There are many different options for accommodation available if you are looking for a house or apartment in Switzerland. Each of the 26 counties (cantons) has its own charm and traditions. In addition to this, excellent public transport means more and more people can choose a location they love without having to worry about the distance to their job.
Switzerland has highly efficient public transport links that can be used. There are currently over 1.800 railway stations in Switzerland, making it the most densely packed railway network in the world. To the Swiss, an average commute is around 40 minutes long, so some key questions to ask are:
- Where is the closest bus, rail, tram or ferry stop from my location?
- How many travel zones will I have to travel to work or university?
- Are there good transport links to my children’s school?
Due to zoning laws in Switzerland, large supermarkets tend to be placed together in large industrial zones in medium to large towns. No matter what type of housing you live in, it is important to have amenities close to you. It is common for smaller towns and villages to have local shops as well as farm shops for food and basic items. Some of the most common questions around amenities are:
- Where is the nearest large supermarket?
- Is my type of housing near a shopping area?
- Will I need to drive, cycle or take public transport to go shopping?
- How far will I need to go to access services?
In Switzerland, there is a curfew for most residential areas at 10pm every night. However, this does not mean that noise isn’t a factor as work begins at 7am on construction sites and may go on until late in the evening. In addition, churches in Switzerland ring their bells at night, continuously at 7am and pm, as well as a lot during Sundays. Some of the key questions are:
- Are there plans for a lot of building work to be done near me soon?
- Does my accommodation have a regular meeting spot near me?
- Is my accommodation near nightlife?
- Am I near any churches?
When you are choosing a new place to live for your family, safety should be a top priority. Although crime is rare in Switzerland, it still remains an issue, particularly in cities. Therefore, it is good to ask:
- What are the crime rates like in my area?
- Am I close to poorly lit or badly maintained buildings?
- Am I close to a place that has a high incidence rate?
- Where are the nearest emergency services?
Education is a key part of Swiss life and is always something to consider in family planning. Public schools remain high in quality in Switzerland, but some higher education facilities such as Gymnasiums specialise in a certain kind of subject (school of art, school of science, school of management, school of hospitality). Questions you could ask yourself:
- Where is my nearest primary and secondary school?
- What does the local gymnasium specialise in?
- If you are having a baby in Switzerland, where is the nearest and best childcare?
- Are there any international schools within a reasonable distance?
Swiss councils (Gemeinde) have a duty to grow community spirit within their locality. This usually results in multiple events being put on by the Gemeinde every year. These can range from markets to concerts and fun fairs. When choosing where to live in Switzerland, your Gemeinde matters a great deal. Some of the key questions to ask are:
- What events does the Gemeinde put on?
- Are there any English-speaking groups in the surrounding area?
- Is the Gemeinde known to be friendly to expats?
- What are the neighbours like?
- What does the Gemeinde use as a system of taxation?
One of the most overlooked parts of finding a place is the proximity to nature. Switzerland is well known for the quality of its mountains, forests and lakes. It is essential for those both young and old to go out into nature a few times a week and the easier this is to do from your home, the better. So, ask yourself this:
- Does you accommodation have a good view?
- Where is the nearest forest?
- Where is the nearest lake?
- Where is the nearest mountain or ski resort?
- Are you close to a national hiking trail or cycle superhighway?
Finally, it is important to have fun while you live in Switzerland. There are many things to see and do while you are here, with many different activities to fill the weekend. Things you could ask yourself:
- Where are the nearest bars and clubs?
- Is there a cinema nearby?
- Is there a theme park nearby?
- How far away are day trips to other cities in Switzerland?