On average, renting a 4.5 room apartment of 100 to 110 m2 costs CHF 3,820 a month in Geneva. The same apartment in the Swiss city of St. Gallen costs CHF 2,004, 52% of the price, according to a report on rents in Switzerland’s ten main cities by the price comparison website Comparis.
For an apartment of this size, Geneva (3,820) is the most expensive, followed by Zurich (3,073), Lausanne (2,850), Basel (2,660), Bern (2,600), Luzern (2,430), Winterthur (2,400), Lugano (2.110), Biel (2,050) and St. Gallen (2,004).
High rents are driven by low supply and high demand. Vacancy rates are particularly low in Geneva and Zurich and relatively high in Biel (2.4%) and St. Gallen (2.3%). The Swiss average is 1.62%.
A high number of well paid jobs in Zurich and Geneva increases the price people are prepared to pay in those cities, increasing demand.
The housing supply is being increased, but in less desirable regions such as Huttwil where nearly 15% of the apartments are currently empty. An expert at Comparis says this has been driven by low interest rates and a strategy of developers building where they can rather than where people choose to live.
Comparis article (in German)