Renting accommodation is the norm in Switzerland, where high land prices and building costs keep the home ownership rate at a consistently low level of less than 40%. As a result, accommodation in Zurich is expensive and hard to find.
Searching for accommodation is a time-consuming process, but it is easier if you are able to carry out your search in the local area itself. You may find it helpful book a hotel room, rent a place in a student house or rent a shared flat to start with. This will give you time to look around for suitable accommodation. Students in Switzerland often organise flat-shares, not least because living on campus is not as common here as it is in English-speaking countries, for example.
You should expect to pay 400 to 1,000 Swiss francs per month for a room with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The cost of renting a one- to 2.5-room flat is significantly higher – between 800 and 1,600 Swiss francs per month depending on location and furnishings.
It is worth looking for accommodation outside Zurich too. Rents outside the city are more affordable and there are quick public transport links to ETH Zurich.
The Housing Office of University and ETH Zurich helps students and employees at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich to find accommodation. You can search for housing online via the Housing Office website or make use of its personal advisory service.
The Housing Office let a limited number of rooms to international Master and exchange students. Students who are eligible for this will be provided with a link to a website on which they can apply for a room in good time. These rooms are let for one or two semesters. When your rental contract expires, you will have to find alternative accommodation yourself. There are as well some studio apartments reserved for international doctoral students.
The Student Housing Cooperative (Studentische Wohngenossenschaft, Woko) has around 2,000 rooms to let throughout the city of Zurich. These are available exclusively to students and doctoral students at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich and are all within very easy reach by public transport, most of them being located near one of the university sites. The accommodation ranges from simply equipped houses in Zurich’s Old Town to purpose-built student residences and complexes with a modern infrastructure.
People often find accommodation via their friends and acquaintances. It is definitely worth making use of your personal contacts and social media in your accommodation search.
Further search alternatives.
Accommodation vacancies can also be found in local newspapers or on notice boards, such as those in the entrance hall of the ETH Zurich main building. It is also worth taking a look at the notice boards at the University of Zurich.