Student accommodation in Sweden
Our guide to student accommodation for international students studying in Sweden
Our guide to student accommodation for international students studying in Sweden
Often imagined as a wintery utopia full of smiling, golden-haired people, Sweden’s globally regarded institutions only add to its allure as a study abroad destination. Eight percent of students currently studying in Sweden are international, with the amount of students from outside Europe just over twice the amount of those from within it. Securing student housing in Sweden might prove tricky, particularly in bigger cities, but is by no means impossible. We’ve laid out your student accommodation options to help make your study abroad planning process less of a hassle.
Tip: Accommodation queries might be something you want to ask a university about through our site, using the ‘Ask a question’ button.
Your accommodation options will depend on whether you are an EU/EEA or not. University-organised accommodation is only available to non-EU/EEA students. All other options however are open to both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students.
There is no national system in Sweden that handles student accommodation. In fact, Swedish universities are prevented by law from organising EU student accommodation. Some universities offer housing assistance services to international and exchange students from non-EU countries, and in some cases are able to provide a limited amount of rooms in residence halls or student houses. The amount of students is almost always higher than the amount of rooms available, which are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Students are urged to apply for housing as soon as they receive their offer from a Swedish university. If you miss out on a place on-campus, you might be placed on a waiting list, which means that you will be considered as soon as a place becomes available. However, there is no guarantee you’ll get a place, so it’s best to keep an ear out for other options. Some universities also have different arrangements for Erasmus students.
For example, Uppsala University has a quota of dormitory rooms within student corridors, each owned by different housing companies and located in different student areas in Uppsala. These rooms are only available for students enrolled in one of the university’s formal exchange programmes. Utilities and internet costs are included in the rent, and all rooms come furnished. Students are not guaranteed a place and should have a back-up plan in case their application is unsuccessful. Rent is payable per month, and for a room in Flogsta residence hall in the 2013-2014 academic year students paid SEK 3769 (US$ 590). Halls share kitchen and laundry facilities, but each room has a private bathroom. Uppsala also has different housing arrangements for Masters and visiting Research students.
Some universities, such as Lund University have what is called a ‘housing guarantee’ with fee-paying, non-EU students. This means that you are guaranteed housing from LU for the duration of your study programme, permitted you meet fee paying requirements and rental agreements. Students without a housing guarantee may also apply for LU housing, but are not assured a place.
Upon being accepted by the university, students are sent an e-mail with information on how to secure housing. Students will not receive a housing offer until they have made their first tuition fee payment. You will need to nominate and submit your housing preferences by a given deadline, which is around mid-June for a start in semester one of the Swedish academic year (September).
Note: All non-EU/EEA students will need to have a residence permit to study in Sweden that must be applied for and received before you move. Students requiring a permit must also prove they have at least SEK 3700 (US$ 580) per month for 10 months to support themselves whilst they study. The application fee for the permit is about SEK2000 (US$313).
It is most common for students to live in off-campus housing that is in some way tied to their university. Students will typically rent a room as part of a shared apartment between two-three others. Many universities have arrangements with housing agencies, and will either link you directly to them via their website or be able to provide you with their contact details. Most, but not all university-organised accommodation, even if it is off-campus, caters only for non-EU exchange students.
For example, the International Housing Office (IHO) at Umeå University offers 450 student rooms in five different off-campus housing areas, available to both exchange and tuition-paying Umeå students. Rooms are private, each with a private shower but with a shared kitchen between all rooms in the corridor. Rent is payable per semester/term, and varies from SEK 10,500-SEK17,000 (US$1,645-US$2663) including service fees, facilities and internet costs. Students do not need to fill in a separate housing form to apply for these rooms: whilst applying to study at the university, they need only to indicate that they would like either a semester or year long arrangement with the IHO.
Students at Stockholm University can join the student union and put their name on a waiting list for student housing. As well as offering accommodation for non-EU exchange students, the university’s housing office has a number of links to external agencies and offers comprehensive housing advice for students. Rental costs and facilities for university-provided off-campus housing vary depending on the housing area and property type, but for example a studio apartment in the area of Idun, near the city centre is SEK14,000 (US$2193) per semester, including internet, a private kitchen and bathroom, and facility costs.
Students in Sweden will have the option to join one of 13 ‘Nations’, student organisations that can sometimes directly provide you with housing, or help you to secure it. More typical of student cities such as Lund or Uppsala, Nations function as kind of self-contained student communities, where members are all required to contribute by doing part-time jobs. Each Nation runs a number of student activities and services, and are each famous for the vibrant nightlife they offer. You will have to pay a membership fee to join, but will often enjoy discounts at local establishments. You can get in touch with your local Nations through your university’s student union, or directly via their website.
EU students in particular will most likely need to rent a property privately whilst they study in Sweden. The Swedish rental market is highly regulated, and can be rented via ‘first-hand’ or ‘second-hand’ rental arrangements.
‘First-hand’ agreements generally require a Swedish personal identity number or guaranteed income, so will typically be off-limits to international students. It is common however for foreigners to live in ‘second-hand’ rental apartments, where the accommodation agreement is directly between yourself and either the owner of the apartment, or holder of the ‘first-hand’ rental contract. Students should be sure to formerly sign a paper contract as proof of the arrangement.
Living standards and costs are relatively high, and very broadly, for an average 3-room apartment, you might pay around SEK7,000-SEK8,000 (US$1097-US$1253) for a modest 3 bedroom apartment. It is particularly difficult to secure accommodation in larger cities such as Stockholm and Göteborg, and student cities Lund and Uppsala. Very generally, monthly rental costs for a room in a shared property in Swedish cities are around SEK 2,500-SEK4,500 (US$392-US$705), whilst a room in a smaller town is more likely to be around SEK2,000-SEK3,500 (US$ 313-US$548).
Be prepared to move fast once you find a vacancy. The demand for student housing is incredibly high and if you don’t take the property in time, someone else will spring up and take your spot.
Swedish institutions and property agents are aware how difficult it is to secure housing, and often have a number of resources available to help you find somewhere to live, regardless of whether you are a EU student or not. For example, helpful websites such as www.sl.se will help you find accommodation within travel distance of your host institution, whilst most universities allow students to post property vacancy information on their social media profiles. Whilst it might seem daunting, people are prepared to help you: you just need to know where to ask. Students can also get into contact with their local embassy in Sweden and ask them to place an advertisement asking for accommodation.
Always check that your landlord or agent has a Swedish bank account, and is willing to show you the place in person. Do not accept agreements or pay a fee to anyone promising to send the apartment keys to your home country, despite the appeal of arriving in Sweden and moving into your new place right away. Only pay advance fees to accredited agents, or landlords with certified Swedish bank accounts and who present you with a legitimate contract. Always ask for a copy of your contract in English: if they won’t provide you with one, then don’t sign it.
It’s always a good idea to have a hostel in mind as a backup until your other arrangements have been secured. You can book rooms at a hostel last-minute, and often can cancel last-minute, too.
Now that the property market in Sweden seems less scary, start browsing courses in Sweden now and plan your study abroad adventure!
Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.