Renting a furnished apartment in Zurich seems to be an obvious choice for an expat, especially if you do not plan to stay in Zurich permanently. However, you should compare the alternatives to renting a furnished apartment. Sometimes buying furniture or even renting is the better choice for expats in Zurich.
A furnished rental apartment in Zurich is usually around 20% more expensive than an unfurnished apartment. If the furniture is very expensive it might be even more. If you are planning to rent a furnished apartment in Zurich, calculate! How much more per year are you willing to spend for the furniture?
Buying furniture is often quite complicated for expats in Zurich. However, there are a few advantages. People looking for a replacement tenant who takes over their rental lease of their apartment often would like to sell their furniture as well! If you are telling a tenant that you are willing to buy his or her furniture together with renting the apartment in Zurich, often your chances are higher to actually get the apartment. Note: it is illegal for the landlord/former tenant to make you buy the furniture of the apartment! However, often people informally ask if a potential tenant is willing to buy the furniture and who ever confirms has a better chance to be selected.
Obviously if an expat in Zurich rents a furnished apartment or buys the furniture from the former tenant he or her does not get to pick the furniture of his or her choice. An attractive alternative to buying furniture or renting a furnished apartment for an expat is renting furniture. There are more and more companies offering different furniture packages which allow expats who rent in Zurich to choose the type of furniture they like while not having to buy it.
On flatsforexpats.com you can find apartments and rooms to rent in Zurich from other expats. There are both furnished and unfurnished apartments available.