Cost of living and budgeting tips for students in Sweden


Written by Camilo

24 Jul 2020

One of the reasons why sometimes people postpone their dreams is the thinking of “the money is not enough”. However, many times that can be solved simply by controlling expenses. In this blog, I will give some budgeting tips to keep your expenses as student in Sweden in the minimum. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy this beautiful country without worry about your pocket.

Cost of living

Everyone wants to know about cost of living in Sweden. However, it is very difficult to answer the questions because there are many factors like: city where you live, if you are single, if you have family, if you are vegetarian, etc.

I did a chart with monthly spendings according to 3 perspectives one friend that really saves money, the other that don’t really care about money and me. (Let me be clear we all three are students that live alone)

A chart of different costs for international students that have different approaches to budgeting. Thrifty people spend less (SEK 5 100), big spenders spend more (SEK 10 000), and Camilo (the author) spend somewhere in between those (SEK 7 000).
A chart of different costs for international students that have different approaches to budgeting, ranging from 5 100 SEK, 7 000 SEK, to 10 000 SEK as total amount of montly living costs. Photo: Julia

*This chart is about monthly spendings after being settle in Sweden, if you are new, you will spend some extra stuffs in order to settle down

If you give a check to the chart, there are thousands of difference between each budget. My expenses are in the middle of my thrifty friend and the big spender. Of course, there were some months I spend less and some I was off my budget. In that way, I learn how to manage a balance between saving money and also enjoy Sweden.

So, Let me share tips for your budget in each category!


The cost of housing in Sweden’s major cities can be very high, this also varies if you prefer an apartment for yourself or if you can share it with 2 or more people. In the chart above at the beginning you can see that my rent and the rent of my thrifty friend is 3500 SEK, we both have a room with its own bathroom, we share a kitchen with more people, also the rooms are not in the central area, but they are accessible to the center. On the other hand my big spender friend decided to rent a studio apartment but a little further from the center.

I must say that to really save in housing as a student in Sweden, the best option is to rent a room in the university housing, the rent for these varies between SEK 3,000 and SEK 7,000 for a single student. But it is always the cheap option.

Photo: Giphy

Groceries – food

The cost of groceries and food is the most variant of the chart above, it depends basically on the diet and if you are willing to cook every day.

My thrifty friend spends only 1000 SEK per month, he avoids eating meat every day and cooks all the time. In my experience I have a budget of 1800 SEK, because I like to cook only from monday to thursday. On fridays and weekends I like to invest more money visiting different restaurants.

My big spender friend rarely cooks and most of the time he buys pre-made food or a lot of pizza (lots of pizza !!), his budget is 2000 SEK (I have seen bigger budgets for food anyway)

My advice would be to cook and freeze the food because that helped a lot in your savings, also preparing food with friends reduces spending and you eat much better, in addition to sharing the experience with people.
Don’t forget that saving is not synonymous of  isolation!! In Sweden it is totally normal have your tupper with food or your thermos with coffee. You don’t really need to spend what your friends spend, you can have good time with your friends without buying food all the time. Also, you will notice that most of the people in Sweden cook themselves , lunch or dinner outside is most of the time for big occasions

Photo: Giphy


Since most of the material universities require can be found online or in university libraries, books shouldn’t be a budget problem. But if you like regular books instead of e-books or pdfs you must remember that they are not very cheap.

My advice would be that if you will  buy or spend in books for the university, try to find second-hand offers or books from older students. On the other hand, if you are a lover of reading novels, poems or others. I would recommend an e-reader, in this way you do not generate more luggage when it is time to leave Sweden.


Checking the comparison budget chart above, you will notice that one my friends doesn’t spend in transportation at all, that can be possible if you live in a small city of Sweden, or if you bike or walk a lot. There also some friends that prefer to pay housing near the university in order to avoid paying transportation. In my case, I paid monthly (student price) because during autumn and winter is difficult to bike and also I really love use transportation in Sweden.

My advice would be to try the first month (ticket) and check if you really need to pay monthly, don’t make the mistake to pay half year ticket or three months ticket from the top. Also the first month is usually when new students visit around, in that way the monthly ticket will be a very good deal.

Photo: Giphy

Mobile and gym

Mobile is not a big spend in Sweden, if you are student you will get a different options and also don’t expensive ones. When you arrive to Sweden, your future university will give you a sim card, it is not mandatory to use that one, I suggest to be patient to search other offers. Besides, around Sweden the internet is amazing, you can have free access in squares, coffees, libraries and of course university. In that way, you will always be able to be connected.

Gym in Sweden is another issue, you will see many people going to the gym and train, and I must say that is not expensive as I thought, there are offers for students from 200SEK monthly and I consider this price not expensive. However, Sweden is well know for the nature, so basically Sweden is your free gym. You don’t need to pay a gym to be in shape, you can run around the forest or lakes. Also, hiking and walking around the city, it is completely normal in Sweden. Finally , there are some student housing that includes gym and saunas, try to check that too.

Photo: Giphy


Now we can talk about lifestyle! In your leisure time you are the only one with the power of control your budget. However, as i mentioned before, saving is not equal to isolation.

You are not the only one trying to save money, I think that suggest your friends activities where people can split the cost is a good idea, also you can have very good deals around Sweden called “afterwork”, there are places where buying a single beer allows you eat buffet or pizza. Of course , going to this places all the time can be boring after a while, so try to plan picnic or dinner with friends too. In chart above there is a big difference between budgets, but it is not a matter of going out less or more, is about what you do when you go out.

I consider is nice to spend sometimes in yourself like parties or nice dinners. At least some weeks and the others you can try to do other cheap activities.

Both extremes are not good, I have some friends that worry too much about spend a lot that they don’t go out at all, and also I have other friends that spend too much and have budget problems the next month. I think is better to find a balance and in Sweden the balance is totally possible , it is just a matter of planning your budget.

Photo: Giphy

Extras and some last advice

Some extras that are not mention in the chart above is the money you will spend at the beginning. Don’t forget that the first month in Sweden is always the most expensive, don’t freak out and be prepared , after settle yourself you will find a balance for sure.

Try to buy Hygiene products (Shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc) not monthly. If you buy this products from the beginning for about half year , then you will not have problem in your monthly budget.

Also try to buy clothes in your home country , Sweden have sale periods but there are not really cheap. Other option is to buy in second hand stores, that can be very cheap and you can find stuffs in very good conditions.

Finally, there are offers in facebook groups or markets because many people is constantly moving out and they sell many things in good prices.

I hope this blog can help you about how much you can spend in Sweden, but as I show you, budgets can be very different, but that is not an excuse to enjoy Sweden.

Other blogs about money and cost of living in Sweden


Written by Camilo

24 Jul 2020