- Get a dictionary. Learn what “bostad” and “uthyres” mean. Even if you don’t speak Swedish, learning a few words of “real estate ease” makes the process much easier.
- Word-of-mouth. Let everyone you know that you are looking for an apartment. Your hairdresser’s husband’s first cousin’s officemate can provide invaluable leads in the apartment hunt.
- Get in line. Looking ahead, it’s well worth signing up for the municipal housing queue, despite an annual fee of a few hundred kronor. In Stockholm, this is run by Stockholms Stads Bostadsförmedling AB. (There are organisations similar to Stockholms Stads Bostadsförmedling in most Swedish cities).
- Go to school. If you’re enrolled at one of the universities in Sweden, you’re eligible for student housing. Make sure you sign up for the student housing queue. You’re not likely to get something right off the bat, but there’s no cost to register. This is particularly the case in larger cities like Stockholm, Uppsala, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Lund. In an effort to attract more students, several smaller university towns – including Eskilstuna, Gävle, Västerås, and Örebro – have implemented accommodation guarantees (bostadsgarantier) that promise housing to all students opting to study there.
- Get it in writing. Even if it’s a second-hand rental, make sure you have a contract. Also get receipts for any payments. If there are any disputes later on, the burden of proof rests on you.
- Bostadsbidrag. If you have kids or you’re between the ages of 18 and 29, you might be eligible for a housing allowance, depending on your income and whether or not you’re covered by the Swedish social insurance system. Contact your local “Forsäkringskassan” for more information, or check out their website (Swedish only).
- Know your rights. Second-hand tenants can go to the rent tribunal (hyresnämnden) and get the size of the second hand rent tried if the original lease holder is charging significantly more than the actual rent. A small percentage is allowed for furniture, but it shouldn’t exceed 10% of the total rent. If you think you’re being taken advantage of, talk to a lawyer.