In this post I would like to tell you my story about moving to the capital of Sweden. I remember that when I was a prospective student, I had a feeling that I still know nothing about the whole process, which actually is a little bit complicated (but not that difficult), especially when you have to organize everything still being in a foreign country. But let’s start from the beginning.
After being admitted to the KI, I was asked to apply for housing provided by the Institute, which rents the rooms for student from various institutions. The four most popular places are Strix, Pax, Jagargatan and Vårberg. The first three ones are nicely located near the centre and KI Solna Campus, while the last one lies more to the south of Stockholm but has a convenient tunnelbana connection with the city centre. The KI housing AB staff starts reviewing the applications approximately 2 months before the start of the programmes so you should expect the decision whether you were granted a place in a dorm or not at that time. Remember also that students who pay the tuition fee are prioritized, therefore many of the EU citizens are forced to look for accommodation on their own.
Personally, I was offered a room at Vårberg almost exactly 2 months before the start of my programme and had around 5 days to accept or reject this offer. Then, due to 1) lack of knowlegde about housing situation in Stockholm and 2) different experiences from other cities, I happily rejected the offer, since I thought it was very far from the Solna Campus and it’s not worth the price at all (how wrong one can be sometimes…)
After all these things happened, I had to start to look for some room on my own. I would like to emphasize at this moment that all of the prospective students should believe us that housing market in Stockholm is very difficult and I know people who still, and we have October now, live in a hostel (My first reaction as the prospective student to the info about housing market in Stockholm was ‘Meh, impossible’).
My room hunting I started from reading ‘Pre-arrival guide for International Students’ (http://issuu.com/karolinska_institutet/docs/pre-arrival_guide_2014) that is very useful as it provides you with many practical information as well as webpages where you can look for accommodation in Stockholm. I used blocket.se, bostaddirekt and various Facebook groups, such as Looking for accommodation in Stockholm? Perfect for interns & students. I even tried calling Polish Embassy in Stockholm, but they recommended me looking at blocket.se, so it wasn’t very helpful for me.
When looking for a room in Stockholm, you must be prepared that landlords have many candidates for every single room what allows them to be very picky when it comes to choosing an appropriate tenant (only Swedish speaking person, only a woman, no pets, no alcohol, no smoking etc.). They may even ask you to look after their child twice a week or teach a foreign language, what is not a satisfying solution for a student that obviously doesn’t want to be an au pair in Stockholm. You should also be aware that deposit normally is an equivalent of a monthly rent, so be suspicious when someone asks you to pay deposit equal to 4 or 5 rents in advance.
I spent some time searching for a room through blocket.se and fb pages, what was a purely depression- and hysteria-inducing process. On fb pages you can encounter scam every 5 offers what is very discouraging, since you are deciding where to spend next weeks, months or years. Blocket.se, in turn, is better, but the offers are available for a very short time due to the huge demand for free rooms in the city. I got maybe 1 reponse every 15-25 messages.
An alternative option may be BostadDirekt service, where, for paying a small amount of money (295 SEK for rooms only / 45 days), you have an access to plenty of rooms and, what is more important, you are treated much more seriously since, by paying for using BostadDirekt, landlords are more convinced you really need some place to live. I got 5 responses every 10 messages, and 3 of the landlords were kind enough to wait 2 weeks until I am in Stockholm (most often they want you to visit the place 1-3 days later…). Then, I booked a 5-night-long stay in a hostel, so even after coming to Stockholm I wasn’t sure whether I will have a place to stay in the long run. Fortunately, during my first day here, I managed to sign a contract and now it’s already second month I live in a beautiful house that I share with only one person. By the way, in the late August I contacted KI housing AB one more time, and they offered me again a room in the same place from the October 1, but since I have already found my place in Stockholm, I had to reject the offer for the second time, I’m sorry!
Prices: that’s very hard to estimate, I would say that they can vary from 3000 to even 6000 or 7000 SEK per month, everything depends on your financial abilities.
All the best,