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10 steps to the perfect application letter

If you spot an interesting ad for a  cooperative flat in Zurich, you should apply as soon as possible. As part of your application you may chose to submit a cover letter. This is usually a good idea, even if it is not always explicitly required. In the letter, you can introduce yourself and present your interests, values and personality. This will give the cooperative a much better idea of who you are.


If you need help writing an application letter for a cooperative flat, you've come to the right place! Our tips will ensure that your application letter is well received. This will improve your chances of getting the cooperative flat! Note: The people reading your application will expect this to be in German. You can use the pictures on this page to help you with your layout.

By the way: You can also use an application letter like this for 'normal' flats!

​1. Preparation is important

Before you write your application letter, you should also give it some thought. Above all, you should familiarise yourself with the cooperative. Study their website - do you fulfil all the criteria? (For example, pay attention to children, pets, income, etc.). Does the cooperative have any special features? (vegetable patch, playground, common room, summer party) You can refer to these in your letter and show that you would fit in perfectly! Also think about what you'd like to highlight about yourself. Do you do any volunteering? Are you a member of any interesting club?

2. Limit yourself to one A4 page

The cooperative will receive a large number of applications. They probably don't have time to read many very long letters. Keep it short and snappy - every sentence should convey important content. The application letter for the cooperative flat does not have to be long. It must have substance. Please note that some people prefer to submit a multi-page dossier instead. If you wish to do so, we've got some advice in section 8.

3. Include photo(s)

A picture is worth a thousand words! A nice photo (but please not too posed/edited) can convey your personality wonderfully. Perhaps you could choose a picture that shows you enjoying a hobby (hiking? gardening?)? Or a dynamic family picture? It's not about perfection, but about showing who you are.

4. Structure: I - You - We

This structure is suitable for any type of application letter! Me - You - We means: First write a part about yourself, then a paragraph about the cooperative (why it is so great) and finish with how you could get involved in the cooperative.

An example that leaves enough space for photo(s) on an A4 page can be found at the bottom of this page.

5. Be authentic

Lies are short-lived. You will most likely have to meet a representative of the cooperative for a personal interview and submit various documents. It is not worth lying in your application letter.

6. Have someone proofread your letter

An unfamiliar pair of eyes will often recognise small errors or stylistic impurities. Friends or acquaintances could also provide interesting input on your various commitments. "Hey, but you could start a cooperative knitting club or "What about your time with the volunteer fire brigade?" Such suggestions can be very valuable, because cooperatives value socially engaged people.

7. Example letter

This is rather short, but certainly covers all points and leaves enough space for a great picture. Note that this letter is in English but we generally recommend applications in German. Simply switch languages on the top right corner of this website to display a German version.

Dear ladies and gentlemen of the Mustergenossenschaft,


We, Musterina (30), Mustermax (34) and Musterbaby (1) are the Muster family from Musterdorf. Musterina works in the admin department at Muster AG. She is a passionate athlete and regularly takes part in competitions. She also loves nature and gardening. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a garden at the moment. Mustermax is a passionate electrician at Muster GmbH. He has played football with his friends every weekend since he was a teenager. He also coaches the kids' team on a voluntary basis. We have known each other since secondary school, have been happily married for 4 years and, since last year, there are now three of us with Musterbaby. As we would like to have another child, we are now looking for a cooperative flat. The Mustergenossenschaft is our first choice. We appreciate the family atmosphere it exudes. The playground looks great - Musterbaby would definitely have a lot of fun there and could make new friends. And the advertised flat is just perfect in terms of size and layout. The communal garden also appeals to us enormously.


We are socially engaged people and would love to get involved in the cooperative. Musterina would love to be active in the garden and pass on her botanical knowledge to the other members of the cooperative. Mustermax would certainly enjoy playing football with the kids on weekends. In short, it would be wonderful to become part of the Mustegenossenschaft.


We would be delighted to attend a viewing!



The Muster family

8. Multi-page dossier

Some people prefer to submit a multi-page dossier instead of a short and sweet application letter. Usually, the dossier contains the following pages:

1. Cover page with contact details (optional photo)

2. Portraits of family members with photos, profession, hobbies, interests

3. Application letter - this is essentially a longer version of the letter we describe in section 7. Here you describe why you want the flat and how you'd fit into the cooperative.

4. References - including current landlady/landlord as well as employers

We do not know, if cooperatives prefer such an application over a well-written A4 page with a few representative photos.

9. Software recommendations

Use a text editing software such as Microsoft Word to write the text and save it as a plain text such that you can easily modify it. To generate a beautiful layout with frames, splashes of colour and photos we recommend Canva. Even the free version enables you to create stunning graphics. Save the documents as pdfs to avoid issues at the recipients' end. If you are a little unsure about linguistic aspects, it is worth using software (for example ChatGPT) to help you.

10. A few final points

Make sure that you fulfil the criteria for the free cooperative flat (number of people, pets, income, etc.) and submit your complete application on time. Adverts often go offline after just 24 hours. It is worth having all the documents ready and also preparing a letter in which you only need to change a few things (e.g. prepare the photo, "we" part and layout now and then just add a few things about the cooperative).

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