Scandinavia, in general, is expensive to live in. That said, the cost of living in Stockholm is relatively affordable compared to other capitals such as Oslo and the notoriously expensive Copenhagen. Out of the 227 countries surveyed for Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2023, Stockholm ranked 95th, which suggests its cost of living is much gentler than nearby Copenhagen (9th) and Oslo (60th). Despite this, expats should not expect to live cheaply in the Swedish capital.

As in most cities, an expat’s most significant expense in Stockholm is accommodation. Rental prices can be astronomical, among the highest in Europe, and because housing is so pricey, many expats don’t even consider buying. Although highly efficient and extensive, public transport is also costly, as are many other services and goods in the city. High taxes also add to the overall cost of living.

The good news is that high salaries generally make up for the cost of living in Stockholm, and expats tend to find the quality of life in this spectacular city is very much worth the price.

Cost of accommodation in Stockholm

Accommodation in Stockholm is some of the priciest in Europe. The rental market in the city is highly regulated, with a long waiting list, and property prices in Stockholm are steep and are largely considered overvalued. Of course, the demand is sky-high in the city centre, and the further away from the centre or the archipelago one searches, the more affordable housing becomes.

Should one choose to live in an affluent area like Östermalm, for instance, one can expect to pay dearly, while outlying areas such as Bromma will save expats some money. We’d advise expats to consider leases carefully before renting and ensure which utilities are included. Sweden is freezing during winter, which can lead to a hefty electricity bill.

Cost of transport in Stockholm

Public transport in Stockholm, although eminently punctual and seamlessly efficient, comes at a cost. Purchasing monthly or annual passes can help curb the cost, but it still adds up. Expats usually prefer not to purchase a vehicle, as the cost of fuel makes it largely impractical. Taxis and ride-hailing services are available and on par with the rates of those in other major European metros.

Stockholm is a city designed with sustainability in mind, promoting cycling and walking as cost-effective and eco-friendly alternatives to motorised transport. The city boasts an extensive network of well-maintained cycling lanes and pedestrian pathways, making non-motorised commuting a viable option. Many expats find that investing in a good bicycle or simply embracing a more active lifestyle can significantly help reduce their transport expenses.

Cost of groceries in Stockholm

Although Sweden produces some fruit and vegetables, it imports most of its fresh produce, increasing the prices of these items in supermarkets. Meat, fish and dairy products are a little cheaper, and with affordable foreign chains such as Netto and Lidl appearing in Stockholm recently, grocery shopping doesn’t have to be overly costly. Local brands such as Hemköp, Coop and ICA aren’t too pricey either, as long as expats stick to the larger stores towards the outskirts and avoid the smaller convenient branches in the city centre.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Stockholm

Even expensive groceries will seem like a snip compared to the eye-popping prices on restaurant menus in Stockholm, which is why most expats cook rather than eat out. Eating out in Stockholm will cost a veritable arm and a leg.

Many expats earn lucrative salaries in the city, and most can afford the odd night out, but newcomers should budget carefully for entertainment. Buying drinks in pubs can also be quite expensive, and attractions such as the theatre and cinema don’t come cheap either.

Of course, there are bargains to be had, and expats should be on the lookout for restaurant specials, film nights and drink promotions at bars. It also depends on the area: a night out in a neighbourhood such as Södermalm will be far more affordable than in an upmarket area such as Östermalm.

Cost of education in Stockholm

Education in Stockholm reflects a blend of quality and expense. Public schools are free; however, they may not always meet expat families' language and curriculum expectations. On the other hand, international schools offer curriculums that expat children might be more accustomed to, but they come with substantial fees. The tuition at these schools can be quite a burden, resembling the high tuition fees of prestigious schools in larger European cities.

Furthermore, the cost of supplementary educational materials, school trips, and other educational extracurriculars can also add up. It’s prudent to research and budget for these costs well in advance. Some expats may find employers willing to contribute towards educational expenses as part of their relocation package, which can significantly ease the financial burden.

Cost of healthcare in Stockholm

Sweden boasts a high standard of healthcare, and Stockholm is no exception. The healthcare system is funded by taxes, and residents enjoy access to heavily subsidised medical services. The private healthcare sector in Stockholm can be expensive, and many expats opt for private healthcare for faster service and more personalised care.

It’s advisable for expats to secure comprehensive health insurance to cover private healthcare costs. Even with insurance, the out-of-pocket costs for some services and medications can be high, so it’s wise to budget accordingly. Dental care, in particular, can be pricey and is not always covered by basic insurance plans. Therefore, considering a dental plan or setting aside funds for dental care is a sensible measure.

See Healthcare in Sweden for more information.

Cost of living in Stockholm chart 

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in October 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreSEK 24,000
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreSEK 16,400
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreSEK 14,600
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreSEK 10,300
Food and drink
Dozen eggsSEK 44
Milk (1 litre)SEK 16
Rice (1kg)SEK 35
Loaf of white breadSEK 30
Chicken breasts (1kg)SEK 75
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)SEK 69
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantSEK 800
Big Mac MealSEK 98
Coca-Cola (330ml)SEK 24
CappuccinoSEK 43
Bottle of beer (local)SEK 20
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)SEK 1.86
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)SEK 350
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)SEK 1,040
Taxi rate/kmSEK 30
City-centre public transport fareSEK 39
Gasoline (per litre)SEK 21

Expat Health Insurance

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