- Download our Moving to Sweden Guide (PDF)
The cost of living in Sweden is quite high, though it is showing signs of easing. Stockholm, the country’s capital city, is by far the most expensive place in the country, and it ranked 95th out of 227 cities in the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living survey, a significant drop from its 2022 ranking of 87th. The other side of the coin is that Stockholm salaries tend to be far higher than in the rest of the country.
As in most major cities, it’s cheaper to live in Stockholm's suburbs than in the inner city, and the standard of living is just as high. After housing, goods such as food and clothing will account for a big chunk of an expat’s expenses. Alcohol and services, such as haircuts, are also quite expensive in Stockholm, even compared to the rest of the country.
Cost of accommodation in Sweden
Accommodation in Sweden is fairly pricey. In Stockholm, rent for a three-bedroom apartment in an upmarket location can be exorbitant. That said, prices generally decrease sharply once one goes outside the inner-city area of Stockholm.
For those seeking more affordable housing, venturing into the suburban areas or smaller cities could be a wise decision. The quality and standard of housing remain high, yet the costs are notably lower. Moreover, the serene environment of the suburbs often serves as a pleasant contrast to the bustling city life.
Expats moving to Sweden will also usually need to pay a month's rent as a security when initially moving into their new rental property. An additional expense for tenants will be the monthly gas and electricity bills, as water and heating are typically included as part of the rental fee.
Cost of transport in Sweden
Transport is surprisingly expensive in Sweden. Expats living close to the city are unlikely to need a car thanks to the excellent and extensive public transport network. This can be a pricey option, but it is generally cheaper than owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Expats can purchase an SL Access travel card, making public transport a slightly more cost-effective option. Children, students and senior citizens will often receive discounts. Those who would like to reduce their transport expenses while improving their health can consider cycling depending on their proximity to school or work. Sweden boasts excellent cycling infrastructure, making this a viable option for cycling enthusiasts.
Cost of groceries in Sweden
The price tags on everyday groceries in Sweden can take newcomers by surprise. Essential items such as milk, eggs and bread cost considerably more than one might be used to in other countries. Swedish supermarkets offer a wide range of products, although some imported goods can be rather pricey. Shopping at local markets or opting for store brands instead of name brands can help mitigate these costs.
Moreover, by embracing local and seasonal products, expatriates can discover a cost-effective way of grocery shopping and an opportunity to delve into the Swedish way of living, which often revolves around enjoying what each season has to offer. Buying in bulk or availing discounts and offers, which are quite common, can also lead to savings.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Sweden
Engaging in recreational activities or dining out in Sweden is somewhat expensive, particularly in high-end establishments or in the heart of the city. The price of a meal out can be a bit steep compared to what one might be used to, especially in cosmopolitan areas. That said, more budget-friendly options are always available if one knows where to look. Exploring the plethora of food trucks and smaller, quaint cafés can lead to discovering affordable and delicious culinary treasures.
For those who enjoy nightlife, it’s worth noting that the cost of alcoholic beverages is high, with stringent regulations and high taxes. On the brighter side, Sweden boasts a rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, many aspects of which can be enjoyed at a minimal cost or even for free. Many museums and galleries have days when entry is free or discounted.
Cost of education in Sweden
The cost of education in Sweden is low if children attend a public school. There are quite a few international schools in Stockholm, where there are many expat families compared to the rest of Sweden. Tuition at these can be rather steep, though, with high annual fees and extra costs such as textbooks, uniforms, extracurricular activities and school excursions all adding up to a hefty bill at the end of the day.
Cost of healthcare in Sweden
The good thing about high taxes in Sweden is that the government subsidises much of one’s healthcare needs. A large percentage of the cost of prescription medication and medical procedures and requirements are taken care of. A visit to a doctor may require a minimal co-payment or, in some cases, even when seeing a specialist, can be free.
Cost of living in Sweden chart
Prices are for Stockholm in October 2023. Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
What do expats say about the cost of living in Sweden?
"Groceries are surprisingly affordable. Public transport is pricey, but certainly worth it. Accommodation is not easy to find and rent is high, but the quality of housing, when you're eventually able to secure it, is excellent. Eating out, and drinks at pubs or clubs are very steep too."
Read more about Steve, a South African expat, and his experience living in Sweden.
►For more information on finances, have a look at our page on Banking, Money and Taxes in Sweden
Are you an expat living in Sweden?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sweden. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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