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Created on 12.06.2024

Your first home: checklist and tips

Are you moving into your own home for the first time or moving in with a partner? That’s great! We’ll show you what you need to take note of when moving into your first home, be it planning your budget or sending off an application.

At a glance

  • Moving into your own home is an exciting adventure
  • Realistic cost and budget planning will make things easier financially
  • You need to be fast and follow the process correctly when applying for an apartment

Find more tips about everyday life in the money newsletter.

Are you moving into your own home by yourself? Or maybe together with a partner? How exciting! Moving into your own home is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. However, there’s a lot to consider before you actually move in. The most obvious question is usually: “Can I actually afford my own place?”

What costs can I expect to pay when I have my own home?

Living in your own home may bring you a lot of freedom, but it can be expensive. Here are some of the costs you can expect:

  • Monthly rent. Set up a standing order for your rent
  • Rental guarantee or deposit protection insurance (this acts as security for the lessor if you are late with your monthly rental payments or damage your apartment)
  • Furnishing costs
  • Costs for transporting furniture (e.g. rental vans, delivery costs, etc.)

Other costs

Tips on day-to-day savings

Do you need to save money because moving and living costs have put a strain on your budget? These tips can help:

How much should an apartment cost?

As a general rule, a third of your salary should be allocated towards costs for your home.


Lea is looking for a two-room apartment in Zurich or the surrounding area. She finished her studies last year and earns 6,000 francs per month in her new job.

Therefore, Lea’s apartment shouldn’t cost more than 6,000 francs / 3 = approx. 2,000 francs.

Shared accommodation instead of your own home?

If you’re just beginning or in the middle of your studies, shared accommodation may offer an alternative to getting your own place. Living in shared accommodation is usually cheaper. You’ll also have other people around you and often won’t have to finance all of the accommodation’s furnishings and equipment yourself.

Are you a student and looking for an ideal banking package alongside the right type of accommodation? SmartStudents from PostFinance is free for people up to 30 years old in training or study and includes everything you need to keep your spending under control. 

Finding the right apartment

It’s not easy finding affordable accommodation in and around central Switzerland. As well as common search platforms such as Homegate, Flatfox, Immoscout and Comparis, it can be useful to use your own contacts. Ask your friends and colleagues if they know of any available apartments. It’s also a good idea to search the websites of larger agencies for empty apartments.

Have you found an apartment or house that you think could be your first home? Then be quick: get in contact with the person responsible for the ad and make the effort to view the property. At the same time, it’s a good idea to start preparing any documents you might need to apply for the property. 

Viewing the property: what you should be aware of

  • Be ready for any potential questions from the estate agent
  • Bring all important documents with you
  • Ask the lessor any questions you have prepared
  • Have a friend, parent or colleague go with you to view the apartment – it’s always nice to have a second opinion
  • Take note of any defects so you can write them down later in the handover record
  • Don’t let mass viewings unnerve you
  • Make clear your interest in the apartment and thank the lessor for taking the time to show you the property
  • Keep in contact with the lessor after the appointment without sounding pushy. Send an e-mail on the same evening and make it clear how much the property interests you.

Applying for a property: what documents do I need?

Different agencies and companies may require different documents when applying for a property. Check on their website or contact them by phone to find out what you will need. You will generally need the following documents:

  • Complete the application form in full. The application form will often ask for references. If it’s your first property, this can be your parents or your employer. If you’re moving in with your partner and you have had a property previously, this will be your current lessor. Make sure you enter the full name and telephone number correctly. Always ask your references for permission before giving their names on the form. You could also ask your references to write you a letter of recommendation if necessary. For example, your employer could confirm how reliable you are. 

    Application forms are generally made available to you when you go to view a property. If one isn’t available, you can usually get a form online from most agencies. 

  • Submit an up-to-date, original extract from the debt collection register. If you have been unfairly charged, explain the situation to your lessor so they can understand. The extract from the debt collection register is an official document and shows whether you have been the subject of debt collection proceedings since moving to your current address or within a maximum of the past five years.

    You can request an extract from the debt collection register from the debt collection office for your place of residence. You can find your debt collection office easily via the website EasyGov.Find your debt collection office on the EasyGov website.

    Alternatively, you can get an extract via an online service such as tilbago CredRep. Find out more about the CredRep online service from tilbago.

  • Do you not have a Swiss passport or ID? If not, submit your residence permit with your application.

Also recommended

  • Adding an accompanying letter to your application allows the agency or lessor to get a first impression and learn a bit about you. Introduce yourself, describe your current personal and professional situation and explain why you are interested in this particular property. Perhaps you have a special connection to the town or area, or maybe your workplace is nearby? Make sure you share these details with the agency or lessor. Also explain if you’ll be moving in alone or with someone else and attach a photo of yourself. Always be authentic and honest. An A4-sized letter is more than enough.

  • As a rule, salary statements or employment contracts don’t need to be submitted (unless there’s a specific reason to request them, such as the income of the person applying failing to meet a certain threshold, or if the property is particularly expensive and the lessor therefore has substantial risk). Most lessors will request a salary statement, however. It’s a particularly good idea to attach your salary statement and/or employment contract if there are lots of people interested in the property. It makes a good first impression and shows trustworthiness. Always answer any questions about your income correctly.

    Tip: submit your application as quickly as possible, especially if there were lots of people going to view the property. 

How can I successfully apply for an apartment?

These tips can help make your application a success:

  • Be quick: respond to the ad as quickly as possible.
  • Prepare the documents for your application in good time (accompanying letter, letter of recommendation and references, extract from the debt collection register, etc.) so that you can submit them straight after you have viewed the property.
  • Sell yourself, but be honest and authentic, just like when applying for a job.

Apartment handover: what should I be aware of?

Has your application for your first home been successful? Congratulations! Once you’ve signed the contract, the keys and apartment itself will be handed over to you. During this handover, look through and check the condition of every room in the property with the agency or lessor. This information will be noted in the apartment handover record, which contains a list of known defects and an agreement. The record makes a note of any damage or defects present in the property and who is responsible for them. The list of defects can include things such as stains on walls, doors that don’t close properly or even missing objects such as glass shelves in a bathroom cabinet.

Only sign this document when you are sure all defects and damages have been noted, and you know for certain who is responsible for repairing these defects and who is covering the costs. Make sure all defects are noted clearly and in detail.

Useful tip: have you overlooked a defect?

If you didn’t see or make a note of a defect during the handover, you can report this later to the agency or lessor. You’ll find the deadline for this in your rental agreement. Examples of commonly missed defects include broken plug sockets and light switches, windows that don’t open, defective ovens or washing machines and cracks in the walls.

Organizational issues: what you need to do when moving into your first home

Please note: the following lists aren’t exhaustive.

Inform the following parties of your move

  • Municipality of residence/residents’ register office
  • Internet and TV providers
  • Electricity providers
  • Household insurance
  • Personal liability insurance

Change of address when moving

  • Health insurer
  • Vehicle licensing office
  • Other insurance companies
  • Employer
  • Bank
  • Mobile phone provider
  • Any magazine or newspaper subscriptions
  • Swiss Post

Your first home – what furniture do you really need? A checklist

Everyone naturally wants to furnish their first home as best they can. But what furniture and equipment do you really need for your first home? The following checklist will help you choose your basic equipment. 

    • Bed and mattress
    • Wardrobe and hangers
    • Mirror
    • Duvets, pillows, bed covers
    • Bedside table
    • Table
    • Chairs
    • Armchair or sofa
    • Side table
    • Chest of drawers/sideboard
    • Shelves
    • Work desk
    • Pans
    • Coffee machine
    • Toaster
    • Bowls and chopping boards
    • Dishes and cutlery
    • Cooking utensils such as wooden spoons and spatulas
    • Kitchen towels
    • Toilet brush
    • Hand towels
    • Shower curtain
    • Storage space
    • Shower mat
    • Curtains
    • Carpets
    • Lights
    • Vacuum cleaner
    • Tools
    • Iron and ironing board

What does it really cost to furnish your first home?

The equipment and furnishing costs for your first home depend on your budget and what you want to do with it. If your budget is tight, get creative: don’t be afraid to bring furniture from your old bedroom in your parents’ house. You can also find something nice in a second-hand shop or at a flea market, or check online platforms for second-hand items. Not only does buying second-hand furniture save you money, it’s also good for the environment. Buying something second-hand is much less resource-intensive than buying something new. 

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