Money Matters: The Importance of Budgeting for International Students in Sweden 2024


Written by Brian

07 Dec 2023

Moving to study abroad is exciting and life-changing for many students (It should definitely be your 2024 Goal) – I know it was daunting but ultimately fantastic for me. Sweden, famous for its excellent education and lively student life, is a top choice for ambitious students. However, as we often say, quality comes at a cost. That’s why it’s so important to plan your finances and budget well. This ensures you have a smooth and enjoyable time during your academic journey in Sweden. In this blog, let’s see why budgeting should be a priority and how it can make your stay here a lot better 😃.

Cost of living in Sweden

Alright, let’s face it: Sweden is expensive, especially compared to Kenya (and I mean, everyone has their idea of what’s costly, but trust me on this). Think about it – my monthly rent here is five times what I paid back in Kenya! And it’s not just the rent; we’re talking utilities, food, getting around, and even hanging out. Initially, the cost of living in Sweden might shock you (to the point where you might consider skipping breakfast). But here’s where budgeting comes in. It helps you really understand your expenses and plan your money smartly. This way, you avoid spending too much on things you don’t need and make sure you have enough for what’s important.

The photo offers a scenic view of Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town. The waterfront scene features boats docked along the quay, with the city’s historic architecture in the background.
Photo by Jon Flobrant

Managing Limited Financial Resources

As a student, you’re not exactly swimming in money. Every single coin counts, especially when you consider the minimum financial requirements for your study permit (to all my self-funding students out there, I see you 😎 ). So, yes, every coin is precious. Having a budget helps you keep track of what you have, whether it’s from a part-time job, a scholarship (go ahead, apply for that scholarship 😉), or support from your family. It’s all about smart spending so you can make the most of your time and enjoy your adventure in Sweden.

Overcoming unexpected expenses

Living far from home means you’ll run into some unexpected expenses. Think visa fees or suddenly needing new bedding and classy winter clothes (yes, winter comes fast here). And travelling? You might get lost like I did and need a cab to get home. Or there’s the time I broke my glasses, which felt like it cost an arm and a leg to replace (just kidding, but it wasn’t cheap!). Whatever the surprise expense, these things can shake up your budget and be stressful. But if you have a solid budget, you can have some money set aside for these unexpected moments. This way, you won’t be thrown off when life throws you a curveball.

Photo by Thunderhunter/

Impulse Control

I have to admit, I’m really into gadgets. Whenever I see a new tech toy, it’s hard not to fall in love right away. But here’s the thing – those tech crushes can hit your wallet hard. Take it from me; I once bought an electric fidget spinner (I still ask myself why) and even an extra pair of headphones I didn’t need. There are so many cool things you’ll want to buy but don’t need. Having a budget helps you use your money wisely and avoid overspending on things you’ll regret later. But hey, if you’re going to splurge on something, make it Swedish meatballs – they’re definitely worth it. 😎

A close-up of a hand holding an IKEA brochure on an moving walkway.

Peace of Mind: The Ultimate Reward

Worrying about money? It’s a surefire way to rain on your student parade in Sweden. But get this – a slick budget plan is like an umbrella for those rainy days. It’s all about resting easy at night, knowing you’ve got your bills sorted, and yes, you can join in for that Fika (You should know why Fika is important) or a dinner out with pals. And don’t forget, you’ll even have a bit saved for those spontaneous trips to explore more of Sweden’s amazing cities. With your finances in check, you’re free to dive headfirst into your studies and soak up all the fantastic cultural vibes around you.

Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes, brown gravy, lingonberries, and thinly sliced pickled cucumbers, garnished with dill.
Photo by Emanuel Ekström

Here’s a bonus tip: When you’re shopping in Sweden, avoid converting prices into your local currency. Trust me, it’s a fast track to a mental meltdown (seriously, it’s one of the top ways to stress yourself out). But hang in there – I’m working on a budget guide that could help you next year. And hey, is it too early to say ‘Merry…’? Maybe it’s just the festive lights and snow getting to me.


Written by Brian

07 Dec 2023