I am currently looking outside my window, in front of me lies an ocean of apartments.
I remember the first time I came to Sweden. I stayed in a friend’s apartment, and though it was quite large I couldn’t understand why he did not move to a house considering the amount of money he was on. Yet over the years the one thing that I learned was Sweden has a vastly different housing system than the United Kingdom.
The last two years I spent in the UK living what I would call a “block of flats.” These apartments they were relatively new, I would say about 10 years old, and after living in houses all of my life, I found living in this apartment block simply claustrophobic.
This apartment block in London was poorly maintained. There was a residents Association set up in order to tackle problems such as teenagers with unauthorized access gaining access late at night, rubbish in the stairwell, graffiti in the elevators, and worst of all, mice!
Moving into a Swedish apartment I found that it is run entirely differently from back in the UK. Back home each apartment is generally run by a private landlord, who more often than not, would also be living there and would rent out of the room to cover the mortgage. However in Sweden it seems that landlords do not just owned one apartment but entire blocks.
The main difference is that the apartments in Sweden are a lot cleaner than those back home especially considering their age. There are also things that are quite fun and new to me such as the communal laundry room, caged basement, and the code to the apartment not working after a certain time!
Yet walking around the city I understand that Sweden has more apartments then I thought. It is certainly a cheaper source of housing and it offers people a sustainable form of living for extremely cheap rental. About half what it is back home in the United Kingdom. Or maybe it’s because I have just used to suburban England where the houses adorn streets in a similar fashion.
I also read a statistic today that Sweden has the world’s highest percentage of single occupied housing.
I think if I stay in Sweden I would eventually like to move to a house is like back in the United Kingdom even though you can hear your neighbors walking about above you, you barely know who they are. Once the working day is done everyone seems to disappear into his or her own hole like a rabbit in a warren.
Maybe that’s why I think my neighbors are so reserved in that apart from the occasional “hello” words are rarely spoken. I do miss having chats over the wall in the backyard, but this is one of the changes that I am faced with moving to a new society.
For now, I’m looking forward to a potential opportunity to move to Gothenburg after the winter. This apartment has become my new home, and I will be sad when the day comes that actually have to leave.