Thursday, March 27, 2008

Moving to Sweden – Finding a Place to Live

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
Moving to Sweden – Most Common Jobs and Salaries

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. 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: which translates to Good times.

Good luck. And Welcome to Sweden.

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  1. Sweden is one of the most expensive cities in the world, huh? You really are an American! :)

    My wife's lab has a lady that handles our visas, papers, AND finds us a place to live. which is ridiculously awesome and a huge stress reliever.

    But this is what I don't understand. Why doesn't some enterprising young fellow take out a loan and start building apartments. I understand that Stockholm real estate may be hard to come by, but housing is also difficult to find in Lund (and it seems all of Sweden), which is surrounded by farms and fields. I know; I google earthed it.

    Seriously. Does it have to do rent control and it just doesn't pay to build more housing or do the farmers and land owners have special incentives to hold onto their their land or what? I mean I understand the value of reducing urban sprawl but when you have 1300 day wait lists, under the table pay offs and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hand leases, it seems as if the logjam is just a *little* inefficient.

  2. Bloody rent control and social welfare system.

    HS, I am moving into my apartment next week zand will be throwing a party. Come by and say hej!
    And yes, it was a nightmare finding an apartment... I will relive that moment one day and tell all. Not today though.

  3. @john - it is ranked 23rd in the world. that's right up there with the most expensive in the world. it's a killer when you're used to American prices. Or at least American prices in Colorado or Oregon. Especially with the dollar dropping.

    And that's awesome about the lab fixing everything up for you. You are lucky.

    And the building of apartments is a good question. Someone needs to o it. Because as it stands now it in't just a little inefficient it is horribly inefficient. But I think it actually has to do with all of the things you mentioned. Rent control, building restrictions, farming incentives, all of that good stuff. But if somone is down for dropping a few million dollars I'll be more than happy to do my due diligence and get a housing project started.

    @sapphire - seriously... it gets you doesn't it. such a pain. but good to hear you managed to find yourself a place to live.

  4. I was joking with you cause you said SWEDEN was an expensive CITY. :)

  5. John you are killing me. The sad thing is that I read through this a couple of times and still managed not to see that. Sometimes I struggle. I done learned to talk real good in Sweden. And didn't you know that Sweden is a city? I don't know where you learned your geography but I learned mine in the US of A.

    Good catch... and I'm a little embarassed that it took me so long to see it. The lesson as always though is... never listen to me.

  6. Hello HS,

    I recently discovered your blog after starting to do some research into moving to Sweden.

    I want to explore my heritage, find a good place to work, and live in Sweden for some time (who knows, maybe permanently).

    Do you have any advice on where an Information Technology professional could look for a job? The US job boards are not very helpful when looking in Sweden.

    Any ideas you might have would be greatly appreciated.



  7. check, has a good job board, is also a good one. that should be a good place to start. does a good job of aggregating jobs so I would start there.

  8. Hello,
    If anyone is looking to buy a home or vacation home in Sweden, the American TV Show 'House Hunters International' is looking for buyers to be on the show. If you are seriously planning to buy soon, please e-mail me ASAP at

  9. some quality guerilla marketing there. well done holly.

  10. If you want to move to sweden it is smart to think outside the box and search for housing outside sthlm where the apartments are cheaper, northern sweden is nice and less expensive

  11. thats a really good point. the housing in the middle of town is lot harder to get... and a lot more expensive. chcking out in the suburbs will definitely make things a bit easier.

  12. Hello,
    One question, I am a future student in Sweden (I hope), what kind of apartment did you get when you were there, an ekelrum or a 1 room apartment? From what they told me two persons are not allowed to stay in an enkelrum. I plan to go to Sweden with my wife.

  13. I went with a two room actually. at for example, you have to be in an apartment with one room or more if you are going to share it with someone. the student rooms which are in corridors and kind of like dorms in the US won't allow you to share the room with someone.

  14. Hello we are also looking to move to Sweden. Its awful here in the USA!!! We wanted to ask like for example the price of a house, is it expensive compared to the US? What about a vehicle price compared to the US? Are there specific permits that are needed? Are there specific regulations if you want to open a small business?
    Thanks a lot if you can help us with these questions.

  15. I'm not sure about house prices, since Ive actually never bought a house. But from my understanding, it is cheaper right now in the US just because of the slump in the housing market. Whether that always holds true I dont know.

    Vehicle prices seem to be a bit more expnesive. And of course gas is a lot more expensive.

    You can only drive on your American license for one year so you will need to get a Swedish one. You will also need some sort of residency/work permit.

    There are lots of regulations for opening a business and I have spoken with a lot of people who say it is very difficult. It is doable but difficult.

    I suggest you check out the following:

    for all kinds of information on moving.

  16. I saw some Swedish news on The Local. It seems like the Swedish economy is also affected by the US financial crisis. I'm really confused as to which place is the best place for us to live. This country's quality depends on the peoples quality. do you have any suggestions?

  17. Sweden is also struggling with the economy. Not only did the US have an impact, but Sweden's banking system also put a whole lot of money into the Baltic states (like Latvia for example) which are now having a hard time. Unemployment is high here. About the same rate as in the US.

    So, to be honest, I don't know. It seems that no matter where you are, the economc crisis is rearing its head. It's a matter of where you want to be and where you think you can get work or an education.

  18. We searched website that you had suggested We were curious as to if there are any other websites that also had information about Sweden.
    I was also interested if I was to buy a residence there would I be able to get a residence permit immediately?

  19. check out

    they have lots of information.

    unfortunately I dont know anything about buying a place in Sweden. I would suggest checking out:

    to the right they have lots of links to information when buying a house.

  20. One big thing on living. Don't be afraid to live outside the city. Even up to a hundred kilometres out if it has a decent railway connected to it. In the Stockholm area you should check what areas are served by SL. (English at the top). If you get an apartment in like Katrineholm you have to go with SJ who are somewhat more expensive. But still doable. When I was studying we where 3 guys who shared a 3 room apartment in Katrineholm.

    And secondly. Don't be afraid to go north. We who live up here have a lot of space to spare. Its a bit cold maybe.

  21. a very good tip. heading north is a great idea.

  22. namie, my husband and I are thinking of moving to Sweden, too, but it'll take us at least two years to get ready. He's a high school teacher but needs to learn Swedish and bone up on his Nordic history to get qualified to teach in Sweden, so we're wanting to start looking in about 2 years or so.

    We can't handle the U.S. anymore, especially as a family. I want to go to school for midwifery. Not only are the U.S. midwifery training programs laughed at in most of the rest of the world, there's no way I can do it. We can't afford childcare while I'm in school, even if we COULD afford tuition, and our older children have to be homeschooled because they were all "forced out" of the public school system here (they're ADHD). At least in Sweden, we'll have a chance--we don't even have a shot here.

  23. I'm from UK. And I have family in New Jersey who will sponsor me to the US. We are rich, but I'm not necessarily looking for city job. I plan to move to ladiback with city life, so San Franchisco is US, is where I would go. What's a place in Sweden for me personally? I'm in my twenties and want to take it easy. I also plan to raise a family in one of two cities. Disbuss things like safety, scenery, architecture, residents.

  24. Plenty of places to choose from, hope you found something that worked for you.

  25. Hey, I was looking for such type of information because one of my friend planning to visit Sweden for business purpose. Mostly I got such type of information at Sweden Visa but i am really grateful to you for sharing such a wonderful information.

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