What to expect: Difference in housing culture

 

What does housing in Uppsala look like? Does the average student here share a 5 room house with a bunch of friends? Do people live in 10 square meter IKEA furnished shoeboxes? This article will discuss various aspects of housing culture in Uppsala so that you know what to expect when looking yourself or planning your stay here.

Housing in Sweden is mostly of a very high standard. It is seldom that you will find a really "bad" room at a really low price. Instead you will probably pay a little more and get something of adequate or good quality.

Swedes are reknowned for having one of the highest rates in the world for living alone. It is fairly well unheard of for a bunch of friends to get together and share the rent in a one bedroom house. It is on the other hand quite common that someone would live in a self contained one room studio/unit - where the kitchen, bedroom and loungeroom are all part of one single room. This independence also extends to how people use their rooms: it is most unlikely that you will find housing where more than one person shares a room, and even more unlikely that you will find a housing provider willing to allow this. This can be problematic for those of you who find living in this manner comfortable (and cheap!), and you should in general not expect to be able to find such housing.   

It is good to be aware of these differences when looking for housing!

Even more importantly: The housing market in Uppsala is very different to many markets around the world. Regulation of the rental prices ensures that everyone can find affordable housing. But this same regulation has arguably led to problems with supply and demand - the demand for rental properties is much greater than the supply. This leads to the phenomenon of "queing" for housing: You will not find rental properties in the classifieds in the papers. Instead you will most often need to register with a given housing company and start collecting "queue days". When applying for an apartment, the person with the most amount of queue days, that is the person who has waited the longest time, will get the apartment.

This means that the market is not very liquid - there is not a high turnover of rental properties. People tend to get a contract and then hold it. If people need to move out for whatever reason they will often keep their contract and sublease their property privately. Check the Student Union's database of privately leased housing, called studentboet: http://www.studentboet.se/en/

What does all this mean for you? It means that it is difficult to get housing here. It means that if you have been given a contract then you should think very seriously before terminating that contract, because it is possible that you will not find a new place to live. But, given that you understand all this it is now time to uncover a little bit more about specific forms of housing.

In Uppsala you will not really find student dormitories, at least not in the sense that they exist in other countries. But we will come to that. It is first worth taking a detour to look at the different types of housing that there are here.

"Corridor" housing. This is where a number of rooms are connected with a common corridor, a common kitchen and a common loungeroom. The classic example is the Flogsta corridor - 12 rooms, a small balcony, small loungeroom and a kitchen with an oven, a couple of refrigerators and a microwave. Corridor rooms may have their own shower and toilet, or you may share a shower and toilet with your corridor mates. Some corridors do a lot of stuff together - they may have regular dinners, parties and other activities - and some are much quieter. It really does depend on those who live there. While your kitchen may never quite reach the standards of cleanliness that your own kitchen would, a corridor lifestyle is generally very social anda great way to meet new friends.

Rooms in a shared accommodation. There is a variety of different types of shared accommmodation. You may find rooms in flats, rooms in houses or rooms in "dublettes" - a sort of twin room arrangement. You may move in with housemates who are very much into socialising and sharing the cooking duties and so forth, or you may find yourself living more or less independently.

An interesting accommodation form is the "kollektiv" - which is as it sounds, collective housing. While this housing form is coupled, in the Swedish lexicon, to various social or political movements, it is not necessarily so. The practical aspects of collective housing are generally that one lives as a family would: one shares the bills, cooking, cleaning and laundry. This is in fact something that many private people do in shared housing in many other countries. So, there are "collectives" where people share a certain view and it is more or less a requirement for moving in, and there are also collectives where people simply want to live in a more family-like living situation, without the political connotation.