In the continuing (and always riveting) series about Moving to Sweden comes: Moving to Sweden – Finding a Place to Live, which has now been updated!
Make sure to check out the other exciting how-to's:
Moving to Sweden – What to Bring
Moving to Sweden – The Swedish Language
Moving to Sweden – The Metric System and You
Moving to Sweden – Getting a Cell Phone
Moving to Sweden – Getting from the Airport to Stockholm City
Moving to Sweden - The Weather
Moving to Sweden - Swedish Citizenship Test
Moving to Sweden - Public Holidays
Moving to Sweden - Finding a Job
Moving to Sweden - Culture Shock: It's the Little Things
Moving to Sweden - Making Friends
Moving to Sweden - Cost of Living
Moving to Sweden - The Laundry Room
Moving to Sweden - Marijuana
Because if you have decided to move to Sweden. You might need some help. So here it goes: Finding a Place to Live.
Start looking now. Seriously. It’s going to take you a while. If you even have the slightest inkling that you would like to move to Sweden start looking for housing now. Note that if you are looking to buy a house or apartment you are definitely talking to the wrong person. I’m a renter for right now. Because I am a free soul. I don’t want to be tied down. I want to explore. (I just tapped into my inner hippie… mostly I just don’t know where I want to live and don’t have enough money anyway.) And living in Sweden doesn’t come cheap. Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
The rental market in Sweden is a bit different. There are various contracts you might find available. There is the first hand contract, which is like seeing a unicorn, that is to say, rare. At least in Stockholm. And then there is the ubiquitous second hand contract. This is where someone who is lucky enough to have a first hand contract decides to rent out their apartment. This is where you have the chance to swoop in. And finally, student housing. Which is also hard to come by but generally cheap with decent living conditions. Of course, you have to be a student. Or at least know a student willing to rent to you under the table.
Because the rental market is tricky, you need to know your rights. One of those rights is that the person you are renting from can not charge excessive rent. What does that mean? I don't know. But the courts do. And people use the courts for that. You can read more (in English) here at Hyresnämnden. Also, make sure that the housing company you are renting from hasn't been blacklisted on this (Swedish) site here. That would be bad.
Housing in Stockholm especially is rough. Renting is hard to come by. Waiting in line for a first hand contract can take about 15 years. I am not kidding. Honestly, your best bet is to know someone. If you don’t know someone start scouring the internet.
When DCP and I started looking we set a few parameters then went to town. Unfortunately town was full. (See what I did there?) We ended up checking out numerous websites, asking family and friends, and basically exhausting whatever the internet could offer. Some of the websites require you to pay to respond to their ads. We did not. But it did help us to get an idea as to what was out there. And if you find something you really like… paying might not be that bad of an idea.
Here’s a quick list of some of the websites we tried out, and it’s going to help to speak Swedish here… although some have English options. Here are a few that can help you get an idea as to what exists and some to help you actually find a place to live.
BoPunkten.se is a decent site which covers a little bit of Sweden. You have to pay to be able to respond to an ad; unfortunately this is a common theme. Despite the socialist leanings of Sweden they have a way of embracing capitalist motives. Like making money on this sort of thing. If you have the money though, there are plenty of places that will take it. I've heard mixed reviews about paying for these sorts of sites. Everything has a price though, so it's up to you. Here are two more sites that you have to pay to register:
A lot of people use Airbnb when looking for a place in Stockholm. This is a pretty good option if you're only here for a short-ish amount of time or if you just really need something until you find a permanent place. Keep in mind that this can be a pretty expensive option, you might end up just getting a room with the owner of the place, who might end up being super sketchy as one of my friends experienced. Or you might find the perfect place. It's the sharing economy. It gets tricky sometimes.
Blocket also has apartment announcements. In fact, most places that you can think of that would have online marketplaces will have apartments like the newspapers. Find them. But beware of the black market that often occurs in the Swedish housing market. Sometimes you will be expected to pay a “fee” which basically ends up being under the table money to secure your place. Don’t do it. It might be a pain in the ass but you should be able to find something the legal way.
And of course The Local’s Noticeboard. This will give you ads in English which is always nice.
You can also use Blocket or The Local's Noticeboard to write your own ad letting people know you're looking for housing. Same thing goes for all of those announcement boards at universities.
If you’re a student in Stockholm get in line. You need to sign up for an account at Stiftelsen Stockholms Studentbostäder or SSSB. Do it immediately. Lines are long. And you need days to get a place to live. You have to be between 16 and 54 to sign up and within 90 days you need to be a member of a student union. This is there way of keeping people from parking themselves for too too long without actually being a student. Apartments are assigned by how many days you have been waiting in line. So if you try to snag an apartment with only three days you will probably be beaten out by the person with 300 days. Or more likely 1300 days. Seriously. Kind of. Check the waiting list rules for all of the details.
Finally, if you're a visiting researcher with a PhD, a PhD student, or a Post Doc at Stockholm University from outside of Sweden you're eligible for furnished (!!!!) researcher housing. There is, of course, a line to wait in, but it is much shorter than the student housing line above The housing is meant for one person, although some of the places allow for your family to come along. There's a two year maximum stay at these places. Check out Stockholm University's Accommodation for Visiting Researchers for more information.
SSSB is how DCP and I first got a place to live when we moved here back in 2007. Because DCP was a student. And I was piggybacking. They have last minute housing where the days are thrown out the window and it is the first person to sign up who gets it. You then have a fixed amount of time to pay the first month’s rent. We got lucky and got one this way.
And in the end maybe that is what it comes down to. Getting lucky.
My latest move in 2014 was a surprisingly easy process. I relied on friends. Of course, that means actually having friends, which can be difficult if you're moving here without knowing anyone. But reach out to anyone you might know. Or anyone you might know who might know someone. Because housing is so difficult, people seem generally willing to help. It's as if they remember just how hard it was to find a place and want to alleviate that pain for others.
It didn't take long and I had temporary (and furnished) housing for a good price while I waited for researcher housing to open up. And it did.
Here are a few more sites to choose from. Some good, some less good. Some pay, some free. But if you need a roof over your head it doesn’t hurt to check out everything.
And for the student:
Of course, check out similar sites for your university.
If you really want to get that first hand contract get in line:
And of course:
http://www.jagvillhabostad.nu/ which translates to Iwanthousing.now. Good times.
Good luck. And Welcome to Sweden.