Living in Zurich: quality of life and high living costs
Zurich – the capital of the canton of Zurich, political municipality, the economic, scientific and social center of Switzerland, and above all one of the cities, it is said, with the world’s best quality of life – and the most expensive cost of living.
Zurich is home to around 394,000 people, which corresponds to a population density of around 4,300 inhabitants per square kilometer. The original community of Zurich only included the area of today’s old town (today’s district 1). After surrounding villages were also settled, the city of Zurich is now made up of twelve city districts, each comprising two to four quarters.
For many years, around 120,000 people have changed their living quarters in the city of Zurich each year, i.e. they either move to the city new or move within the city of Zurich.
Despite the comparatively high cost of living, the Swiss banking city is in greater demand than ever – a rich cultural offer, high security, lively districts, and idyllic surroundings make Zurich a sought-after city for those looking for accommodation.
Zurich and apartments in Zurich are particularly attractive to people from abroad thanks to low taxes throughout Switzerland and the metropolitan character of the city.
Looking for an apartment: Zurich, rental prices and lack of housing
The supply of living space, like in many other large cities, is a long-running political issue in Zurich. Living in Zurich focuses primarily on the core city itself since centrality plays an important role for many apartment seekers.
Accordingly, the greatest heterogeneity in terms of purchasing power can be found in the core city: Switzerland, and above all the Zurich core city, attracts many millionaires, so that individual residents of Zurich have almost unlimited budgets for living, while others, such as young families, students or older people, only very limited.
Due to the high demand, the vacancy rate in Zurich is traditionally low compared to the rest of Switzerland and internationally. At this low level, there are also significant fluctuations compared to the previous year. The number of empty apartments in Zurich was 18 vacant apartments and only 0.01%. In 1997 there were 1070 vacant apartments in Zurich at a rate of 0.55%. In 2008, there were 57 vacant properties in the city at 0.03%.
Rent index Zurich: Rising rental prices and the business with luxury apartments
Contrary to popular belief, the rent level in the city of Zurich is not relevantly higher than in the surrounding area, despite the high demand: Figures from the Swiss Labor Force Survey (SAKE 2005) show that the average rent for a 4-room apartment in the city of Zurich is CHF 1,700 inch Incidental costs differ only marginally from the canton’s average rent of CHF 1,650.
Generally speaking, however, there is an almost uninterrupted increase in rental prices. Rents are currently around 12% higher than in 2000. Adjusted for inflation (8%), there has been a real price increase of around 4% since then. This shows a significant increase in rents in Zurich. It should be noted, however, that rental prices across Switzerland have also risen practically in the same ratio.
Good news for everyone who is currently looking for an apartment in Zurich or the rest of Switzerland: prices on the Swiss housing market rose more slowly in 2013 than in previous years. The average growth was 1.1 percent; prices had risen by 3.7 percent.
Nevertheless, average tenants cannot breathe a sigh of relief, because the reason for the price decline is in the luxury segment, where the prices for single-family houses and apartments in Zurich have fallen.
Demand for the medium and low sectors has traditionally been high. But even if, as the Handelszeitung reports, luxury apartments are now empty for the first time: The many premium real estate agents in Zurich, of which Engel and Volker’s is certainly the best known, will continue to do good to very good business in the future
Zurich rent index: huge differences between the individual city districts
If the average rents in Zurich are only marginally higher than in the rest of Switzerland, there are still significant differences in the different parts of Zurich. A free apartment directly in Zurich city center costs exactly twice as much as a comparable apartment in Schwamendingen. As the Niue Zurich Zeitung reports, a 100 square meter apartment with 4.5 rooms in Stadtkreis 1 costs an average of 4,400 francs, in Schwamendingen 2,200.
Apartments in Zurich and the demographic change
If finding a flat in Zurich is generally not easy, it is particularly difficult for single-person flat seekers. They hardly play a role in residential construction projects. Many residential construction projects commissioned by the city of Zurich categorically exclude small apartments.
This excludes an entire age group. In the urban settlement on Rautistrasse in Altstetten, for example, there are only apartments with 3½ to 5½ rooms. Individuals are not permitted for such apartments due to occupancy regulations, the focus is on families. Older people, in particular, can hardly afford an apartment on the free market in the city of Zurich.
This is especially a problem when you look at demographic change and its effects: According to the Federal Statistical Office, around a quarter of the population of Zurich will be over 65 in the next 20 years. The need for smaller 1 to 2-room apartments is constantly increasing. The range of 2,000 urban 1 to 2-room apartments is also very differently distributed: in district 4 there are over 600 such small apartments, in district 7 there are none.
Progressive housing construction that incorporates demographic changes into its planning is therefore required here as an answer to social changes.