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How To Find A Shared Apartment In Zurich

So recently I have noticed that there are more and more young people arriving to live and work in Zurich. With attractive salaries, good job opportunities and a lively international atmosphere it is very understandable. If you already have the benefit of a job the next step to actually living here is accommodation, but in case you were not aware, being a foreigner and depending on your permit and income, apartments can be hard to find. If you are a family, couple or someone who is looking to live alone then things can be very tough as dealing with agencies and multiple websites that are only in German can be difficult, also the landlords are notoriously fickle and may look at many applicants before choosing the one with the best credentials. However if you are someone (maybe a young professional or student) that would like to share an apartment then there are many easier options that don’t require mountains of paperwork, are relatively fast and cheaper. Shared apartments are quite popular here as this results in lower rent for larger apartments and you get to meet new people or live with friends. Also some people can be eager to live with English speakers as this allows them to practice their English. Firstly a shared apartment here in Zurich is called a “WG” which stands for Wohngemeinschaften or Residential Communities. Also WG is never pronounced in English, even expats all pronounce the phrase “vay-gay”. Websites So now that you have established that you would like to live in a WG, here are some helpful websites. There are literally hundreds of accommodation websites out there but this shorter list I have compiled are websites I have had personal experience with. They are all free and are popular with the WG community here in Zurich. WG zimmerThis is possibly the most popular website for WGs in Switzerland with hundreds of ads and the website is available in English which is great. It deals almost exclusively with rooms in shared apartments, but there are some studios available. While you can just spend you time browsing the ads I would recommend actually posting your own ad, as this allows you receive offers from people looking to rent a room, as well as alerting you when a new room that matches your criteria is posted. The only downside about this is that you will end up receiving a lot of email notifications. There can be a lot of competition for popular apartments though, so make sure to write a good email application (see below). Ron Orp English This is one of my favorite websites for Zurich and I would recommend signing up for their newsletter when you arrive. There are 2 parts of the site one for Zurich in English and one in German. The site is very good and tends to be used by local people, especially students and young professionals. This means that you can sometimes find much cheaper apartments in great locations. The English site is obviously all in English which is great for some one who has just arrived and can’t speak any German, however there are far more ads in the German part of the site. See below. Ron Orp German As mentioned above this is a great site used by local people. Also it is not as frequented as WG zimmer so you have less competition. The main trouble here is that you will have to navigate in German, however don’t be put off and use this as an opportunity to start trying to learn some new vocabulary. The accommodation listings are included in the “Dach über dem Kopf” section, which directly translates as “a roof over your head”. I would also try to include you application email in German, if you can’t do it yourself simply google translate it, and paste it in along with the same one in English. This will make a better impression. tutti.ch This is another good website for accommodation, it is a small classified website and has ads for every type of thing. While not as popular as some of the above it means you have less competition. Also worth noting is that the website is not available in English, only French, German and Italian. Select your Canton and then accommodation section will be called “Immobilien” then further narrow the field by selecting “mieten” which means rental and then you should be able to narrow the fields further by filling in the location cost and size. English Forum This forum is a wealth of Information about renting in Zurich. Since the forum is exclusively in English it is easy to understand and navigate for non German speakers. If you go to the bottom there is a Market Place section with an accommodation listing. Here you can search the ads, also If you are a member you can even post a wanted ad. However the draw back here is the amount and quality of posts. While there is a certain camaraderie among the Expat community, not many will be directly offering a room in their apartment but will announcing that they are vacating it and you might still have to deal with an agency for a studio as there are not a lot of WG adverts. Gratis Inserate Another classified website with all kinds of small ads. As above with www.tutti.ch narrow down your search. There is not a huge amount of ads but it is used by locals and competition will be less intense.Furnished? Furnished apartments are not standard in Zurich and the great thing about moving into a WG is that the apartment will already be lived in which will save you spending thousands on basic kitchenware, couches, tables and chairs etc. Often though your room will not be furnished but I have previously written an article about how to get free and cheap furniture here in Zurich. So don’t be worried if your room is empty. Writing an email application When you are applying for a WG make sure to send a more information than “I’m interested, when can I view”. Reasonably priced accommodation is at a premium here and cheaper apartments will have hundreds of applicants.This is why you should write an email describing yourself in as much detail as you feel comfortable, the important points to include are


  • age
  • nationality
  • spoken languages
  • what you are doing here in Zurich
  • what your expected income is if you are working (they want to know you will be able to pay the rent after all)
  • when you are available to move in and when you are leaving
  • make sure you include your likes/dislikes
  • mention if you have shared apartments before and why you really enjoyed it and want to do it again.

It is always nice to customise each email and try to write why that apartment appeals to you in particular, for example “your apartment seems affordable and I really like that area” or “you seem like a cool group of people and I would really like to live with people I could be friends with”.As previously mentioned rooms in cheap and good locations will have many applications and they will often only invite a selection of people to view it, so the more information you give the better your chances.Viewings, So once you have managed to sell yourself and have a viewing be prepared to be very friendly and chatty as viewings take more the form of an interview rather than first come first serve. Also something that can be a shock to some accommodation seekers is the “casting” this is a viewing/interview but in a group situation, yes you will literally meet some or all of your rivals. This is a tricky situation but can be all to common in Zurich, especially for popular locations with a cheap price. It can be difficult to stand out in a group but make sure you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons and avoid rude or aggressive comments with the other candidates as you will be judged on how you engage with the other people.Questions to ask:


  • is everything included (internet, heating ect)
  • what is your relationship with your neighbours and landlord
  • how does cleaning the apartment work (often there will be a schedule)
  • will you have a contract (important if you are declaring your address to get your permit)

Don’t be afraid to ask some questions as it will show that you are interested, these are just a guide so make sure to add your own. Rental costsZurich rents seem quite high compared to other cities but if you are working it should balance out as the salary’s are also quite high. For a WG you should expect to pay in the region of 700 – 1100 CHF. Yes this is high for a room, but when you consider the quality of the communal spaces for example you will often get a proper kitchen with a dishwasher, oven, dining table, and a sitting room with a couch and TV, then the costs is much cheaper than what you would get alone in a small studio.The social aspects of living with people who are already established in the city can be very beneficial for new arrivals, and personally I can say that living in a WG is a great experience. Remember that while the castings and meetings might be a bit of a put off, the concept that you only want to live with people you will get along with is perfectly understandable.Best of luck with your search.

Furnishing Your New Home On A Budget In Zurich

Zurich Furniture


So many of us expats will have arrived here by plane, and what does that mean? Well it means we pay for excess luggage by the kilo as opposed to having the luxury of arriving with a van full of possessions.

Contrary to all the places I have previously lived, my new room in Zurich has NO furniture included. So with a limited budget how can you get the most bang for your buck?

Many new expats in a rush to furnish their new home, will however overlook the possibility of buying furniture second hand or even being given furniture, and just go straight to Ikea.

Very few apartments in Zurich are furnished and as a result it is common for people to give away, or sell cheaply their old furniture when they move. Most of this furniture will be Ikea but at a knock down price and maybe with a few bumps and scratches, but easily worth it, especially if you are only here for a limited time.

Here are some of the options I recommend for cheap or free furniture:


People with a larger budget can just go to Ikea, but beware, some of the larger items (leather couches) have a lead in time, however the short term value for money is clear especially when there is a sense of urgency to certain items, for example a bed.

Delivery: There can sometimes be a long delivery wait for large amounts of furniture ordered on-line. Also there is a delivery charge or you can hire a van from them directly (depending on availability -avoid weekends) Their help line speaks English though so make sure to ask them what options are best for you.


Expats on a tight budget with little German will find themselves at ease here. While the availability of suitable furniture here is sporadic it is helpful that all the wheeling and dealing is done through English. If you have the opportunity to get your furniture over a week or so, there are serious deals to be had.

However you must be vigilant and patient as good cheap furniture will be bought up quickly. If you spot the post early enough though sometimes you are lucky enough to get free or very cheap furniture, also try to haggle with the sellers if the costs are still too high for your budget, especially if you are buying multiple items as they will often be under pressure to get rid of the items quickly or will sympathise with your situation.

Delivery: this can be one of the biggest draw backs of buying cheap furniture second hand, the main reason people are selling it so cheaply is because they need to get rid of it and don’t want to move it personally. This means you must arrange to collect and deliver it yourself. See delivery headings below for more info.


This is a great website used by a lot of local people in Zurich and other main cities in Switzerland, the good news for Zurich users is that there is a special English speaking Zurich part, so things are easy to understand. However the main drawbacks to the English speaking site is that not many local German speaking Swiss people use it and it has few bargains to be had compared to its German speaking counter part (see below).

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)


While all the adverts here are posted in German, it should be noted that there are thousands compared to the hundreds  in the English site. But finding the item that you are looking for will be slightly more difficult for the non German speaker, for this I recommend opening up google translate in a separate tab and just “google translate” everything, so while this may sound long and tedious you will find far more items of cheap or free furniture, and maybe pick up some new German vocabulary.

The furniture is in the “Allerlei, Mode & Schönheit “ section and then the “Wohnen” subsection, there are further subsections, but at this point it depends what you are looking for. Before google translating every add, try opening then and looking at  the picture and then finding the cost in the article, if the two items match what you are looking for then it is worth translating the add.

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)


Another website, but this one is only dedicated to free furniture and is available in English too. The downside is that it is for all of Switzerland and sometimes there are not many items available in Zurich

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)


This website is not very well frequented by the Zurich population, but sometimes there are still rare deals to be had in the sale section. Craigslist is notorious for scams though so tread with caution.

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)

BROCKENHAUS – AKA the second-hand shops

There are several of these located in Zurich and some of the smaller ones in your area might be worth a visit for bric-a-brac, but the biggest and most popular one is located just on the North side of the Hauptbahnhoff train tracks, with 3 floors of stuff and loads of furniture it is definitely worth checking out. While the prices may not be as cheap as the charity shops you might be used to, it is still cheapER by Zurich standards. The shop itself is actually generally quite cool and has a great vintage feel about it. There is loads of stuff and it is all very well laid out and not cluttered. Also there are plenty of kitchen crockery and accessories if you just need a few bits and pieces as well as a modest English book section. Worth checking out, even if you don’t need anything.

Delivery: Apparently they do deliver, not sure exactly how much, but it depends on the size and cost of the item, they also do assembly.


There are a couple of really cool flea markets in Zurich. The one I am most familiar with is at Helvetiaplatz at the end of the Langstrasse 8-2.30 on a Saturday. Just to be warned, this is not a high class flea market but has more of a people just trying to sell their old stuff kinda feel. Still though there are some home gems to be had, but not so much furniture as it tends to be what people fit in their car. I probably wouldn’t recommend buying electronics there though, but you can always haggle which is fun, just make sure to brush up on your numbers in German as the majority of vendors speak no/very poor English.There is a good range of bicycles though if you are interested in a cheap and healthy way of getting around.

Delivery Options:

With most of the cheap and free furniture delivery is not an option. So keeping this in mind there are a number of options to get your stuff home safe.

Hiring a van for the day – only if you can arrange it so that you can pick up all your stuff at around the same time, still going to be a couple of hundred CHF. there are many different company’s so shopping around is recommended depending on your needs.

Man with a van– Great for larger items like beds and couches, paid by the hour though so long distances can become an issue. Cost and quality varies greatly, so it is definitely worth shopping around.

Public transport – works best in pairs for smaller single items. Make sure you travel off peak times.

Waren taxi – this is a third party service, kind of like a taxi for your furniture. Great for moves or pick ups from furniture shops where you have multiple items and don’t want to wait for long delivery times. They provide a large variety of moving services, again there are multiple company’s so shop around.

Mobility car sharing – this is like a public car sharing scheme. You subscribe to the service and then you have cheap access to cars all across Switzerland. A very good option for short collections trips as you pay per hour and kilometre. There is a sign up fee, and their website is available in English

Collection with friends – Friends, especially local friends are the best way to move stuff. So ask around amongst the people you know, even if they don’t have their own car maybe they have another sympathetic friend, a subscription to the mobility car scheme or can help you carry stuff on the bus. The value of this help should never be underestimated.

Always make sure to thank all  the people that helped you move or gave you furniture, this can be as simple nice box of chocolates or a dinner at your new place once you have settled in. You should always make sure to offer your friends similar help if they are moving too, as what goes around comes around.


Amazing Zurich Apartment Scams On Craigslist

One thing to certainly be aware of if you are apartment hunting is scam postings on Craigslist. These are highly organised operations and exist purely to relieve you of your money.

You start to picture the situation of your wonderful luxurious apartment, inviting friends over and regaling them with the tale of how you picked up a wonderful bargain on Craigslist. The truth is, unfortunately, that the story you will end up with is one you will never want to tell anyone – of how you were totally scammed out of a deposit by a West African fraudster.

Take this ad for example:

I have two lovely bedrooms flat available for rent at the central heart of Zurich..It is available for rent presently.

DETAILS ABOUT MY APARTMENT……….Address : Falkenstrasse 10, Zurich 8008, Switzerland.\r\nSize of the Whole Apartment :85 m square

Number of bedrooms:2

Number of bathrooms:2

Floor:Ground floor.

Monthly rental price: 800chf for the whole apartment including all bills

Security Deposit: 1200chf

Pictures available:YES


Equiped Kitchen,washing Machine,American Kitchen Fridge & Freezer Oven,Microwave Dish Washer Crockery & Utensils,Bath Shower Hair Dryer,Towels

Extra features

Internet Dial Up, Internet Broadband Cable/Satelite

TV,Stereo/Radio System DVD Player,DVD/Music Collection

Central Heating Air Conditioning

Pets Welcome






Washer/Dryer Hookups

Included in Rent:




Covered Parking



Laundry Facilities\r\nInterior:


Internet Access

Storage Area/Room

Tenant Criteria:

Pets Allowed


Fenced Yard

Near To:

Bus Stop





Shopping CenterCraigslist Apartment Scam


This may well be the most well-appointed apartment in the world. Look what wonderful pictures!

It is “available” for 800CHF.

Compare it with this list of actual places for rent in Zurich for 800CHF

The premise is simple. if it sounds too good to be true, then it is.