21 Jun 2024
The horrors of apartment hunting in Sweden
Essentials Housing

The horrors of apartment hunting in Sweden

Where do you not want to live? With the scary tattooed man? In the apartment full of dead flies? With the man with a meat fascination?

If you’ve had to search for an apartment in Sweden, you know it’s hard work. Expect to have to join waiting lists. Spend days or weeks sitting in front of the computer refreshing Blocket’s apartment listing page. Spamming every friend and friend of a friend you know to ask them if they have any apartment leads. We get it, we’ve been though that. Read on to find out about Clare Morrison-Porter’s, our newest bloggers, experience meeting with frightening potential landlords/roommates.

As I sit in my high tech kitchen, with its temperamental hobs that may or may not be more intelligent than I am, overlooking a busy intersection in the area of Luthagen, I almost have to pinch myself. For a town – or rather, a country – where the housing situation for students is one of the most contentious issues out there, and the subject of many a fraught conversation, my flat mates and I seem to have done surprisingly well. We are at the forefront, perhaps, of a non-revolution in shared accommodation. It’s near impossible to find shared housing for many reasons, but the short of it seems to be that it’s not part of Swedish culture and there’s nothing to encourage the tiny private rental sector to grow. So here we are: trendsetters for a trend that doesn’t seem to exist

And finding this, or indeed any apartment, was not without its fair share of trial and tribulation. Our last apartment was dearly loved, but never really ours, as holding a second hand contract offers little security in Sweden. When the decision was made by the all-powerful housing association to offer the next person in the ‘queue system’ the apartment, our impending homelessness was of concern to no one.

In England where I am from, as in many other countries, if you have money in your pocket it is easy to relocate. Yet the currency here is patience – or to put it more literally, queue days. Without it, like us, you face an uncertain future. We had no choice but to face two months (only two months – how lucky, in hindsight!) of rejection and unknowing before finally being successful.

I have a dear friend with a mountain of optimism to thank for the brunt of the flat search (as it’s even more impossible when you’re not fluent in Swedish) but I emerge from the ordeal with some stories.

There was the tattooed and overweight man, whose wife had left him lonely and with two bedrooms, rooms that happened to be either side of his, which he would happily rent out to two young female students. He had a washing machine, he assured us, but we would have to hang our wet clothes out to dry around his house. Conjuring images of underwear on the staircase, it still makes me cringe to remember.

Then there was old man who called to tell us he had an apartment to rent out, but who actually had a small spare room in his fly-infested, smelly apartment that he would let us share – for only 6000SEK a month. A kind man in a system that has gone crazy is the nicest way I can describe it.

Perhaps worst of all was the man who was showing out his centrally located apartment to a conveyer belt of groups of young women, a man who just happened to work for a local meat company and whose walls were adorned with meat advertisements. As two vegetarians we were pretty horrified, but the feeling was not enough to stop us pleading for the apartment, to no avail. He never even called back.

It was a period I gladly closed the door on. Since then it’s been five months with no more instability than wondering which flat mate will be buying toilet paper next. But the summer and the end of our contract loom near, and here it seems apt to say that all good things must come to an end. But am I – or indeed anyone – ready to dive back into the unknown?

By Clare Morrison-Porter

Your Living City loves to learn about our readers experiences & ideas and hear their stories. If you have something to say or want to share about your Swedish journey, send us a mail with a writing sample and we will get back to you shortly.

Image by TureyChik via Flickr Creative Commons

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