Renting in Sweden

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In my first eight months in Malmö I lived in four different apartments (a second hand, a first hand, a friend’s floor and an AirBnb). The rental market here is hugely competitive, but don’t be discouraged! I’ve put together some links and tips to help you find somewhere to live.

I will focus on first-hand contracts in this article, as I have less experience of the second-hand market. If you want to use Blocket or a Facebook group to find an apartment, enlist the help of a Swedish person to make sure you don’t get scammed!

Contract types

If you are looking to rent in Sweden, there are a few types of contracts.

First-hand contracts come directly from a housing association. These are companies that have portfolios of properties – similar to a letting agents in the UK, except the properties are not owned by landlords, they are owned and managed by the housing association.

First hand contracts have the most protection and rights for tenants, and some bills will not be included in the price of the rent (internet and electricity usually). They also tend to be the hardest to get, though I’ll give you some tips below.

Second-hand contracts are subleases- one person has a first hand contract from a housing association, and you rent from them. This comes with less tenant protection and sometimes higher prices. These contracts are much easier to get, from places like Blocket, Facebook groups or personal friends/contacts. Bills tend to be included in the rent.

Some second hand contracts come from people who own an apartment and rent it out. This has its pros and cons, which I will not get into here in detail. Apartment owners have to follow certain rules dictated by their building’s housing board that can be bad if you are a second hand tenant.

I stayed in one of these and the housing board decided to kick out all second-hand contract tenants from the building. This is apparently very rare, and I was given 3 months notice, but it’s important to remember when you consider a contract like this.

These second hand contracts are common when you have a relocation service working with you. Relocation companies tend to have portfolios of private landlords who rent out their apartments second hand. These contracts are often expensive but do include bills.

The Process (First hand contracts)

  1. Sign up with a housing association list
  2. Register interest in an apartment
  3. Be offered a viewing
  4. Go to viewing (usually with a group of other prospective tenants)
  5. Be offered the apartment
  6. Housing association does a credit check on you
  7. Sign contract

The Queue System

Unfortunately, the queue system in Sweden directly penalises those of us who have just moved here. When you sign up with your personnummer to a housing association’s website, they will add you to their queue. The longer you spend on this queue, the higher priority you get for getting viewings and being offered apartments.

Say you sign up for the queue on June 2nd 2017. You register your interest for an apartment in Malmo on the housing association website on June 3rd.

Someone else signed up for the queue on June 1st, and registered their interest for the same apartment on June 5th. This person will be offered a viewing before you as they have a higher place in the queue, even though they applied for it after you (in most cases.) This is why it is imperative to sign up for housing association queues as soon as possible.

The Boplats Syd queue.

https://www.boplatssyd.se/

Once you have your personnummer, sign up for Skåne’s official housing queue. This costs around 360SEK.

Though people will warn you off of it as being not worth your time, in Malmö it’s possible to get an apartment from the ‘real’ queue within as little as six months (I did this, through luck and perseverance). It’s nothing like the Stockholm queue (where reportedly it takes 20 years to get a first-hand contract.)

In the Boplats Syd queue you will see apartments from multiple housing associations. Sometimes these apartments will also be listed on the housing association’s own website, and sometimes they will have additional apartments they do not advertise on Boplats Syd, so it is important to register with and check both.

Apartment listings with a (B) after them indicate that people already renting from that association will be preferred. This makes it less likely you will get one of these apartments, if you are looking for your first place.

Other housing associations

These other queues can be split into two – those with a queue system similar to Boplats Syd, and those with a more free-form, merit based system.

Queues

https://www.byggvesta.se/

https://www.mkbfastighet.se/

https://www.hsb.se/malmo/ (Special case. If you invest money with them, they increase your ‘queue points’ and make it quicker to get one of their apartments. Have not tried myself.)

‘Merit’ queues

A note here- all the information is subjective and what I’ve heard from other expats. So take it with a pinch of salt.

These associations ask for your company and salary information and factor this in as a key metric to decide whether they will give you viewings. Therefore if you have a high salary and international company, you are much more likely to get a viewing. Many foreigners find their first apartment this way.

For this reason you should include as much information as possible when filling out your profile with them.

http://www.stenafastigheter.se/Sidor/default.aspx

https://www.akelius.se/sv

https://heimstaden.com/

General advice

Check queues daily. Apply for apartments as soon as you see one you like.

Many associations have max numbers of apartments you can declare interest in. Usually 5, sometimes 3. Remember this when you’re applying to a lot.

It’s usually not worth applying for places where you are 100+ on the queue when you join (you can see this on Boplats Syd).

Calling associations is apparently more effective, especially for the smaller ones I haven’t listed here.

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My lovely first-hand apartment, that I got after 6 months on the queue.

If there is anything else you’d like more information on, please comment below and I will update this page!

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Six Months in Sweden!

I was at a party recently where a friend of mine mentioned how much she loved my blog. This really surprised me- I’d all but forgotten my blog once the realities of life and work set in.

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A freezing morning outside Centralen. My office is the black building to the right of the tree.

Combined with finishing my first six months living in Sweden I thought this was a great time to revisit my goals I laid out in May. Seems like so long ago, already!

It feels like my life has changed and clarified in a load of ways since then.

Short Term – 1 Month

  • Walk the city. Get a feel for neighbourhoods, who shops where, when people stay out until etc. – Done! Running a load of the city helped too.
  • Find a coffee shop with
    • Great coffee
    • Good wifi
    • Late opening hours (lots of places here shut at 4pm!) – Done! Shout out to my local, Wayne’s Coffee Vastra Hamnen. I’ve also tried to cultivate an at-home coffee ritual that feels just as satisfying to slim down my coffee budget, helped by a velvet sofa and some great Braithwaites coffee imported from Dundee.
  • Make a good impression at work and learn as much as I can about the company. Done! I think. I didn’t fail my probation anyway, and people seem to like me well enough. Baking a lot really helps.
  • Find and successfully rent an apartment. Ideally
    • Unfurnished
    • Small (studio or 1-bed max)
    • Balcony-having (a girl can dream…) Done! Come February 15th 2017, I’ll be moving into a first-hand, small, balcony-having, Swedish modernist apartment round the corner from my favourite coffee shop and opposite Malmo’s best skate park. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.
  • Get my personnummer, bank account etc. sorted. Done! 
  • Begin Swedish lessons. Done! Min svenska ar inte bra.
  • Find out how to type the ö in Malmö reliably on my keyboard. Solution- use a Mac. I might be a convert…

Medium term – 3 to 6 Months

  • Settle in at work. Work to a standard where I feel like I’m contributing to the team and project(s). Working on this every day :)
    • Look into doing additional training, possibly a General Assembly online course or HBS CoreX. Need to do, probably not General Assembly though.
  • Set up a liveable, stick-to-able budget. Yep! Been tracking every purchase with YNAB since I moved. It’s been eye opening, to say the least. I’m managing to save about 40% of my after-tax salary per month now, which feels really good. Some sense of security for the first time since I left home. 
  • Work on publishing my dissertation as a paper. Life has gotten in the way a bit… I’ll have to come back to this in 2017.
  • Outfit my flat with the basics, and persuade friends to come visit! I have a vacuum cleaner now! I’m basically an adult. And my parents, Liene and Callum have all come to visit which is super cool!
  • Get my Swedish to the standard where I can at least order a coffee and possibly be understood. Nope, but I’m trying. At least I know my numbers to 39 now.
  • Get to know the company, expat and game dev communities in Malmo. Done. Outside of our company, they don’t really exist. Gotta work on that.
  • Explore the different Malmo and Copenhagen Meetup groups.Tried a few, need to try more! Copenhagen is strangely far away for being so close.
  • Pick back up my disparate, MPDG-like hobbies
    • Ukulele Yep! I’ve even embarrassed myself greatly in front of my coworkers by playing in front of them.
    • Rock climbing Nope, the climbing wall is too out of the way. I’m aiming to have an excursion there with work soon, though!
    • Jogging (holla c25k!) Yep, completed C25K for the second time in October, now working on improving my 5k times about 3 times a week. 
    • Life drawing (possibly help run a class?) Yep, we have a class at work on Tuesdays with the most AMAZING model I’ve ever worked with. A tutor and an inspiration- really privileged to have this class so close at hand.
    • Choral singing

Long term – 1 year+

  • Advance my UX skills to mid-level.
  • Visit new parts of Sweden and northern Europe.
  • Speak at a conference, either about my King work or my dissertation.
  • Settle into living in Sweden.

These are all in progress.

Strangely enough, a big part of my mental shift in the last six months has been moving away from obsessive, list-based thinking towards a more relaxed way of planning that allows for the shifts in direction that life gives us. I’m a lot more relaxed and easy-going than I was six months ago, helped in no small part by having a Forever Home (not knowing I’ll have to move and change every six months to a year, as I’ve done since I was 18) and by practicing mindfulness. Mind is a great app for this, which combined with (surprise surprise) yoga and running has done really great things for my mental and physical health.

I feel so lucky to have landed in a company with such welcoming coworkers, and into a culture that fits what I believe about the world. Next month I’m going to look at these goals and recalibrate some goals for 2017- if possibly in a less rigid format :)

Malmö-goals

People who know me in person know I’m goal-oriented.

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Packing for Malmo planning: notice the extreme mindmaps.

Scratch that, I’m goal-crazy, goal-driven. I live a life dictated by to-do lists, bullet points and five year plans. Moving to Sweden was no different- and although I know it’ll take a while (I’m estimating 3 to 6 months) to settle into the city, culture and workplace, I have some vague ideas of where I want to be in the short, medium and long-term.

Short Term – 1 Month

  • Walk the city. Get a feel for neighbourhoods, who shops where, when people stay out until etc.
  • Find a coffee shop with
    • Great coffee
    • Good wifi
    • Late opening hours (lots of places here shut at 4pm!)
  • Make a good impression at work and learn as much as I can about the company.
  • Find and successfully rent an apartment. Ideally
    • Unfurnished
    • Small (studio or 1-bed max)
    • Balcony-having (a girl can dream…)
  • Get my personnummer, bank account etc. sorted.
  • Begin Swedish lessons.
  • Find out how to type the ö in Malmö reliably on my keyboard.

Medium term – 3 to 6 Months

  • Settle in at work. Work to a standard where I feel like I’m contributing to the team and project(s).
    • Look into doing additional training, possibly a General Assembly online course or HBS CoreX.
  • Set up a liveable, stick-to-able budget.
  • Work on publishing my dissertation as a paper.
  • Outfit my flat with the basics, and persuade friends to come visit!
  • Get my Swedish to the standard where I can at least order a coffee and possibly be understood.
  • Get to know the company, expat and game dev communities in Malmo.
  • Explore the different Malmo and Copenhagen Meetup groups.
  • Pick back up my disparate, MPDG-like hobbies
    • Ukulele
    • Rock climbing
    • Jogging (holla c25k!)
    • Life drawing (possibly help run a class?)
    • Choral singing

Long term – 1 year+

  • Advance my UX skills to mid-level.
  • Visit new parts of Sweden and northern Europe.
  • Speak at a conference, either about my King work or my dissertation.
  • Settle into living in Sweden.

These goals are likely to change and mutate- but to me, life is about going with the flow. Any advice for places to visit in Sweden, or tips for settling in? Leave them below!