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For many people, studying abroad will be their first experience of living away from home for a longer period. This can be a daunting prospect for anyone, especially in view of the demands associated with being a full-time student while trying to gain a foothold in a new culture.
It is therefore important that your living environment is comfortable and affordable; you should give yourself plenty of time to make all the necessary arrangements before leaving for Sweden.
If you are a free mover, i.e. a person applying on an individual basis, or if you need to arrange your own accommodation for any other reason, you should keep a few things in mind:
There is no national system, which handles requests for student accommodation. The local student union at your university fulfills this function, though it is not required to guarantee you accommodation, and may not in fact be able to help you.
The availability of accommodation varies considerably from place to place. Usually, there is plenty of accommodation available at schools located in smaller and middle-sized cities or towns. Unfortunately, the situation is more difficult in the larger cities, especially in Stockholm and GÖteborg, and in the traditional student cities of Lund and Uppsala. Often, the number of students exceeds the number of rooms that universities and university colleges have on offer and waiting times are long. However, there are alternatives.
You can rent a flat in the private market. Though usually more expensive, it is a viable option for some students. It is not uncommon for students to share a bigger flat with several rooms. You may also be able to rent a single room privately. Other sources of information are local newspapers and message boards at your university.
Whether provided by student unions or by third parties, accommodation catering expressly for students is often the preferred option, however. Student flats or rooms tend to be less expensive than private alternatives; they give you a chance to meet fellow students and participate in social activities, and they are often close to lecture halls, libraries and other facilities.
Depending on availability, you can choose to live by yourself or in a shared student flat where you will have your own room but share a bathroom/toilet. Flats can be furnished or unfurnished.
Many students prefer to live in a student dormitory. This can be an enjoyable experience as it gives students from around the world an opportunity to get to know each other and make friends.
But it can also be demanding. Students living in the same corridor may have very different cultural backgrounds, different habits and ideas about how to do things. Most dormitories have 10-15 single rooms in each corridor. A kitchen is shared by 4-15 students. Female and male students live in the same corridor. Often there is also a communal television room.
Some utensils may be available in the communal kitchen but you will usually have to bring your own plates, cutlery, pots and pans, etc. Some student unions rent these. Most student housing areas have launderettes. There is a booking list and a small fee is payable for the use of a washing machine. Rent for accommodation must be paid in advance.
How much do I have to pay?
Below are some examples of the average monthly rate for student accommodation (Prices in SEK at 2007 levels. 1 SEK = approx. 6.5 INR). Please note: due to the shortage of student housing in the older university towns/cities (Uppsala, Lund, Stockholm and GÖteborg) prices in the private market are likely to be higher there.
For universities located in smaller towns, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,000 to SEK 3,500 for a room.
For universities located in medium-sized towns, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,300 to SEK 4,300 for a room.
For universities located in cities, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,500 to SEK 4,500 for a room.
To find out the precise availability and prices for student accommodation, contact the student union at your university or university college.
A few tips regarding accommodation
The situation with regard to accommodation for students is problematic in many parts of the country, sometimes very much so. There are simply not enough rooms and flats to go round. Fortunately, there are still towns and cities where conditions are better and where all or most students do get accommodation in time.
If you are not guaranteed accommodation as part of your exchange program or through some other agreement, it is vital that you approach your local student union as soon as possible. Remember that the situation will vary according to where you choose to study. Some universities or university colleges have more rooms than others.
At some schools, the student union will guarantee you accommodation if you apply in time; others have special queues for newly arrived students. A good tip is to check for special offers for foreign students with the international desk at your educational institute.