When I first moved to Sweden I was fascinated with the way the country was governed and with all the rights and advantages that all residences can obtain. With its free health care, tuition-free universities, advanced technology, care for the environment, kindness of the people, the student’s aid CSN… Sweden seemed like the perfect country to me and I thought that nothing could be hard to get or achieve here.
However, this assumption was proven wrong when my family and I had to look for an apartment after our contract was close to expiring. Living in a big city like Göteborg as we did at that time, finding an apartment in the city was extremely hard. Therefore, we had to search for an accommodation in the nearest, relatively big towns like Vänersborg, Trollhättan, Uddevalla, etc.
This wasn’t any easier however… We spent a month trying to find an accommodation in any of the towns around Göteborg, but it was a lot harder than we thought.
With only one month left before our contract would expire, we decided to look everywhere around the country: in big cities, small towns, south, east, west, even the very north where the sun never sets in the summer and never rises in the winter. A few days before we had to leave our apartment to an unknown destination, we were lucky enough to find an apartment in the small town called Ludvika – a completely foreign place to us, but it was better than living on the streets.
Government employees` kindness disappears when you ask them about accommodation
When we were searching for an accommodation, we tried to ask for help, explaining our situation and the fact that we would not have a place to live after our contract expired. We asked many different places like the Kommun, migrationsverket, arbetsförmedlingen, försäkringskassan and landlords for help but they all responded in the same way: a straight-up, cold NO, while also not being open for discussion or trying to find a solution to the situation.
I learned after that, that this is just the Swedish way of dealing with these kinds of issues; there are strict rules that everyone needs to follow despite any essential needs, with a complete lack of any sort of flexibility.
My experience with finding an accommodation
Not long after my family and I moved to Ludvika, I had to move to Västerås to continue my studies. As Västerås is the fifth biggest city in Sweden and has a central location not very far from Stockholm, it was very hard to find an accommodation there. Therefore, I had to use public transportation for a long time – which took me two and a half hours – before I finally found an apartment in Västerås. Since then, I’ve moved three times within the city and I’ve gotten many offers for different types of accommodation.
Here are some tips for those of you who are looking for an accommodation
If you are a student
If you are studying at a university or collage you can probably contact your university for a student accommodation. Almost all universities and collages have student apartments or rooms. However, you need to be registered on the landlord’s website in order to have a better chance at getting the place. The earlier you register, the more points you get (usually one point per day) and when many students show an interest in an apartment, the company invites the one who has the most points. You can find these companies by searching for ‘studentbostäder’ and the name of the city.
Most of the municipalities do not offer high school students any accommodation but some of them do. Therefore, if you are a high school student you need to write to the municipality or the landlord and explain your situation to them and include the reason as to why you need the apartment.
Non-students (applies for students as well)
You need to be aware of the difficulty of finding an accommodation in the same city that you are hoping for, especially if it’s a big city. You should keep in mind that you may have to live in a smaller town until you can move to a bigger city. However, sometimes you get offers on accommodations in big cities after searching continuously for a few weeks.
The first step you need to take is to register yourself on the landlords’ websites in your city. These websites offer a big number of apartments with first-hand contracts (permanent contracts), and you can find them on the municipality’s website or by searching for ‘bostäder’ and the name of the city.
However, the queuing system requires a very long waiting period before getting an apartment. It takes from a year (in small towns) to fifteen years (in big cities).
Many people hear of the long waiting period and therefore they decide to not register themselves. That is a big mistake, because time passes fast and after a few years you will have enough points to get a first-hand contract. In addition, some of these websites offer something called HemDirekt.
When registering on a landlord’s website, HemDirekt is the first thing you want to look for. Apartments that are labelled with a “HemDirekt” sign do not undergo the queuing system. Every company has its own policy for HemDirekt apartments but it can either be the one who shows interest for the apartment first that gets it (in this case you should keep an eye on the website and get the app on your phone if there’s one available, so that whenever a HemDirekt apartment is up you will be notified and can press the interest button), or the system will choose an applicant randomly (in this case you can choose to receive an e-mail whenever a HemDirekt apartment is up). You can read more about this on the landlord’s website.
These are apartments, houses or rooms that someone already owns or they already have a permanent contract with a landlord. The contracts for the second-hand accommodations vary between 6 months up to 2 years. You can find this type of accommodation by asking your friends if they or someone they know are willing to rent out their apartment/room. You can also search for it on Facebook pages and groups that offer this kind of accommodation in your city, and you can always search for something on Blocket.
Blocket served me the best when it came to finding apartments. You can register for free and download the app on your phone. On www.blocket.se you can look under the heading ‘Bostad’ and choose the sub-heading ‘Uthyres’, then you can pick the city, number of rooms, maximum rent, etc.
You basically just need to read the description and if you are interested you can contact the owner. In order to stand out and have a better chance at being offered the place, you need to write a good e-mail to the owner. A good e-mail should include the following:
- An introduction of yourself.
- An explanation as to why do you need this apartment/room.
- Ensuring the owner that you have the money to pay (student loan, salary, etc.)
- A reference letter if available.
Put yourself in the owner’s shoes: what would you want from a tenant?
Finally and most importantly; don’t give up! It may take a month or two of constantly searching, but if you follow these tips you will find an accommodation eventually.
Get more tips on the Newbie Guide’s housing section.
Written by Liam Aljundi
Liam is twenty years old and graduated from high school 2014 in Turkey. Currently he is redoing a more advanced program (International Baccalaureate Diploma) in Västerås. He has a great love for Mathematics and chemistry (science geek!) and is also interested in Metaphysics. He is a volleyball player and loves camping, hiking, biking and traveling.