“Welcome to Stockholm. Look at our pretty apartments. You can’t have one”
According to statistics that I have completely fabricated, the average person loses 50% of their hair during their first month searching for accommodation in this city. On the bright side, this shiny new bald spot is some kind of battle wound. On the down side, you are probably still homeless.
The ugly truth
No doubt Sweden’s social welfare state is a crown-jewel achievement, but it has also unfortunately produced a housing development market that is burdened by bureaucracy and insane regulations. As a result, Sweden is now the EU leader in new housing production cost (72% above average)! Developers – eager to break-even on their high-cost investments – allocate their focus to upscale projects (which often produce higher returns) and consequently marginalize low income demographics (like students).
As housing construction proceeds at a glacial pace and the system evolves away from rental schemes, many students are often left in the dust. Some are even forced to move back to their city of origin…a reality I’m shocked that major Swedish universities can accept.
Still interested in moving to beautiful Stockholm? You will need to adjust your expectations to match the following:
Small – 25sq.m./person is good here. I even have friends that are sharing a 15sq.m. room!
Expensive – Obviously this is relative and factor-dependent, but you should expect to pay at least 4000sek. I have friends paying 7000sek+!
Unstable – The supply and demand gap has led to the emergence of black market/second-hand opportunities.While a large bulk of students find their housing like this, beware – the unregulated nature of these contracts often means a certain level of instability.
Suburban – Inner-city accommodation can be expensive. This may force you to pursue options in the further outreaches of Stockholm. The silver-lining? The fantastic public transportation system should get you to work in about 45minutes regardless.
Common landlord preferences – The tenant should be female, clean, non-smoking, not have any pets, Swedish-speaking….you get the idea
You are depressed….so am I.
- Ask people for help! Don’t feel shy in reaching out to your supervisor…colleagues…friends… family…girl-friend’s sister’s dog’s brother’s owner….
- Sign up for the student accommodation queues ASAP. Yes, there are queues (its Sweden after all). Register and accumulate days. When an apartment becomes available, you bid with the number of days you have waited in the queue. Unfortunately, the system is quite inflated at the moment due to some rule changes so you might need a lot of days (e.g. at least a couple hundred), but there is no harm in queuing up anyways.
- Scour rental websites
- Akademisk Kvart, Blocket, Andrahand to start
- When contacting prospective landlords, be sure to emphasize that you match the common landlord preferences I mentioned. If you don’t match the preferences, lie (with caution of course…don’t – for example – misrepresent your gender).
- Writing this bit in Swedish can help. See the advert below for guidance.
- Make a kick-ass advert about yourself
- Feel free to use this mock advert as inspiration, but be sure to make appropriate adjustments and add a picture of yourself! PDF: Forskare söker boende i Stockholm Sample
- Pay someone
Writing this article sucked…it reminded me of how annoying searching for apartments can be. Still, I hope some of you found this valuable and aren’t too depressed. Above all, positivity and perseverance will go a long way…in slowing apartment-related hair-loss rates. Happy hunting!
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