Cost of living in Sweden

Sweden has a reputation for being expensive. In many ways it’s deserved, but even with the relatively high cost of living, it’s possible to get by without spending a fortune. We put together this guide to help you get an idea for what everyday products and services cost. Whether you’re planning on visiting Sweden for the weekend, or relocating there for good, it should make it easy to see how the prices in Sweden compare vs those in other countries like the UK and US.

Detailed guide to the cost of living in Sweden

Some of the prices listed here are aimed at short-term visitors (like hotels, for example), while others are more useful for expats, students and businesspeople who are staying for longer and need to consider paying for things like haircuts, electricity bills and gym memberships. It goes without saying that all of the prices we’ve included here are approximations that are subject to small fluctuations, but we’ll keep an eye on them over time and make sure they’re updated if they change considerably.

Just click one of the following headings to hop to a section:

Accommodation
Food
Transport
Sightseeing
Entertainment
Alcohol and tobacco
Utilities

Accommodation

Paying for somewhere to stay will take up a big chunk of your total spend in Sweden, especially if you’re in one of the big cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg, where hotel prices are high and accommodation shortages are a major problem.

Even with money, finding a flat to rent long-term can be difficult, and locals have been known to spend 10–20 years (yes, years) waiting in queuing systems for rental accommodation. At the other end of the scale, properties in rural Sweden (especially in the north of the country) are usually easy to rent and can be excellent value.

Short-term Price per night
Hostel bed in a shared dormitory 175–300 SEK
Double room in a budget hotel 500–1000 SEK
Double room in a luxury hotel 1500–3500 SEK
One-bedroom apartment via Airbnb 400–1500 SEK
Basic four-bed cottage in rural area 300–600 SEK
Long-term Rent per month
One-bedroom apartment (city centre) 10,000–12,000 SEK
One-bedroom apartment (suburbs) 5000–7000 SEK
Student dorm/apartment 2700–6500 SEK
Buying Approx cost
One-bedroom apartment (city centre) 2m–4m SEK
One-bedroom apartment (suburbs) 1.2m–2m SEK

Generally speaking, Stockholm and Gothenburg (and to some extent also Malmö) are the most expensive Swedish cities to stay in, though you’ll find that rates for hotels are fairly uniform across the country. Hotels and hostels in rural Lapland can be just as costly as those in the capital. Hotel sites like Booking.com are handy for finding low prices on short-term accommodation, but for longer stays it’s worth checking out sites such as Airbnb. Our guide to accommodation in Sweden has more on finding low prices.

Food

If you stick to cooking for yourself and buying the bulk of your food at supermarkets, eating in Sweden is surprisingly cheap. According to figures released by the Swedish consumer agency Konsumentverket, the average Swedish person who makes all of his/her meals at home, except for lunches on weekdays, spends an average of 1635 SEK per month.

Cheap foreign supermarkets like Lidl and Netto have appeared in Sweden in recent years, making it easier to stock up on budget groceries. Swedish brands like ICA, Hemköp and Coop can be reasonably priced too, but try to avoid smaller branches in the centre of cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm, which tend to be more expensive than larger, out-of-town stores.

Generous wages for restaurant staff and sky-high taxes on alcohol mean that eating out in Sweden is considerably more expensive. Fortunately the tipping culture is not as ingrained as in other countries – our guide to tipping in Sweden has more on when to leave a little extra for staff at restaurants and hotels.

Supermarket products Price
Milk (1 litre carton) 9 SEK
Loaf of bread 30 SEK
Pack of six eggs 15 SEK
500g of cheese 70 SEK
1kg of meatballs 60 SEK
Snacks/on the go Price
Takeaway coffee 18–40 SEK
Swedish hot dog 10–25 SEK
Bottle of water 22–30 SEK
Can of soda (33cl) 10 SEK
Falafel wrap 25–55 SEK
Takeaway salad 55–105 SEK
Hamburger meal 70–90 SEK
Restaurants Price
Meal for two (mid-range restaurant) 500 SEK
Meal for two (high-end restaurant) 1500 SEK
Glass of house wine 55–85 SEK
Bottle of beer (33cl) 55–90 SEK
Cocktail 100–140 SEK

You’ll find recommendations for specific places to eat in our destination guides. If you’re looking to keep things on a budget, check out our guides to finding cheap food in Stockholm, Lund and Gothenburg.

Transport

Public transport in Sweden is surprisingly good value. Even long journeys that snake through hundreds of kilometres of wild scenery can cost less than commuting to work in other European countries (England, we’re looking at you). Renting a car in Sweden can quickly become expensive, though, with high daily costs and plenty of tax on fuel.

Long-distance transport Price
Domestic flight Stockholm–Gothenburg  200–2500 SEK
Domestic flight Stockholm–Kiruna  400–3500 SEK
Bus Stockholm–Gothenburg  250–450 SEK
Bus Malmö–Gothenburg  130–250 SEK
Train Stockholm–Gothenburg (2nd class)  195–1000 SEK
Train Stockholm–Kiruna  700–1500 SEK
City transport Price
Stockholm subway/bus (one-way ticket)  36 SEK
Stockholm subway/bus (30-day pass)  790 SEK
Gothenburg tram (one-way ticket)  26 SEK
Malmö bus (one-way ticket)  22 SEK
10-min taxi ride in central Stockholm  150 SEK
Driving Approx cost
Car rental (one day) 400–600 SEK
Petrol (1 litre) 13–15 SEK

Until around 15 years ago there was little competition for the state-owned train company SJ. Now there are several privately run companies in the train game, such as Tågkompaniet (which offer services in Dalarna), MTR Express (which operates on the busy Stockholm–Gothenburg route) and Öresundståget (which covers the stretch from Gothenburg–Copenhagen). You’ll find up-to-date prices for most services, except those operated by MTR Express, on the SJ website.

Two main privately run bus companies operate long-distance bus routes in Sweden: Swebus and Nettbus. These services are supplemented by an excellent network of public buses, which connect towns and villages across the country. Rates aboard long-distance buses are extremely good and even in rural areas, where there’s often just one company running services, it’s unlikely you’ll be left feeling short changed.

Domestic flights can be expensive, especially on routes that are still monopolised by SAS. Norwegian has now started competing with that airline on some of the most popular routes, such as Stockholm–Kiruna, which means prices have started to fall.

City transport is usually excellent value and services tend to be efficient and reliable, even in busy cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg. Unless you’re really stuck, taxis are best avoided – prices are uniformly high and reports of visitors getting ripped off are not uncommon. Uber is available in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Sightseeing

Sightseeing in Sweden can quickly get expensive, though you’ll find there are plenty of free things to do in most of the big cities (see our guide to free attractions in Stockholm if you need a bit of inspiration). As a general rule, state-run museums and galleries are cheaper than privately owned ones. Another tip, if you want to keep the cost of sightseeing down: avoid organised boat and bus tours, and stick to public transport.

Stockholm Price
Three-hour boat tour 220 SEK
One-hour rooftop walk 600 SEK
One-hour walking tour Free–200 SEK
Admission to Vasa Museum 130 SEK
Gothenburg Price
Two-hour minivan tour 500 SEK
Paddan boat tour 165 SEK
Admission to Liseberg amusement park 90 SEK
Malmö Price
Admission to Moderna Museet Free
Swim/sauna at Riberborgs Kallbadhus 65 SEK
Swedish Lapland Price
Dog sledding trip (90 min) 900–1500 SEK
Day pass for the Icehotel 325 SEK
Visit to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko 745 SEK

Entertainment

Going out in Sweden can be costly, thanks to high ticket prices for concerts, shows and even film screenings. Nightclubs can work out expensive too, and that’s even if you keep a close eye on your alcohol intake – admission fees of 150 SEK or more are fairly standard, and there may be an additional charge of around 20 SEK for hanging up your coat (often this is mandatory).

Entertainment Price
Cinema ticket 115 SEK
Ticket for a pro ice hockey game 200–500 SEK
Entry to a nightclub 100–250 SEK
Game of drive-in bingo 50–100 SEK

Alcohol and tobacco

Smoking remains comparatively cheap in Sweden, considering the country’s reputation for high taxes. Sweden is also one of the few places in Europe where snus is legal – it’s a moist tobacco product that’s stuffed under the top lip, either in powder form or in teabag-like pouches. Alcohol is another story; prices are very high in bars and restaurants, and just one government-owned chain of stores – Systembolaget – has the ability to sell drinks that are stronger than 3.5%.

Alcohol Price
Bottle of beer at Systembolaget  10 SEK and up
Bottle of wine at Systembolaget  49 SEK and up
Draft beer at a bar  40 SEK and up
Glass of wine at a bar  40 SEK and up
Bottle of beer at a nightclub  65 SEK and up
Cocktail at a nightclub  100 SEK and up
Tobacco Price
Packet of cigarettes  50 SEK and up
Snus  22 SEK and up

Utilities and contracts

If you’re staying in Sweden long term and have your own flat, you’ll need to think about bills. Mobile phone contracts will give you the best deals on calls and texts, but a good short-term solution is to get yourself a pre-pay Swedish sim card. Our sim card guide has more on how to find a deal that suits you.

Utilities Approx monthly cost
Electricity bill, one-bed apartment  300 SEK
Broadband access (10mb/sec)  300 SEK
Mobile phone contract  100–450 SEK
Extras Approx cost
Gym membership  200 SEK (per month)
Basic haircut  200 SEK

Need more tips on planning your trip to Sweden? Start here.

RECOMMENDED HOTELS IN SWEDENMORE HOTELS

1 Comment

  • Rick Cigile says:

    I need to know these important facts about living in Sweden. My hockey team just got back to me today, Dec. 27, 2016, with regards to only being able to cover my rent and housing utilities during my stay from Jan. 1, 2017, until April or May. If anybody has information on how to live cheaply and how to make my money last. Please invoice me. rjcigile24@gmail thank you!

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