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Buying property in Zurich

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San Antonio, Texas
posts: 282
reviews: 5
Buying property in Zurich

My husband and I are considering purchasing a condo in Zurich. We want to buy a condo somewhere close to a lot of other European cities (we would like easy travel to places like Paris, Lake Como, Munich...), but that also has its own cultural draws (like museums, festivals, markets, opera...). Is Zurich as good a candidate as we think (we have never been to Switzerland)? We are not concerned about cold weather as we have traveled to Europe in winter a couple times (places like Bavaria and Paris) and we are also from Alaska.

We are American and do not know how much we should expect to pay for a condo (prob. 2 or 3 bed, 2 bath in a decent area of town close to 'tourist' attractions so that friends and family can easily stay with us or go alone and not have to travel far to the sites). Are there any restrictions on foreigners (Americans in particular) purchasing property in Switzerland?

Also, I have read that the Swiss start learning English in 2nd grade. Do many continue with their studies and therefore know English fairly well? My husband and I can both get by with French pretty well but we don't know German (I speak English, French, Spanish, Russian (although I have forgotten a lot of it), some Brasilian Portuguese, I can understand a lot of Catalan, and I can sort of understand Italian but cannot speak it; and my husband speaks English, French, Spanish, and very little Brasilian Portuguese). I suppose my question is which language would it be most beneficial to know in Zurich? Would it be German or some dialect of German?

Thank you!

Zurich, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Zurich
posts: 2,978
reviews: 28
11. Re: Buying property in Zurich

It's true, if you have a European passport, it simplifies to settle down. But it would still be impossible to buy a property only for holiday purposes. Renting an appartment would be the only possibility! It is very common mainly at the tourist spots that foreigners rent an appartment for long term. In the towns it's not that common but still it shouldnt be a problem. In Zurich itself it might only take some time to find a suitable free appartment as the demand is higher than the offer.

San Antonio, Texas
posts: 282
reviews: 5
12. Re: Buying property in Zurich

I'll have to ask my friends who have gotten Italian and German dual citizenship what the rules and procedures were. I have family ("ancestry") on my father's side from Dusseldorf and from Amsterdam. Also, my husband's family is from Greece (his father, uncle, and grandparents used to live there).

posts: 28
13. Re: Buying property in Zurich

Dear Piearce

I am a local living in Zürich, and a travel agent (means traveling the world is my job) and would like to give you the following feedback:

Switzerland and Zürich (also Basel and the other mentioned places) is a very good place to life and visit, when it comes to the following points:

- You will have no problem with the languages. Even my mother with 68 years and no english in school does speak english and so most people do.

- Quality of life is extremely high. Next to Vancouver Zürich has been voted as place with the highest quality of life world-wide

- Absolutely safe - you can walk home at 04.00 in the morning, no problem. I life in Zürich and don't lock my door. In fact I know some people who don't even lock it when they are not at home (I would not suggest this!) Even as a single women you can do this.

- the mountains are close, the nature is beautiful

If you have the time (and money) there is lots of culture to enjoy, of course there is a wide culinary choice as well.

What you might not enjoy so much:

We are a small country! Zürich will seem like a town to you. Can't compare it to London, or Paris, it is called little big city, and that is what it is.. but it adds some charm. Depends what you like.

It is very expensive to life here

People are not outgoing - very much the northern kind of culture (like in Island for example). It will be difficult to make social contact.

Compared to a place like Russia, culture (ballet etc.) is not exciting. Well, as I mentioned.. we are small.

Compared to the States, service here is poor (not so friendly etc.)

I agree - don't buy for your purpose, but rent. Will be much more affordable and also hassle-free.

Lugano is ok for vacation. But it is much smaller and also difficult to reach. I would rather recomend it for day-trips. Also I agree that you will have language problems there. (French will help)

Good luck!

Zurich, Switzerland
posts: 260
reviews: 16
14. Re: Buying property in Zurich

This is a very akward discussion thread being catered to someone who has never visited Switzerland? Who in their right mind would consider buying property, obtaining citizenship etc. in a land they have never event touched foot on?

I think you will find a lot, if not most, answers to your questions in the book titled "living and working in switzerland" (also available for other countries). this book was my survival guide upon arriving in CH:


San Antonio, Texas
posts: 282
reviews: 5
15. Re: Buying property in Zurich

Lara2b - Thank you so much for the helpful information! The high quality of life and the centralize location of Zurich are reasons we are considering Zurich. We have been to many places in Europe and have loved most of them... We would love to rent or buy a flat in London but are afraid it isn't too convenient to travel to other places in Europe. Also, my parents and an aunt and uncle love Bavaria (my aunt and uncle used to live outside Oberammergau), and being so close they could easily visit.

PastaS - The reason we are considering buying or renting in Switzerland without having been there yet is because of the location, culture, and language. We have read that Zurich was 'voted' to have the best quality of life of any city in the world. We also like the politics and feel that Switzerland is a stable enough economy and that it is safe enough for us to feel comfortable.

We are also considering some other places to rent or buy, including Paris, London is still on the list but not so high priority due to the location, Luxembourg (we will have to look into this), Italy, possible Austria... We simply want some information before traveling to these places. For instance, it is useful to know about the Swiss restrictions on foreigners purchasing property before we decide to go there and fall in love with Zurich (or any other Swiss city).

Thank you everyone for so much useful information! I suppose part of our problem is that we have loved everywhere we have gone so much and I don't think there is anywhere in the world we don't want to visit (besides Detroit), but we should probably start traveling to whatever countries are our top priorities for renting or buying before we travel to some places that aren't possibilities.

16. Re: Buying property in Zurich

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