Furnishing a home in Switzerland on a budget

Best Way for Furnishing a Home in Switzerland on a Budget

Relocating to Switzerland has driven home how easy our previous moves have been. Always before we could speak the language – either English or Spanish. We could drive anywhere we needed for anything at just about any hour of the day or night. We could easily and cheaply rent a moving truck. We could use our Toyota 4Runner for hauling even large belongings. And we always had our own furnishings – personal belongings that offered comfort in their continuity and familiarity.

Shortly after arriving at our beautiful new rental home in Switzerland, we realized how truly daunting it would be furnishing a home in Switzerland, especially a large 3-bedroom with a front yard and huge terrace.

Where to even start? And how to do it on a limited budget in the most expensive country in the world?

Enter Communauté d’Emmaüs – a huge second-hand store in Fribourg. It offers up a little slice of heaven in its great bargains, friendly multilingual service, and variety of items.

You'll never find thrift stores in any other country with items that are so high quality, clean, and in such good condition. Switzerland is THE place to shop thrift stores. Click to Tweet
Second-hand store, perfect for furnishing a home in Switzerland
Emmaus, our favorite second-hand store in Fribourg, Switzerland

Expat Tip: Most of the staff at Emmaus speak French and/or German. English is more limited. If you speak Spanish, ask for Ángel; he’s incredibly nice and helpful!

Our second Airbnb hosts in Fribourg were the ones who first recommended we browse several thrift stores in town, including Emmaus.

After moving into our new house, our neighbors on both sides were generous enough to take us on separate trips to several second-hand stores.

For weeks, we regularly scooped up gorgeous and affordable household items ranging from solid honey pine furniture to kitchenware, lamps, bedroom linens, and holiday decorations.

We even found a gorgeous 4-piece leather sofa set for the living room.

Secondhand bookshelf in Switzerland

This solid pine book shelf from Emmaus cost just 60 CHF.

In addition to thrift stores, we’ve been eternally grateful for the excessive generosity of both of our landlords.

A brother and sister co-own the home.

They gave us a pine table and four dining chairs that are perfect for us. The set has been in their family for over 30 years.

Dining room set when furnishing a home in Switzerland
Our only dining room furniture is the table and chairs our landlord give us on loan. *grateful*

Add to that a full dishware set with utensils, a very nice large microwave, a new desk, beautiful handmade white lace curtains, a patio set complete with giant umbrella, and even light fixtures – which is generous and atypical since usually renters have to supply their own, and our house is well on its way to feeling like home.

Turns out, furnishing a home in Switzerland on a budget isn’t so difficult after all.

Wondering why we’re in Switzerland?

Read Our Story to find out, or check out 33 Fun Facts About Us for a look back at 33 years of adventures together since we first met when we were kids!

Relocating to Switzerland soon? These posts might be helpful.

Know Before You Go
  • Emmaus has lots of free parking.
  • Opening hours for Emmaus are limited and change throughout the year. Typical hours are Monday from 2pm-5:30pm, Tuesday-Friday from 10am-noon and 2pm-5:30pm, and Saturday from 9am-4pm. CLOSED on Sundays.
  • Drop-off hours to donate goods are weekdays from 8am-noon and 2pm-5:30pm and Saturday from 9am-4pm.
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