In the last decade, Sweden has consistently featured in the top ten happiest countries in the world. For that reason alone, it’s a tempting country to want to relocate, but how’s the cost of living, especially for a family?
Although salaries in Sweden are high, the cost of living in Sweden is also high. A single person requires 14,000 SEK (1,266 USD), while a family of four needs 33,178 SEK (3,002 USD) to live comfortably in the country. For a family of three, 25,000 SEK (2,262 USD) would do.
For a country that ranks highly in quality of life, it’s crucial to understand how easily or otherwise you can afford to keep up with your desired lifestyle.
Where you choose to stay in Sweden determines to a large extent, your cost of living. Some cities, such as Stockholm and Gothenburg, are expensive, while Orebro and Norrkoping are affordable.
Average living costs for a family in Sweden
The average cost of living for a family of four in Sweden is 41,500 SEK (3,755 USD). The amount may vary slightly depending on which city you live in.
Stockholm is the most expensive city, followed by Gothenburg and Uppsala.
The cost of different variables affects in a big way your quality of life. When choosing the city to settle in, you need to evaluate these costs:
- School fees
Housing in Sweden is expensive, so much so that it will take 30% of your income. The expensive housing problem attracted the government intervention to apply caps to the rent charges. Although even with the intervention, it’s still high.
Rent in Sweden is highly determined by the city or municipality you reside. Expats in Sweden reside in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Uppsala and Solna. In these cities the rent cost is high.
For instance, in Stockholm, the average rent for a one-bedroom house is 12,000 SEK (1,086 USD), while a three-bedroom goes for 21,000 SEK (1,900 USD).
In Gothenburg, a one-bedroom house goes for an average rent cost of 10,000 SEK (904 USD), while a three-bedroom goes for 16,000 SEK (1,448 USD).
Read our guide about rent prices in Sweden.
Rent is an important factor when evaluating the salary you should accept in the country.
Renting in Sweden takes different forms; you can have a first-hand or second-hand lease. A first-hand lease means you have to rent directly from the property owner. On the other hand, second-hand means that another tenant has sublet you.
To qualify for the first-hand lease, you need to have proof of stable income, a Swedish identification number, and you need to have an employment contract.
As you settle down, you can do with a short-term agreement as you look around for available property for leasing.
The property’s proximity to the city center also affects the cost of its rent. The closer your house is to the city, the more expensive it will be, as shown by Numbeo below.
But Stockholm is home to some of the nicest homes in Sweden, and the quantity of housing makes it one of the easier cities to find housing.
|Property size||Average monthly rent (SEK)|
|One bedroom within the city center||9,000|
|One-bedroom outside the city center||6,750|
|Three-bedroom within the city center||14,700|
|Three-bedroom away from city center||11,000|
How much does a house cost in Sweden?
When finding a place to rent, utilities play a key role. Utilities include the cost of
- Garbage collection
As you analyze the rent value, check the utilities included therein. In most cases, rent will consist of heating and water, while the other utilities are affordable across most cities in Sweden.
On average, the cost of utilities in most cities in the country range between 600 SEK (55 USD) and 1,000 SEK (90 USD) per month.
Food and non-alcoholic drinks are expensive in Sweden. On average, a family can use 600 SEK (55 USD) in a day.
Below is the price range of common products used daily.
To pay all these bills pick one of the best Swedish bank accounts as we described in our guide.
Although the healthcare system in Sweden isn’t free, the quality is good, and the pricing is reasonable.
The healthcare system is decentralized, and county officials oversee the system’s success for each region. The municipalities take care of psychiatrists’ cases, the disabled, and the elderly.
An ordinary visit to a facility for a routine check-up will cost you around 150 SEK (14 USD), while a night in the hospital, when admitted, could cost you 100 SEK to 120 SEK (11 USD) for the first ten days and a half of that beyond that time. If you need a specialist, you could be charged around 400 SEK (36 USD).
For example, an appointment with a gynecologist or pediatrician costs between 200-350 SEK, and you will pay about 220-400 SEK to visit the emergency room.
Sweden has an operational public healthcare insurance system that is tax and citizen-funded deductible from your salary. Alternatively, you can opt for a private insurance policy for the same. For expats we always recommend private insurance from Cigna Global.
Cost of living in Sweden for a family of 4
For a family of four to live comfortably in Sweden, they require an income of between 33,000 SEK (2,986 USD) and 40,000 SEK (3,619 USD).
Assuming the income for the household is 33,000 SEK, you could divide it up as follows;
- Rent for a three-bedroom: 12,000 SEK
- Groceries: 8,000 SEK
- Transport: 2,000 SEK
- Utilities: 1,000 SEK
- Leisure and sports: 4,000 SEK
- Eating out: 2,000 SEK
- Insurance: 2,000 SEK
- Savings: 2,000 SEK
The analysis above assumes if there are school-going children involved, they are enrolled to partake in the public government-sponsored education program.
The system is free for children aged between 6 and 16 years. You’ll only be called to chip in when necessary, like sponsoring a trip.
The dynamics may change if the children are young and need to join the daycare or if you have a car that needs fuel. For instance, with a car, you’ll need to cough out between 500 SEK (45 USD) and 700 SEK (63 USD) every time you fuel.
If you opt for public transport, the passes go for 1,000 SEK (90 USD) monthly, so for two adults, it will be 2,000 SEK.
Clothing is also a significant cost factor, especially if you’re relocating from a place where you’re not used to extreme weather patterns such as winter. You’ll need to set aside around 1,000 SEK for the same.
Childcare isn’t expensive in Sweden if your child has reached at least one year. The government had set regulated rules for full-time and part-time child care for children between one and three years old.
A monthly fee for a place at a full-time preschool is as follows:
- First child: 3% of the household’s total income, but a maximum of 1,572 SEK (142 USD) per month
- Second child: 2% of income, but a maximum of 1,048 SEK per month
- Third child: 1% of income, maximum 524 SEK per month
- Fourth child and above: no charge
However, if the family’s income is above 52,410 SEK (4,737 USD) per month, you will pay the maximum rate.
That said, to afford the good life, a family of four needs an income between 40,000 SEK (3,619 USD) and 50,000 SEK (4,524 USD). This range will help you afford to be extravagant and go for a holiday with the family.
What is a good salary in Sweden?
Cost of living in Stockholm for a family
Stockholm is the biggest city in Sweden, and as such, the population is high, and most expats choose to live here.
The cost of living in Stockholm is high compared to other cities. Housing tops the cost factors. Below are the average rent prices in Stockholm:
|House size||Cost range (SEK)|
|One bedroom in the city center||9,000-12,000|
|One-bedroom in the suburbs||8,000-10,000|
|Three-bedroom in the city center||13,000-17,000|
|Three-bedroom in the suburbs||10,000-13,500|
Since Stockholm is a big city, costs for utilities are competitive since there are many providers. As a family, you can budget between 700 SEK and 1,500 SEK for the utilities.
Basic utilities in the city are included in the rent price. Some of those left out include gym membership, internet, and electricity. You need to establish those included in the rent as they differ for different realtors.
For a family of three to live comfortably in Stockholm, you need an income of between 30,000 SEK (2,714 USD) and 50,000 SEK (4,524 USD). This will put you at the upper-middle-class level where you can afford a good life.
Earning within this range will afford you a few days to eat out, a vacation once or twice a month, and still save some money.
Below is a comparative graph between Stockholm and New York: