Sweden is an expensive country to live in for international students, with the living costs being around INR 73,975 per month. Even if you have received admission to a top university in Sweden, you may still have to figure out where to find accommodation. It is no easy task seeing as there are around 39,000 international students in Sweden, and limited facilities.
Out of the 39 universities in the country, only some provide good student housing, so it is prudent to research the accommodation in Sweden that is not university-affiliated as well. International students will also benefit from knowing how the transportation system in Sweden works, and how much money they should expect to spend on travel and stay within Sweden. Once the expenses are made clear, it will become slightly easier to create a budget in accordance with any scholarships you receive to study in sweden.
Cost of Living in Sweden: Travel Costs
You can travel to Sweden from India with a flight ticket costing around INR 3,00,000 and a visa to study in Sweden. It is better to choose to arrive at an airport closer to your university, and for most students this is Stockholm Arlanda airport, or even Copenhagen Airport which, even though in a different country, is quite close to the largest cities in Sweden and can be easily accessed.
Make sure that you have these documents to get through Immigration when you reach:
- Your passport
- Letter of acceptance at a Swedish university
- Proof of financial capacity, and the first tuition fee installment receipt
- Residence permit
Depending on your program start date, plan to arrive in Sweden at least 2-3 weeks prior. For example, if your course is due to begin in August, you must arrive preferably in July. This is suggested in order to get sufficient time to familiarise oneself with Swedish life and to obtain any extra documents like a Swedish ID card.
Temporary Entry Ban in Sweden
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Swedish Government is restricting non-essential travels to Sweden from countries other than those in the EU/EEA, until 31 March 2021. However, studying in Sweden is considered essential travel, and so is the possession of a residence permit, so international students can travel to Sweden at their own discretion. If you are going to study in Sweden in this case, do not choose Copenhagen Airport as the destination, as moving across borders from Denmark to Sweden would be a more complicated process. Quarantining yourself is not a necessity.
Cost of Transportation in Sweden
Being an extremely eco-friendly country, most people are encouraged to use bicycles and public transportation in Sweden. The different methods of getting around Sweden and the corresponding transport costs are:
- Bicycles - Bicycle lanes everywhere can be found nearly everywhere and are specifically popular among university students. Renting a bike costs SEK 200-350 per day while buying a second-hand bike will cost you only SEK 1,000-6,000 in total.
- Trains - There are short-distance as well as long-distance trains that run in most places in Sweden. Booking a ticket at most 24 hours in advance can get you a last-minute deal, the ticket costing you as little as SEK 166. Booking a long-distance train ticket will get you a student discount of 15-20% if you show your Student ID.
- Metro - Also known as Tunnelbana (T-Bana) in Stockholm, the metro service runs through the city, and a single-journey ticket costs SEK 38. You can also opt for a 24-hours travelcard (for SEK 105), 72-hours travelcard (for SEK 210), or a 7-days travelcard (for SEK 280), that let you travel as much as you want within the fixed duration and ticket price.
- Bus - There are plenty of comfortable buses in Sweden, both short-distance and long-distance. An average bus ticket costs SEK 36 and must be bought before stepping onto the bus.
- Ferry - Although not of day-to-day use for students in Sweden, ferries operate between cities. You can expect a ticket cost of SEK 220-290.
- Taxi - Taxis in Sweden are not regulated, and hence the price systems vary between companies. The cost will be displayed on the rear door window, usually SEK 290-390.
- Car rental - If you want to drive, you may rent a car for SEK 83-335 per day. Your home country driver’s license will be valid for one year while you are in Sweden, since the date you register with the Swedish Tax Agency. After one year you will have to get a Swedish driver’s license.
- Domestic flights - Again, this is a very expensive mode of transportation, but if you want to travel between two distant cities in a short duration, this is the option for you.
If you are going to be studying in Stockholm, you can purchase the SL Access card to be used for the metro, rail and bus services in the city. This is available for SEK 20 at the Arlanda airport, and you can top up with more money whenever required. Not only will this be more convenient in saving time, but also it will help bring down your living expenses in Sweden.
What to Do Upon Arrival in Sweden
You can travel from the airport to your accommodation in Sweden by train, bus or taxi. Within the next few weeks, you must apply for and obtain a personal identity number by registering in the Swedish Population Register. This is required of all students planning to study in Sweden for longer than a year, and can be done by visiting a Swedish Tax Agency office. The personal identity number, or Personnummer, will:
- Have an application fee of SEK 400.
- Be of use while shopping or contacting Swedish authorities during your time there.
- Be required to register for health insurance in Sweden, which enables you to get doctor’s appointments for as low as SEK 150-250.
- Be required to open a bank account in Sweden.
Residence permits in Sweden are meant for those staying over 3 months, but you must have a residence permit that is valid for at least a year, to get the Personnummer. In addition to that, you may also get a Swedish ID card that acts as a proof of identity in place of your passport.
When it is time to leave Sweden, you must submit a form to let the Tax Agency know.
You can then get health insurance in Sweden, as healthcare is quite expensive in the country without it. The next step is to open a bank account, which will make it possible for students to have transactions with Swedish universities. You can do this by submitting the following documents:
- Letter of acceptance from university
- Residence permit
- Stay address in Sweden
- Personal identity number
- Swedish ID card, in some cases
These essential procedures may take some time, and may only be completed after your classes start, so you must come prepared with alternatives, especially in case of finances. It is advisable to carry a Visa or Mastercard with sufficient money that you can use while the bank account gets ready. If you are a recipient of any scholarships in Sweden, that is also good enough to provide you with some financial support to cover your living costs.
Cost of Living in Sweden: Student Accommodation
There is no guaranteed student accommodation at Swedish universities like in some other countries. Still, most universities do have a housing guarantee for non-EU/EEA students. If not within the campus, the university most likely has affiliations with accommodation facilities outside. However, do keep in mind that finding student accommodation in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and other big cities is more difficult than in smaller towns.
On-campus accommodation in Sweden is usually allotted on a first come first serve basis, so if you do not apply as soon as your admission is confirmed, you may lose out on that opportunity. The cost of living in Sweden on campus is fairly lower than living off campus, as you would get rooms for cheaper rent and would also not have to spend much money on commuting to college.
Student Accommodation in Swedish Universities
Corridor rooms are the most common type of on-campus accommodation in Sweden. Students are assigned individual rooms along a corridor, but will have to share other facilities like the kitchen, common room, and sometimes a communal bathroom. The other option is student flats, where a smaller number of students live together. While corridor rooms have 10-15 people sharing the common facilities, this number may only be 4 for flats, with the students still getting single rooms of their own.
In the single room provided to you, expect to find:
- Single bed
You will have to bring or arrange for all other furniture and necessities, but make sure not to have too many items as the space will be limited.
Cost of Living at Top Swedish Universities
Most of the top universities in Sweden do provide accommodation to international students, and the rent varies according to the type of room and amenities. The average price range has been tabulated here:
|University||Accommodation Cost (per month)|
|Lund University||SEK 2,300-7,700|
|KTH Royal Institute of Technology||SEK 4,200-7,500|
|Uppsala University||SEK 3,800-6,300|
|Chalmers University of Technology||SEK 4,000-6,300|
|Stockholm University||approx. SEK 4,170|
Cost of Living in Sweden- Off Campus
If you did not get university-facilitated housing, you will have to look for accommodation in Sweden on your own. The very first thing to do is find out where to stay in Sweden that is not too far from your campus. Private housing companies and individuals put up advertisements online regarding available rooms or flats.
There are two types of rental possibilities - first-hand and second-hand. In the former, you sign up for a housing queue with a company, pay a fee, and wait for any length of time until your turn arrives. Then you will sign a contract directly with the owner of the building, so it is a first-hand contract. In the latter, you don’t have to wait for so long, and instead you can sign a second-hand contract with someone who is already renting from the owner of the building. This is called subletting and the opportunities are advertised on websites like Blocket and housinganywhere.com; it is legal provided that the owner of the property has agreed to it.
Yet another possible option for accommodation for international students in Sweden is homestays. Swedish homeowners rent out a small portion of their property to guests, fully serviced. This is a great opportunity for international students to get to know the locals, but it tends to get quite pricey as the rent is charged per night, ranging from SEK 115 to 690.
Cost of Living in Sweden for International Students
An apartment in Sweden can have a rent price of anywhere from SEK 5,700 to 12,900 depending on the location and facilities. On an average, a single student will have to pay a monthly rent of SEK 2,500-6,500, with living costs of SEK 8,514 per month. The living expenses in Sweden for the top student cities are given below.
|City||Cost of Living (per month)||Accommodation cost (per month)||Food Expenses|
|Stockholm||SEK 8,000-9,000||SEK 3,500||SEK 2,000|
|Lund||SEK 8,568||SEK 3,200-4,800||SEK 2,300|
|Gothenburg||SEK 10,845-13,145||SEK 4,000-6,300||SEK 2,500|
|Umea||SEK 8,102||SEK 2,511-3,708||SEK 2,000|
|Uppsala||SEK 8,722||SEK 3,500-6,500||SEK 2,000|
When you form a budget, you should take these costs into account. There are also many possibilities of getting discounts, particularly with a student discount card like Mecenat or Studentkortet, that you receive along with your university Student ID card. One important fact to remember is that most people in Sweden do not make transactions with liquid cash, but instead opt for digital transactions via apps like Swish.
Sweden does not have any restrictions on the number of hours international students are allowed to work, but it is generally understood that working part-time will not pay one well enough to match the university tuition fees. Therefore, most students rely on pre-arranged funds as well as loans and scholarships in Sweden in order to pay their fees. If you are aware of the details of travel and stay in Sweden, and have made provisions for the same, then you are well-prepared to study in Sweden.