Accommodation in Geneva
Finding accommodation in Geneva can be an expat's greatest challenge. There's usually a shortage of available rentals, and both prices and competition are high.
A good alternative to the oversubscribed inner-city suburbs of Geneva is peripheral areas like Cologny, Chênes-Bougeries, Meyrin, Grand-Saconnex and Lancy, which are easily reached by public transport.
Types of accommodation in Geneva
Apartments are the most common type of accommodation in Geneva. They're usually well maintained, but tend to be small and tenants have to adhere to strict rules around noise.
Expats moving to Geneva with a family may want to consider larger properties further away from the city centre, even across the border in neighbouring France.
Regardless of the type of housing expats choose, the cost of accommodation in Geneva is high and it's worth bearing this in mind when negotiating a contract to work in the city.
Finding accommodation in Geneva
Most city residents rent their homes, so there's a lot of competition for rental properties in Geneva. Luckily, many employers provide accommodation close to the workplace as part of their expat employees' packages.
For those who don't have this luxury, an estate agent will be essential, but it's also possible to search local newspapers, real estate brochures and online property portals. Those looking for accommodation on a budget can find subletting options and house-shares online.
If they can, expats should start looking for rental properties a few months before they move to Geneva. The application process can be time-consuming and prospective tenants have to provide a lot of personal, professional and financial information to the landlord or letting agency as part of it. Expats may want to get references from previous landlords to support their applications.
Renting accommodation in Geneva
Lease agreements in Switzerland usually last 12 months and only allow for early termination at certain times of the year, although tenants have to give three months' notice if they want to do so. It's standard for landlords to expect an extract from the debt collection register in Switzerland from prospective tenants, and this can be requested online.
Utilities generally aren't included in rental costs, so expats will need to budget to cover their gas, electricity and water accounts.
Some apartment blocks will implement rules which may seem odd to expats. For example, residents will be asked to only use washing machines at certain hours or told they may not wash their car on Sunday. While the rules may seem somewhat silly, expats will need to adhere to these because they are strictly enforced by the building management.