What will your first apartment cost?
Have you decided to fly the nest? Or maybe you’ve had enough of living in a flat share? Then it’s time to start on your journey towards a place of your own. But along with all that freedom, there are things that can take the shine off your first apartment – not least the cost. We give you the low-down and explain how you can save money when you move.
The essentials at a glance
How much does moving out cost?
Your rent shouldn’t be more than a third of your income. If you’re moving into an apartment for the first time, you’ll have to pay a deposit on top. This is usually equivalent to three months’ rent. Regardless of how high your rent is, you should have at least four months’ rent saved before leaving home so that you can afford the move.
What are the costs of renting an apartment?
In addition to the rent, which includes service charges, your first apartment comes with lots of extra charges that you will have to factor in. These include utilities like water and electricity, and fixed monthly costs like TV and internet packages, radio and TV licensing fees and insurance premiums.
Budgeting for your first apartment
Before you start packing your bags, you should be aware of the costs of moving into your first apartment. To get an overview, it’s worth drawing up a budget with a breakdown of all incomings and outgoings. We've made you a list so you know all the things tenants need to pay for.
Rents in Switzerland vary massively between regions and cities. If you’re looking for an apartment in the city, you’re bound to pay more than you would in the suburbs or out in the countryside. Rents are especially high in cities like Zurich and Geneva. But no matter where your first apartment is located, your rent should be no more than a third of your income. Ideally it should actually be less than that, as it’s worth having a decent buffer, especially for your first apartment.
Service charges are usually included in your gross rent. They are usually paid on account and offset against actual consumption at the end of the year. You can expect to pay approx. CHF 3.00 per square metre. Yet even if you pay these charges in your rent every month, you can still get an unwelcome additional bill at the end of the year. If this happens, it’s worth increasing the payment on account.
The deposit for a rented apartment is usually equivalent to three months’ rent. However, you will get this money back when you move out of the apartment, provided that you haven’t caused any major damage. When moving out of home, the deposit can eat up a large chunk of your savings, so it may be worth arranging an insurance bond. This option allows you to pay an annual fee for the bank to guarantee your deposit.
Your electricity consumption isn’t covered by the service charges. You will usually receive a separate bill for this from your electricity provider on a quarterly basis. The average price is CHF 0.21/kWh, and an average household consumes approx. 2,000 kWh per year. Most electricity providers provide electricity cost calculators to help you estimate your fee. You usually also have a choice between cheaper or more expensive tariffs.
Internet and TV
You probably won’t want to do without an internet connection. The cheapest subscriptions cost about CHF 25 per month and up. If you also have a TV, you can often get combined subscriptions with TV reception, starting from around CHF 40 per month. Before you choose a provider, it’s worth comparing the different packages on a price comparison site.
If you’re moving out of the family home, you won’t be covered by your parent’s family insurance any longer. Although household insurance is not mandatory in most cantons, with the exception of Nidwalden, Waadt, Freiburg and Jura, it’s still definitely worth getting your belongings insured against damage. Annual insurance premiums for an average apartment in Zurich start at CHF 180.00. Again, checking out a price comparison site is recommended. Household insurance is often offered in combination with personal liability insurance. You may also spot special offers for young adults which are a bit cheaper or have special extras.
Radio and TV licensing fee
Paying the radio and TV licensing fee (Serafe) is obligatory for all households in Switzerland, whether you use a radio or TV or not. The fee is billed annually and is CHF 335.00 for private households.
Of course, in order for you to feel really at home in your new place, you’ll need furniture and other furnishings. This is usually the most expensive one-off cost. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of opportunity to save here, too. Do you have any pieces of furniture that you could take with you? Maybe someone in your group of friends is giving away a sofa? Second-hand websites, thrift shops and flea markets are all treasure troves of furnishings that you can use to make your apartment a complete home. Our furnishings checklist details everything you need to settle into your new home.
Packing material/transport companies
You can't do without them – if you're about to move, packing supplies are a must. You’ll need approx. 10 boxes per room on average. You can get cheap boxes from around CHF 2.50 each. For an even cheaper option, scour websites selling second-hand goods or Facebook groups or ask your friends.
If you don’t fancy packing yourself, you can hire a moving company and save yourself the hassle. The costs of this will depend on a number of factors. You’ll find more info on this in our article on moving companies.
Changing your address and redirecting post
When you move, you should notify all the relevant people and businesses of your change of address. These may include insurance providers, internet and mobile phone companies, your employer and the bank. In most cases, you can do this by setting up aredirection order at the post office. This prevents important post from going to your old house, even if you’ve forgotten to let someone know of your change of address. You can arrange a six-month redirection order for a one-off fee of CHF 35.00.
Our tips for saving
Keep an eye on service charges: What the landlord of your apartment can charge you is clearly defined and must be set out in the rental agreement. You should read this carefully and talk to your landlord if there are any discrepancies.
Saving on electricity: You can save electricity – and your money – with a few easy tricks. We share our most important tips here.
Share the WiFi: Would one of your neighbours agree to share the WiFi with you? That way, you’d both save money. Read our article to find out what to bear in mind when sharing an internet connection.