Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stockholm Student Housing Midget-ages

I was cleaning up my e-mails the other day. Usually it can take me months to respond to people. I’d like to say that it is because I am so busy I just don’t have time, but really I’m just horribly self-absorbed. This means I have e-mails from years ago. And I found a good one.

Anyway, way back in my unemployed, bored out of my mind, why did I move to Sweden days, I was considering going back to school. Swedish school is cheap. Seeing as how I had never really paid taxes at that point, it was essentially free. I like learning and reading. Clearly school was the place to be.

So I started looking into it. First, I was told that because I had never been to high school in Sweden, I would need to prove my Swedish skills. Fine, I produced my university transcripts stating that I had, in fact, taken a couple of Swedish courses. Please note that this was all done in Swedish. Of course. Tyvärr. Rules are rules and I would have to prove the equivalent of high school Swedish. Rather than take the courses though, I could take a test. Spectacular I thought. I had missed the test. It was only given twice a year. Fine.

My English skills are pretty good though so I thought I’d look for graduate programs in English. I checked things out, did some research, even sent an e-mail or two asking about the possibility. I did not reveal my grades, I did not reveal any sort of test score, I revealed nothing. They had nothing that would immediately make them think, “Wow, we do not want this guy at our school.” I just asked about the possibility of studying at Stockholm University. I received the following from an advisor at Stockholm University: “Unfortunately Stockholm University does not offer any scholarships and there is also a shortage of student accommodations in Stockholm.”

That one statement reveals a lot about Sweden, especially in Stockholm. It suggests first off, that despite the assumption that school is free in Sweden, it is not. Not even close. Turns out living in Stockholm isn’t exactly cheap. And speaking of living. You won’t, at least not under any good looking roof. A shortage is an understatement. A midget-age would be more appropriate. Having to wait in line for over a year just in hopes of living 45 minutes away from school isn’t a shortage. That’s a midget-age. Or dwarf-age. I’m not up on the proper politically correct term.

There is something to be said for honesty. There is also something to be said though for not crushing the dreams of someone wanting to learn. And my dreams were crushed. Instead, I find myself working full time pretending to be an adult. It’s exhausting.

Welcome to Sweden. And Stockholm student housing midget-ages.

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  1. It's not that hard to find appartments in Södertälje, Botkyrka and Haninge. Commuter train from Södertälje or Subway from Botkyrka only takes between 20 - 30 minutes. But it's nearly impossible to find something in the city.

  2. If you want to have your own apartment from sssb, probably you have to wait for another three years. But I believe that won't stop your studying in Stockholm. You know, all roads to Roma.

  3. You have my sympathy my friend . You do!

  4. My suggestion? Get married! They give you housing that way (maybe because Swedes don't get married, so its a loophole/an anomaly?) We got a big place 200 meters from the Sthlm School of Economics with no waiting period.

    Of course, now you're a grown-up, so you don't need to get married to find housing. Congrats.

  5. We hope that you will enjoy the series that we have been running on our blog on Swedish customs.

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    Happy Christmas!

    St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association - Ireland

  6. Hairy Swede, can I please ask you a probably honest yet naive question.

    I'm moving to Sweden in a couple months (from U.S.) to be with my Swedish boyfriend and the thing is I have quite a bit of debt. 50K to be exact (student loans, car, etc.).

    I hear Sweden is "socialist", "liberal" and everyone makes around the same amount of money. Do you think it will be really difficult to pay down my debt in Sweden?

    In the U.S. you can get more than one job, live with roommates (right now I live with more than average roommates to make ends meet), etc to get by. How would things in Sweden compare?

    Please e-mail me anyone with any suggestions at

  7. Might wanna move to norway for abit if u wanna pay off you debts :) Wouldnt suprise me alot of the income for normal jobs are higher in sweden compared to the us, but so is the taxes. And why wouldnt u be able to get extra jobs?(if u want) there is alot of unemployment(comparable to last year) but that doesnt mean there isnt jobs, people are just picky.

  8. Hairy Swede, if you can move in with me... if you shave! ;)

    Although, I do live in Gävle which is two hours by train to Stockholm... but I promise to make you Thanksgiving dinner every year! ;D

  9. @Flemingsbergaren – its true. I spent quite a bit of time out at Flempan when I first moved here. The pendeltåg sucked the will to live right out of me.

    @Feng Li – its true, the waiting list for SSSB and an apartment in the middle of town is long. Much longer than I am willing to wait. Plus, I’m not a student.

    @Tod – thanks.

    @Anne – that sounds like a whole lot of work. And like you said, Im a grown up now. Job and everything.

    @Convenor – the Swedes do have quite a few customs.

    @Anonymous – I don’t. They do take a lot of taxes, but if you manage to get yourself a hob, things are doable. It is definitely possible to find roommates. It’s the job part that can be difficult. But, as I said, it is possible. Not easy, but possible.

    @anonymous – also a good suggestion. Plenty of Swedes do that. And I agree, jobs are there to be had, even if there is a lot of competition and its not easy.

    @Haley – oh wow… that’s a tall order. But Thanksgiving dinner every year does sound tempting!