Multilocal living arrangements in Switzerland

Mobility in the interplay of material, social and biographical conditions


More and more people live multilocally. This observation is the starting point of this project. Multilocal living is a term describing a continued existence across two or more living locations. As a social phenomenon this is not new, but it is undergoing a fundamental change in terms of extent ,qualities and its particular characteristics within the context of increasingly rapid social changes in late modernity. Therefore, it has far reaching consequences for the constitution of contemporary societies. There is, however, a gap between the social relevance of the phenomenon of multilocal living practices, existing research and the qualified knowledge about it.


The project pursued three objectives: 1) capturing dimensions/scales, social demographics and forms of organisation of multilocal living, 2) exploring motives, practices of everyday life and subjective meanings, and 3) developing theoretical and methodological concepts for understanding multilocal living as a distinctive socio-spatial strategy in the context of the new research field of Multilocality Studies.

Research design

The research was funded by the Swiss National funds for Research for 3 years (2012-2014) with an extension till April 2015. The research group was constitued by M.Hugentobler and N. Hilti (ETH-Zurich), C.Duchêne-Lacroix and M.von Arx (University of Basel) and Helmut Schad (High school of Economics Lucerne).

The phenomenon is complex, dynamic and so far only scarcely explored. Thus, the project refered to various theoretical concepts of different related research fields. We combined three approaches for purposes of triangulation: 1) Secondary quantitative data analysis, 2) Analysis of your own survey, 3) Semi-Structured photo-interviews.

Some results:

  • About a quarter of the Swiss population live at two or more addresses.
  • More than an half of the Swiss population lives or lived multilocal.
  • 45% of the students in Switzerland are living multilocal (and 40% of the 15-24).
  • Half of the multilocal people overnights more than 2 months in another residence than in the primary one.
  • A minority of them suffer from the situation.
  • More secondary residences in urban area as in the countryside.
  • … (more results in our papers).


Page of the project on the:

Press review (an extract of):