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Living in Sweden ?

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Nathan Reed

Living in Sweden, from Canada

"With InterNations I quickly connected with other Canadian members who became close friends over time."

Barbara Melington

Living in Sweden, from the USA

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Sweden at a Glance

Living in Sweden

Expat life in Sweden appeals to you? You aren’t alone! The quality of life attracts many expats every year. While the cost of living in Sweden may seem a bit steep, you get an amazing experience in return! Our guide to the “Land of the Midnight Sun” gives you a good idea of life in Sweden.


Spending their life in Sweden has become the dream of many expats. The excellent health and education systems are not the only reason to move to this part of Scandinavia. The country also impresses visitors and foreign employees alike with its breathtaking scenery. Many Swedish people live in a house by one of the many lakes and bays.

Sweden’s summers, although not the warmest, feature long, bright days while the winter season also has its romantic side. Living in Sweden’s North may bring a lot of darkness during those cold months, but it is also a brilliant vantage point for the famous Aurora Borealis; the Northern Lights.

A Problematic Search but Worth the Wait

Swedes and expats alike often run into problems when trying to secure a flat, so when you plan out your life in Sweden, make sure to give yourself enough time for the apartment hunt. Whilst the living standards in Sweden are rather high, with apartments often located close to schools, shops, and public transport, the Swedish housing market is currently facing many problems. The government plans to spend an additional six billion crowns next year on boosting construction and intends to simplify building regulations. Yet, Sweden needs to build 500,000 homes by 2020 and there is currently an average wait of 13 years in Stockholm’s public queue for a rental in the inner city. House prices are also rising at the fastest paces in Europe, up 13% in the second quarter of 2015 from the previous year. Thus, the real estate market in bigger cities can prove to be particularly competitive and it will take some hard work to acquire a home.

If you are interested in rental costs in different regions, cities, and neighborhoods, browsing Swedish real estate websites helps to provide you with an overview of the market. Sites like Hemnet and Booli are in Swedish only and thus require you to have some basic language skills in order to start looking for your dream home. Other resources like Bostad Direkt or Residensportalen are also available in English.

"First-Hand" Rental Apartments

In Sweden, apartments can be rented with a first-hand (förstahandskontrakt) or sublet contract (andrahandskontrakt). It can be quite difficult to sign a first-hand contract without a Swedish personal identity number (personnumber) or a guaranteed income. If you can secure one of those contracts while living in Sweden, however, the contract will be between you and the owner of the building.

The usual way of finding a first-hand rental apartment is by registering with your municipality to be put on a waiting list. In larger cities, these waiting lists are extremely long and it can take several years before your municipality will consider you. Inquire with the local municipality for more information on the waiting list. Smaller towns or villages will be easier, however, and you may get a first-hand rental apartment right away.

Subletting Apartments

Sublet rental contracts are much more common among foreigners living in Sweden than first-hand rentals. They are easier to find and you do not need a personal identity number and guaranteed income. Your rental agreement will then be signed between you and the owner of the apartment or the holder of first-hand rental contract.

While sublet contracts are easier to come by for expatriates, you should still make sure to always sign a formal contract. Sublet rental contracts are always between private individuals. You can search for apartments by typing hyra lägenhet (rent apartment), hyreslägenhet (rental apartment) or uthyres andra hand (sublet rentals) in your search engine. Real estate agencies can be a great help as well.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine