Accommodation in Geneva
The housing situation in Geneva is very tight and vacancy rates are low. There are a number of options though, for finding accommodation in Geneva. The main options are apartments or shared apartments (flats) or foyers (similar to dorms). The process for finding apartments or shared apartments can be difficult and time consuming. Please note that it is very important to watch for scams while apartment hunting. If the place looks too good to be true, it just might be. It is not normal or safe to give deposits before seeing a place. Remember to be careful!
Foyers and Residences
This type of accommodation houses a lot of interns and students from the University of Geneva. They are relatively inexpensive and offer the chance to meet and interact with young people from all over the world. Some foyers provide different services, such as bedding, laundry and internet connections, sometimes even meals – be sure to check this out with each location. Some foyers also have rules, which you should also check out when researching where to live. For example, some foyers are for girls only or have curfews. Also keep in mind the location of the foyers; some are close to town, while others are not close to the centre of Geneva.
As a part of this intern guide we have assembled an extensive lists of different foyers and residences, as well as some other options, such as studios and apartments – you can find this list in Appendix B. We hope this is helpful in your search for accommodation!
Living in shared apartments is one of the more popular ways to find accommodation for interns, in Geneva. It is also one of the best ways to find housing at an average price. There are a couple of ways to search for shared apartments in Geneva, and some of those options are listed below to help you start. Again, it is always important to be vigilant and watch out for scams.
- Easy Roommate: www.easyroommate.com.
- Geneva Home Information: This is a good source for apartment hunting as all the real estate agents post their ads here. It is only available in French. When searching, some key words are “voir les petites announces” (look for advertisements), “immobilier a louer” (to rent), and “sous-louer” (sublet). You will also find the classified section where people are looking to find someone to share an apartment with, or to sublet at “Tribune de Geneve,” the “GHI” or “Le Temps”, among others. Check the website for more information: www.ghi.ch.
- Geneva University Housing Website (Student Advertisements): This is one of the best places to look for reasonably priced apartments, studios and rooms. You can also find ads for sublets at Uni Mail (the large university building in Plainpalais). To get there, take the Tram 15 from Gare Cornavin and get off at Uni Mail. Visit the website to see housing advertisements: www.unige.ch/dase/bulog/form/bourse.php. Tip: Look under “Loue” for places available and under “Cherche” if you would like to advertise that you are searching for a place.
- Centre Accueil Genève International (CAGI) or Geneva Welcome Centre: This is a secure institution that provides all sorts of information and assistance, free of charge, for newcomers to Geneva. The intention is to help provide a smooth transition for international people moving to Geneva. Visit their website at www.cagi.ch
- On their housing webpage at www.cagi.ch/en/logement.php you put the criteria for the type of accommodation you are looking for, and then you receive the adds which correspond to your demand via email shortly after, each time a new accommodation add fits your search criteria, you receive a new email. Once you find a place, you simply ask CAGI to remove you for the mailing list.
- Note that CAGI offers may have a comment stating that ‘this flat is a GIA friendly flat’, meaning that a former intern has had a good experience living there previously…Not a negligible ‘tag’!
- Glocals: Glocals is a social networking website intended for expatriates moving to Geneva. They have a great housing and classified section. Many interns and other newcomers to Geneva find apartments via glocals, though the prices tend to be a little on the expensive side. Visit www.glocals.com for more information.
- World Radio Geneva: This is an English language radio station in Geneva (101.7 FM) that has classifieds on its website. You need to register to view them. Check the link for more information: www.worldradio.ch.
Finding apartments/flats via agencies
Many apartments are controlled by real estate agencies called Régies. A studio usually means everything is in one room. Be sure to look at the number of pièces. A pièce is a room, and in Geneva, the kitchen counts as one. Therefore, a 3-pièces = kitchen + living room + bedroom (note: in Vaud, the kitchen is not counted as a pièce). Half pièces are rooms of combined functions, i.e. a living / dining room combo counts as a 1.5 pièces. If you find an apartment you like, you will normally need to go through the application process where you will need to apply to the Régie for that apartment, and the agency will decide to whom they want to rent it. To apply, normally you will need a document stating your salary and your position at the ILO. In addition, you normally have to prove you are not heavily in debt and may be asked to pay three months rent in advance as a deposit (“caution” in French). In exchange for CHF 231 (for the year 2009), the website www.swisscaution.ch will provide you with a year long deposit. You will require a document stating you are not a criminal, which you can get from the Office des Poursuites, located at 46 rue du Stand, tel. 022 388 90 90.
Here are several websites to help in your search:
- Tout l’immobilier: www.toutimmo.ch
- Immostreet : www.immostreet.ch
- Geneva Immobilier: www.geneveimmobilier.ch
- Home Sweet Home: www.homesweethome.ch