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 blocket.se (free), bopunkten.se (free) and bostaddirekt.com 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.