Student housing in Switzerland

Student housing in Switzerland

Switzerland prides itself on its high-quality universities, with many scoring highly in global university rankings. ETH Zurich for example is often placed in the top 10 universities in the world by The Times, the only one included in the top 10 that is not in the UK or USA.

How much should I pay for student housing in Switzerland?

The amount you must pay for student housing in Switzerland can range dependant on your accommodations’ size, privacy, and proximity to university. Typically speaking, a room in shared accommodation in a Swiss city will cost between 400 and 800 Swiss francs a month, with private housing being around 600 to 2.000 Swiss francs a month.

Types of student housing in Switzerland

Accommodation near universities in Switzerland is always in high demand, particularly those offered directly by the university. That is why students rent all different types of housing while they are at university. It is not uncommon for official university housing to be fully booked a year in advance of the new tenancy, meaning many students choose to rent privately or communally.

University housing

Many universities in Switzerland offer their own form of student accommodation. The amount of involvement the university takes ranges from officially sanctioned private accommodation to fully university-controlled housing. Large student halls are the most common if they are controlled by the university. These are known for their shared shower and kitchen facilities and warm communal atmosphere. Increasingly, new buildings are being made with private facilities for each student as well. The costs of utilities are also included in the overall costs.

Shared housing

As well as official accommodation, many students band together after their first year to find private accommodation to be used as shared housing. This is similar to renting an apartment or house but with the costs shared between tenants. If you are looking to enter a shared house and do not know the current occupants, you may have to face an interview and fit certain age requirements. These arrangements are the cheapest available and can be an excellent way to be close to the university, to the detriment of privacy.

Private accommodation and student flats

If you would like your university experience to be more private, then you can access all types of housing in Switzerland to your own preference. Several private companies offer student accommodation where you live in a private apartment but still have a communal student atmosphere. These usually have all utilities taken care of and can also be furnished.

Where can I find student housing in Switzerland?

Before you begin enrolling in university, it is vital that you confirm where you are going to live before applying for a visa. It is advised to start applying for accommodation once you have received a place at university. There are several organisations that you can use to apply for housing, each offering different types of accommodation to suit your needs.


Occasionally, universities will offer accommodation directly. This is more common in universities in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Most universities will offer their own accommodation to postgraduates and international students first. Bear in mind that these places are limited in number and must be applied for well in advance.

Student housing cooperatives

The most common way to find accommodation is through a student housing cooperative. These are student-led organisations that offer housing services for students looking to find a room. This system is used to find places in shared accommodation, typically through subletting. Some cooperatives support their own accommodation as well. Some of the most well-known housing cooperatives are:

  • WOKO
  • JUWO
  • livingscience
  • Student Village
  • Studentenwohnen
  • Wfs

Private accommodation agencies

As well as student-led cooperatives, you can also access accommodation through private companies. These companies usually deal in high-end private student accommodation that affords great comfort and privacy to the user. Some of the most well-known private sites are:

  • Homelike
  • Renthia
  • Nestpick

Temporary accommodation while looking for student accommodation

If you have been unable to secure housing for the start of university, it is important to consider renting a short-stay or furnished apartment. These give great flexibility and allow you to find your own accommodation in your own time but are generally more expensive.

Tips for international students

Finding a new place to live in the Swiss housing market can seem daunting, so here are some top tips for expats:

  • The start of the student year is often when it is best to ask your peers about housing, it’s likely they are in the same position as you and will want to work together.
  • Make sure you thoroughly read through your rental contract.
  • Make sure that you know what type of housing you are renting (don’t try to live in a Bastelraum!).
  • Make sure you know whether water, electricity or Internet is included in your bill.
  • Make sure to socialise in shared accommodation. It will make living there more pleasant and will make conflict easier to resolve.
  • Always view where you are going to live.

Where do Swiss students stay while at university in Switzerland?

Because only a quarter of the Swiss population goes to university, culturally, it is still treated as an extension of the school system. Therefore, most Swiss students will stay with their families while at university and will attend the nearest university to them. Exceptions can be for specialisations and MBA programmes at a university that are far away or if they have moved from work back into education.

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