As an international student looking for housing, your first point of contact should always be your university. Most universities offer accommodation services for international students, which can include providing guaranteed housing or giving advice on where to find a room on your own. The exact offer will vary between universities. If you’re not sure how to find the accommodation service at your university, check with your programme coordinator or international office.
The availability of student accommodation also varies considerably from place to place. Usually, there is plenty of accommodation available in smaller and middle-sized cities or towns. Finding a room can be more challenging in larger cities, especially Stockholm and Gothenburg, and in the traditional student cities of Lund and Uppsala.
You can choose to live in student accommodation or find a home on the private market.
Student accommodation: residence halls and flats
Many students choose to live in a student residence hall, also known as a dormitory, or in a building of student flats. This is usually a fun experience that gives you the chance to get to know corridormates from around the world.
Most halls of residence have 10-15 single rooms in each corridor, often with a communal television room and kitchen. In some cases, rooms will have en-suite toilets, while others may have shared facilities for the corridor. Female and male students live in the same corridor.
Student flats usually include two to four bedrooms along with a shared living room, kitchen and toilet. Studio (one-room) student flats are also often available.
Both halls of residence and student flats usually offer shared laundry facilities for the building. Sometimes a small fee will be charged for laundry, but in most cases laundry is free of charge to residents of the building.
Students are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and the communal kitchen. Although rooms are usually let with basic furniture, you’ll usually need to provide your own blankets, pillows, sheets, towels and light bulbs. Some utensils may be available in the communal kitchen but you’ll usually have to bring or buy your own plates, cutlery, pots and pans, and other kitchen utensils. These are sometimes available to let through your student union.
Unlike in some other countries, student accommodation in Sweden is nearly always managed by organisations or companies separate from the university itself. However, many universities help to arrange housing in halls or flats for international students, particularly for exchange students. Your university will have information on the local student housing companies and organisations and how to sign up if they don’t have an allocation system. Often, you will have to join a queue system, where you apply for available rooms or flats which are then allocated based on who has the longest queue time.
Finding accommodation on the private market
Always investigate options for student housing through your university or related student housing companies as your first step. If you’re not able to find housing through your university, or if the options available don’t suit you, finding a room or flat on the private market can be a good option.
In most cities in Sweden, most rental flats are managed by central housing services that operate queue systems for so-called ‘first-hand’ rental contracts, or contracts directly between the tenant and the owner of the property. Residents sign up for a queue in their city and are then able to apply for flats, which are allocated based on queue time. In large and medium-sized cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala or Lund, queue times for a flat can be several years. As such, on the private market the most common solution for students is finding a sublet.
Through a sublet, or ‘second-hand’ contract, you sign a contract to let a flat or a room in a flat from the current tenant. The terms of such a contract depend on what you agree upon with the person letting the flat, but usually cover the length of your tenancy, the monthly rent and what is included in the rent (e.g. internet, electricity and heating). For an example of a sample contract as well as lots of general advice on finding a flat, have a look at Studentboet.se.
The housing office at your university should be able to offer general advice on finding private accommodation in your city, and may in some cases have information on available flats. Many student unions also operate websites that help new students find available rooms to let. In addition to the information provided by your university, the following websites offer listings for sublets (most of these websites are in Swedish; use Google Translate or another translation tool to translate the listings):
- Jagvillhabostad.nu (information on finding a flat in several cities – in Swedish)
As in all countries, it’s important to be aware of fraudsters when searching for a flat on the private market. Never send a payment before you’ve seen the flat and signed a contract, and don’t send money through anonymous payment services. Always ask to see identification for the person signing the contract as well as proof that he or she has the right to let the flat to you. If you feel unsure about a situation, you can always ask staff at your university for assistance.
Monthly rent costs vary considerably between locations. For a student room or a room in a flat, monthly rent ranges between roughly SEK 2,500 and SEK 6,500, with smaller towns at the lower end of the scale and Stockholm at the high end. On the private market, costs can be somewhat higher. The standard of the flat and what’s included in the rent (furnishings, electricity and so on) can also affect monthly costs.