Living in Stockholm
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A comprehensive guide about living well in Stockholm
Is a life in Stockholm something you have dreamed of for a long time? Expats living in Sweden’s capital often feel right at home, and this is not only due to the high quality of life. The InterNations GO! guide on living in Stockholm provides you with advice on education, accommodation, and healthcare.
Life in Stockholm
- Sweden has a very good education system, from local pre-schools up to upper secondary school, including many international schools in Stockholm.
- It can take a long time to find an apartment in Stockholm.
- You are not limited to a particular medical practice in Stockholm but can choose freely which doctor you would like to visit.
- Medical fees in Stockholm are largely covered by the taxes you pay but there are small, capped fees to pay for treatments.
Life in Stockholm mixes green technology and historical heritage, urban lifestyle and a close connection to Sweden’s natural beauty. Yet, the city seems not to struggle with these opposites. Rather, people living in Stockholm are mostly relaxed, friendly and happy to help, making it easy for visitors and expats to feel at home in their new life in the Swedish metropolis. Moreover, because Stockholm is a cosmopolitan city, the distinctive culture is not as pronounced here as in other parts of Sweden. Indeed, it is common to hear English, French and Arabic on the streets of the Södermalm district.
Bringing Your Children to Stockholm
While living in Stockholm, you may not only have to worry about your visa, but also the job search and dealing with culture shock. Moreover, if you should be moving to Stockholm with your family, you might have some trouble trying to understand the Swedish education system. Luckily, the city has lots of excellent schools for expat kids living in Stockholm. Expats moving to Sweden will be happy to hear that the quality of education is rather high. Public education is free of charge for every resident living in Stockholm, and adult education is provided at no charge as well. At around 6.8%, Sweden spends a relatively high amount of their GDP on education to make this viable.
Four out of five kids in Stockholm who are under the age of 6 attend pre-school. Most of these institutions in Stockholm offer day care services, including help for children in need of special care. The city is obligated to offer pre-school and family day care for children of working parents or parents enrolled in a university. Kids with special needs receive free day care as well.
Parents who are unemployed or on parental leave can make use of family day care services as well. They are entitled to 15 hours of free pre-schooling for their children from the age of one year onwards.
Primary and Secondary Schooling
Schooling in Sweden is compulsory for all children above the age of 7. The municipality itself has to provide education to all local children of at least 6 years of age who wish to begin their education. The city therefore offers an optional preparatory year to children living in Stockholm. Expat parents who want their kids to get used to their new environment may be happy to make use of this. Compulsory schooling includes nine grades in total.
You are allowed to choose the institution you want your child to attend while you are living in Stockholm and to make use of the excellent education Sweden offers. There will always be a place for your child at your local school. Of course, you can choose to enroll your child in another school if there is a place available.
Upper Secondary School
Most school children in Stockholm decide to attend upper secondary school as well. Stockholm offers upper secondary education at 28 public schools and 45 independent schools throughout the city.
Municipal upper secondary schools have 16 national programs, 15 special programs, individual programs and IB programs. If you should be moving to the city with a child who has special educational needs or learning disabilities, there are upper secondary schools and programs catering to your child’s needs.
Read our article on living in Sweden for more information on Sweden’s education system and its schools.
Of course, Stockholm’s public schools, as excellent as they may be, might not be the right choice for your child. This is often the case when expat children have already reached a certain age, are not fluent in the local language or if their parents are on a short-term assignment. In this case, you might like to send your child to one of the international schools, which host plenty of other expat kids, to ease the transition into their new life in Stockholm. The following will have more precise information on what some of these institutions offer:
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Finding Accommodation in Stockholm
Despite its small-town flair, Stockholm is a metropolis like any other. This becomes particularly obvious during the apartment hunt. Give yourself enough time to search for accommodation and make sure you find a place where you actually feel at home. The housing market in Stockholm is particularly competitive. Conditions can prove to be even harsher for expats who are not fluent in Swedish. The housing shortage is so intense that there is something of a black market growing in the Swedish real estate world, where people will swap rental contracts or sell them for a ‘finders’ fee.
The Apartment Search
While the living standard in Sweden is often high, living in Stockholm doesn’t always come cheap. You should expect to pay around 17,515 SEK or more per month for an average three-bedroom apartment in an average neighborhood. In upper-class neighborhoods the rent will be a lot higher, of course.
The Internet can be a great resource for your apartment search. Online classifieds such as blocket.se and bopunkten.se might be just the place to find the apartment of your dreams. Unfortunately, these websites are only available in Swedish. Thus, if your Swedish language skills are still at a minimum, hiring a real estate agent is always a good idea.
For more information on Stockholm’s districts, please refer to our article on Moving to Stockholm or visit our Stockholm community. Expats already living in Stockholm can give you some advice or may even be able to help you along the way.
First-Hand Rental Apartments
While living in Stockholm, you have the opportunity to rent an apartment with a first-hand or “second-hand” rental agreement. However, expats often face difficulties when trying to get their hands on a first-hand contract. You might be expected to provide a Swedish personal identity number (personnummer) or proof of a guaranteed income.
To get a first-hand rental apartment, you need to register with your municipality and ask to be put on a waiting list. Keep in mind that in cities like Stockholm the waiting list is usually very long. You may have to wait months or even years before you are considered for a first-hand rental.
Subletting an apartment is much more common, particularly in a city like Stockholm. You do not have to provide your personal identity number and the rental agreement is signed with the owner of the apartment or the holder of the first-hand rental contract.
Even though it is not so difficult to find a second-hand rental apartment, you should still be aware that signing a formal contract is essential. These contracts are always made between private individuals and should contain all formal information about the rental agreement.
Healthcare in Stockholm
Stockholm’s healthcare system is largely decentralized and publicly funded. The city of Stockholm is constantly trying to ensure access to comprehensive medical services for every resident. The quality of these services is indeed very high, which is also reflected in the high life expectancy of the Swedes.
When it comes to healthcare, the central government, the various county councils and the municipality of Stockholm share the responsibility. The city of Stockholm has gained more freedom in this respect through the Health and Medical Service Act (Hälso- och sjukvårdslagen, HSL).
If you are in need of medical care while living in Stockholm, you can turn to one of the many health centers in the city. They offer all kinds of health services by different medical specialists or general practitioners. As a patient you are, of course, free to choose the doctor or medical center that you feel most comfortable with.
As you are not limited to a certain doctor’s practice or specific hospital, you are free to get treatment anywhere you want in the city of Stockholm. This also applies to private hospitals and practices. Many of them offer specialized treatment in addition to basic medical care.
Hospitals in Stockholm
All in all, there are about 14 hospitals and countless doctors’ practices in the greater Stockholm area. As we have mentioned above, it is your choice which one you attend for your regular check-ups or necessary treatments. However, Allianz World Wide Care suggests nine hospitals in particular:
- Aleris AB
- Danderyds Hospital
- Folktandvarden Stockholm AB
- Karolinska University Hospital
- Kirurgkliniken Stockholm AB
- Pars Tandlaekarpraktik AB
- St. Erik’s Eye Hospital
- St. Görans Hospital
- Stockholm South General Hopital – Sodersjukhuset
St. Erik’s is a specialized clinic in the field of eye surgery and treatment. The quality of care offered in these hospitals is very high. However, it is important for you to feel comfortable at your hospital of choice. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends and co-workers for advice before seeing a doctor.
Fees for Medical Treatment
The country of Sweden is divided into four different healthcare regions. Stockholm belongs to the Gotland region. For hospital stays, you usually have to pay 80 SEK in fees per day. Fees for primary care amount to between 100 and 200 SEK while specialist care will cost you up to 350 SEK.
The good news is that individual medical costs are capped at an annual limit of between 900 and 1,100 SEK. Once you have paid a total of between 900 and 1,100 SEK for your medical treatments during one year, all health consultations in the upcoming 12 months will be free of charge. You should, however, make sure to consult your health insurance provider beforehand as this rule may not always apply. There is a similar cap for prescription medication.
Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a comprehensive range of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!