One of the biggest challenges as a student is working out how much money you need to dedicate to the boring necessity of food every month, and it can be easy to misjudge, run out of funds and end up living off eggs for weeks as a result, alternatively Sweden's weirdly popular ketchup on pasta.
Sweden was in 2016 revealed to have the EU’s second-highest food prices, so finding the right balance can certainly be a challenge, but there are a few tricks you can use to make it easier.
Many restaurants offer discounts to holders of a Swedish Studentkort. There are plenty of other offers available and you can get the card for free through signing up on the company's website. Students also get money off when using OnlinePizza.se, which despite the name offers a wide range of food delivery options.
On a student budget you won't be eating out every day of course, but there are even ways to save money on groceries. Supermarket chain ICA offers student discounts on a rotating range of food items for students who register with them, with essentials like pasta sauce, toilet paper and bread among the items to be offered at a cut-price previously. What more do you need?
Supermarket chain ICA offer student discounts. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
Late nights are a guarantee at university, and in that scenario, coffee can be like liquid gold. In Sweden it doesn’t always come cheap however, where you can easily pay 35 kronor or more for a cappuccino or latte.
Two of the country's biggest coffee chains, Waynes and Espresso House, both offer student discounts to holders of selected cards. Espresso House have a 10-20 percent discount for holders of the Mecenat card, depending on whether you have your drink to stay or to take out, while students with the Studentkort get 10 percent off takeaway coffee from Waynes. If you've got a favourite local coffee shop, it's well worth checking if they have any offers for students as well.
Alternatively, get an even cheaper cup of takeout coffee from Swedish newsagent Pressbyrån, where any hot drink is just 10 kronor per cup if you've got a student card (15 kronor for a large size). Fruit or pastry can always be added to your coffee order for only an extra 5 kronor too. That’s one less excuse for falling asleep during lectures.
Coffee is the perfect body fuel. Photo: Ulf Lundin/imagebank.sweden.se
Going to watch some Swedish football is a great way to kill an afternoon, and it's also pleasantly affordable. If you’re studying in the country’s second-biggest city, you may be surprised to know that IFK Gothenburg offer discounted tickets for students, as do their local (second division) rivals, hipster favourites GAIS.
Studying in Uppsala? Local side Sirius IK also offers reduced cost of entry for students. As do many other clubs across the country, so it’s worth checking with them before you buy your tickets.
If you'd rather get involved in actually playing a sport, many amateur clubs and teams have reduced rates for students making it an affordable activity to try, and university sports societies offer a range of sports usually at cheaper prices than classes open to the general public: try Stockholms Studenter IF, Uppsala Student Athletics, or EOS Lund).
And for those who prefer spectator sports, you can get a generous discount on streaming service C More, which offers a range of sports packages.
Sirius IK playing against Norrköping on August 20th 2017. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Sweden may have a small population, but geographically it’s a huge country. With so many diverse cities and landscapes, you'll want to see more than just your university and its surrounding area. Most local transport authorities offer reduced monthly passes for students, so getting around locally shouldn't break the bank.
Making your way from one city to the next isn’t always cheap, but with state-owned rail company SJ offering special student rates on intercity and regional trains, there’s a chance you'll find a bargain. Snälltåget also offers generous student offers on its routes, which include travel between Stockholm and Malmö, as well as from both cities to the northern Swedish mountains and even to Berlin in summer.
Bus can be a way of saving even more money, and with Swebus offering students 20 percent off the full price on all journeys (as well as occasional additional discounts!), it's well worth checking.
Going further afield? With the distance from Lund to Kiruna for example a mere 1800km, you may want to fly. Some of the carriers running domestic routes like BRA and SAS offer discounts on that mode of transport too (make sure to search SAS's Youth tickets, available to all travellers aged under 26), so getting away to see the Northern Lights may not be as unfeasible as it sounds.
Kiruna is a town with a lot of history. Photo: Hans Olof/imagebank.sweden.se
Many of Sweden’s museums are free, but some of the best ones aren't, and unless you want to miss out on some of the country’s highlights, you’re going to have to fork out some cash eventually.
Luckily, plenty will cut money off your fee if you’re a student. Stockholm’s excellent Fotografiska photography museum slashes 30 kronor off the ordinary admission price for holders of a valid student card. Perhaps the best Swedish museum of them all, the Vasa, cuts 20 kronor off the price. And if you'll be in Sweden for a while with visitors coming to stay, consider getting an annual pass so you don't have to cough up for entry every time.
It’s not only in Stockholm that you can save money on paid-entry museums as a student though. Studying in Umeå? Guitars: The Museum – one of the world’s biggest privately owned guitar collections – will let you in for 50 kronor less than regular folks. Not bad!
Nordic Museum in Stockholm. Photo: Ingemar Edfalk/imagebank.sweden.se
Swedes know how to party, and we won't insult your intelligence by telling you how to do that (you'll find out anyway) but when it comes to culture, there are some tips and tricks for saving money.
Sweden's largest cinema group, SF, regularly has student offers, so check their website to see what's coming up near you.
A semester studying abroad is the perfect time to try something a bit different, and a night at the opera is strikingly accessible in Sweden. Malmö Opera offer a whopping 50 percent off tickets to holders of CSN or Mecenatkort student cards as well as under-26-year-olds, Gothenburg Opera give you 25 percent off most performances if you have the Mecenatkort card or are aged under 28 (and if you're 20 or under, you'll get in for half price), while even the Royal Opera in Stockholm has half-price entry if you’re under 26. You aren’t likely to find much lower prices for opera anywhere else in Europe, so even if you don't think it's your thing, why not try something different for once?
You may also want to keep up with Swedish news while you're spending time in the country. The Local offers a 50 percent student discount on Membership, giving you unlimited access to all our content for just SEK24.99 a month – or SEK249.99 for the full year. Find out more here.
Gothenburg Opera. Photo: Torbjörn Skogedal/imagebank.sweden.se
Article first published in 2016 and updated in 2018.