Sweden Cost of Living in 2020 (Stockholm, Malmo, Gothenburg etc)

Living in Sweden is expensive if we are to compare the cost of living with that in other countries. While similar to the monthly costs in other countries in Scandinavia, the living expenses in Sweden can stretch a budget if you’re not careful.

It is most difficult for people moving here from abroad to adjust to the increased prices but we’re here to help make it easier by sharing the cost of living in Sweden for 2020.

And Sweden’s cost of living is estimated at 1550 Euros per month – this is the conclusion that we’ll reach in today’s article: I decided to share it first if you want to read the numbers for estimates and not look at the entire analysis.

But it’s important to read the entire article, because there’s a lot of nuance when it comes to monthly living costs and many things to consider – and we’re touching all aspects in this article.

So below you’ll find out how much you should budget monthly for living in the large cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmo, but also the smaller cities and villages in Sweden.

Understanding Sweden’t high cost of living

Before getting to the actual numbers – which will seem a bit high for most people – it is worth mentioning that although the prices here are indeed higher if you compare them with other countries in Europe or anywhere in the world, the salaries are also generally higher.

While there is no minimum wage set by the government, even working at McDonalds would see you earn around 14 Euros per hour, while the average salary in the country (take home pay) is around 2,500 Euros – one of the highest in Europe.

The point is that even though the cost of living is higher when comparing actual numbers, the salaries are created to match that cost of living so in most cases, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get a job that pays well and allows you to live a decent life here.

But with all these in mind, let’s see how much should you expect to pay each month for that “decent life”.

Monthly cost of living in Sweden

There are various aggregates out there that you can use to estimate your living costs in Stockholm, Malmo or any other city in the country, but the truth is that I always prefer a bit of a personal touch and even more I want to see a clear number at the end that basically says this is how much you need each month.

And this is exactly what we’ll have for you today – with the mention that budgets vary greatly from person to person. But my recommendations will be for somebody living a normal life – not one of luxury, but not on the lower end either.

Please note: although Sweden’s currency is the SEK (Swedish Krona), I will list all the prices below in Euros, since it will be easier to relate to that.

Accommodation Costs

Out of all your monthly expenses, accommodation will probably be the biggest one. Renting is not cheap in Sweden and prices for buying property are even higher. But we’ll stick to rentals for now.

Here is what you should expect to pay as monthly rent in Sweden, depending on your choice:

  • shared room in an apartment: around 400 Euros/month
  • 1-bedroom apartment (live alone): 650 – 1,100 Euros per month (depending on location)
  • 2-bedroom apartment: around 1,300 /month

Generally, prices are higher in the largest cities in the country (Stockholm, Gothenborg and Malmo), but the differences are not huge. The prices listed above are for the larger cities.

Utilities Costs

Unlike in most other countries out there, utilities are usually included in the rent in Sweden. Make sure to clear this out before renting: even though this is the golden rule of thumb, sometimes just some of the utilities and sometimes none are included in the rent.

If you have to pay utilities, you would have to budget something similar to what I’m suggesting below:

  • For electricity, heating, water and gas: between 50 – 100 Euros per month, depending on consumption and usually higher during the winter
  • Internet & TV: 30 Euros per month
  • Mobile: around 33 Euros for unlimited local calls and 10GB of Internet

The cost of utilities are lower in Sweden than they are in other countries in Scandinavia, such as Norway. They can still skyrocket if you are not careful, especially during the winter month: if you want to stay in shorts and t-shirt inside when there’s -20 degrees Celsius outside, expect to pay more!

Food Costs

After rent, food costs are usually the second largest expense on your monthly budget and things won’t be made easy for you in Sweden, where food prices are pretty high.

The monthly costs in this category here are always very difficult to estimate, because they can vary a lot from person to person, based on their eating habits. I will try to use some averages here, but first let’s look at some actual prices for the basics:

1 Liter of milk – 1.1 Eur
1 Loaf of bread – 2.2 Eur
12 eggs – 2.5 Eur
Local Cheese (1kg) – 10 Euros (although prices vary a lot)
Chicken breasts (1kg) – 8.7 Euros

Potatoes (1kg): 1 Eur
Tomatoes (1kg): 2.6 Eur
Apples (1kg): 2.5 Eur
Bananas (1kg): 2 Eur
Oranges (1kg): 2 Eur

Bottled water (1.5 liters): 1.4 Eur
Beer (store-brought): 1.5 Eur
Wine (store-brought): 10 Eur (prices vary a lot here as well, consider the listed one as the average)

Seasonality comes into play here, with prices going up during the winter and down during the summer and especially autumn, at least when it comes to vegetables.

Eating out prices in Sweden

When it comes to eating out, things won’t get much cheaper, but you can find some places with decent prices. Here is what to expect to pay:

Meal for 2 in regular restaurant, with a drink included: 26 – 36 Euros
Meal for 2 in a better restaurant, with drinks included: 66 Euros
Beer in a restaurant: 6.5 Euros
Bottle of juice: 2.3 Euros
Cappuccino or Latte: 3.5 Euros
Falafel wrap (to go): 5 Eur

All in all, I think that a safe budget for the food category, for a single person, is somewhere around 300 Euros per month. This would cover all the food – mostly cooked at home, but some eating out and takeaway coffees as well.

Other Expenses

There are many other expenses that you will have each month, but they won’t be regular. Buying new clothes, buying consumables, maybe going to the gym or a theater or cinema, plus transportation-related costs are some of these expenses.

These are even more difficult to estimate, so I will list below some of the prices you should expect to be paying in Sweden for various things and services:

  • 1 ticket for public transportation: 2.5 Euros
  • Monthly public transport pass: 70 Euros
  • Gasoline: 1.5 Eur / liter
  • Movie ticket: 11.5 Eur
  • Gym Membership (1 month): 30 Euros

Total Monthly Costs

Looking at various numbers doesn’t help a lot since you probably want to know a total number to use it as a guideline. And that’s exactly what I am planning to offer.

For a single person, living a decent life, eating mostly at home and only going out 1-2 times each week, I would recommend a budget around this amount:

Rent & Utilities (internet & TV included): 850 Euros / month
Food, Eating out & Entertainment: 450 Euros / month
Other expenses: 250 Euros / month
____________________
TOTAL: 1550 Euros / month

If you want to live a better life, eating out more often (and better food) as well as live in a better area and maybe drive your own car, I think that a budget of between 1,800 – 2,000 Euros would be more than safe. You won’t live like royalty, but you won’t eat instant noodles every day either.

Things are getting a bit cheaper if you are living with your partner: the cost of living for two doesn’t double, fortunately, as rent prices stay the same (but are split in two) and most of the other prices won’t double either.

All in all, I would say that a couple could live a decent life anywhere in Sweeden with a budget of around 2,800 Euros per month if it’s OK to live in a 1-bedroom apartment.

Things change a bit if kids are involved. Depending on their age, you will have to pay anything from 0 to 10,000 Euros (or even more) per year for their education.

Having a child (or more) also comes in most cases with the need for a larger apartment to live in and other additional costs for extracurricular activities and events. But, as I said, it is really difficult to estimate those costs since they depend on the child’s age and especially the type of school they are enrolled in.

Wrapping up

As I said in the intro, the cost of living in Sweden is higher than in most countries in Europe – but there are salaries and social benefits to match up the higher costs, so things shouldn’t be as scary as you might initially think they’ll be.

Also, don’t take the estimated monthly budget that I recommended as something set in stone: if you have higher living standards or you simply spend more, you can definitely need a lot more each month.

The opposite is also valid: if you’re really thrifty and careful with your spendings, you could spend less each month. In the end, it also depends on your location: larger cities like Stockholm are more expensive, while smaller towns are cheaper to live in.

Are you living in Sweden already? If so, how do your monthly costs look like when compared to my recommendations? Are they similar or not?

Arlen Tanner

Arlen is your regular geek-turned-blogger who left the traditional 9 to 5 in the US behind for location independent lifestyle and constant travel. After exploring Eastern Europe first (mainly Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia), he settled in the much colder but even more beautiful Scandinavia area since 2016. And he's now here to share with you all the good things about living in the magical 5.

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