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View of boats and buildings on Söder Mälarstrand in Stockholm on a sunny day.

Photo: Jeppe Wikström

Categories: Before

What does it cost to live in Stockholm?

Publish date: 13 May 2016

Quality of life in the Nordic countries is famously high, but how much does it actually cost to live in Stockholm compared to other cities? It might not be as pricey as you think, stats reveal.

It's common knowledge that housing is hard to find in Stockholm. Housing queues are long and due to high demand, prices for buying or subletting have risen. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find affordable housing.

In fact, Stockholm seems to be becoming a more affordable place to live overall. It was ranked 133rd in Mercer's Cost of Living study, which looks at the cost of living for expatriate employees in over 400 cities throughout the world, six places lower than in 2019. What's more, it ranks significantly below its fellow Nordic capitals, Copenhagen (25th), Helsinki (75th) and Oslo (76th).

Nils, 30, a Swede who lived in both London and Paris before deciding to settle in Stockholm, says he gets much more bang for his buck at home.

"I find myself having a higher quality of life in Stockholm than when I was living in London and Paris," he says.

Expatisan, a site that ranks the cost of living across the world, lists Stockholm as 11th in Western Europe (out of 51) - far cheaper than cities like London and New York but also more affordable than neighbours Copenhagen and Oslo.

"Rent is much higher in London's zone 1 than the inner city of Stockholm - and the buildings are of better quality in Stockholm, too,” says Nils. “And in overcrowded London, transport costs about double what it does here in Stockholm."

Nils admits that eating out is more expensive in Stockholm, and he doesn’t dine at fine restaurants quite as often as he did in other cities. But he says that in general the city is more affordable – and Stockholm's airy atmosphere and nearly-perfect infrastructure also makes living and working quite simply a better experience.

"In Stockholm nature is always nearby and the air we breathe is much better than in most big cities in Europe," he says.

Granted, 11th out of 51 doesn’t mean the city is cheap, either. But living in Stockholm is much like an investment – and it has high returns.

And while Sweden may have a reputation for high taxes, you get a lot back – especially families. Not only citizens but residents with long-term permits are guaranteed affordable (if not free) healthcare, paid parental leave, and free education. It’s no wonder Stockholm has been rated one of the top cities for students as well.

In short, Stockholm is about quality of living. It’s not the cheapest – but it packs a punch. And when you add it all up, moving to Stockholm is a great deal.