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-termPrice per night
Hostel bed in a shared dormitory175–300 SEK
Double room in a budget hotel500–1000 SEK
Double room in a luxury hotel1500–3500 SEK
One-bedroom apartment via Airbnb400–1500 SEK
Basic four-bed cottage in rural area300–600 SEK
Long-termRent per month
One-bedroom apartment (city centre)10,000–12,000 SEK
One-bedroom apartment (suburbs)5000–7000 SEK
Student dorm/apartment2700–6500 SEK
BuyingApprox 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 productsPrice
Milk (1 litre carton)9 SEK
Loaf of bread30 SEK
Pack of six eggs15 SEK
500g of cheese70 SEK
1kg of meatballs60 SEK
Snacks/on the goPrice
Takeaway coffee18–40 SEK
Swedish hot dog10–25 SEK
Bottle of water22–30 SEK
Can of soda (33cl)10 SEK
Falafel wrap25–55 SEK
Takeaway salad55–105 SEK
Hamburger meal70–90 SEK
RestaurantsPrice
Meal for two (mid-range restaurant)500 SEK
Meal for two (high-end restaurant)1500 SEK
Glass of house wine55–85 SEK
Bottle of beer (33cl)55–90 SEK
Cocktail100–140 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 transportPrice
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 transportPrice
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
DrivingApprox 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.

StockholmPrice
Three-hour boat tour220 SEK
One-hour rooftop walk600 SEK
One-hour walking tourFree–200 SEK
Admission to Vasa Museum130 SEK
GothenburgPrice
Two-hour minivan tour500 SEK
Paddan boat tour165 SEK
Admission to Liseberg amusement park90 SEK
MalmöPrice
Admission to Moderna MuseetFree
Swim/sauna at Riberborgs Kallbadhus65 SEK
Swedish LaplandPrice
Dog sledding trip (90 min)900–1500 SEK
Day pass for the Icehotel325 SEK
Visit to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko745 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).

EntertainmentPrice
Cinema ticket115 SEK
Ticket for a pro ice hockey game200–500 SEK
Entry to a nightclub100–250 SEK
Game of drive-in bingo50–100 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%.

AlcoholPrice
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
TobaccoPrice
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.

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

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


 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES IN SWEDENMORE TOURS

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prices above include all tax or tax is extra?? please clear

Rick Cigile
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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!