Moving to Sweden: Finding a place to live
Got $25,000? Get a box for 30 sq feet
Basically, it's a messed up system that they've lived with for forever so it's unlikely to change any time soon. I won't go into all of the political details about how and why the housing system is like it is in Sweden, I'll just tell OUR story about how we found our place.
Search, search, search the inter-webs. First, install Google Chrome because the helpful websites will all be in SWEDISH. Rather than limiting yourself to English, fee-based sites, just search in Google Chrome and set up your automatic translator. We found options through homerental.se and blocket.se. There are other options but those two had the most listings that were in our range. Both are absolutely terrible websites and are not easy to navigate but what is? A word of caution -- check the "date of availability" of the listing. There were quite a number of great homes that were no longer available because the people who run homerental.se do not update their posts. Convenient right? Also, the filters on blocket.se were incorrect. There were a lot of listings that did not indicate that they were pet friendly but that didn't mean that they weren't. If an owner doesn't check a box it won't show up in the filter. Basically, I limited my search using the filters and winnowed down the candidate listings when there was a secret stash of potential options hiding on the other side of those filters. In the end, you will have to comb through hundreds of listings, send a gazillion emails and maybe, just maybe, receive 2 replies. It suuuucks.
Jon's company provided us with a house hunting agency. Perfect! They will surely grant us access to the housing databases that are fee based, right? Ummm... no. They searched homerental.se and blocket and gave me the same listings that I had already researched myself. Worthless! Why are you getting paid again? They didn't even arrange viewings or take us to see any properties. Apparently they have a limit of "showing" us 3 properties. Three!?! Just like International House Hunters only not nearly as helpful, fun or exciting. "Showing us properties" entails them sending an email with the information that is provided on the free websites. USELESS! We did have some considerations -- we wanted a house that allowed for dogs. I guess those aren't too plentiful in Stockholm.
We took matters into our own hands and called the only property that allowed for dogs and wasn't going to be ~$10,000/mth in rent. We searched for properties in the neighboring suburbs, Uppsala, Sigtuna, and anywhere reachable by a commuter train. Fantastic -- we found one potential option -- in Lidingö...we had no idea where that is. My fingers were crossed that this would work out because we really had no alternative. We jumped on the T-bana and headed for Lidingö -- an island on the east side of Stockholm. Lidingö has its own special banan that looks like a cute little train from 1962.
We trudged through a freak snow storm and ended up getting off at the last banan stop. After consulting an electronic map, we discovered we were a 20 min walk (translate that into a 40 min walk IN THE SNOW STORM) away from the house. Ever the optimist, Jon says, "Well, we get to see more of the island this way." I wanted to smack him but I was too busy trying not to fall into the slushy snow that was shin-deep. We arrived at the house soaking wet but happy to be invited into a very spacious house. They were excited to see Calvin and talk with us about the house and their own moving adventure. It was a good fit all around.
The house hunting agency drafted the contract during a subsequent meeting the next week and we are now confirmed! We will have a place to live until August 2013!
The outside of the house is crack-den-ish so I'll only post pics of the inside. We are looking forward to having some dinner parties, grilling BBQ, and enjoying the nearby nature preserve and lake!
|Upstairs living room|
|Looking into the kitchen|
|Dining table seats 8 -- dinner party anyone?|
|Eat-in kitchen for 4|
|Downstairs common area|
|Guest room/study downstairs|
|Second bedroom downstairs|
|Bathroom downstairs - tub, shower and heated tiled floor|