Accommodation 101: How to rent an apartment in Sweden

To describe it as ‘difficult’ to find a rental apartment in Sweden would be an understatement. In fact, it can be such a pain that some people give up altogether and move elsewhere. Don’t be one of them, here are some tips to help you navigate the Swedish rental market.

Accommodation 101: How to rent an apartment in Sweden
Photo: Qasa

Let’s start at the very beginning. In Sweden, there are two basic types of leases. There’s the notoriously hard-to-acquire ‘first-hand’ contract (förstahandskontrakt) which is an apartment owned and rented out by a municipality or state-regulated rental company.

To get a first-hand apartment (första hand) you need to register with your municipality and join a waiting list. In the larger cities, you may be waiting for several years. In Stockholm, for example, there is currently a queue time of between 7 to 11 years.

If you’re new to Sweden and need somewhere to live within the next decade then you’ll probably have better luck finding a sublet apartment (andra hand). Like job hunting, you may need to dedicate a few intense days to finding an apartment (and once you do, act quick).

Where to find rental apartments in Sweden

Your first port of call should be Qasa, the largest marketplace for rental apartments available in English. It’s like an Airbnb for long-term rentals, making subletting safe and easy throughout your stay in Sweden. Setting up a profile is free and there are no sneaky hidden fees waiting to jump out at the last minute.

Click here to browse rental properties in Sweden

Blocket is another website where you can browse apartment listings. It’s a more traditional classified site that isn’t purely focused on home rentals (there’s a great furniture section to browse once you have found the perfect dwelling) and is only available in Swedish. The good news is that Qasa has a partnership with Blocket so you can easily apply to their best apartments directly from both platforms.

Photo: Qasa

How to stand out from other applicants

Competition is fierce on the Swedish rental market. Unlike some countries where you can simply sign for an apartment on the spot, in Sweden you often have to make your case for why a landlord should pick you.

Start by creating a free profile on Qasa to showcase the best version of yourself when applying for rental homes. Think of it as your digital resume for finding a home; here you can gather your references, prove your credit worthiness and show potential landlords just how fantastic you are.

If you still don’t have a Swedish personal number (personnummer), it’s advisable to have your employer also sign your rental contract. This will make you more appealing to landlords as they have some form of guarantee that you are trustworthy and can pay the rent. So before you start looking for an apartment, double check to find out if this is an option for you. Don’t worry if it’s not an option for you, Qasa still allows you to do everything without a personal number.

Time is of the essence

Speed is imperative but at the same time it can be tough finding the few homes that match all your criteria. The good news is there are tools that can help you. When you create a profile on Qasa, you’ll be notified the moment anything that suits your preferences becomes available. Once you get the notification, you can apply for that home with just one click.

Create your free Qasa profile and find your perfect apartment in Sweden

Keep your wits about you

Rental scams are a big problem in many countries and Sweden is no exception. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself. Provided you don’t sign any rental agreements on your own or make any payments without an intermediary, you have nothing to worry about.

Qasa provides the leading anti-fraud system on the market. Besides being incredibly easy to sign an agreement (everything is done digitally), they also secure your deposit in a separate escrow account. Your first month’s rent is then paid by Qasa to your landlord a week after you’ve moved in. This makes it impossible for a scammer to access your money prematurely and gives you time to move in and check everything is in order. It also means you can sign a rental agreement whilst still living abroad so you can move into your apartment the moment you touchdown in Sweden! How easy is that?

Here are some more tips to help you avoid falling prey to rental fraud.

Make yourself at home

Once the contract has been signed and you’ve moved into your new home, it’s time to make it your own. You’re living in the birthplace of IKEA so you’re hardly ever further than a stone’s throw away from one of its stores; there are also plenty of established online markets for furniture, art and other types of interior decor (we’ve already mentioned Blocket) to help you put your stamp on your new apartment.

Välkomna and you’re welcome!

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by QASA.

For members


The words you need to know before renting a flat in Germany

From smaller towns to the bigger metropolises, renting in Germany ain’t easy. While we can’t find you a flat, we hope to take some of the confusion out of doing so.

The words you need to know before renting a flat in Germany
Picture: DPA

Whether you speak German or not, getting your head around the complex words used in renting in Germany. 

(Der) Mieter

Meaning tenant or renter, Mieter comes from the German miete which means to rent. 

Vermieter means landlord – although the latter is frequently used in super-hip Berlin and Hamburg. 

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about renting in Germany

(Der) Mietvertrag 

The German word for lease, Mietvertrag – literally rent contract – is the document between you and your landlord which allows you to live in the flat. 

As we discussed in our report on the Anmeldung (address registration) process, you’ll need to show this at the Bürgeramt to receive your Meldebescheinigung (certificate of registered address).  

(Der) Altbau and Neubau

When moving into an apartment block, you’ll frequently be told whether your potential flat-to-be is an Altbau (old building) or a Neubau (new building).

This can however be confusing, as the highly sought after Altbau can frequently look much newer and nicer than the Neubau, the latter of which can often be found at the outskirts of larger German cities. 

Buildings from before the Second World War are known as Altbau, whereas those made afterwards are known as Neubau

An Altbau apartment building in Hamburg. Picture: DPA

(Die) Kaution

Meaning either bond or deposit, Kaution is the money paid as a security deposit when you move into a flat to provide the landlord with a degree of protection should you fail to pay the rent or if the flat is damaged. 

Foreigners are frequently targeted with Kaution scams, so be sure to discuss the nature of your Kaution and how it will be returned when moving into a flat. 

SEE ALSO: How Berlin’s housing crisis leaves women vulnerable to sexual predators

(Das) Casting

Right out of the same category as ‘Handy’, ‘Public-Viewing’ and ‘Beamer’, Casting is an English word which has taken on a different and somewhat odd use in German. 

While ‘casting’ in English means the process of auditioning for a part in a movie or play, ‘Casting’ in German is the process of interviewing a new flatmate. 

Although it will not always be the case, a Casting can be structured much like a job interview – with each of the existing housemates asking a variety of questions to determine if you’re truly worthy. 

(Die) Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung 

Literally translating as rent-debt-freedom-certificate, the Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung is a document which confirms you are not in rental debt for any of your previous properties. 

While the word is an absolute mouthful – try saying ‘meat-shool-den-fry-height-b-shine-ee-goong’ out loud – this document is an absolute must when renting a flat. 

Remember that the German word for debt (Schuld) also means guilt – so anyone hoping to rent a flat will need to prove that they are debt free. 

(Die) Verdienstbescheinigung

Another Bescheinigung, the Verdienstbescheinigung is a document from your employer which shows your earnings.

Given the highly competitive property market in many German cities, you’ll want to have this document on hand for when you first see – and decide to apply for – the property. 

(Die) Nebenkosten, (Die) Warmmiete and (Die) Kaltmiete

Nebenkosten, which are otherwise known as Betriebskosten, means all the extra costs associated with the apartment other than the rent. These include water, gas, internet, heating, electricity and insurance costs. 

When renting a flat, the advertised price will either be Kaltmiete (cold rent) or Warmmiete (warm rent). A Kaltmiete price will only be the price for the rent itself, while Warmmiete will be the price including the Nebenkosten

Flats will often be advertised as “€600 Warmmiete/WM/Warm” or “€550 Kaltmiete/Kalt/KM”. 

‘KM’ stands for ‘Kaltmiete’. Picture: DPA

(Die) Wohngemeinschaft

More commonly known as a ‘W-G’ (pronounced ‘vey-gay’), Wohngemeinschaft is the German name for a share house. The word literally translates to ‘residential community’. 

WGs are common in Germany for students and adults alike, given that the country’s unique and sometimes complicated Altbau architecture can create share houses with a significant amount of privacy and independence. 

(Der) Mitbewohner

If you live in a WG, you’re likely to have one or more Mitbewohner. Translating literally as ‘with-occupant’, Mitbewohner means housemate or flatmate.

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