Meeting Milla

I am now a cat person. I was a dog person through and through for the first 25 years of my life, and then I moved in with Milla, and now I’m a cat person. But it wasn’t love at first sight.

Milla is an old lady. She roams the neighborhood during the day and all three stories of this house at night, she’s seen many people come and rent rooms for a while, she isn’t to be messed with. Like any cat, she does whatever she wants. She’s not a cuddler, she’s not playful or really all that curious, and she doesn’t listen when you call her. She’s not a people cat. (Is that a thing that exists? Is she not a people cat the way I didn’t used to be a cat person?)

One day I came home from work, and I found her curled up in my bed, but she left the minute she saw me. Another day, she let me sit next to her and pet her for a while. And then, a few weeks later, she actually knocked, scratching my white wooden door, until I let her in. She started hanging out with me while I was on my bed working away on my laptop. Five minutes of petting were fine with her – then she moved to the other end of the bed and went to sleep.

When her owner, my landlady, was gone for a whole weekend a couple weeks ago, Milla and I tried to co-sleep the way she normally does with my landlady. I had been making sure she has food and water and that she gets to go outside (all of which I’m not usually in charge of) and so I think we both got a little daring and tried to co-sleep the way Milla does with my landlady. It wasn’t a success, I’m sad to tell you. Neither of us could sleep so Milla eventually left and slept downstairs, by herself. I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

But she always greets me now when I come walking up the street from the bus stop after work, and leads the way to the front door. She often curls up beside me, taps her little paw on my arm to ask for belly rubs, purs when I massage that spot between her ears and generally tolerates my existence. Which, from a cat, feels like a big declaration of love, to be honest.

So now I am a cat person. Milla has won me over. Check out my Instagram feed for an excessive amount of pictures of her, and be prepared to read more about her here.

Where to begin

It’s Saturday night, I’ve had dinner, I’ve done laundry, I’ve cleaned my room, the sun is out, and I’m not dreading Monday morning. Everything feels light and happy and hopeful lately, like every day is just an opportunity for more joy and adventure, and I cannot remember a time in my life I ever felt this way.

So I thought it would be a good time to catch you guys up on what I’ve been up to ever since moving to Sweden. The thing is, I’ve stared at the blinking cursor for a good ten minutes now and I have no idea where to start. The past three months have been busy and wonderful, and it’s impossible to recount all the moments that made them so.

But over the next couple days I’ll share some posts telling you about my home in Stockholm, my job, my friends, and the plans for my new life here. At the end of it, you should be all caught up and we can get back to regular blogging. Sound good?

4 housemates and a cat

Finding a place to live in Stockholm was what I worried about the most when the plan to move began to take shape in my head. The Swedish capital is notorious for having a housing problem, rents even for a small room are steep (as is everything in Scandinavia) and not being able to visit before moving in didn’t help matters.

But there is hope! I have now found a little furnished room in a small townhouse in the Bromma neighborhood, just north of the city center. From what I understand, it’s a decent residential area, surrounded by forest and water, only a 15 minute stroll from the royal Drottningham castle. I will be sharing the house with two girls who are studying in Stockholm as well as the elderly landlady, her son and their cat Milla. The house has a big new kitchen that we all share, and I have access to a washing machine, towels, bed linen, and really anything else one might need at home.

Where to look

I did not have the opportunity to fly to Stockholm and look at places or local print listings before the move. But let’s be honest, I would have Googled for places either way. The internet is your friend: since most affordable rooms and apartments in Stockholm are sublets – you’ll have great difficulty finding a place straight away that you can rent first hand – sites like (free), (free) and have tons of listings by private citizens looking to rent out their own rentals.

It is also a good idea to peruse Facebook groups such as THSHousing, which is where I eventually found my room in Bromma. Especially if you are looking for a room or small studio, it is a good idea to check university and student groups, as places offered up here tend to be owned by landlords who have rented to brand new Stockholmers before and enjoyed the experience.

Googling in Swedish may enhance your chances of finding something, so be sure to include the search terms bo (live), hyra (rent), bostad (housing), lägenhet (apartment) or rum (room).

Good rules of thumb

Whether the room I found for myself is actually as good as it sounds, I of course cannot say until I’m actually there. I went into the search with low expectations, realizing that I just needed to find something, anything, and potentially move again shortly after arriving in Stockholm. When you’re moving to a new city, this is just good sense, really.

Also common sense? When responding to ads online, try to find out as much about the person as you can, try to get something in writing from them, do not transfer them any money before you go see the place unless you think you absolutely have to. In other words, do everything you can to be sure they’re legit.

When I messaged the girl who had posted about the room in Bromma, I immediately saw on her Facebook profile that she was German like myself. We chatted back and forth, she added me as a friend on Facebook and I could check out more of her details, we set up a Skype date, we Skyped and she gave me a quick tour of the house during which the landlady also talked to me for a while, and they sent me a rental agreement by regular mail, which also meant I had their names, address and bank info. The combination of all of this did make me feel like they were very much trustworthy and serious about renting the room to me.

My budget is very, very low as I do not have a job as of yet, so it was clear to me from the beginning that I would search for a room, rather than a whole apartment. It’s common, and quite understandable, that landlords and owners would rather rent out apartments to people they can meet beforehand and who possibly even have an income history in Sweden – both of which I could not offer. I’ve shared apartments and I’ve shared a single room with a person I’d never met before so it’s not a problem for me. And if you’re new to a city, it is of course a big advantage to move in and instantly have a new family! Although, to be honest, I am most excited about finally, FINALLY getting to live with a cat.