Building, sky, housing complex

Finding housing during the exchange: some practical tips

Discovering a new city is an exciting experience. But finding a place to stay in Zurich as well as in Geneva can be a little strenuous when it comes to an exchange. Previous exchange students agree to this and share their pieces of advice, which may be helpful to future students aspiring an exchange.



Since the range of accommodation in Geneva is limited, it can be difficult to find a suitable home for the stay. Teresa and Kaja both agree. They suggest that starting early when looking for accommodation is key. One option that worked not only for Teresa was to look for apartments on the other side of the border, in neighbouring France, where she found a small apartment in Annemasse, near Geneva. There is a bus to Geneva every 15 minutes and the town offers everything you need for your daily needs. Furthermore, the living costs are much lower compared to Geneva itself. Kaja succeeded through personal contacts and found a nice and welcoming host family through old acquaintances.


            “It is worthwhile to start early and to ask around through personal contacts” – Kaja


Other than that, of course the University of Geneva offers a list of possible accommodation. Here, too, starting early could make the difference. It should be noted though that the Bureau des logements de l’Université (BLOG) responds just shortly before the semester starts, and can therefore be a last-minute option if the search has not yet been successful, suggests Sophia, provided that the registration has been made as early as possible.

At last, staying for a short period of 3-4 months, could sometimes make the accommodation hunting more difficult, as Sirina points out, but she found a flat through Airbnb which was “ultimately very good.”




For Zurich, timing seems to be of importance as well. One needs to plan ahead, but too early could be unfruitful as well, says Vanina. Also, sometimes there can be a real selection process to go through during or after the viewing, so travel may be required once in a while. Both Charlotte and Vanina suggest WOKO, which is a student’s cooperative for accommodation, as a good starting point. Other than that, the UZH housing suggestion could be a helpful as well.

Although housing in the city centre is rather expensive, it is more affordable in the surrounding areas such as Oerlikon. WG Zimmer, a website for renting rooms, provides another option, says Estelle, but also social networks, personal contacts and friends’ networks may be helpful in finding a suitable place to stay in Zurich.


            “You have to be patient and try everywhere.” – Estelle


On a more important note

In most cases, it may be required to announce your arrival to the authorities, as well as your departure from the canton of origin – make sure to check the formalities! Changing cantons or countries has specific procedures to follow.

Beware of scams on the internet! Never pay for accommodation or a visit in advance without having seen it or the person responsible, and without having a signed contract. For more information, please refer to the following page from the Vaud Police.


Picture credit for the header: Adrian Trinkaus

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