As finding accommodation in Sweden is very hard and no easy subject, here is a guide with some hints on how to easier find a place to live as well as how to deal with the rental market:
Finding a place to live in Sweden might not seem like any harder than in any other country, but actually the housing situation in Sweden has been hard for years due to the demand being bigger than the supply. This is especially the case in bigger cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. So, if you are having a hard time to find a home, remember that you are not alone: you share this challenge with the rest of the Swedish population.
Available types of Accommodation
There are several types of accommodations you can live at:
- First hand contracts: You rent directly from the owner of the building. It is currently very difficult to obtain such a contract in Gothenburg and queuing can take a long time. In surrounding municipalities, however, the queuing times are much shorter. First hand contract apartments are always unfurnished.
- Second hand contracts: This is when you sublet from the individual who rents directly from the owner. Normally these contracts are for a limited period of time. The apartments or rooms may be furnished or unfurnished.
- Student Accommodation: You will find description of accommodation, location and prices on the website of the specific agency. All administration - i.e. contracts, keys, payments - are handled by the housing agencies, not by the universities. Questions regarding housing should be addressed to the housing agencies directly.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and a city originally built on an island. Nowadays the city spans 14 different islands connected by bridges in the Swedish archipelago. As in most Swedish cities there is a lot of nature, but being also Sweden’s largest city, it is hard to find accommodation.
In Stockholm there are several universities, which means lots of students. Accommodation is a common issue in Stockholm, there are thousands of students looking for it every semester. In August 2011, approximately 70000 people were without a proper place to live.
Now, the situation is better, but it is still hard. Starting in your home country is a good advice, especially since the queuing system is adopted, meaning that the longer you have been in the queue, the likelier your chance to get an apartment.
A suggestion is that you try to find something for the first 1 to 3 months so you have a place to stay when you arrive. Once you are in the city and you have a clearer idea about where you want to live, how the Swedish apartments are and what your budget is you can search again for something that really fits your needs. The main benefits of this approach are:
- Plenty of apartments to choose from: It’s quite common that landlords rent their places when on vacation or when they have to work abroad even for short periods, so you will not have problems finding short term rental apartments
- Less competitors: People already living in the city are looking for long term rentals, because they don’t want to move every few months, so you will find less people asking for these apartments
- Lower price: And as the landlords know that, the trick to get the apartment rented out is to lower the price, so usually each time that you find an apartment with a good price it’s for a short term contract (1 to 3 months)
If you are a student it might be worth trying to get into one of the few student dormitories around Stockholm. However, keep in mind that the places available are less compared to the number of people interested. Sometimes your university will have some rooms that are privately rented out by the university itself, so the first step will be to go on the accommodation section of your university website and look whether your institution is offering this kind of service and what the deadlines are to apply.
- Lappis is the place where most students studying at Stockholm University and KTH most get student apartments. It is located at Stockholm University campus and houses between 2000-3000 students. Getting an apartment is hard but not impossible, as long as you start well in advance. Some people find a place there during their studies as well
- SSSB (Stockholm Student Housing) is the most common place to find student housing in Stockholm, you might need queuing days in order to apply for an apartment, which you can start collecting 3 months before you become a student in Stockholm. Apartments are good and relatively cheap, but might be hard to get
- Blocket (only available in Swedish) - An online retailer for renting (and buying) apartments in Stockholm
- Bostadsförmedlingen - General housing website in Stockholm. Normally a long queue, but worth a try
- Akademisk Kvart - A website working with Stockholm Student Unions in order to find privately owned residents in Stockholm
- Campus Roslagen - A student area slightly outside Stockholm, where you will probably be an hour away from the University, most of the shops and most of your friends, but in a good quality apartment close to the Swedish archipelago
- ESN Erasmus Stockholm 2017-2018 - A Facebook group for things happening in Stockholm, including events, discussions and accommodation
- https://en.qasa.se/ - A website where you can apply and manage your apartment searches
- http://kvalster.se/ - Like Google for Accommodation in Stockholm
- https://www.samtrygg.se/ - A website with more regulations in the apartment search, as there are a lot of people trying to take advantage of the regular system
Good to Know
There are some people sub-letting a sub-let. This is a grey area in Stockholm’s housing, but it is where someone with a second-hand contract rents to someone else. Most landlords don’t allow it and if you find one, look somewhere else as it’s a good way to lose money and end up being messed around.
Get a Swedish mobile phone number as soon as you arrive in Stockholm: if the mobile number is available, it’s better to call the potential landlords instead of sending them e-mails.
When applying for an apartment, always be ready with a copy of your letter of enrollment/acceptance. Also prepare a short introduction about who you are, what you are doing in Stockholm and your lifestyle. This will make you stand out among the dozens of other people interested in the same room.
Finding accommodation in Gothenburg can be just as much of a hassle as in Stockholm or Malmö, but generally a little bit easier than Stockholm. As a student, there are two main universities you would be studying at: Chalmers Institute of Technology, and Gothenburg University. These universities can help you with finding accommodation either directly related to the university or give you information about other types of accommodation and should always be your first type of contact when you start looking for places to live while studying.
Municipal housing companies rank applicants by the number of days they are registered, so the longer you on there, the better your chances are of securing a firsthand contract with these landlords. Housing webpages like SGS operate with a queuing system. So if you start queuing early you will have more opportunities to get a place.
Think if you like more the nature or the urban. There are forests and lakes just in the middle of the city. A good idea would be to check transport connections: You should decide if you like to walk or ride a tram. Don’t forget that Gothenburg is an excellent place to get a bike, and given the fact that the center of Gothenburg is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer.
One suggestion to make sure you stay on top of the situation would be to:
- Read all the important information about accommodation on the university website
- Create an account with SGS make sure you know how it works.
- Check housing websites where you are active every day. The best time to find a room is around end May – July when majority of the people are moving out, thus there is a lot of last minute rooms available.
- Once a room becomes available, it would be good to call the office immediately and being patient.
- SGS Studentbostäder: Offers housing in several parts of the city
- Chalmers Studentbostäder: Offers housing either nearby Chalmers campus Johanneberg or close to Chalmers campus Lindholmen
The most popular student residences amongst International students are:
- Ostkupan (mainly Chalmers students)
- Olofshojd (basically every Erasmus student lives there)
They are within a walking distance from each other and seem to be the best place to start when you move to Gothenburg. There is always something going on, everyone is new as you and the main language spoken is English.
If you are staying for more than a year, you will want to register and pay the fee and apply for regular apartments as well.
A marketplace that advertises private rooms and flats. Here, international students can find ads for private rooms. Costs 100 SEK. There are generally more ads available during the summer months. Boplats Göteborg is the kind of marketplace that gives you general information about housing in Gothenburg, as well as support you in your search for accommodation and private rooms. They will also provide you with tenancy agreements, other helpful materials and avoiding fraud.
There are advantages and disadvantages for both types of accommodations. It would be recommended to start in a student hall as it is more secure and easier to sort out when you are new in a foreign country. You will also meet loads of different students from all over the world who are very likely to become your new family. If you think about staying for a bit longer, then looking for an apartment is a good choice as it is cheaper and you can choose who to live with in a location you like.
Good to Know
- The likelihood of getting a room the traditional queue way will be very hard for a foreign student as Swedish people start queuing generally when they turn 18. However, most of foreign students get student accommodation through last minute offers.
- When finding a last minute offer, you will have to start paying rent from the day you get the room even though you don’t live there just yet (but you’ll have a room)
- Don’t give up and try to relax: The University is aware of your situation and will try to help as they want you to study there.
- It is easier to look for places once you are actually there (there is a difference between exchanging emails for a week and seeing an ad, and visiting the apartment in next hour and then signing the lease).
Finding accommodation is always a stressing task, and you might be finding it time consuming and impossible, but don’t worry, you are not going to be doing your exchange homeless. Remember to start looking as soon as you can, send a lot of e mails and have patience, you are not alone!
On moving to Malmö, looking for accommodation will undoubtedly be one of your priorities. Like in the rest of the country, finding accommodation there can be a quite difficult task. You will hence need some patience to settle in Sweden's third biggest city. But in all cases, Malmö is a very welcoming area towards expatriates, especially thanks to its diverse population.
Sweden’s third largest city is a symbol of cross-border diversity - Scandinavia's most dynamic and diversified city and a blend of foreign nationals coming from 164 countries accounting for 40% of the city's population. A creative mini-metropolis on the border between Sweden and mainland Europe, Malmö is only half an hour away from Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, which both are connected by the Øresund Bridge.
Malmö University does not arrange the housing for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, thus you need to arrange accommodation on your own. Tuition fee-paying students are guaranteed housing and exchange students are offered housing depending on availability. Since there is a general lack of housing, Malmö University strongly recommend students to look even before you are accepted.
As with most cities, it is easier to find accommodation outside the city-center, particularly if you have a restricted budget. In general, rent prices vary from one neighborhood to another and according to the type of housing unit and its standards. Hence, count an average of 6500 SEK per month for a single-bedroom apartment in the city-center and around 4600 SEK per month for the same type of housing unit in the outskirts.
Most firsthand rental contracts are allocated using a housing queue. The apartments are subject to rent control meaning that they are often below sublet market price. Due to the lower price the demand for these apartments are very high and, unless you have been a member of the housing queues for several years, the apartments are very hard to get.
But fear not, there are several ways to find somewhere to stay, some more temporary and other more permanent:
- The Sofa Project where people will do everything they can to find somewhere for you to stay, and that is a good way to make connections and find a temporary place to sleep when you first arrive
- Malmö University partner Housing Anywhere where students who are coming from abroad to Malmö can find and book student rooms on the website. The rooms on are offered by students that go abroad for exchange studies or internship. While the service is free, a fee will be charged when you make a booking
- Boplats Syd is an in Swedish only website, where most landlords advertise their vacancies. It costs SEK 300 per year to be a member and it takes on average 1-8 months to get an offer for a student apartment. The various property owners can choose which demands the tenant must meet in order to apply for one of their apartments - so make sure to always have an updated profile.
- The LU (University of Lund) Accommodation offer housing at Folkets Park. The housing area is situated in the very center of Malmö surrounded by a popular park and numerous restaurants and clubs. You can travel by bus or train to Lund in approximately 35 minutes from your door to Lund central station
- Using Hyresbevakning you can ensure that you get in contact with the landlord as soon as possible after the apartment has been listed.
Several landlords publish apartments outside of the housing queue in order to give some possibility for people with no days in the queue to find an apartment. There are also some landlords that want to have more control in who is picked as a tenant and might choose to not use a queue for that reason. The apartments are allocated based on the time of application or by having a lottery among the people applying first.
There a few dedicated student housing options. To be able to sign a contract for a rental apartment you often need to be able to pay a three month deposit (or find a creditor who has a financial record in Sweden) plus one month rent in advance.
Good to Know
While starting early in your hometown will be great, it can be easier to search for an apartment once you’re there because you actually meet people who can help. As mentioned above, it can be quite complicated to find accommodation in Malmö. In all cases, it is best to be on the spot to proceed with your search given the rental market's limits.
In the meantime, there are pretty unique solutions in Malmö. But Malmö is not too big, so don’t worry if you’re not right in the middle. Wherever you are, you’ll not be that far away from the center or the university, and it is nice to cycle around anyway.
Finding accommodation is quite hard for people studying in Sweden. Unlike in many countries the universities that do have an obligation to provide accommodation to students, Sweden does not. Even if you are an Erasmus or another kind of exchange student, you will not be guaranteed accommodation, as the number of students applying generally exceeds the amount of student accommodations available.
Do not fear however, help does exist. Student unions and associations can be found on the campus of the major universities and will help you with landlord listings. Most universities offer accommodation services for international students, which can include providing guaranteed housing or giving advice on where to find a room on your own. If you’re not sure how to find the accommodation service at your university, check with your program coordinator or international office.
Before you arrive, this might make it a good idea to add your name to a University hall waiting list even before you are officially accepted to the University you are applying for. If you are already in Sweden, you could ask your fellow students about housing. They might
know someone looking for a flat mate, or an old landlord to contact. If you are going on an exchange, ask the previous generation of exchange students from your university to give you tips.
If you are not able or do not want to find a place in student accommodation, you can try to find a place on your own. Renting is not easy in Sweden and you will probably need to sub-let an apartment. Shared flats would be a good solution.
Also, remember to plan ahead of time, you should also be prepared to stay in temporary accommodation, such as a hostel, hotel or guesthouse (depending on your budget) for a short period upon arrival.
In Sweden, the “queuing system” is approached. This means that in order to get access to most first-hand rental contracts, you might have to wait in a line, where you apply for available rooms or flats based on how long you’ve been in the queue, which in relevant cases to students could take months to get through.
Through a sublet, or “second-hand” contract, you sign a contract to let a flat or a room in a flat from the current tenant. The contract terms depend on what you agree on with the person letting the flat, but usually cover the length of the rental, the monthly rent and what is included in the rent (e.g. internet, electricity and heating).
In addition to the information provided by your university, the following websites offer listings for sublets:
- Blocket (Swedish)
- Sokstudentbostad.se (Swedish)
- Moving 2 Stockholm
- Homii (Swedish)
If you are looking in cities outside the major areas, your problem competing for a place to live might not be as hard. Due to depopulation, rather than rushing to an apartment so that it won’t be taken by someone else, you would be hurrying to get it before the building is demolished.
Increasing your Chances
There are many things you can do to increase your chances of finding accommodation on the Swedish rental market.
- Adjust your expectations; Just to give you an idea about what the rental market looks like, these are quite normal price ranges for accommodations in Stockholm city center (other cities might be a bit cheaper):
A room for 6 months: about 3000-4000 SEK/ a month
A 1-room apartment for 6 months: about 8000 SEK/ a month
- Look outside the city center: A lot of people actually prefer to live outside of the city center, as you’ll be closer to nature but not too far away from the city.
- Download the app Easy Rental: This app makes it easier for you to keep track of all the ads matching your search criteria.
Long-term contracts vs. short-term contracts
It is more common to find a short-term stay rather than a long one, so people who plan to stay for a longer period should look for something more lasting as no one likes to move every three months. But going for a short-term contract might give you some pros:
- Plenty of apartments to choose from; many choose to rent their apartments when going on vacation or to work abroad. So there are many more short-term than long-term contracts.
- Fewer competitors; People already living in the city look for long term rentals, so you will find less people asking for these apartments.
- Lower price; Short term contracts are usually a bit better priced (1 to 3 months).
- Get to know the city before you settle permanently; once you are in the city and you have a clearer idea about where you want to live, you can search for something more permanent.
Although finding a long-term contract is what most people look for, there are a few matters to consider:
- The one-year limit: Most long-term contracts are for 6 months to a year, but it’s rare that you find something longer than that.
- Sign up for a bostadskö: If you are considering a longer stay in Sweden, you might consider signing up at a “bostadskö”. Most Swedes sign up as soon as they are allowed (nowadays once they turn 18) and the waiting time on these “bostadskö” are very long. However, if you are patient and not too picky with your choice this might be an option.
Dealing with Landlords
Landlords are prohibited from charging tenants a certain percentage more than the average price for other properties of the same quality and size in the area. But as the demand in major cities is incredibly high, there is a real gap between rents and market value, meaning that most accommodation is sub-let at much higher prices, creating a parallel ‘grey’ market.
If a landlord wants to increase the rent, there is a legal obligation to notify the tenant. If the tenant agrees or takes no action within two months, the new rent is applied. Tenants have the right to refuse an increase, which would then oblige the landlord to make a successful appeal to the Rent Tribunal in order to change the rent. Rents are usually negotiated in Sweden between owner and tenant associations. Also, deposits are not usual in a Swedish contracts, so be cautious if a landowner or sub-letter asks you for a high deposit.
Rental contracts and the law give tenants a number of rights and protections. Tenants can prolong a contract indefinitely and have the right to terminate a rental agreement at any time with three months’ notice. A landlord can only refuse to prolong a lease if there is a cause, such as building work, which would require the property to be vacated. In this instance, the landlord is usually required to provide the tenant with alternative accommodation.
In the case of sub-let apartments, they are usually furnished. If you are sub-letting a property, you will have very few rights and may have to vacate your property at short notice. This is very common in Sweden and many young students find themselves moving from one place to another.
As in all countries, it’s important to be aware of fraudsters when searching for a flat on the private market. Never send a payment before you’ve seen the flat and signed a contract, and don’t send money through anonymous payment services. Always ask to see identification for the person signing the contract as well as proof that he or she has the right to let the flat to you. If you feel unsure about a situation, you can always ask staff at your university for assistance.