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Securing accommodation in Sweden can be one of the most difficult, and priciest, parts of an expat’s relocation to this Scandinavian country. It is important that newcomers give themselves enough time to look for accommodation, especially if moving to a larger city such as Stockholm, which has a severe housing shortage.
That said, the standard of housing in Sweden is exceptionally high. Many rentals come with high-quality appliances in the kitchen, central heating and access to high-speed internet.
Most expats who move to Sweden rent accommodation for the duration of their stay. The rental market in Sweden is regulated and expats will find that the prices are competitive compared to the rest of Europe. This depends, of course, on which part of the country a person moves to – the prices in a large city will be much higher than those in rural or suburban areas. In fact, Stockholm has one of the most expensive housing markets in Europe.
And while most expats do settle in Stockholm, cities such as Malmö, Jönköping and Gothenburg also have expat populations.
Types of accommodation in Sweden
Apartments are the most common form of expat housing in Sweden, especially for those living in Stockholm. Most apartments are unfurnished, but basics such as bathroom and kitchen fittings are provided.
Expats will find houses for rent in small towns, rural areas and in some suburbs outside of cities. The best way to find a house to rent is through a Swedish estate agent or a relocation company. Expats can also use the internet and get in touch with other expats in the area who may be able to assist them. Word of mouth and networking are often the best route in this regard.
Finding accommodation in Sweden
Local newspapers, estate agencies and personal contacts are all good ways of finding accommodation in Sweden. Unless an expat’s employer arranges housing for them, the best option would be to stay in a hotel or serviced apartment when first arriving in Sweden and then start looking for more permanent accommodation once in the country.
Expats should look online for private housing agencies. This is also a good way to find housing in Sweden. The ideal way to find accommodation would be to find another expat at the end of their lease and to contact their landlord directly.
Renting accommodation in Sweden
Private and government rentals
In Sweden, few properties are rented directly by landlords to the tenants. Only certain properties are allowed to be rented directly and the rest are rented through the Bostadsförmedlingen, the government organisation that redistributes vacant housing.
Expats will have to pay the Bostadsförmedlingen a fee to place them in accommodation and the waiting list is usually rather long. Because of this, many expats use private housing companies to find accommodation in Sweden.
These housing companies can find “second-hand” rentals that are not directly leased by the owner to a tenant. These are much easier to find than direct rentals, and expats won’t need a Swedish identity number to qualify. The expat tenant will then sign a lease with the holder of the first-hand rental contract.
Leases and deposits
Usually, expats will have to pay one month’s rent as a deposit on the property. It is also expected that a tenant gives three months’ notice before moving out. Expats should ensure that they have read their lease agreement carefully before signing anything.
Heating and water are usually included in the cost of rent in Sweden, while gas and electric bills are typically for the tenant's expense.