Your first apartment checklist

Say goodbye to hotel mum and step into independent living: getting your first apartment is a huge and very exciting step. Our checklist will prepare you and tell you what needs to be kept in mind.

Step 1: Finding the right apartment

Of course you already have an idea of how your dream apartment should look and where you would like to live. Unfortunately, dreams and reality are sometimes poles apart. So for a successful apartment hunt, you should keep the following points in mind:

  • Location
  • Size (rooms and square metres)
  • Rent

Our tip: One rule of thumb is that apartment rent (including utilities) should not exceed one third of your available net income. And do not forget that you will also have to provide your landlord with a security deposit. This is generally three months’ rent and will be returned after you move out (assuming there’s no damage to the property).

It’s helpful to be flexible when it comes to the size and location of the apartment. For example, you can look for places around the perimeter of an area. With the information outlined above, you can start your search on real estate portals such as Homegate.

Our tip: Set up a search alert right away, so that you are immediately notified by email when a new apartment that meets your criteria becomes available. To do this, simply enter a search with your requirements on Homegate – on the results page, you can set up an email notification.

Step 2: Viewing the apartment

When you have found a great apartment and set up an appointment to view it, things get exciting: Is the apartment just as attractive in reality as described in the offer? Is it the right fit for me? And if so, can I persuade the landlord to take me on as a tenant?

In big cities and metropolitan areas, it’s become commonplace for those interested in an apartment to introduce themselves to the landlord with an application dossier. This may include the following:

  • Cover letter: Who I am and why would I like to rent the apartment.
     
  • Application form: Such a form is often available at the apartment viewing or is sent to you in advance.
     
  • Extract from the debt collection register: Your future landlord naturally wants to know whether you can pay your rent (on time).
     
  • Residence permit: If you do not have Swiss citizenship.
     
  • Proof of employment: This can be either a copy of the work contract or a confirmation issued by your employer.
     
  • Salary statement: Many landlords will ask for your last three salary statements. Of course, you are not required to disclose this information, but if there are many applicants it can help you win the lease. Your parents can act as guarantors if you do not have a salary. This can also be put in writing.
     
  • References: The landlord would like to get a picture of their future tenant. Of course, the opinion of a third party can be extremely helpful; for example, you can provide a written reference from your employer or give their contact information as a reference. In this case, ensure that you obtain permission from your boss beforehand.

If you like the apartment on viewing, it’s naturally helpful to leave a good impression. Arrive on time, show interest and try to start a conversation with the landlord. That way, you will make a lasting impression.

Step 3: Plan your move

You have won the contract for your dream apartment and signed the lease? Excellent! Now you can start planning your move.

First ask yourself if you want to move with help from friends or hire a removal company. Both options have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day it’s generally a question of funds, especially when it comes to moving into your first apartment.

With Homegate’s moving checklist, you can get started with the preparations. Check out our page on packing boxes and make sure your packing and move is quick and stress-free.

Step 4: Apartment handover

Before moving, you need the key to your first apartment, which you will receive at the apartment handover. Keep in mind the following:

  • Apartment handover report: The condition of the apartment will be precisely documented and all defects and damages will be recorded. Both the tenant and landlord will then sign off.
     
  • Defects: Pay careful attention to any damage to the apartment. Is anything scratched or broken? Do the electrical appliances work? What condition are the walls and floors in? The Homegate checklist for viewing a property helps you keep track of everything.
     
  • Liability: You are responsible for the condition of the apartment as documented during the apartment handover. That means you are responsible for returning the apartment in the same condition (if nothing else is agreed).
     
  • Signature: Sign the lease only when you are sure that everything has been properly recorded and it has been determined who’s responsible for paying for any damages. And sign off only when you are sure that you really understand everything. When in doubt, ask questions so that there are no misunderstandings at the end of your lease term.
     
  • Moving out of the apartment: Although you may not be thinking of it right then, it’s worth clarifying what condition the apartment needs to be returned in. It’s best to discuss this directly with the landlord. For example, have you rented an apartment with colourful walls? Can they stay that way, or is it expected that you will repaint them white? In that case, it’s the previous tenant that would actually be responsible.

Step 5: The move

It’s finally here: you are moving into your first apartment. Whether with friends, family or a removal company, make sure to download our moving checklist so that in all the excitement you don’t forget anything.

Your first apartment checklist
© freepik

Step 6: Post-move formalities

Before you get comfortable in your new apartment, you will have to take care of a few important things:

  • Register: Register at your new municipality within 14 days.
     
  • Address change: All your contacts (private and professional) should know your new address. It’s best to make a list of who you need to notify; this includes government authorities, insurance company, bank, doctor, etc.
     
  • Insurance: Take out household and personal liability insurance.
     
  • Internet and telephone: If your telecoms provider is not available at your new address, find information on possible options so you are not left without internet access in your first apartment.

Step 7: Furnishing your apartment

Furnishing your first apartment is definitely one of the things that’s the most fun to do. You have probably thought long and hard about the furniture you want and where you would like to put it.

But money can be tight after moving, especially for young people, meaning you cannot simply buy everything brand new. There are many ways to build your own furniture cheaply or to use existing furniture in a new way. For example, Euro pallets can be used in the bedroom as a bed frame, or in the living room as a sofa frame or coffee table. Steps can be used as a bedside table in the bedroom. A beautiful, thick branch hung on chains can replace the coat rack in the hallway. And in the bathroom, you can lean a cute wood ladder against the wall and use it for your towels.

Our tip: Pinterest has all sorts of DIY furniture that’s simple to recreate. And our page on tips for moving house tells you what you should take care of right away and not put off.