In today’s article, I wanted to touch upon a “hot” topic in Sweden: the housing situation. There are a lot of talks around housing in Stockholm and in Sweden overall. So, after reading about the same questions on this topic, I thought that it could be interesting and helpful to share our experience. Especially, because we’re in the same situation as many other foreigners, i.e. poor Swedish language, no local friends, and zero knowledge of the local real estate market.
When I said to people I was moving to Stockholm, instead of encouraging words, I got a lot of “you’ll never find a place to live”. As if once you arrive in Stockholm you will live on the street. No. Let’s face it, this is not happening. So here are the steps we used to find a place in Stockholm, and we used exactly the same process when we first moved to Stockholm from Helsingborg, and recently when we moved to a new apartment in the city center.
If there is one thing that can help, is the organization. Simply because you’ll go through a lot of ads and you don’t want to waste your time. Looking for a rental apartment or house is extremely time-consuming. And it is even prior to viewing any place. As both Erikas and I were going through ads, we created a master table on a shared Excel file. And this has been a lifesaver for us. We would go through ads, write the link in the table and both check it. This way, we were sure the location and place were fitting our requirements. Only after this, we sent a message to the landlord for a potential visit. After the landlord’s answer or the visit we would update the spreadsheet with our thoughts and whether we want to get the place or not.
Here below is the table we have been using to sort the different ads.
Be available & go to viewings
There are so many scams. Everywhere and every day. On all websites or Facebook groups, people will send you links of places to see and asking to pay 1, 2, or more months ahead. Just as in every big city, the same as in Stockholm. Making yourself available for viewings is super important as you will get a feel of the apartment, the landlord, and also the surrounding area. Another thing is to be super responsive to messages, calls, or emails. The rental market is so crazy that you need to be fast. It happened to us once, by the time we got to the place (about 20 min), the apartment was already taken.
It sometimes makes me laugh when I hear people saying that they are looking for a 3 rooms apartment, within 10 min of the central station for about 10,000 SEK (approx. 1000€) and that they cannot find it. Well… Knowing what kind of place you want is good and important but you need to be realistic. For us, the budget was our main requirement and we did not want to spend more than a given amount for rent. The next thing was the location as we were living about 1 hour from both of our job places and we did not want to spend so much time in transport. Everything else was a bonus for us!
So it is important to know the market prices for apartments and also to be flexible. What are the things you really need or want in your place, and what is superficial? By making a list of requirements, you’ll gain quite a lot of time in your search process.
Network & Luck
If you have a local network, even small, use it. It is always better and easier to get a place if you’ve been recommended by someone. Usually, when people hear about a place to be free, they will let you know. And there is always someone who has a friend of a friend who will be able to help. The other thing is luck. As unbelievable as it can be, you will probably get your place because you’ve been lucky this time. And sometimes, luck can be a deal-breaker. For our first apartment in Stockholm, our landlord happened to be Lithuanian (just like Erikas), and so it made it way easier for us to get the place.
The rental market in Stockholm is not a fair game and you should be aware of this. It is often based on a first-come, first-served basis, no matter if your profile is “better” than someone else’s.
Before finishing this article, I wanted to share with you some of the websites we used to find good housing in Stockholm. Note that all are available for other cities in Sweden, but these are the ones we have used the most during both of our apartment searches. There is Blocket, which has a lot of ads, but be aware of potential scams. Then we used Bostad Direkt, which we liked a lot. With this website, everything is a bit safer, you pay the deposit and rent via the website, but there are fewer ads. We then used other platforms but nothing as good as these two came across.
⇒ Tell me, what is your view on the housing situation in Stockholm? Do you have some good tips?
⇒ In your country, how’s the housing situation?
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