Housing crisis forces record number of young Swedes to live at home: report

A record number of young Swedes continue to live at home with their parents out of necessity despite wanting to live on their own, according to a new report from the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen).

Housing crisis forces record number of young Swedes to live at home: report
Finding an apartment is not an easy task for young people in Sweden. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

213,000 young people in Sweden aged between 20 and 27 are currently living with their parents – almost a quarter (24 percent) of the age group. That's the highest number since Hyresgästföreningen started researching the figures in 1997, when the proportion was 15 percent.

“Having a home is a prerequisite for a young adult to develop their dreams, their self-esteem and their lives. And that's crucial for the well-being of a society as a whole,” Hyresgästöreningen senior analyst Love Börjeson said in a statement.

“It is not fair that 213,000 young people who want to have their own home lack one. Far more must be built,” he added.

Just under 57 percent of Sweden's young people have their own home through either owning the property, a 'first-hand' rental contract from the owner of the building, or a bostadsrätt (the right to an apartment in a cooperative owned building), according to the report.

That is the lowest measured proportion ever, with a major contributing factor being the proportion of young adults with their own first-hand rental contract decreasing. At the same time, the proportion living at home with their guardians or through insecure forms of rental has increased.

READ ALSO: Here's what you can get from Sweden's property market for one million

Around a quarter of the 200,000 young people who have left their parental home meanwhile have a 'second-hand' (sublet) rental contract or are a lodger in someone else's home.

And 80 percent of the young people who still live at home with their parents said they want to move out within the next year.

“The study shows that those who still live at home in general have a significantly poorer economic situation and greater financial vulnerability than those who have moved. For example, unemployment is higher among them than people who have their own homes,” Börjeson noted.

As a solution the union proposes that Sweden's municipalities should create a housing guarantee for young people up to the age of 25, giving them priority when first hand rental contracts become available – a move that has already been trialled in some municipalities like Sundbyberg and Helsingborg.

Sweden's housing crisis means it is often a struggle to find stable rental contracts, with nine out of ten Swedes now living in a municipality facing housing shortages.

As of January 2017, the total number of people in queue for a rental contract from Stockholm’s Housing Agency (Bostadsförmedlingen) alone was 556,000 people, meaning it would take almost 50 years for all of those on the list to earn a standard long-term rental contract.

READ ALSO: Inside Sweden's housing crisis


Five tips to get your hands on a first-hand rental apartment in Sweden

They're often high quality and cheaper than the market rate, but oh so hard to come by. The Local's readers share their best tips for how foreigners without years in the housing queue can rent a so-called first-hand apartment in Sweden.

Five tips to get your hands on a first-hand rental apartment in Sweden

Sweden’s tightly-regulated rental market means that most newcomers end up moving from one sublet apartment (or “second-hand apartment” as it’s usually known in Sweden even among English-speakers, andrahandslägenhet) to the next every year or so.

In practice rents are often high and leases insecure, despite laws in theory preventing overpriced sublets.

First-hand rentals, on the other hand, tend to be better quality, more long-term and often remarkably cheap, making them an attractive but elusive option – unless you signed up for the public housing queue years, or even decades, ago it’s hard to snag one.

But not impossible. In a Facebook post, The Local’s readers shared their tips for how they managed to beat the competition and secure a first-hand rental.

Here are their best strategies:

1. Move out of the big cities

Many readers suggested avoiding Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, where the housing shortage is particularly bad. Student cities like Uppsala and Lund also tend to be on that list, but many smaller or more rural municipalities have far shorter housing queues, sometimes none at all.

“I live in a 10,000 people city, 180 kilometres from Stockholm,” said Rodrigo.

Johanna said she’s moved from Stockholm to the countryside, adding she’s got “many friends living in more rural areas of Heby and Dalarna or way up north like Haparanda” where apartments come “dirt cheap”.

2. You don’t always have to move far

If you can put up with a longer commute, there are many municipalities within commuting distance of the big cities which have shorter housing queues and reasonable public transport connections.

“On any given day we have 100 different rental flats here in Eskilstuna – it’s literally one hour’s train ride to Stockholm,” said Jörgen.

3. Keep an eye out for exceptions

Some housing queues make exceptions from their standard housing queue for certain categories of apartments.

These vary depending on the municipality, but could include for example new builds. In Stockholm, there’s a special category called “bostadssnabben” which are apartments offered on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of how many queue points the applicants have.


Some municipalities also allow tenants to swap apartments internally, so you may be able to go for the low hanging fruit initially and then later find someone who wants to swap apartments with you.

4. Get in the queue anyway

It’s not uncommon for people to sign up for rental queues even if they’re not thinking of moving any time soon – many Swedes sign up as soon as they turn 18, and even many property owners stay in the queue – in order to collect queue points and improve their chances of renting in the future.

Not all municipalities charge a fee for a spot in the housing queue, either, so it may even be worth having a think about in which areas of Sweden you might conceivably want to live at some point in the future, and signing up for those queues on the off-chance that you end up moving there.

Far from everyone in the queue is active, and sometimes, all you need is a bit of luck.

“Be very active. Apply to as many as you can, as often as you can. Don’t be too selective about the area. I got one where the primary applicant had to have 70 percent of the income. Less competition,” said Marios, who got a 90 square metre apartment in a Stockholm suburb in three months.

5. Go private

The most common way of renting in Sweden is through the municipalities’ own housing agencies, and in some queues such as Stockholm, private landlords rent out their homes via these queues too.

But in some cities, there are private companies that rent out apartments outside of the housing queue, and they don’t always follow the same “queue point” procedure as the municipality. Some have their own housing queue, which may be shorter, and some use a lottery system, for example.

It makes it a bit more hit-or-miss whether you’ll be successful, as these queues don’t always have the same reliability and transparency as the municipal housing queues, but it’s still an option.

Bear in mind that there are degrees of dodginess when it comes to private rental companies, with some being just as good or better than municipal landlords and some being… not. Many people join the Swedish Tenants’ Association to get more information on tenants’ rights.