By Maddy Savage
There’s a hidden reason so many Stockholm renters go for Nordic minimalist interiors. In a capital gripped by an acute housing shortage, it’s no fun constantly lugging all your worldly goods from apartment to apartment.
The Swedish capital may be one of the most desirable locations on the planet to be an expat, but once you’ve bagged the dream job, finding somewhere to live brings a whole new set of problems.
The city’s queue for rent-controlled housing is so long that it’s being considered by the Guinness Book of World Records
The city’s queue for rent-controlled housing is so long that it’s being considered by the Guinness Book of World Records. On average, it takes nine years to be granted a rent-controlled property – and that jumps to two decades in some of the most popular neighbourhoods.
Rooms in existing flat-shares are also incredibly hard to come by, since Sweden has a higher proportion of single-person properties than almost anywhere else in the EU.
“It’s a frustrating market that is tainting my experience of living in a city that I love,” said 27-year-old engineer Maeva Schaller, who moved to Stockholm from Grenoble, France, in 2010.
Stockholm is Europe’s fastest-growing capital, thanks torecord immigration, a thriving start-up scene plus one of the continent’s highest birth rates. All of these factors have seen the wider region’s population grow by almost a quarter of a million in just seven years.
Successive governments have failed to build enough homes for its long-term residents, let alone the latest arrivals
But amid strict building regulations and a lack of investment over a number of decades, successive governments have failed to build enough homes for its long-term residents, let alone the latest arrivals.
Music streaming company Spotify, which launched in the tech-friendly city and still has its headquarters in Stockholm, recently wrote an open letter to policy makers warning it could expand its business elsewhere if the government doesn’t take action quickly. Start-up workers organised a follow-up protest outside the national parliament calling on politicians to focus on the impact the squeeze is having on retaining global talent.
In the past six years, Schaller has lived in a total of nine properties in seven different neighbourhoods, mostly subletting from Swedes with long rental leases.
Like many foreigners, she’s reluctant to buy, following a price rise of 14% in the city in last year alone, as well as a desire to have a flexible base as she progresses in her career.