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PROPERTY

Checklist: Everything you need to do when you move house in Sweden

Whether you're moving to a new rented apartment or have bought your home, there are lots of things to keep track of to help the move go smoothly.

Checklist: Everything you need to do when you move house in Sweden
Take adorable photos of pet in moving boxes? Check! Book movers and transfer electricity contract? Er... Photo: Erda Estremera/Unsplash

Report your change of address

Notify the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) of your new address – this can be done online, and means it should be updated automatically everywhere you're registered.

Still, you should double check that the update has gone through for all important things, such as your bank, your doctor, your company's payroll department, and any post subscriptions you don't want to miss out on.

There are also mail forwarding services you can pay for which will ensure no post ends up at your old address. 

Change or cancel your bills

For things like your internet, insurance, and electricity bills, you may be able to transfer existing contracts (if you already have these and are happy with the terms) or set up completely new ones (including if you want to change contracts, or need to change the type of insurance or electricity provider). 

You need to make sure your insurance is valid from the date you will first be registered at your new address, even if you won't actually move until later, and you'll probably need electricity and internet from the date you plan to move in. Don't forget to cancel your existing contracts – and check your terms well in advance in case there's a notice period.

Think about other contracts and subscriptions too. Will you be visiting the same gym or yoga studio after you move?

Start cleaning and packing in advance

It's easy to underestimate how long this will take. Even if you moved to Sweden with just a suitcase, you may well find you have accumulated a lot of belongings since then. Make sure you have enough suitcases or boxes, as well as bubble wrap or other materials to protect fragile items, and decide whether you want to do the cleaning yourself or book a professional. Sell, donate or give away anything that isn't coming to your new home.

Start in advance and try to be organised, sorting things by room and in rough order of how quickly you're likely to need them. Remember to label them (with labels your future self will actually understand). Make sure to pack soap, lightbulbs if your new place won't have them, your toothbrush and bedding, and perhaps a snack in an easily accessible spot! 


It doesn't have to be stressful. Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

Plan and prep

As well as planning the packing, think about what else you can do to make your life easier in the busy days and weeks around your move. Try to catch up on errands like renewing prescriptions (which can often be done online or via pharmacy apps) or returning library books and borrowed items before the last minute, and use up the food in the fridge and freezer.

Think about what could go wrong. Make sure you have important numbers for plumbers, electricians, and your insurance company to hand, as well as backing up important files from your computer.

Don't forget to research something nice to do if you're moving to a new neighbourhood so that you can relax with a meal out or a walk in the park.

Save your receipts

You can deduct a lot of expenses from moving house, so make sure you save the receipts for the next year's tax return. A lot of services like cleaning, moving, and repairs are covered by what are called ROT & RUT deductions. Sometimes the deduction is made at the time of payment, but in some circumstances you need to apply yourself when you fill in your tax return.

You should also keep cleaning receipts in case your landlord or buyer claims you left the property in a dirty condition.

Plan the move itself

If you're moving between furnished apartments, you might be able to manage the move in your own car or a hired one, but otherwise you are likely to need a moving company. Do some research, ask friends for recommendations and compare quotes, and book this in advance.

If you need to take time off work or sort out child- or pet care, book this ahead of time too. Some companies actually offer moving day as a day of paid leave, but this is not common, so you should bank on using a day of annual leave or unpaid leave. And if you're moving into an apartment, consider letting the housing association know your plans as a courtesy to your new neighbours. 

Take photos and an inventory

Once your old home is clean, get evidence in the form of photos and videos. If you rent and your landlord tries to withhold your deposit, it's up to them to prove that you caused any damage, but you will strengthen your case if you can show you left the property in a good state.

If you've sold your property, this evidence will be useful if the buyer later tries to claim damages for 'hidden faults'. 


Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Hand over documents and keys

Whether you're moving out of a rented or owned property, leave everything you need to behind, such as instructions and warranties for appliances, and of course every copy of the keys you had. If you're sub-letting or have sold your property, it might be kind to leave the new tenant or owner some helpful information about the property or the local area.

Check your new property

As soon as you get access to your new home, do a thorough check to make sure it matches up to what you've agreed. Whether you're renting or have bought it, it should be in a clean condition. Check the appliances all work and there are no flaws you weren't told about before.

Think about safety too. Check the doors and windows, test the smoke alarm (or install one), and make sure you have the right number of keys. You may even want to consider changing the locks if you've bought the property.

At this point, congratulations – you've made it! Time to explore your new neighbourhood, or relax in your very own Swedish home.

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RENTING

Five tricks Swedes use to avoid the long wait for rental apartments

The official waiting time for apartments in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö varies between three and eleven years. But Swedes have their own tricks for jumping the queue.

Five tricks Swedes use to avoid the long wait for rental apartments

There’s no requirement for landlords or renters to use the queuing systems run by the municipalities in the big cities, but most of the big ones do, the intention being to reduce corruption and increase fairness in the rental market. 

The Stockholm Housing Agency, or bostadsförmedlingen, has a queue between seven and eleven years long. Boplats Gothenburg has an average wait of 6.4 years, and Boplats Syd in Malmö has an average waiting time of nearly three years.

According to Kristina Wahlgren, a journalist at Hem & Hyra, Sweden’s leading rental property magazine, the system puts foreigners and recent arrivals to Sweden at a significant disadvantage. 

“It’s extremely difficult if you are from another country. You don’t have any contacts, and it’s quite difficult to understand if you haven’t grown up in this culture,” she says of the system. “There are some quite subtle aspects, and there’s vänskapskorruption [giving special advantage to friends]. ” 

Listen to a discussion about Swedish queue systems on Sweden in Focus, The Local’s podcast. 

Click HERE to listen to Sweden in Focus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Obviously, the biggest advantage faced by locals in Sweden is that they normally joined the queue the moment they turned 17, so by the time they’re looking for an apartment as a young adult, they’re already near the front. 

But even for new arrivals in Sweden, it’s possible to wait a much shorter time if you know the tricks, says Wahlgren, who has been nominated for Sweden’s Guldspaden journalism prize for an investigation into how Malmö finds housing for homeless people. 

Kristina Wahlgren, a reporter for the Hem & Hyra newspaper. Photo: Hem & Hyra

1.  Apply for more expensive new-build apartments to start off with 

If you’ve got a good enough salary, and are willing to pay high rent for your first few years in Sweden, this can make it easier to get an apartment, as there is less competition for more expensive, new-build apartments, Wahlgren says.

“If you’re willing to pay high rent, then you can get an apartment within a couple of months [in Malmö]. If you want a cheaper apartment, it can take years. So it’s quite a big difference.”

2. Rather than wait for your perfect apartment, take what’s available and then swap 

The rules recently got a little stricter, but it’s still relatively easy to swap between apartments once you have a first-hand contract. There’s even a website, Lägenhetsbyte, which acts as an interface. 

This means, if you use the method above, and decide to rent a more expensive new-build apartment with a shorter queue, you can then downgrade to a cheaper apartment with someone who is after somewhere newer and swankier.

Rental queues are also shorter in less desirable areas of Sweden’s cities. For example, the waiting list in Norra Hissingen in Gothenburg is only five years, half what it is in Majorna. It can be quicker to make do with living in a relatively dreary area, and then swap with somewhere better, than to insist from the start on an apartment in your dream location. 

“If you can’t wait for the right department, just take the one that you get, then you can keep on looking and when you do have a lease, you can change the lease with someone else,” Wahlgren says. 

To change apartment, you need to have a so-called “acceptable reason”, such as needing a bigger or smaller apartment. With any luck, your landlord should accept the swap. If they refuse you can challenge their decision at your local hyresnämnden or “rental tribunal”.  

3. Use the tricks for contacting landlords directly  

Landlords in Sweden are not required to use the municipal rental queues to find their tenants, and if a suitable tenant presents themselves just as an apartment becomes free, they may prefer to take someone they know.

This is particularly the case with the smaller, private landlords. It’s possible to find lists of private landlords online, such as here. But Wahlgren recommends putting in a bit of legwork.

“One way to find who owns an apartment block, is to just go around and check on the buildings for the names of the landlords, and look in the stairwells for the number of the landlord’s agent.” 

Once you have the number, you have to ring both regularly, at least once a month, and also strategically. 

“It’s important to call at the right time,” Wahlgren says. “Because normally apartment rentals end at the turn of the month, so that’s when you’re going to call. You don’t call on the 15th, you call on the 31st or the 1st of the month.”

4. Exploit all the friends and contacts that you have 

When someone hands in their notice on a rental agreement, they may try to shorten their notice by finding a replacement for the landlord, or they might find a replacement simply as a favour. This is why it’s important to ask your friends and work colleagues if they know of any apartments becoming free. 

“If they use the municipal queue, they have to follow the rules. This way, they can choose their own tenants,” Wahlgren says of the appeal of this to landlords. “If you’re a nice person, you might be able to just talk your way into an apartment.” 

5. Be a student 

“If you’re a student, there are special housing companies in the university cities, different foundations that rent out apartments,” Wahlgren says. But then you have to study.” 

Illegal ways of getting an apartment

All of these ways of getting a rental apartment are legal, but there are some ways of getting a rental apartment more quickly which are not.

1. Paying a fee

You may also find landlords or intermediaries on websites such as Blocket, who ask for a one-off payment to jump a rental queue, or get a rental apartment. This is illegal. “You can lose your money, you can lose the apartment, and in the worst case, you can go to prison,” warns Wahlgren.

2. Getting an illegal subtenancy 

It’s perfectly legal to rent out your rental apartment to someone else for a period, if you have a valid reason for doing so and your landlord agrees. But such is the pressure to get housing that a market has sprung up in illegal subletting. Before signing a contract for a sublet, make sure that the landlord who owns the property has agreed to it. 

3. Bribing someone running the queue 

There have been cases of people working for municipalities logging into the housing queue and altering it, either as a favour to their friends, or for money. This is fairly rare, and in the unlikely event that someone offers to do this for you, it’s best to decline. 

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