So, you’re searching for the cheapest places to live in Sweden? Yikes – that’s a hard one. Look, this country on the cusp of the Baltic Sea isn’t really considered to be the cheapest on the continent. It’s actually the opposite, with cost-of-living metrics that put it among the most financially demanding destinations in the EU.
But all is not lost. Things could be worse. The UK, Australia, and lots of places in the USA actually come in more expensive than the home of meatballs, IKEA, and lingonberry jam. That means you should be able to find somewhere to settle down even if you’re not an A-lister with bags of dosh.
Cue this guide. It runs through seven of the cheapest places to live in Sweden. We’ve selected them on account of the fact that they are sure to cost you a whole load less than life in the capital of Stockholm, offering bargain rates for flats and food up and down the spine of Scandinavia. Let’s begin…
Nomad Guide rate the city of Norrköping as one of the cheapest places to live in Sweden overall. They estimate monthly outgoings in the region of 950-1,000 euros. Okay, so that’s hardly Cambodia, but it’s just about the only major town that brings things in for under the full grand.
The good news is that being here means you’re only a short hop from the buzz of the capital in Stockholm. That’s because Norrköping is one of the hubs of the Östergötland region, sat a smidgen over 100 miles from the big metropolis. You can do the drive in 2.5 hours if you like, but there are also regular buses and trains that take just 1.5 hours.
Norrköping itself is all about the Gamla Staden old town. There, three main drags intersect. Together, they are known as The Promenades and they host all the top shopping and dining in the city. Things get pretty beautiful at the point where the Motala ström river weaves through the historic core – check out the old industrial buildings and the brick chimneys rising vertically out of the water.
If you’re absolutely determined to live in a big Swedish city, then you’d do well to skip over the pricy capital and plump instead for the second largest on the menu: Gothenburg. Home to just shy of 600,000 people, it’s the only place that can rival Stockholm in terms of energy and action and sheer size.
Thanks to the combo of two major universities (the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology) and the presence of big international corporations like AstraZeneca and Volvo, this town has a real edge to it. You’ll find the bars of the Avenyn avenue and the hipster coffeehouses of Haga consistently brimming with customers; the blocks of creative Vasastan always rumbling to the sound of clinking beer glasses.
Just bear in mind that things won’t be as cheap in Gothenburg as they are in many of the other cheapest places to live in Sweden that we’ve added to this list. The reason? This is still a major metropolis. It’s sought-after by young professionals and college goers alike, which means monthly outgoings can easily push above the $2,000 mark.
Orebro pops up in the midst of the seemingly endless swathe of pine forests that roll through the heart of south-central Sweden. The town has established itself as a well-to-do bedroom dorm for young families who work in Stockholm during the week but return here on the weekend to enjoy the slower pace of life and the countryside. Oh, and folks looking for a lower cost of living than they’d ever hope to find in the capital…
Nomad Guide estimates that the average monthly cost of everything here would come to around the 1,000-1,550 euros mark (that’s $1,080-1,670), which is potentially 50% less than what you’d need to fork out by staying just 1.5 hour’s train ride to the east in Stockholm proper.
There are some pleasant draws to Orebro, too. Check out the grand and proud citadel that crowns the center of the town. Called, aptly, just Örebro Castle, it’s perched on its own small river islet and is said by many to be the most handsome in the country. You’ll also get the wild forests of the Närke region and the peaceful wetlands of massive lake Hjälmaren right on the doorstep.
We list Uppsala not because it’s among the overall cheapest places to live in Sweden but because it’s one of the most affordable places that’s still packed with tourist interest. Hailed as one of the oldest cities in Scandinavia, this one has a history that reaches back thousands of years, right the way to the pre-historic gatherings of the Thing of all Swedes at Gamla Uppsala, an ancient meeting of Norse peoples.
Today, the town is perhaps best known as the home of Uppsala University. It’s basically the country’s answer to Oxford in England or Harvard in the US. AKA – prestigious! Sadly, the demand for student accommodation because of that can crank prices up a touch, so you are looking at paying around $1,500-1,700 a month for the pleasure of living here.
And it really is a pleasure: Leafy parks on the riversides in the heart of the town give way to vibrant gastronomy. You get to live and work in the shadow or red-faced Uppsala Cathedral and visit the reed beds of serene Lake Mälaren on the weekends. There’s also nightlife by the droves, thanks to over 40k student residents!
Deep in the icy lands of the province of Lapland, little Gällivare is a touch of civilization between the snow-capped hills and the rocky fells. It’s the center of a conurbation that together hosts about 15,000 people, which is quite a lot for somewhere this far north and right on the cusp of the Arctic Circle.
So long as you don’t expect too much sunlight in the winter months and too much darkness in the peak of the summer, there’s a good chance that you can live for a bargain here. It’s generally accepted that these far-flung parts of the country are WAY less demanding on the bank account than the areas around Stockholm and Gothenburg in the south.
Of course, it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting. For about five months of the year, this whole region is totally smothered in snow. That’s great if you’re keen to hit the slopes of the nearby Dundret Ski Resort, but not fantastic if you don’t like sub-zero temperatures.
Estimated monthly outgoings tot up to around the 1,000-1,500 euros mark in the small coastal city of Helsingborg. That’s enough to put it among the cheapest places to live in Sweden, with costs that can trump a whole host of North American metropolises besides – NYC, LA, Boston.
Although it might sound like a character from a Marvel comic, this town is actually among the most venerable in the country. It’s got a story that starts in the mid- to late-11th century and a long history of being an important trading port and point of contact with Denmark, which actually lies within eyeshot just across the water (be wary about going there if you’re on a budget, though. Sweden is about 25% cheaper for almost everything!).
For much of its life, Helsingborg has been a flashpoint in Nordic wars, so expect plenty in the way of Harry Potter-style castles. The old town is now an artsy hub that hosts everything from street entertainers to jazz fests in the summer months. There are also some pretty nice brown-sand beaches in the vicinity.
Calling all foodies and nature lovers – the outpost of Östersund is a countryside escape with some of the finest eating in the nation. It’s located smack dab on the crossover of the main south-north E-45 motorway and the east-west E-14, so stands as something of a transport interchange for central-north Sweden.
However, this is very much the gateway to the more remote north and the lands of the Arctic Circle. That means that the crowds thin out – Östersund has a population of just 49,000 – and the prices dip – we’d expect monthly expenditure to be around the 1,200-1,400 euros mark. It also means you get access to plenty of winter sports, especially Nordic skiing runs.
What the town excels in, though, is dining. This place is hailed as the culinary capital of the country, and there are tempting New Nordic bistros right next to traditional Swedish taverns along the bustling waterside walks of the downtown. Oh, and just a word of warning: Östersund is the fabled home of the Storsjöodjuret, a mystical and elusive beast that’s thought to reside in icy Storsjön lake right next door.
Cheapest places to live in Sweden – our verdict
It might seem obvious but in order to seek out the cheapest places to live in Sweden you’ve basically got to leave behind dreams of residing in the sprawling city of Stockholm. The good news is that there are plenty of enticing spots besides the capital. That could mean the historically rich student town of Uppsala or the artsy port of Helsingborg, or even far-flung skiing centers deep in the Arctic Circle.