Sweden is a thinly populated country, with its long coastline, extensive forests, and many lakes. It is one of the most northerly countries in the world. It is comparable in terms of surface area with Spain, Thailand, or the American state of California. Since 1905, the borders of Sweden have remained unchanged, and the country has not been at war since 1814.
Cost of Living in Sweden
Sweden has a reputation for being costly. It’s earned in many respects, but even with the fairly high cost of living, it can get by without investing a lot. Whether you plan to visit Sweden for the weekend or relocate there for good, it should make it easy to see how Sweden’s prices compare with those in other countries such as the UK and the US.
Of course, the cost of living in Sweden will depend on your lifestyle. It can be expensive to eat out and travel around, and this is something you might want to consider when planning your budget. Cooking your food and taking the leftovers for lunch is normal for students. Most shops and food outlets provide discounts for students.
The krona is the Swedish currency. The abbreviation is SEK. In contrast, SEK 100 amounts to about EUR 10 or USD 11. Please see a currency converter for current rates and prices in your currency. By law, students who need a residence permit must show that they have funds of at least SEK 8 514 per month for study.
In Sweden, accommodation prices differ depending on the day of the week or the season. Pricing falls into two major categories: the higher price is charged for stays during the summer season from Sunday to Thursday (usually mid-June to mid-Aug); the lower rate is charged on Fridays and Saturdays. Paying for a stay somewhere will take up a big part of your total spending in Sweden, particularly in major cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg, where hotel rates are high and accommodation shortages are a big issue.
Also, it can be difficult to find a flat to rent long-term with money, and locals have been known to spend 10–20 years waiting for rental accommodation in queuing systems. In rural Sweden (especially in the north of the country), properties are typically easy to rent at the other end of the scale and can be of excellent value.
Public transport is a surprisingly good deal in Sweden. Even long journeys that wind through hundreds of kilometers of wild scenery will cost less than commuting to work in other European countries. However, renting a car in Sweden can get costly fast, with high operating costs and plenty of fuel tax.
Two big privately owned bus companies in Sweden operate long-distance bus routes: Flixbus and Nettbus. These services are complemented by an excellent public bus network, which links cities and villages throughout the country. The price of long-distance buses is exceptionally high. Even in rural areas, where there is always only one company providing services, it is impossible that you will be left with the feeling of being short-changed.
Domestic flights can be costly, especially on routes that SAS still monopolizes. Now, Norwegian is competing with SAS on some of the most common routes, such as Stockholm – Kiruna, meaning rates have started to fall.
Public transit is typically excellent value, and services tend to be efficient and reliable, including in busy cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. Taxis are best avoided unless you’re very trapped – rates are consistently high. Uber arrives in Sweden and Gothenburg.
If you adhere to cooking for yourself and buy the bulk of your food in supermarkets, eating in Sweden is shockingly cheap. According to the Institute for Private Konomi / Swedbank, the average Swedish person who makes all their food at home, except weekday lunches, spends an average of SEK 16,110 per month. In the past few years’ cheap international supermarkets such as Lidl and Netto have opened in Sweden, making it easier to stock up on budget groceries. Swedish brands such as ICA, Hemköp, and Coop may also be reasonably priced, but try to avoid smaller outlets in city centers such as Gothenburg and Stockholm, which appear to be costlier than larger, out-of-town stores.
Due to high ticket prices for concerts, shows, and even film screenings, going out in Sweden can be expensive. Nightclubs may often work expensively, so even though you keep a close eye on your alcohol consumption – entry fees of 150 SEK or more are relatively common, so there could be an additional charge of approximately 20 SEK for hanging your coat up.
Unless you stay long-term in Sweden and have your flat, you’ll have to think about bills. Call and text cell phone contracts will offer you the best offers, but a decent short-term option is to get yourself a pre-paid Swedish sim card. The approximate utility bill for a one-bedroom apartment is 700 SEK.
Smoking in Sweden remains comparatively cheap, given the reputation for high taxes. Sweden is also one of the few countries in Europe where snus is legal. Snus is a sticky tobacco product tucked under the top lip, either in powder form or teabag-like pouches.
However, prices in bars and restaurants are very high, and only one government-owned store chain named Systembolaget can sell more than 3.5 percent of drinks in Sweden.
Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
Sweden, and other northern countries, have become a focus of American politics lately. Like Senator Bernie Sanders, Progressives advocate policies such as Medicare-for-all have been successfully implemented in Sweden for decades. Americans have their preconceived ideas, but what does living there really mean. Let’s go straight toward the pros and cons of living in Sweden:
Pros of Living in Sweden
1. Free education
Sweden’s colleges and universities are free for students to attend. If you grow up in the country, there are no tuition costs. While students may still end up with lots of data, averaging $19,000 by the time they graduate, it is still 30 percent lower than the median for US students. If you can find a place to rent, handle your food expenses, and be careful about your payments, you can escape many of the debt traps that can affect 85 percent of the debt-graduating students.
2. Sufficient free time
If you have a job in Sweden, you’ll be able to take advantage of the many holidays. Many people start a new work opportunity during their first year, with at least five weeks of paid leave. When you acquire seniority with your supervisor, you will receive even more.
In Sweden, parents receive 480 days of paid parental leave together so that everyone can bond with their new child. These days are connected to whatever you please, and most new parents can take a month or two off and then work about 80 percent of the time to make sure they have enough cash available to fulfill their needs.
3. Affordable healthcare
While many people outside Sweden believe their healthcare system is universal, that is not entirely accurate. Every time you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, you will normally have to pay between 100kr to 250kr per visit. In this healthcare system, the maximum charge per visit is about 1,000kr. Once you meet the maximum amount limit, the remaining of your visits will be free. Consider the process as a kind of premium, just one that is handled outside of the common health insurance systems.
Sweden has some of the earth’s lowest crime rates. There’s one murder per 100,000 people each year, which is one-fifth of the murder rate in the US. Wherever you are, you’ll feel safe, even in badly reputed cities like Malmo.
Even if you don’t feel that much about sports, living in Sweden might change your thinking. You’ll find professional handball, football, and ice hockey leagues that run around the nation. NHL will eventually pick up many of the players who get started on Swedish teams in the US Handball is a fun sport to play, and with each match, numerous world-class players put their skills on. In Sweden, even football (soccer) is different because you can find dedicated players, coaches, and owners working hard to push the league and table.
Cons of Living in Sweden
Most people have described the weather in Sweden as “horrible” throughout the year. There are some weeks in the summer when the sun shines, and you can wear shorts and t-shirts. For most of the year, it’s cold, muddy, and drizzly, and then it snows for months. Living in Sweden means you will experience more snow than you can ever imagine.
2. Controlled Alcohol Access
Sweden was still dealing with the issue of alcoholism in the decade following the Second World War. The government settled on a scheme, which they renamed Systembolaget in 1955, after attempting many other methods of cracking down on this issue. This structure is a government-controlled alcohol store and is the only place where you can buy products containing more than 3.5 percent alcohol.
You need to plan your trip to the Systembolaget because on weekends the stores always close by 7 pm and on weekends by 2 pm. There’s no other alternative for you to buy decent alcohol than this one, and on Sundays, the stores are still closed. Some people like it because the selection is better and you can get used to the hours, but it’s another way for the government to have their say on your life.
3. The Law of Jante
There is a code of conduct throughout the Nordic countries known as the Jante Code. Swedes refer to it as Jantelagen. This represents doing something out of the ordinary, unethical and unnecessary, or being extremely ambitious personally. The aim is to create a society that conforms to each other so that all can achieve predictable results. There are ten rules that many people follow, although it is not part of any official code.
4. Health and Taxes
Heavy tax ensures that most people are middle class. Yes, if you pay high taxes, the government will provide you with free healthcare, but that also means you need to make an appointment well in advance. Often, and that is no joke, you’re not going to have an appointment for almost 4 to 6 months or more. Unfortunately, this is the cost of free care, as you have already paid for this service, which you will get in the future.
5. No urban centers
When you move to Sweden, you’ll soon discover no major cities across the country. Stockholm is the nation’s capital and biggest city, and it has a population of just 800,000. That makes the population about equal in size to Detroit for comparison purposes. Even if you count the entire metro area population, Stockholm maxes out at 1.5 million residents. By the time you hit the country’s 10th-largest city (Norrkoping), the entire metro region would have less than 100,000 people.