I’m arriving in Lund in a couple of weeks, where I am going to be studying as an undergraduate, and I don’t have any accommodation sorted. What’s the deal with student housing in Sweden?
Peter, Hamburg, Germany
Arriving in Sweden as an international student without having accommodation is not unusual. In the student towns, Lund and Uppsala, as well as Sweden’s big cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, demand for rental properties greatly exceeds supply.
Finding a room is easy enough for students on exchanges such as the Erasmus programme. The university makes rooms available these students. But many universities do not guarantee housing for Masters or PhD students or for normal undergraduates.
There are several opportunities to find housing as an international student in Sweden. The easiest and quickest way is to contact the International Housing Office, if such an institution exists, as it does for instance in Lund.
In Uppsala the student union runs the ‘Bostadsjouren’ database. This contains ads for rooms and apartments close to the university. These are usually furnished and are let out as sublets (‘andra hand’). An advantage for international students is that these rooms are not in a queue system, in contrast to most Swedish housing companies.
In Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö your first port of call should be the student housing companies. But because of high demand the student housing companies will almost always place you in a queue. Signing up to these as early as possible will give you the best chance of finding a place: the longer you have been in the queue, the higher your chance of finding a student apartment. You can join the queue via the companies’ websites.
In Lund and Uppsala you might be able to live at a ‘nation’.
Nations are historic student organisations, sometimes focused on special interests like politics or music. Each is named after a Swedish city or county. Every nation has a bar or a restaurant and offers housing to some of its members.
The only precondition for living at a nation is being active there, which means for instance working at the bar or volunteering at events. Both Lund and Uppsala have more than ten nations.
Many Swedes – students and non-students – use the websites www.blocket.se and www.bopoolen.se to find rental properties, but as an international student this is probably the most difficult way. Many classified ads are only in Swedish and you have to contact the landlord immediately to have a chance of bagging a room, especially in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Some accommodation is snapped up after a few minutes. Almost all rental accommodation advertised on these sites is sublet housing; ‘first hand’ contracts, under which tenants have a permanent right to remain, are almost never found through these advertisements.
There are basically three types of housing for students in Sweden. To hire a room on a corridor in a student dorm is most popular, as this helps students meet new people (and secure invitations to the best parties).
You can also hire an apartment with a kitchenette or a room in shared accommodation, although this is very rare in Sweden.
Student accommodation is generally of a high standard in Sweden. Most student rooms have a private bathroom and internet access.
However, you should accept that you might not find your dream room or apartment in the beginning, but there often is the possibility to move in the middle of the month, when pressure on student accommodation drops.
Even if you have to stay at a hostel first it can be a lot of fun since they are crowded with other ‘homeless’ students and therefore it is easy to meet new people. After a couple of days everybody usually finds proper accommodation.
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