Updated on January 22, 2017
Finding a Home in Sweden
During my very first Skype interview with the principals of IES, they informed me how difficult finding accommodation in Sweden is. As we began preparing for our move from Tennessee, JoEllen and I did lots of research on the the housing situation in Sweden and were constantly reminded how difficult it can be to find a place to live. We knew that finding a home would be one of our largest areas of stress once we moved. Because of this we decided to rent an AirBNB for the first few weeks of our stay. However, as our “vacation” time in Stockholm came to an end and JoEllen began working, it was time for me to begin looking for a permanent home.
My research on the matter plus a few conversations led me to believe that Blocket.se was the best place to start. Blocket.se is basically the Swedish version of Craigslist, people post things they want to buy/sell/rent and see who bites. Though the site is all in Swedish, Google Chrome did a good enough job translating so that I could understand most of what I read. So one day while JoEllen was working, I began to scan the listings of homes for rent and email the owners of homes that interested me. Though not being able to communicate in Swedish gave me a slight disadvantage, I was lucky that almost everyone who lives in Stockholm is fluent in English.
After spending the afternoon sending emails to dozens of renters, JoEllen and I sat back to wait for the responses to roll in. Who wouldn’t want us living in their home?? By the end of the evening almost no one had replied to my emails and the people who did only quickly informed me that they already found suitable renters. So the next day I changed my approach slightly and cast a much bigger net. I broadened my search area and price range and started sending emails as soon as new listings popped up on the site. I wanted to be the first email they read after posting their home. By the end of the day I must have sent over 60 inquiries. The number of responses offering to show us their home? Only three.
The first location was in a very residential area outside of the city. Though it was affordable, near my school, and a decent size, JoEllen understandably was not feeling the area. She had the foresight to think about working from home during a Swedish winter with no central city life around her to make her feel connected to the world. We thanked the renters for their time and made our way into Stockholm Central for our next showing. The first thing we noticed was that the location of this flat was the opposite of the last. It was a 10 minute walk from central station and there were shops, bars, and restaurants everywhere.
The owner of the flat was a nice guy named Felix who is a few years younger than us and moving to the US for school. He showed us around the flat and we knew immediately that we wanted this apartment. Though it was small and slightly out of our price range, it was everything we were looking for. The location was great, the commute to my school was doable, and my favorite thing about the home was the view from the window that overlooks Rådhuset and Policehuset (town hall and the police station). These are beautiful buildings, and it is surreal to look out a bedroom window and see them.
The apartment was fully furnished, which is good because JoEllen and I left most of our belongings in Tennessee. The only two things Felix said he did not have were a coffee pot and a TV: coincidentally, the only two household appliances we had with us (we bought a coffee pot and JoEllen’s parents gave us a TV projector). Felix replied us that our situation “fit like a hand in a glove.” We agreed and told him we would like to move in to his home.
We went over the next evening to meet the homeowners association board members and sign the paperwork, which took over three hours. Afterwards, we were handed our new keys toasted with some champagne that Felix purchased for the occasion. Felix then gave us a tour of our new neighborhood. By the end of the evening I told JoEllen that it felt like we had made our first Swedish friend, and it was too bad he was moving away.