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The must-have vocab for buying a flat or house in Sweden

Buying a house in Sweden? Not sure how to read a 'planritning' or what a 'budgivning' is? Here's The Local's guide.

The must-have vocab for buying a flat or house in Sweden
Detached houses (villor) in Enskede, Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The early stages

The first step of any property buying journey comes well before any money has been spent – this is the part of the journey, often before you’ve even decided you’re moving house, where you start scouring property sites such as Hemnet and Booli to see what’s out there.

First off, what is it you’re looking to buy? Are you interested in a villa (detached house)? Or is a radhus (terraced house) what you’re after? Not wild about the idea of having to look after a garden, or want to stay in the city? Then a lägenhet (apartment) is your best bet.

If you’re looking for a holiday home or a summerhouse with space for odling, or growing vegetables, then you want to look for a fritidsboende, or a tomt (plot) if you’ve always dreamt of building your own property exactly how you want it.

Or, have you always dreamed of buying a Swedish farmhouse out in the countryside? Then you can look for a gård, with or without its own skog (forest).

Once you’ve decided what kind of property you want to buy, you can narrow down your search by the maximum price (maxpris), number of rooms (rum) and the size of the living area (boyta/boarea). You might also want your apartment building to have a hiss (lift), or a balkong (balcony).

Is an inglasad balkong (glazed balcony) a must for you? Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

How do I read a floor plan?

Make sure to take a look at the planritning (floor plan) to get an idea of whether or not the property layout will work for you. Generally, Swedish properties aren’t referred to as “two bedroom”, rather by the number of rooms, then the acronym rok, short for rum och kök (room(s) and kitchen).

A one-bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen, a bathroom and no living room would be a 1 rok, an 1:a or an etta, for example. If there was one bedroom, one living room, a kitchen and a bathroom, it would be a 2:a, a tvåa, or 2 rok. This is why it can be important to look at the planritning, to see how many of those rooms are actually bedrooms. You might also see this written as 4 rum, varav 2 sovrum (four rooms, of which two bedrooms), if you’re looking at larger properties.

In Sweden, you usually buy a property with appliances (vitvaror) included, but lights are not included, rather there will be plug sockets in the ceilings which you can plug your own lights into. So, if you’re moving from abroad, make sure you buy the correct plugs in advance (or have floor lamps close to hand), so you’re not left in the dark.

Don’t expect there to be any lights in your new property when you move in – you’ll need to plug these in yourself, so make sure your lights have the right plugs for the sockets in your new home. Photo: Mona Sandberg/SCANPIX/TT

You’re also likely to see quite a few acronyms on floor plans which may need explaining. DM for example stands for diskmaskin, a dishwasher. K/F is a kyl/frys or fridge-freezer. is a garderob, a wardrobe. TM/TT stands for tvättmaskin/torktumlare, a washing machine and tumble dryer. You might also see KLK, klädkammare, which can also mean a wardrobe, usually in a hallway.

When you’ve found a property you think could be interesting, see if there are any visningar (viewings) coming up. You might need to anmäla (sign-up) for these with the mäklare (estate agent) in charge of selling the property.

If you’re seriously considering buying a property in the near future, it may be a good idea to contact one (or multiple) banks for a lånelöfte, a lender’s note before you start attending viewings. This is a non-binding promise from the bank or lending institute, based on your income, the price of the property and the monthly fee (avgift) for an apartment or terraced house, or the monthly running costs (driftskostnad) of a detached house.

Making a bid

So, you’ve found a property (bostad) you like, and you’ve been to a viewing. You think it’s the one, so you put in a bid (lägga bud). Have a look at the starting price (utgångspris) for an idea on how much you should bid.

If you’re lucky, no one else is interested. If not, you might end up in a budgivning (auction). Often, a mäklare will ask you if you have a lånelöfte before you start bidding, just to make sure you’re serious. It’s a good idea to keep the amount of money your lånelöfte covers secret from the mäklare you’re buying from, as you don’t want them to know the maximum amount you’d be willing to pay.

Once a bid (bud) has been accepted, the köpare (buyer) will meet with the säljare (seller) to sign the contract (underteckna kontraktet). Here, you should discuss things such as tillträde – the date where the buyer will be given access to the property, and how and when the buyer must pay handpenning – their deposit (usually 10 percent of the price of the property, due ten days after the contract has been signed).

Unlike in some countries, bids on an apartment are not legally binding, so the buyer or seller can pull out of the purchase at any point up until the contract has been signed with no legal repercussions.

The rest of the price of the property, the köpeskilling, is paid on the tillträdesdato, the day where the buyers get access to the property. You will usually get this from your bank on the day you move in, but if some of your deposit (kontantinsats) is dependent on the sale of another property, you may need to apply for an överbryggningslån – a loan which allows you to buy a new property before you have received payment for the property you’re selling.

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Eight Swedish words I now use in English

One of the consequences of learning a foreign language is that some words end up slipping into your everyday English. Becky Waterton explains why she uses these Swedish words more often than their English equivalents.

Eight Swedish words I now use in English

People often say that the moment you know you speak a language fluently is when you begin dreaming in it.

What they don’t tell you is that the next marker of your fluency comes when you start substituting words in your native language with words from the foreign language. Here are a few Swedish words I’ve started using more and more when I speak English.


Equivalent to the English word “cosy” or the Danish “hygge”, I find myself using the Swedish word mys (noun) or mysigt (adjective) often in English, even making up my own compound Swedish-English words using mys.

One example is mysväder, literally “cosy weather”, which can roughly translate as the kind of weather where it’s socially acceptable to lie on your sofa with a hot chocolate under a blanket and watch TV (so perfect autumn weather, essentially). The perfect clothing for mys-weather is mys-clothes, like tracksuit bottoms or pyjamas, a soft wooly jumper and a pair of warm socks.

I’ve found myself on more than one occasion saying “oh the weather today is really mys-weather, isn’t it?”, indicating to whoever I’m talking to that I plan on going into hibernation as soon as I get home. If a friend asked me to join them for a day trip somewhere or a fika at a nice cafe, I might say “oh, that sounds mysigt!”, roughly in the same way an English speaker could say “yes, that sounds nice!”. Mys just feels less generic than “nice”, when used in this way.


Maybe a bit of a cheat in this list of supposedly Swedish words, I regularly use the verb swisha in English if I pick up the bill in a restaurant for a friend. “Oh, it’s okay, you can just swish me,” I say, telling the friend to use payment service Swish to pay me back.

In the same vein, I might tell my husband “I’ve sent you a swishförfrågan (Swish request) for the dagisavgift (preschool fee) this month”, as a not-so-subtle hint for him to log in to the app and send over his half of the payment.


Typ is a bit of a filler word in Swedish, used in the same way as “like” in English. Not in the sense of liking something, but in the sense of filling a gap in speech or indicating you’re not sure of something. So instead of saying “it costs, like, 30 kronor,” you might say “det kostar typ 30 kronor”.

I use typ so unconsciously in Swedish that it’s started creeping into my English when I fill a gap in speech while I think, in sentences like “I think that was… typ… four days ago?”, or if I’m not sure of the exact amount of something, like if someone asks me how I baked a cake, I might say “and then I added 200g of flour… typ.” 


This maybe says more about my lifestyle than anything else, but I use the Swedish word macka (bread with topping) every single day, usually when I ask my daughter what she wants for breakfast.

Swedes love to eat bread with toppings for breakfast, referred to as a macka, occasionally a rostmacka if toasted. Unlike toast, which is usually only eaten with butter, a macka can be hot or cold, and topped with anything from ham to salami, hummus or cheese. The words “do you want macka or porridge?” and “what do you want on your macka?” are uttered every morning, without fail, in our household.


Another Swedish word linked to child-rearing, the word snippa is an informal, not-rude Swedish word for female genitalia. The male variant would be snopp, similar to the English word “willy”.

I haven’t been able to find an informal English version of snippa which is child-friendly and easy for my daughter to pronounce, so I usually use the Swedish word if I’m telling my toddler daughter to wait after a visit to the toilet and wipe her snippa.


Sugen is a great Swedish word similar to “hungry”, but more in the sense of “snacky” – you’re not really hungry, but you fancy eating something small and most likely unhealthy, like a biscuit or some crisps.

It’s the kind of word you would say if your partner caught you gazing into the kitchen cupboards a few hours after lunch looking despondent. “Are you hungry?”, they might ask, only for you to respond “nah, not really, I’m just a bit sugen.”


It’s similar to the word mellis, another Swedish word which has crept into my English. Mellis is short for mellanmål, literally “between-meal”, but more often used as a small snack to tide you over to the next meal, like an apple or a macka.


Finally, an essential word for all parents in Sweden, VAB. VAB stands for vård av barn, and is the term for taking time off work to look after a sick child. Usually used in talking to your boss, you might say “my child has a fever so I’m going to have to vab today”, or negotiate with your partner “if I vab this time, can you vab next time?”

It’s just so much easier than saying “I’m going to have to take paid time off work to look after my sick child”.