The Swiss are a nation of home-birds. In 2022 for example, less than 10% of the Swiss population moved house. And a recent gfs.bern research institute survey reported that 70% of respondents were very satisfied with their current living conditions.  In addition, around 50% stated that they intended to remain in their current accommodation for the “long term”.

The gfs research study coincides with a recent survey released by Swiss Life  which found that 1/3 of those moving in Switzerland remain in the same Commune or Gemeinde (local area) after they move. In fact, the average moving distance in Switzerland is 13 Kilometres (8 miles), with 50% of home moves being only 5 kilometres (3 miles).

Compared to other European countries, the situation in Switzerland is even more extreme.

  • UK – the average person moves 8 times during their lifetime and 25% of those people moving, actually leave the UK.
  • In Europe people move on average 4 times in their life and in the Nordic Member States, an incredible 1/3 of the population moves home each year.

Demographics of People Moving in Switzerland
In Switzerland it is young adults that demonstrate the highest propensity to move. In 2021:

    • 2% of those aged 26–35 versus 19% of those 18–25 moved.
    • During the same period only 6.9% of 46–55-year-olds moved.
    • 75% of the people who moved stayed in the same canton.
    • Only 15% moved to another canton.
    • 11% moved abroad. The cities with the highest relocation rate abroad are Geneva with 21.5%, followed by Lugano with 17.2%, and finally Basel with 15.6%.



Why the Swiss public doesn’t like to move:

  • Extensive Public Transport
    With an excellent and reliable public transport system, most people interviewed said they preferred to commute longer distances, rather than move.
  • Personal and Private Network
    The Swiss have strong social and family roots. Enjoying free time is seen as key to having a happy life and many Swiss belong to clubs and societies in their local area. Having to move to a new area away from friends and family could cause unrest within the family and not worth the trade-off for a “better” job.
  • Accommodation Supply
    Currently around 9 million people live in Switzerland. According to recent data from the Federal Statistical Office, the vacancy rate for housing in Switzerland dropped to a level of 1.15% last summer. This figure is well below the threshold considered healthy for a balanced real estate market.  With nearly 2/3 of the population living in rented accommodation, finding somewhere affordable to live in a new area might be challenging.
  • Accommodation Prices
    Differences in local tax levels are also reflected in housing costs, with higher demand in municipalities where taxes are low. Demographics also have an impact on housing costs. These rise when the population grows faster than supply.

    • This dynamic explains 50% of the variance in housing costs in Switzerland between 1982 and 2013, where 4 million households were renters and the average rent for a four-room apartment was CHF1’622.
    • New apartments (built less than two years ago) of the same size cost on average CHF 2’138 per month. The oldest, therefore are at least 20% cheaper.
  • Languages
    Switzerland has 4 official languages. In addition, English is widely spoken in larger towns and cities and in certain geographic areas where international employers are located. Although 2/3 of the Swiss population speak more than one language in their everyday lives, moving to a new area, could mean family members might be isolated. Children especially, may find moving to a new language area difficult and stressful.

Switzerland is a relatively small country with an excellent transport network.  The country has 4 language areas and communities are close-knit with many people preferring to commute to work rather than moving away from friends, family and social networks. This combined with a growing population, a tight housing market with a population that prefers to rent rather than buy (i.e. for the main part) and we can see why the tendency to move is low in Switzerland.


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