As I mentioned in the previous post, I got my first apartment in Stockholm via my colleague. The landlady was her best friend’s husband’s sister, so you really never know how you stumble upon a place. 😀
Renting a place in Stockholm is supposed to be really difficult, but everybody still manages to find a place to live, but you might need to make some compromises. I think the easiest it is or people, who have a lot of money and then again for people, who don’t have high standards. It is quite easy to find a place in Stockholm if you’re willing to pay a lot of money for an apartment or aren’t picky how and with whom you live. There are plenty of people looking for roommates or are willing to commute for an hour or longer. The most difficult is to find a place, which is centrally located and doesn’t cost you and arm and a leg.
Most of the Swedes own their own apartment and there isn’t a good system for longtime rental. The system was created to keep the prices low, but it rather backfired and the housing prices in Stockholm are high. In order to get a first hand contract, you generally speaking need to wait for years and maybe even decades, so this is not a realistic option for most people.
All other contracts are second-hand contracts for which the owner of the apartment always needs to get an approval from the housing association and they need to provide the reason for it. It can be working abroad, trying cohabitation with my significant other or something similar, which is considered a “valid reason” by the association. This is the reason why it is rather lucky if you manage to get a contract even for a year. The upside for is that the apartments are almost always furnished, so you don’t need to invest in furniture which then you would have to move every six months or so.
In order to buy an apartment, you need at least 15% down payment in cash and they are introducing some additional restrictions in order to keep the debt of the population down. Generally it has been known in Finland that Swedes get any mortgages and they only pay the interest and virtually don’t pay their loans, so anybody could afford almost anything. The reality isn’t far from this, but the terms are being rewritten.
The most common way for people to find an apartment is Blocket.se, which is a website for buying/selling items and renting/buying apartments. There is also an option to write an introduction about yourself and potential landlords can contact you directly. If you contact them, make sure that you have a written introduction about yourself, which can be easily modified. You need to react quickly (usually within the first hour) when you see a place that interests you because most of the people will get hundreds of contact emails and they will check only a part of them. The introduction needs to be well done and give a good impression of you. For example I provided links to my Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well as a phone number.
There are also some Facebook pages for apartment hunting in Stockholm, so use those as well. There are plenty of specific pages such as Home in Stockholm in Finnish for Finns moving to Stockholm and similar for other nationalities in their own language if you find using Blocket difficult.
Another way is to contact all your colleagues and any other contacts in Sweden you know and tell them you’re looking for a place. I got some leads via my colleagues as well, but ended up finding a place via Blocket.se. I got an okay response rate, maybe for 25-30% of my contacts I received a response. I actually ended up ignoring one or two contacts because the deal seemed too good to be true. Not clearly a scam, but just something about the apartment and the announcement didn’t sit right with me. I ended up going with a gorgeous place in a good location in Vasastan area, but with a somewhat higher rent than I was hoping to pay. But the owner expects to sell the apartment in autumn, so I figured that I would try it out as the area is very nice and it’s only 15-20 min to my workplace, which is a major improvement from 45 min I have now.
The majority of people renting an apartment post announcements very shortly before moving in time because they know that they can find a tenant really easily. Most of them say that moving date is right away. This was the most difficult part for me to realize that I can only start apartment hunting a month or so before the time I need to move out.
When I went to a viewing I had all my paperwork with me just to prove that I was a reliable tenant and to make the paperwork easier. I paid the deposit when I signed the contract and we agreed that I will pay the first rent when I get the keys to the apartment. To be sure you’re not being scammed it might be a good idea to mutually take a photo of each other’s IDs. By the way it doesn’t matter whether you have a Swedish personal number or ID card. The rental contract can be signed without any of them.
Another trick for not get scammed is to search your landlord on hitta.se. It’s a stalker’s dream web site as it provides with a very detailed personal information about a person. It’s not 100% foolproof, because people can opt out of it, but in a lot of cases you can see that this person actually exists and lives at the apartment they are now renting out.