09 February 2017

Housing for foreign workers in Zurich

Rented apartments in the city of Zurich are very popular. Accordingly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable living space. Experts talk about the overbought market or even housing shortages. The fact is that the housing market in Zurich is profitable for investors. A lucrative business model to capitalize on the current situation is the rental of fully furnished apartments, equipped with WLAN, cleaning and/or laundry service; so-called serviced apartments.

In the city of Zurich, 2,400 such apartments are currently offered. Consequently, already every hundredth apartment is professionally serviced. In some city districts, there are even more, for example, in Kreis 3 (Wiedikon), where the number of serviced apartments is 18.4%, in Kreis 4 (Aussersihl), the number currently stands at 15.9% and in Kreis 6 (Unter-strass) 13.4% of the apartments are offered furnished (Quelle: Tagesanzeiger).

The furnished and professionally serviced apartments are particularly interesting for young, foreign workers (82% of tenants), as they are often hired for projects and only remain for a limited time in Switzerland. The effort to set up an apartment is hardly worthwhile for these employees and it is much easier to choose an apartment which is ready for immediate occupancy. In addition, the additional costs in such cases are mostly (at least partially) covered by the employer or the place of employment, since under the practice of the Office of Economic Affairs and Labour, they have to meet the costs of accommodation and meals for workers posted to Switzerland.

In fact, such additional payments are very welcome, often essential, for residents of serviced apartments: A one-bedroom apartment costs approximately CHF 2'000 - 4,000 monthly, larger apartments can cost well over CHF 9'000 per month. Despite the high prices, business with the serviced apartments is very good and it can be expected to expand in the coming years.
This trend is not welcomed by everyone, as it is feared that it threatens normal housing for long-term tenants. Left-wing politicians also fear that entire neighbourhoods could be affected because too few people with (longer-term) commitment to the neighbourhood remain. There are also complaints that there is a risk that the serviced apartments further restrict the already limited housing in the city of Zurich. Even if the current situation cannot (yet) be considered as problematic, it is certainly recommended to closely monitor further developments.

Author: Urs Haegi

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