In its report on the price development of rental flats in the ten largest Swiss cities, Comparis shows that rental prices for residential properties have continued to rise over the past five years. As expected, the cities of Zurich and Geneva are the frontrunners. In smaller cities, prices have stagnated or even fallen in some cases. The gap in residential rents in the Swiss metropolises is widening.

Leo Hug, the real estate expert at Comparis, sees the most important reason for this development in the migration away from the smaller towns towards the big cities. The report is based on an evaluation of advertisements from the most important real estate platforms in Switzerland.

Strongest price increase in Geneva

In a five-year comparison, the median price for a 4.5-room flat (90 to 120 square metres) has risen the most in Geneva in percentage terms: from 3,360 francs in 2017 to 3,500 francs in 2021. That is 4.2 per cent.

In the case of 3.5-room flats (70 to 90 square metres), Geneva is also in the lead with a rent increase from 2,410 francs to 2,640 francs, an increase of 9.5 per cent.

And for 2-room flats (45 to 55 square metres), the strongest median price increase took place in Lucerne, with 4.8 per cent from 1,240 francs to 1,300 francs.

“The main reason for the development is the migration away from the smaller cities to the large centres,” writes Comparis in its press release. From 2017 to the end of 2020, Geneva’s population increased by 9.7 per cent. In Zurich, the resident population increased by 4.3 per cent in the same period.

Geneva comes out on top in terms of larger flats

In Geneva, tenants currently pay a good CHF 3,500 per month for a 4.5-room flat with 90 to 120 square metres (median price, i.e. half pay more, half pay less). In the class of 3.5-room flats with 70 to 90 square metres, Geneva also stands out with a median price of 2,640 francs. This makes Geneva the most expensive of the 10 largest Swiss cities.

Zurich is the frontrunner for small flats

The following picture emerges for small flats: The median price for a two-room flat with 45 to 55 square metres is currently highest in Zurich at CHF 1,650 per month. Rents for small flats are therefore even more expensive in Zurich than in Geneva. “The reason for this is probably to be found in the proportion of single-person households. This has become smaller in Geneva in recent years, while the opposite is the case in Zurich,” Hug explains.

Rental prices have fallen the most in Lugano

In the 10 largest cities, rental prices fell most significantly in Lugano, with a price drop of 10.5 per cent, from 1,900 francs to 1,700 francs for 4.5-room flats. Prices for 3.5-room flats also fell the most in Lugano, from 1,650 francs to 1,450 francs (12.1 per cent). And for 2-room flats, renters also benefited most in Lugano, with prices falling from 1,295 francs to 1,150 francs (11.2 per cent).

“The hoped-for economic revival through faster connections to the rest of Switzerland through Alpine transit has so far failed to materialise. This is reflected in the population decline,” says Hug. The population of Lugano shrank by 2.1 per cent between 2017 and the end of 2020. Comparis therefore assumes that asking rents in Lugano will continue to fall.

Lugano and Biel are the most favourable Swiss centres

Lugano is already the cheapest of the large cities in Switzerland for 3.5- and 4.5-room flats. In the case of 2-room flats, tenants in Biel get off cheapest with a monthly rent of 985 francs.

Berninvest, the Bernese location promotion agency, explains the generally low asking rents in Biel to Comparis by pointing to the low purchasing power of the local population and the relatively high proportion of non-profit housing. Biel recorded a population decline of 2.1 per cent between 2017 and the end of 2020.

The entire report is available for download here.


Over 683,000 advertisements placed on the Coparis portal from 2017 to 2021 were analysed. Postcodes with a minimum number of 10 advertisements per year were evaluated.