despite this, an estimated 46 percent of residents are looking to buy property in the future, but experts noted that despite the recent falls in house prices, most of the country is off-limits due to the cost. Wüest Partner said that the high prices can be explained simply: “Fewer properties are coming onto the market than new households are being created”, increasing the chances of a housing bubble as demand soars.

To see how big the gap is between what people can afford and house prices, the company analysed the average earnings of a two-person household in each Swiss canton and how much they would be able to afford if they both worked and took out a mortgage. They then compared the total to average house prices in the area. Nationally, they found that Swiss homes are 9 percent too expensive for the average family to buy, but this rate varied wildly by region.

Zug has the most unaffordable housing in Switzerland

For 2023, Zug was rated as having the most unaffordable housing in Switzerland. The average cost of a home was found to be 49 percent higher than what could be afforded by two working people with a mortgage - for a single-family house, this rate rose to 63 percent. This is perhaps not a surprise, given that the region has often been named as one of the best but also one the most expensive places to live in Switzerland.

The city-canton of Geneva took second place in the ranking, with properties costing an average of 40 percent more than what a working couple could afford. Nidwalden (37 percent), Graubünden (35 percent) and Basel-Stadt (33 percent) rounded out the top five.

Most unaffordable places to buy a house in Switzerland

In all, here are the most unaffordable places to buy a house in Switzerland:

  • 1. Zug (+49)
  • 2. Geneva (+40)
  • 3. Nidwalden (+37)
  • 4. Graubünden (+35)
  • 5. Basel-Stadt (+33)
  • =6. Zurich (+30)
  • =6. Schwyz (+30)
  • 8. Vaud (+29)
  • 9. Uri (+24)
  • 10. Obwalden (+22)

In terms of geographic location, the most unaffordable homes can be found in the Engadine Valley in the mountains and the areas around Lake Zurich, Zug, Lucerne and Geneva.

Where is the most affordable place to buy a home in Switzerland?

In contrast, Canton Jura was found to have the most affordable homes in Switzerland. There, house prices are 37 percent lower than the maximum that can be afforded by an average working couple. 

Jura was followed by Solothurn, Neuchâtel and Glarus, with prices being 17, 14 and 11 percent lower respectively. However, it needs to be noted that only seven cantons were found to have affordable housing, and while homes (apartments and houses) in the cantons were classed as affordable, only Jura and Glarus were found to have affordable single-family houses.

Cheapest places to buy property in Switzerland

In all, here are the most affordable places to buy a home in Switzerland:

  1. Jura (-37)
  2. Solothurn (-17)
  3. Neuchâtel (-14)
  4. Glarus (-11)
  5. Valais (-9)
  6. Schaffhausen (-8)
  7. Appenzell Ausserrhoden (-4)
  8. Bern (0)
  9. Aargau (+2)
  10. St. Gallen (+3)

For Wüest Partner, the only viable solution to make properties cheaper is to build more homes, but conceded that the main problem lies in the huge cost of purchasing land for construction. What's more, they estimated that without any legal or planning rule changes, up to 1 million extra homes with 120 metres of living space each could be created by expanding and upgrading the housing the country already possesses.

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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