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Different sizes, same price: how far your budget can stretch in different parts of Switzerland

Different sizes, same price: how far your budget can stretch in different parts of Switzerland

Swiss real estate prices vary significantly. While a budget of CHF 500,000 will buy you an apartment with 4.5 rooms in the cantons of Uri, St. Gallen and Jura, it’s only enough to cover a 1.5 room apartment in Geneva and Zug. Rental prices also vary dramatically by region. Looking at the past 10 years, it is also clear that prices have not risen equally sharply in all regions. In comparatively affordable cantons, rents mainly increased for apartments in the 3.5-room segment.

In most cases, those currently looking for a new home have already worked out where they’re likely to find their dream property. Most people are aware that rental and purchase prices vary between regions. However, Homegate has analysed the extent of these differences based on listings on its platform.

Differences in purchase prices

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Demand for properties to buy remains enormous – many Swiss people dream of owning their own home. But this wish doesn’t come true for everyone. Buyers who are flexible in their choice of region have better a chance of being able to find a home, even on a smaller budget. The search becomes increasingly difficult with a budget of CHF 500,000. This amount is only enough for a 1.5-room apartment in the cantons of Geneva and Zug, whereas it will buy you three rooms in Zurich. On this budget, an apartment with 4.5 rooms or more can only be found in the cantons of Uri, St. Gallen and Jura.

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A budget of CHF 1 million will only buy an apartment with 3.5 rooms in the canton of Geneva. The second highest property prices can be found in the canton of Zug, where the same budget will only buy a 4-room apartment. On the other hand, there are many cantons where you can find properties with at least 7 rooms for the same budget (AI/AR, GL, JU, NE, SG, SH, SO, UR, VS). However, in these areas, the number of properties available for an amount this high is very limited.

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A high budget of CHF 1.5 million will only buy you an apartment with 5 rooms in the canton of Geneva and Zug. In the other cantons, this amount is enough to buy an apartment with 6.5 rooms or more.

There are also significant differences within individual cantons. For instance, in some municipalities in the canton of Zurich, CHF 500,000 will buy an apartment with 3.5 rooms (e.g. in Elgg, Gossau or Mönchaltorf), while in other municipalities, this is only enough to purchase a 1.5-room apartment (e.g. the city of Zurich, Horgen or Männedorf). It is also worth comparing property prices in neighbouring municipalities. Remember, different tax rates are also part of the equation.

Differences in rental prices

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It’s a similar situation for rental apartments. This is another case where expanding your search radius to find the best offer is worth your while.

On a fairly low budget of CHF 1,000, the canton of Jura is the only place you’ll be able to find a 3-room apartment. In most cantons, this will only get you an apartment with 1.5 rooms. In the canton of Neuchâtel, it’s enough to cover 2.5 rooms.

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A budget of CHF 2,000 is enough to rent an apartment with 5 rooms in many cantons. In the cantons of Geneva and Zug, this is enough to cover a 3-room apartment, and in Zurich, it’ll get you 4 rooms. It is possible to find properties with more than 6 rooms for this price in the cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Jura.

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A monthly budget of CHF 3,000 is enough to rent an apartment with more than 6 rooms in most cantons. In Geneva, it will get you 4 rooms, and in Zurich, 5.5 rooms.

Change in purchase prices from 2010 to 2020

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Purchase prices rose in all cantons from 2010 to 2020, for both apartments and single-family houses. During this period, purchase prices rose much more sharply than rental prices. The range of price increases is very wide. In cantons where prices are above average, the increase was generally disproportionately high compared with more affordable cantons. In the canton of Zug, prices for a 4.5-room apartment rose from CHF 900,000 in 2010 to CHF 1.3 million in 2020. This represents an increase of 45%, the biggest percentage change. In the canton of Uri, by contrast, prices for a 4.5-room apartment only rose from CHF 675,000 in 2010 to CHF 710,000 in 2020. This is an increase of just 5%, placing it at the other end of the scale.

Change in rental prices from 2010 to 2020

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Rental prices rose for all apartment sizes in all cantons from 2010 to 2020. The increase ranged from 6% to 10%. In comparatively affordable cantons, rents mainly increased for apartments in the 3.5-room segment. By contrast, in expensive cantons, rents mostly rose for apartments with 5.5 rooms. At 13%, the largest increase in rental prices for a 4.5-room apartment was in the canton of Zug, climbing from CHF 2,647 in 2010 to CHF 2,990 in 2020.

Rents for 5.5-room apartments mainly rose in the canton of Zug, increasing from CHF 3,115 to CHF 3,960 (+27%). By contrast, smaller 3.5-room apartments mostly saw a significant increase in less expensive cantons (e.g. Schaffhausen +13.1%, Glarus +10.7%, Thurgau +15.6%).

Real estate search tips

So what can you do to find your dream home as soon as possible? The following tips can help:

  • Expand the search radius: Sometimes, regions just a few kilometres apart have different prices. Prices may also differ between neighbouring municipalities.
  • Check the number of rooms and amount of living space: An apartment with 3.5 rooms may have more square metreage than one with 4.5 rooms – offering more space. Be aware of what you need: is it really the number of rooms that matters to you – or the amount of living space you have to play with?
  • Compare layouts: 120 square metres is not always 120 square metres – the role an apartment’s layout plays in determining how big it feels should not be underestimated. If there is an entrance area that is 10 square metres, the rest of the apartment will feel smaller than one without an entrance area, with the same number of square metres.