Don't panic! How to find student housing in Sweden
The Local · 19 Aug 2016, 13:36
Published: 19 Aug 2016 09:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2016 13:36 GMT+02:00
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Student accommodation can be difficult to find in any country, and in Sweden your options can vary considerably by city. There are always going to be housing shortages, landlords who want to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the market, and last minute mess-ups. The Local's intern Saina Behnejad shares her top tips to finding student housing in Sweden.
Places in university halls are often limited. Partly because of the increasing numbers of students, and not enough universities to accommodate everyone. Plus, not all Swedish universities have an obligation to provide housing to all students, particularly those in Masters or PhD programmes. Even if you’re part of the Erasmus program or some kind of exchange student, a place to stay isn’t always guaranteed, although universities do tend to make room for you if you apply early enough.
University housing can be difficult to obtain. Photo: Magnus Liam
Contact the university housing office
This should be your first go to. If you are in luck there may be a last minute opening in one of the university complexes, and even if there isn't anything available, they can point you to off-campus apartment complexes or housing offices in the area that the university has agreements with or find reliable, giving you the best chance at reasonable rent prices and finding a place that is close to the university.
Therese Löfgren, a housing advisor at Malmö University, told The Local that in August, looking for 'second-hand' housing, or subletting, is the best option. "Most university housing will be full now, so it's best to look into second hand housing. There are temporary housing options for students who haven't found anything. They can wait for an opening in less popular university housing apartments, but this can take months and nothing is guaranteed," she said.
Subletting, although useful, means you need to check extra carefully that everything is legitimate. Make sure you have approval from the landlord, don't pay a deposit larger than a month's rent and make sure you get insurance that covers any damages that may happen while you're living there.
Malmo University recommends subleasing. Photo: Kentaroo Tryman
Contact your student union
Your university's student union is a great resource and they are more than happy to advise incoming students. You can get the inside scoop on where the best off-campus housing is and where to avoid, as well as making new friends. Some student unions have temporary housing programmes to help tide new students over when they're still looking for housing. Malmö University's student union has something called the Sofa Project, which allows students to volunteer their sofas or a spare bed. Think of it as a Airbnb or Couchsurfing arrangement, because you may be asked to pay rent.
If you don't feel comfortable sleeping on a stranger's sofa, look into youth hostels in the area. It may not be ideal, but it can be a safe place to stay while you get on your feet, and you may meet other students in a similar situation to you.
You could stay temporarily with a fellow student. Photo: Tina Stafren
Networking is one of your best bets. Know a couple of people already studying in Sweden? Contact them and ask for advice, especially if they’re going to the same university as you. Maybe they know someone who needs a housemate, or are moving out of their apartment and the lease is still up for grabs. Or you could ring up your uncle’s best friend’s cousin’s boss who happens to live in Stockholm and who also happens to be a landlord. Connections are particularly helpful in major student towns such as Uppsala and Lund or in big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg, where the numbers of students often exceeds the number of rooms offered by universities and are plagued by long waiting lists.
Get by with a little help from your friends. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
Lastly, the internet is your ultimate tool
If you don't have any contacts in Sweden, don't worry. You can try using online marketplaces such as Blocket or Bostaddirekt which allow you to contact landlords or sub-letters directly, but you have to keep in mind that they're probably being bombarded with messages from other hopefuls.
Thankfully, social media is also useful to find somewhere to live. With Facebook groups such as Rooms/Housing in Stockholm or Uppsala Housing you have somewhere solid to ask questions and survey your options, and talking to people who are or were in similar situations can help you better understand the process and advantages or disadvantages of certain areas or complexes.
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