houseboats in Malmö, a way to live in Sweden

Factors Affecting Sweden Living Cost: Everything You Need to Know

Entering a new phase in life means trying new things, enjoying unique cuisine, enrolling in a course you are passionate about, or altogether leaving the past behind to explore new environments.

If you want to do one or all of these things simultaneously, we recommend doing them in one of the safest countries in the world – Sweden!

That said, Sweden may not be the most affordable country to live in. There are factors you need to consider before moving to this Scandinavian nation.

This article will give you a comprehensive guide to Sweden’s cost of living, including housing, transportation, food and drinks, healthcare, education, taxes, and other expenses you need to note.

The Cost of Living in Sweden

Before dissecting the different factors affecting the cost of living in Sweden, we must be on the same page when we say “cost of living.’

The cost of living pertains to the expenses you can incur when living in a particular city. It covers housing, transportation, food and drinks, health care, education, taxes, and other necessities.

Now that we have defined the term, we can proceed with the factors that make up the cost of living in Sweden.

Housing Costs

The housing cost in Sweden varies depending on what you’re looking into; renting, buying property, or paying for monthly utilities.

Sweden, compared to the European average of housing expenses, is generally more costly. The recession in the housing market has brought about the high cost in recent years.

However, this Nordic country has relatively reasonable utility costs compared to other European countries.

Renting in Sweden

As mentioned, the rent prices in Sweden are exceptionally high because aside from its 10,565,000 estimated population in 2023, most rental places in Sweden also cater to tourists, adding to the competition when applying.

The rent prices in Sweden are at least 10,000 Swedish Krona (SEK) monthly, or $970. This expense can increase depending on which city or municipality you rent in.

However, rent is more affordable for students, as students’ rooms and apartment rental fees are priced between 4000 and 8000 SEK or $388 to $777.

That said, it is difficult to get first-hand rental contracts (or a first-hand lease) from the original owner as most people can only secure second-hand leases (second-hand rentals) from the current renter due to the housing shortage.

Buying Property in Sweden

Aside from Swedish rental prices, discussing property expenses when buying real property in Sweden is vital.

Buying real property in Sweden, whether a house or an apartment, will cost approximately 53,000 SEK per square meter (m²) or $5,140.

Specifically, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center often costs 3,000,000 to 4,500,000 SEK or $291,141 to $436,710.

On the other hand, the same apartment located outside the city center only costs 1,900,000 to 3,000,000 SEK or $184,389 to $291,141.

Utility Costs

Basic utilities and expenses include telecommunications (e.g., prepaid mobile tariff, wi-fi), electricity price, and water bills.

Utilities in Sweden are not as costly as in other countries for the following reasons:

  • 54% of Sweden’s consumed power (i.e., electricity) comes from renewable energy like hydropower and biomasses;
  • Sweden is a country with cheaper internet worth at least 270 SEK or $26 per package, to be paid monthly;
  • Cheaper water bills (tap water with sewage treatment) for about 4 SEK per liter or $0.39

With these factors (wi-fi included), you can expect a monthly utility bill average of 1,500 SEK or $146 in Sweden.

Transportation Costs

With an area of 173,860 square miles or 450,295 square kilometers, the only feasible ways of getting around the country are by owning a car or using public transportation.

To help you get a picture of how much transportation costs, whether it be driving your car or using a mode of public transport, here are the facts you should know.

Public Transport

You can enjoy public transportation at an affordable rate of 31 to 3,500 SEK or $3 to $350 per ride by bus, train, tram, or airplane.

You can also pay 225 to 1700 SEK or $22 to $165 for long-distance travel in the country via buses and trains.

Owning a Car

Although this country has reasonable public transportation costs, owning a car is different, as high fuel prices mainly rule the cost due to high carbon dioxide and energy taxes.

When combined with the value-added tax (VAT) on gasoline and diesel, the country’s fuel price increases by 25%.

However, the carbon dioxide and energy taxes are the government’s environmental-friendly and cost-effective way to ensure reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.

On average, you must pay 20 SEK or $1.94 per liter of fuel in Sweden.

However, if you rent a car, you will pay an average of 1000 SEK or $97 for car rentals for a few days to use within a specific city or locality.

Food and Drink Costs

Based on our experience, a big chunk of your living expenses in Sweden will be for food and drinks, and the cost can vary greatly.

Supermarkets and Groceries

Spending money on groceries is surprisingly affordable compared to eating out in the country. 

On average, you will need 800 SEK or $78. Monthly costs like this can accommodate an individual, a pair, or a family of three.

Some of the things you can buy in supermarkets and groceries within the specified monthly costs are the following:

  • One dozen eggs
  • One kilogram of tomatoes
  • One kilogram of potatoes
  • Two kilograms of chicken
  • A bottle of red wine
  • A liter of fruit juice
  • A liter of milk
  • A loaf of bread

Eating Out

Another way to utilize your allocated money for foodstuffs, though often for a higher cost, is by eating out. Unfortunately, you will need to pay high taxes and VAT of about 7-12% of your meal cost.

If you buy a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant, you will need at least 800 SEK or $78, similar to the average cost of monthly groceries.

Nevertheless, the country also has budget-friendly and inexpensive restaurant options for students (e.g., foreign students from international schools). These are life savers, especially in your first few months in the country.

FACT: The legal drinking age for alcohol and wine in Sweden is 18. However, only those 20 years old and above can purchase drinks with 3.5% of alcohol and above.

Health Care Costs

Another important aspect of living in the city in Sweden is the cost of healthcare. The good thing is Sweden’s healthcare is mostly tax-funded (70%) with high-quality services.

But, before you enjoy the perks of Sweden’s public health insurance and healthcare system, you must first get a personnummer or a Swedish tax identification number, and the rest will follow. 

Health Insurance

Sweden’s annual cost for private or public healthcare (in a city or a municipality) is approximately 4,000 SEK or $388

Moreover, Sweden’s healthcare system is decentralized, meaning the respective region or municipality, and not the central government, is responsible for providing exceptional care to the people. 

Some of the notable features of their healthcare are the following:

  • Covering dental care for individuals under 23 years old
  • Subsidizing dental care for individuals above 24 years old
  • Caring for senior citizens within their homes or in specific accommodations

Out-of-pocket Expenses

After getting a personnummer, your average expenses in public healthcare will be the following:

  • General appointments at public healthcare institutions cost 100 to 300 SEK or $10 to $29.
  • Specialists cost 300 to 400 SEK or $29 to $39.

Education Costs

Aside from healthcare, Sweden takes pride in education, with the following classifications in the Swedish school system (in each city):

  • Public and private schools with free tuition (friskola)
  • Tuition-based private schools

Going to school is compulsory for children aged six (6) years old and above, following the Swedish Education Act.

Preschool and Primary School

The preschool for one to five-year-olds in Sweden is called förskola. It focuses on honing children’s development through recreation, leisure, and play.

It’s not free, but you will be charged a reduced price of about 13,000 SEK or $1262.

Nevertheless, once your children reach six (6) years old, education in compulsory schooling is free.

FACT: The government prioritizes gender awareness on this level to promote equality in Swedish society.

Secondary School

In Sweden, secondary school or gymnasium is optional. You can also choose from two national programs: preparatory for university or vocational.

This level of education is free for EU/EEA citizens. For international students, school prices cost around 112,000 to 158,000 SEK or $10,870 to $15,333.

Higher Education

In pursuing higher education in Sweden, you can expect annual prices of 80,000 to 300,000 SEK or $7,764 to $29,114.


When living in Sweden, you must also include taxes in your financial plans, specifically income and value-added tax.

Income Tax

Income tax is the government’s way of funding public services, and it’s earned from businesses and individuals depending on how much they earn.

Based on the average salary in Sweden, the average income tax is 28.98% to 35.15%.

Value-added Tax (VAT)

Aside from the income tax, the VAT is also part of the prices you pay for living in Sweden. The average is:

  • 6% for books and passenger transport;
  • 12% for foodstuffs; and
  • 25% for other goods and services

Other Expenses

Clothing, personal care, entertainment, leisure, and miscellaneous expenses are also some things you need to consider when residing in Sweden.

Clothing and Personal Care

The average clothing and personal care cost in Sweden is around 1,000 to 1,500 SEK or $97 to $146.

However, this depends on the prices of clothes you’ll buy, the prices of the brands of personal care items you need, and their quantity.

Entertainment and Leisure

If you want to rest and have fun, you will need at least 1,000 SEK or $97 for different activities. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Movie: 150 SEK; $15
  • Watching or playing sports: 250 to 600 SEK; $24 to $58
  • Nightclubs: 200 SEK; $19

Miscellaneous Expenses

For other miscellaneous expenses, such as uniforms, gadgets, and other items, allocate at least 1,000 to 5,000 SEK or $97 to $485 (based on your lifestyle).

Most Expensive Cities in Sweden

Learning about Sweden and its cost of living also includes knowing the major cities deemed expensive. For this section, we will introduce to you Stockholm and Gothenburg.


Stockholm is the most expensive city because it is Sweden’s capital city and even Sweden’s leading industrial area. In 2023, it has an approximate population of 1,700,000.

Moreover, living in Stockholm means having an average monthly cost of living of around 13,000 to 20,000 SEK or $1265 to $1946.


One of the larger cities (and major cities) second to Stockholm is the City of Gothenburg, home to approximately 631,000 people.

Gothenburg is known primarily for its automotive industry and eco-friendly public transport.

However, living comfortably in Gothenburg requires around 11,000 to 17,000 SEK or $1070 to $1655 monthly.

Most Affordable Cities in Sweden

While there are expensive cities (Stockholm and Gothenburg), there are also affordable cities in Sweden that keep the cost of living affordable for students and families on a budget, such as Jönköping and Helsingborg.


Jönköping is home to one of the high-quality educational institutions in the world, Jönköping University, and is known for its matchstick industry. Also, around 125,154 people live in the city.

Living in Jönköping only entails at least 13,300 SEK or $1294 monthly.


Another affordable city in Sweden is Helsingborg, which is prominent for shipping and manufacturing and is known as one of the country’s leaders in said industries. This city is also home to about 97,122 people.

You can expect the cost of living in Helsingborg for your family (or students) to be cheaper than in Stockholm, averaging 13,614 SEK or $1325 monthly.

TIP: Aside from these affordable cities, there are also cities that can be considered the best places to live in Sweden, depending on your needs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sharing our knowledge and firsthand experience in Sweden only comes in full circle after answering some of your FAQs. Here they go!

Is It Expensive to Live in Sweden?

Yes, living in Sweden can be expensive.

However, it is far cheaper than the United Kingdom and the United States and is even considered one of the cheaper Nordic countries.

How Long Can an International Student Stay in Sweden Post-Graduation?

After applying for a residence permit, an international student can stay in Sweden for 12 months post-graduation to get hired in Sweden’s highest-paying jobs and career fields.


The cost of living in Sweden is costly, particularly regarding housing prices (rent, buying properties, etc). However, transportation, food, healthcare, and education are reasonable and much more affordable.

So, if you want to start a new chapter by traveling or exploring new places, you can live your best life in Sweden!

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