Dear Landlord…

Eunice Kilonzo
4 min readDec 21, 2023

I trust this letter finds you in good health. I am writing to introduce myself and provide some background information as part of my application for the house rental in Geneva.

Your property’s location, features, and amenities align perfectly with our requirements, making it a compelling choice for our family. We fully comprehend the significance of being responsible tenants and are prepared to provide references and the necessary documentation to establish our suitability as tenants of your property.

The above two paragraphs were in a letter, part of our application dossier/file, that we–through a relocation consultant (I will tell you more on this shortly) submitted to at least three landlords in Geneva and Nyon.

Finding a house to rent in Switzerland is a lengthy process, partly due to the high demand for rental housing (and creches, as we soon found out), with month-long waiting lists. We learnt our application would be one of several others to the landlord.

I am eternally grateful that my employer thought through this entire relocation process (a whole industry), especially for newcomers like us. They had everything handled from end to end. This was done through a team of relocation consultants–Sterling Lexicon– who are the best in the game. They helped and guided us in compiling the application dossier and organised to have our items packed and shipped from Nairobi.

Back to the house application. These are the items you need to apply for a rental house: An application letter that captures your bio and why you would be a good tenant, passport bio-data page andphotos (of everyone seeking to stay in the rental), employment contract/proof of income, credit extract (to show you do not have any debts/liabilities), legitimation cards, three-month rental guarantee via your bank (you need an appointment to open an account!) or through First Caution (a quick, easy, and flexible rental guarantee), a third party liability and household insurance.

What we greatly appreciated is that Sterling linked us to an amazing English-speaking ground consultant–Léonore Reverdin– who, among other key support, created a shortlist of about 11 properties to view and accompanied us for all the house visits (this was done on appointment only, a month or so before our actual relocation) and made the house applications on our behalf. Once we found a house, she did a detailed inventory and check-in with us and the house agent. The result of this was a comprehensive report on the property’s condition. Inspections are as detailed as a Swiss watch — from the light switches and the door hinges to the stain on a tile, is photographed and included in the report.

Even more thoughtful was that Léonore gave us very handy tips and advice.

Such as looking for a house with a provision for a personal washing machine vis a vis using a communal one (where you had to pick a date and time slot to do your laundry and not any other time; tricky with a baby), underfloor heating vis a vis the radiators, which are better as it maintains an ideal level of warmth across the whole space (very nice during winter and with a baby), that basements (mandatory for all Swiss houses) aren’t just storage spaces; the bunkers are an integral part of Swiss living (in my subsequent posts, I will write about this and other interesting Swiss real estate details).

Another helpful tip was understanding the house’s layout to know where the sun rises/sets and staying away from the flight paths, which would be noisy! This is not information you know as a foreigner and rarely find online. Léonore held our hand, listened, picked out cues we probably didn’t have the words for and helped us find a great house in a beautiful neighbourhood close to amenities such as creches, bus stops and shopping areas.

This greatly contrasts how we do it in Kenya, of course, with pros and cons in each country.

This relocation process taught me some valuable lessons: The importance of preparation and knowing what you want, the usefulness of third-party liability and house insurance, timely and innovative solutions such as First Caution, and, if possible, seeking professional assistance and local expertise to navigate complex processes seamlessly and to make informed decisions.

Above all, I appreciated the kindness, understanding and warmth of people throughout the otherwise bureaucratic processes. The humanness of this all lingers in me, evidenced in the excitement, curiosity and interest in helping out, surpassed any language barrier we had to deal with or misconceptions about different nationalities.

What other lesson did you glean from my experience (or from your own?)

In my next post, in the New Year, I will write about some interesting things about Swiss real estate, such as how you use one key to open the main door and our apartment and that some houses on sale cost as much as a section of the annual budget of Kenyan ministries! No lie.

Happy holidays. Joyous Fetes! See you in 2024!

Read my previous post where I talked about money here



Eunice Kilonzo

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