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Has Stockholm become too expensive?

Has Stockholm become too expensive?

Published: 11 May 2012 16:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 May 2012 16:13 GMT+02:00

Tourist season is coming, and The Local took to the streets to quiz people in Stockholm about what 100 kronor ($14) can get you. It begged the further question: has this city become just too expensive?

In the wake of the initiative of the Australian beach volleyballer who spent a week living off 15 kronor a day for charity AND with tourist season only a hop, skip and a pirouette away, The Local wanted to find out more.

So, we took to the streets of the capital’s tourist hub, Gamla Stan (Old Town), to ask tourists and Swedes alike for the best way to spend 100 kronor ($14) in the city.

Chewing gum, Guiness and a singular Ikea meatball were some of the better suggestions we heard.

stockholm/2396/" target="_blank">Click here for the full gallery of their responses

But, as many seemed appalled at this meagre budget, we also want to find out if there is some truth to the whispers on the streets that the so-called "capital of Scandinavia" is getting too expensive...

Is 30 kronor ($4.3) fair to pay for a coffee in the city? And is it possible to have a good time for 100 kronor? Or do you feel regularly ripped off in the capital?

What do YOU think?

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:42 May 11, 2012 by StockholmSam
Yes, Stockholm is overpriced.

I have been living here for eight years and have always felt it was overpriced. The quality of products you get for 100 kronor is pitiful. The food is bad, the selection is poor, and the durability of clothes and other goods is low. I love good coffee and will buy at least one latte every other day. But every time I do that, I cringe when I swipe my card because I feel as though I am getting ripped off. In fact, I feel ripped off most of the time I buy anything, so my purchasing has diminished. I am sure others are buying less, as well. So these high prices are affecting the economy, clearly.

And what about the tunnelbana and buses?? A two-hour ticket costs 30 kronor! That is over $4.00! Crazy. For that price, one should get a full-day's ride.
06:31 May 12, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Become? How about, 'has been, for a long time.'
07:09 May 12, 2012 by skogsbo
compared to the UK I don't think the price for most stuff is that different anymore. Where in the western world could you get a takeout coffee for much less 30kr,£3,$4 or 4or5Euros? Probably no where.
10:49 May 12, 2012 by viennacalling
I live mainly in Vienna and the sit down coffee price is €2.80 to €3.50 and a 0.5l beer is about the same, but if you buy a beer at the super market they start at €0.45 cents ! and if you shop around you can buy 500grams of coffe to make at home for Under €3.00 which last me and my partner about 5 days.

I also have a holiday home in Portugal the cafe grand price is €0.80 cents and the Beer is €0.90 cents at the local cafes food is no more than €8.00 for a huge meal so I eat and drink out which distributes money into their local community .cheers have a good weekend
15:32 May 12, 2012 by eppie
@stockholm sam

You love good coffee and still you buy a latte every other day....

Something just not adds up.

Anyway there are several espresso bars where you can get an espresso for 10 or 11 SEK (compared to 80 eurocent minimum in a bar in some far away italian village). This is not bad I must say.
16:15 May 12, 2012 by aveminus
@eppie:

Seriously !!!!??? Where???
17:09 May 12, 2012 by Mb 65
Yes Sweden is very expensive. we never have coffee out unless we are a long away from home or in IKEA. how do they justify 30kr for a cup of Latte when you can buy 1½ litre of milk for 10.50. Just go on the internet and you will see how more expensive Sweden is for everything. The of cars here are way over the top and on some you only get a 2 year guarantee.
18:49 May 12, 2012 by Abe L
What #1 says, it's overpriced because of the poor quality AND the high price. It would have been fine if the overall quality of just about all products where higher.
19:12 May 12, 2012 by johan rebel
For 99 kr you can buy a rhododendron shrub at a nursery. Might be edible.
19:43 May 12, 2012 by eppie
@aveminus

check e.g sveavägen somewhere between hötorget and odengatan
20:31 May 12, 2012 by sfk
If we compare service quality or food quality and price, Sweden is expensive.
15:25 May 13, 2012 by lewni
Ofcourse it's overpriced, I rarely buy anything outside of the necessaries and even the monthly food bill leaves me reeling
17:16 May 13, 2012 by spidernik84
@aveminus #6: at "la sosta" in Sveavägen you get a real Italian espresso for 10 sek. I'm Italian and I guarantee the coffee is exactly the same we serve in Italy (and the bartenders are Italian as well).

Back in topic: as stated by many, this city has been expensive since ever, probably. It's just getting worse.
18:29 May 13, 2012 by Opinionfool
"Is 30 kronor fair to pay for a coffee in the city?"

No but neither is the price of the equivalent but yet more expensive price of a coffee in London fair either. A few weeks ago I was in central London and paid close to 35SEK for a cup of coffee. (It happened to be much weaker than what I'm used to when living back in Stockholm so no I disagree. Similarly with general food stuffs Stockholm is cheaper than London.

For the three decades I've been involved with Sweden, as business partner and resident, native Swedes have told me Stockholm is expensive. Well yeah, it's expensive compared to other parts of Sweden (maybe) but not when you compare it to other European or even world capital cities. Prices in Stockholm are a lot less than those in London right now.

"Or do you feel regularly ripped off in the capital? "

Less so than I feel being really ripped off back in my native capital of London.
21:02 May 13, 2012 by skogsbo
Fair points opinionfool, coffee in Paris, Rome, Oslo, Geneva, .... Will also be costly compared to driving a few dozen miles out of town. Locally, yesterday, I got 2 lattes, 2 kids juices, 2 littles cakes - 96kr. Seems fair to me. Cheaper than Starbucks or Costa in any country.
21:45 May 13, 2012 by silversurfer
In my particular case, I wouldn't say it is more or less expensive. I barely spend anything else besides on food because I don't find what I want here when it comes to non-food products, and if I find it... it is OVER-priced, up to the point, that I can buy it abroad, and still with the postage is cheaper.

Something I won't ever understand, hygiene products are sold in very small sizes, and of course at high prices... what's the deal with this? What's the point of me carrying every 3-4 weeks a replacement? This has turned into me buying this stuff abroad as well... so basically I just buy in Sweden... fresh food and food that I cannot carry in my luggage; as for the rest... I buy it outside unless I do really need it ;)

This country needs Amazon, among other kind of retailers, to first know what the meaning of service is and also competition but also to know that overpricing things is not the way to go. People here, in Sweden, seem okay with the prices of things, and I would agree given the salary, but I still think people don't care at all. Maybe it is related to the Swedish culture of 'no-conflict' that companies use at their best advantage because they are all the same companies selling the same products everywhere in the world...

Like some people say... Sweden lacks a great variety in everything, not that much in food, but when it comes to other stuff (clothes, electronics,...) it is quite disappointing (as an example... shoes... I find funny in Stockholm that almost every teenager is wearing the same shoes; sure they like that... but it is probably a lack of choice when it comes to purchasing)..

I won't go into restaurants and so on... because then I can really get angry with those extremely overpriced dishes with few grams of food but surely nice looking, almost like a piece of art...

I would love knowing the margin of profit of companies in Sweden compared to other similar markets in size and economy, I'm sure the profits here are very high.
09:21 May 14, 2012 by cogito
In Spain I had a glass of white wine sitting at a cafe in the sunshine, It was served by a smiling waitress. 2 euros

In France, a glass of white wine brought to my table by the waiter, along with a plate of peanuts. 4 euros.

In Italy, a glass of wine, served at my cafe table, along with plates of olives, nuts, and two small small sandwiches. 4 euros

In Stockholm. Had to go up to counter to order glass of wine, then and carry it to table myself. The wine was drawn from one of those bag in boxes. Price 96 kronor. A small glass of peanuts cost 15 kronor extra.

That's 12 euros in Sweden for what was 2-4 euros in Europe.

This is why I will not eat out, drink out or so much as have a cappuccino out in Sweden.
09:42 May 14, 2012 by polymorf
Stockholm is staggeringly expensive. I cringe every time I buy something.

I don't understand how people can live here and save money. The salaries are low, the rents are high and the cost of material goods and services are absurd.

Perhaps it would be less painful to open my wallet if I had a clear understanding of where that money was going. I understand that the cost of having an employee is incredibly high, and that the VAT/sales/luxury taxes are high, but that still doesn't add up.

I'm going to run fast and loose with my math, but take an average salary of 40k ( http://lostinstockholm.com/2012/01/10/average-salaries-in-sweden-by-occupation/) and an average tax rate of %31 that gives you 27,600SEK/mo. Next add rents, if you live in Stockholm proper your probably paying at east 10k/mo, which gives you 17,600SEK for living. If you drink coffee daily and buy your lunch, call that 150SEK a day....... leaving about 13k for internet/phone bills, car payments, insurance, union fees, train cards, groceries, savings, vacation.. Even if you don't drink coffee and buy lunch every day, it's still a tough hustle.

The rents are on par with living in NYC, San Francisco, the cost of material goods is about 60% higher, the cost of restaurants and bars is about %100 higher and the salaries are about 40% less.
10:43 May 14, 2012 by karex
@skogsbo

The problem is that in the UK people earn a lot more than in Sweden, and have a lot more left over after taxes. Therefore having comparable prices to the UK is grossly unfair.

But it is not only Stockholm. Food prices have increased so much in the past 10 years (in comparison to wages) that I have been forced to scrimp and save on food. Something that I would never have thought I would do. I'll scrimp and save on everything else, and always had. But a decent (no luxuries, mind you), well-balanced meal is key to good health. Can't seem to be able to do that on a regular basis anymore. I have started to try to grow some of my own vegetables but people who live in paratments don't have that luxury, not to mention that the growing season here is too short.
10:45 May 14, 2012 by SnowBunny
High priced crappy quality when it comes to clothes and shoes. Think Walmart. Oops, can't afford a restaurant- well then let's do take out and eat at home! Choke down another pizza, pad Thai or kebab since that are the only choices. I understand the picnic culture now since that is what people can afford.
10:58 May 14, 2012 by CJ from Sunshine Desserts
OMG...hello axshaft !! was it ever anything but.....worst thing is buying stuff in the English shop at Medborgarplatsen..the original price tags are sometimes left on ...thier mark-up is 3X !!!!!!! I mean how much does a parched Scot have to pay for an Irn Bru .......... !!!!! do we pay the correct price for imported good or are the Brits spoilt ?
11:03 May 14, 2012 by abaeterno
The only thing in Sweden that is not expensive is child care. The T-bana is good value if you have a monthly pass.

In the UK child care is nearly ten times the cost of Swedish child care. The Underground in London is much more expensive than the T-bana in Stockholm- and it works better here.

Having said this, my life involves much more than the T-bana and child care.I buy as much as I can from abroad and if I have the patience I wait until I go home to the UK and buy clothes and electronic equipment there. I understand that this is not good for the local economy but the price difference is enough to encourage me to buy from abroad.

Restaurant prices are a joke. I no longer eat out. Before I moved to Stockholm my wife and I ate out regularly. I know that I would eat out more often if the prices were more reasonable. The prices of tunnbrödrulle (instant mashed potatoes and the WORST sausages) do not reflect the poor quality of the food. For me, tunnbrödrulle is the kind of food you should pay only 10 - 15 sek for. Some places ask over 50 sek.

I still buy things I need but if I can i will look to make my purchases abroad. It's a shame I cannot order my food from abroad.

I would like to just buy from Swedish stores to make my life easier but it is not worth the extra cost. Take for example a new cassette for a laser printer. A store asked for nearly 900 sek for a new cassette but I bought two (non branded cassettes) from a UK company for about 500. The branded cassettes we being sold online for about 500 - 600 sek. The choice is obvious.

I hope the masters for business and the self serving politicians are reading this and do something to make Sweden a country that is worth living in.
11:09 May 14, 2012 by EP
Not only is Stockholm expensive but Sweden in general for what you get. And as a foreigner it's hard to meet people I find here, but how can you increase your chances when it's so expensive to go out?
11:13 May 14, 2012 by fikatid
Tunnelbana and Arlanda are way overpriced. And they keep increasing the price.

Even in Denmark, the airport train is cheaper than in Stockholm. In Holland, the train from the airport to Amsterdam costs €3.40

The Swedish government should lower the price on public transportation to encourage people to be more environmental friendly.
11:52 May 14, 2012 by Opinionfool
@fikatid

You think Arlanda are overpriced! Try getting form central London to London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stanstead or London Luton ariports. Heathrow Express fare is £18 (SEK 200); Gatwick Express is £18 (SEK 200). Stanstead Express is £21.50 (SEK 240). Luton is £13 (SEK 145). Compare that with Arlanda Express at about SEK 140 (their 2 for 280 deal includes any number of children which NONE of the London prices include). Sure you can buy a London Underground ticket from Heathrow to central London £5.30 (SEK 60) but it takes nearly 4 times as long. You can't get to Gatwick, Stanstead or Luton by Tube by the way.

You think T-bana is overpriced. Minimum fare on the London Tube is £4.30 [Zone 1

cash price] (SEK 50). If you pay a £3 (SEK 35) deposit you can get an Oyster card that brings the zone 1 price down to £2 (SEK 22). So *iff* you have an Oyster card then you might have a comparible price with the reduced rate for T-bana coupons.

The English would love to have the government lower the price of public transport but they sold it all off to the private sector more than a decade ago. Ever since then prices have just go up and up and quality of service down and down.

Swedes/Stockholmer who complain about the cost of living really should try living in London. They you'll find out just how expensive life is in a capital city.
12:02 May 14, 2012 by skogsbo
karex, yes wages are higher, but if you look at pay left in UK and Swedish residents pockets AFTER they have paid their mortgage or rent, I bet they are more closely aligned. Plus there are 100s of thousands if not millions of people in the UK on low wages(many in expensive cities), the average maybe higher, but it is just that, an average. The UK has stealth taxes, Sweden they just take it up front! UK public transport gets state funding and is still 3 times more expensive than here, UK salaries are not 3x more than Sweden.

Food prices have increased globally, there are more people, but without burning down more forest, agricultural land isn't expanding at anywhere near the same rate. There are millions of people in India and China who now afford what they consider luxury items, they import European cheese and other dairy products, more demand for limited supply, equals a price rise!! Look it up the price of grain etc. has risen progressivel, and harvests damaged in Russia a few years ago aided the rise.

Fuel prices have risen, which puts the price of everything up, you can't escape transportation, heating, chilling and drying costs in food production. Oil price also impacts plastic packaging too. Shall I go on ???

Cog, you wine might be cheaper in your Med countries because it produced relatively locally? Plus the Euro is on it last legs, currently gasping for breath. You'll be buying your olives with Drachmas soon!
12:20 May 14, 2012 by Opinionfool
@karex

"The problem is that in the UK people earn a lot more than in Sweden, and have a lot more left over after taxes. Therefore having comparable prices to the UK is grossly unfair."

Interesting. Then why did an op-ed piece in yesterday's edition of The Observer (national centre-left/liberal) newspaper in England comment on British government figures that 30% of English children (and therefore their families) live below the poverty line. Scandinavian near neighbours Finland are said to have only 4% of children living below a similarly determined poverty line. And taking a more all age view the income divide between the rich (the few) and the poor (the many) in Britian is widening and has been accelerating again such the Conservative-led coalition took power a couple of years ago; it's worse now than it was under Margaret Thatcher.

Swedes have a hefty tax bill to pay to cover their health services etc. The current British government wants to sell all those public services off and make people pay for them at the point of need.

Given all that I choose to live in Sweden not England.
15:03 May 14, 2012 by Shibumi
WRT #26

The 280 SEK for 2 deal on the Arlanda Express is only valid Saturdays and Sundays for most of the year and perhaps valid everyday for 2 months in the summer if they renew their summer kampanj. Otherwise, full adult price is currently 260 SEK ONE-WAY... which is very expensive in my book.
15:44 May 14, 2012 by Opinionfool
@shibumi

All the prices I quoted for express train services to/from London airports are one way. And the SEK 260 for Arlanda isn't any more expensive than those services particularly the Stanstead one. If you knew England then you'd wonder why anyone would want to fly into Stanstead at all let alone have to pay SEK 260 to get away from it.
06:30 May 15, 2012 by thestudent
I live in Helsinki and been to Stockholm a zillion times and I can tell you, Stockholm is on the same level as Helsinki which means that both cities are way overpriced.

If anything we come slightly ahead because the taxes in Finland are a bit lower, but generally we get the same low quality and surly service.

BTW, I am curious how much is one ball of ice cream on a cone in downtown Stockholm ? In Helsinki we the going rate is 30 SEK.
09:26 May 15, 2012 by aussie abroad
I come from Perth Australia, and when i left six years ago found Sweden much more expensive than home.

However six years of strong mining-based economy in Perth have reversed the roles. After a recent trip back there is no longer a comparison; eating, drinking, accomodation all cost twice as much now at home than in Sweden. I was horrified.

Here is an article from today's news actually summing up the situation.

http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/six-notso-great-perth-ripoffs-20120502-1xz8o.html

So whilst prices may be rising here in Sweden, believe me they are also going up in the rest of the world too, often at a much faster rate.
10:09 May 15, 2012 by eppie
There is a lot of emotion speaking in this thread.

So let's just stick to the facts:

-Sweden needs to import a lot of things (especially foods) because the climate just doesn't allow a lot of variety here

-the kronor/euro balance has shifted quite a lot. From 11 SEK for a euro 3 years ago to 9 SEK for a euro now......this is a 20% difference

-sweden is doing pretty good in terms of poverty and wealth of the middle classes so most people can easily pay prices asked here.

Of course certain things are much more expensive then in other countries (overly expensive even) but other things are quite allright.....like cars and car insurance for example. Also road tax is a joke. Lunch in restaurants during week days is very good value. etc.

I think when deciding a holiday destination the unfavourable exchange rates are the biggest issue here.
12:17 May 16, 2012 by Social Hypocrisy
What do you get for your money? There are many european destination with at least as much charm and attractions, if not more, which are much, much cheap.

So yes. Stockholm is overpriced. But like everything time will give the final answer.

I wonder how much revenue Prague pulls in compared to Stockholm.
17:58 May 17, 2012 by peaceline3
the best city in sweden is malmö 49 kr all you can eat buffet restaurant. 30 kr cold maria stad peer 5,3 and 10 kr cup of caffe. 20 kr falafel rulle. weekend every kind of fruit 1 kg 10 kr which you can take to your home!

very good condition hotel in the city center 200 kr per night. or less.

this is best city to live!
23:16 May 18, 2012 by Localer
London is expensive ? you guys must be crazy.....the price and the quality is almost half less expensive compared to Stockholm.
05:00 May 21, 2012 by AmericaninStockholm
Although i'm not sure how much you care, I will be here for six weeks and i am from Atlanta, Ga, US, and I can't believe how expensive Stockholm is. As a student, at home, I didn't have a problem keeping the cost of a decent meal under $15 or 107 kr. Here, i'm beginning to think it's impossible.

Additionally, I only drink black coffee and paying 30-40 kr for a small/regular cup of coffee is mind blowing. I honestly have had to cut way back on my consumption.

On the bright side, the world does think that American's are too fat, so maybe i'll get a Swede-like physique because I can't afford to eat! :)
00:53 May 22, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Stockholm, is overly expensive. The quality of goods no longer match that of the pricetag, every year the price goes up a little and the quality goes down. The idea that you get what you pay for differs so vastly with sweden, that you come away feeling your wallet has been emptied over the smallest little thing.

I bought in the UK a sony alarm clock, paying 45pounds(450kr ish), the same alarm clock in gigantum was over 120 pounds(1200kr) I cannot in no way find any justification for this markup in price considering, when i looked up online in multiple stores around the world, the price was roughly bracketed 10% either way of that on the uk price. How? why? the alarm clock is not valued at 1200kr so why is that the price?

You know what it is... same as everything in sweden, the swedes dont have the balls to question anything and get taken for a ride every chance they get. They just accept the price of what something is and will just pay blindly.
21:16 May 22, 2012 by silversurfer
@AmericaninStockholm

I don't know where you are trying to eat, but you can eat for about 75 SEK quite well everywhere in Stockholm. There is a restaurant close to an insurance company in Kungsholmen that gives you 'unlimited' food for that price (including all the bread you want, as much sallad as you can pack and drinks/milk/coffee).

I usually cook at home and take with me because I don't digest well the food that is not home-made, but when I have eaten outside (normal meal, not a fancy dinner or lunch), I have never paid more than 80 SEK...

About coffee, I have no idea, I don't drink that (I can't even stand the smell)

I had that idea of fatness before going to US... but when I went there for the first time in my life... I still have some of that. In US, you get too much food (when it is about fast food, because at restaurant they tend to keep low although fancy... as usual everywhere I guess). I am still amazed at the pizzas... I have never seen so much stuff on them :D

Also for you, given the rate USD-SEK is normal what you say. Things are expensive, and it's understandable. but prices of food in general are not anywhere cheaper in US; in NY (not the city), where I was, and visit since then, prices are pretty much like in any groceries store of Stockholm, a bit more here, or a bit less there, but on average, it's pretty much the same (which makes sense since you need to transport all this stuff, like Sweden as the production is done in some specific areas)

@BackpackerKev

Thank you! Your last paragraph defines my anger when I see the prices of products in Sweden! You managed to describe it flawlessly!

I do all my purchases abroad (excluding food) because it's unbelievable. Some weeks ago I bought a toothbrush at Tretti.se, and I did it because it was the cheapest option all over Europe (quite surprising...)... and somewhat I knew there was an error there, which was confirmed a week after I got it as the price was raised about 200 SEK :D and of course, not it is not the cheapest among the EU countries.

And this is sad, not for companies of course, but for Swedes because they pay more than they should while they don't deserve it. As I said before, Sweden needs Amazon badly (competition basically, as there seems to be one or two retailers and of course they have similar prices when they don't have the same)... the moment Amazon comes to Sweden, things will change...
18:04 May 23, 2012 by efm
Let's see, in the USA, $10 can buy you a sit in any Chinese

Buffet or country kitchen buffet, and eat and drink till you

can't take it any more. That's why we are fatter.
16:34 May 25, 2012 by smilingjack
an aussie in stockholm.

you have no variety. your supermarkets are pittiful. your cafes are pittiful. your restaurants are just rubbish.

you have no fresh seafood and very little fresh fruit and veg.

everyone walks around with a piercing or tattoo and an american flag on. every girl has dyed blonde straight hair with a pair of raybans.

its like some horror movie and then you get charged 3 times what the rest of the world pays. freakin bizarre. I can tell you why there are no aussies here.

even your buildings are bland and boring.

apart from all that its cold for 9 months of the year. you swedes need to travel and realise how badly you are being ripped off how culture less and shallow you are.
14:24 June 13, 2012 by Opinionfool
Old item; new news. The English paper The Guardian published an article yesterday analysing how expensive cities around the world were. Of course, I looked for Stockholm. Shocking it's 46th. Even more shocking is that last year it was 39th! So Stockholm is becoming a cheaper place in which to live. And what's this Oslo is 18th (was 15th last year) but wait Køpenham makes it to 21st (was 17th) so Stockholm isn't even the most expensive place in Scandinavia. Wow! Who'd have thunk it from all the Stockholmer's anecdotal evidence.

Data here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jun/12/city-cost-of-living-2012-tokyo
20:23 July 6, 2012 by Youngurbanfailure
I'm going to Stockholm at the end of summer to visit friends and hearing all these stories about how expensive the city is made me a bit nervous, but then I realized all of my Swedish friends are dirty punk rock kids so I figure they know where the good cheap fun is at. Should be a fun trip.
23:42 October 8, 2012 by Brummy#1
Been in your fair city at the weekend - guess you pay a lot of tax on beer - does it help stem the violence/drunkeness that we are used to seeing in England (due to cheap beer) ? People seemed very friendly/bilingual, so it was a very welcoming place, or was that a facade?
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Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

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