Scandinavia, in general, is rather expensive to live in. Stockholm, though, is rather affordable when compared to other capitals such as Oslo and the notoriously expensive Copenhagen. Out of the 209 countries surveyed for Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2020, Stockholm ranked 133rd which suggests its cost of living is much gentler than Copenhagen (25th) and Oslo (76th).

An expat’s biggest expense in Stockholm, as in most cities, is accommodation. Rental prices can be rather astronomical, among the highest in Europe in fact, and many expats don’t even consider buying as housing is so pricey. Public transport, although highly efficient and extensive, 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 find the quality of life in this spectacular city is very much worth the cost.


Cost of food in Stockholm

Although Sweden produces some fruit and vegetables, it imports most of its fresh produce, which of course increases 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 in recent years, grocery shopping doesn’t have to be an overly costly affair. Local brands such as Hemköp, Coop and ICA aren’t too expensive either, as long as expats stick to the larger stores towards the outskirts and avoid the smaller convenient branches in the centre of the city. 

Regardless, even expensive groceries will seem like a snip when compared to the eye-popping prices on restaurant menus in Stockholm, which is why most expats cook rather than eat out.


Cost of accommodation and transport 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 generally considered to be 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 such as Östermalm, for instance, one can expect to pay way over the odds, while outlying areas such as Bromma will save expats some money on accommodation. We’d advise expats to consider leases carefully before renting, and make sure of which utilities are included. Sweden gets extremely cold during winter, which can lead to a hefty electricity bill.

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.


Cost of entertainment in Stockholm

As mentioned, eating out in Stockholm will cost a veritable arm and a leg. Many expats earn good salaries in the city and most can afford the odd night out, but we’d recommend that newcomers to the city budget carefully when it comes to entertainment. Buying drinks in pubs can also be eye-wateringly 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, movie nights and drinks promotions at bars. It also depends on the area: a night out in a neighbourhood such as Södermalm will be far more affordable ‒ and probably way more fun ‒ than in an upmarket area such as Östermalm. 


Cost of living in Stockholm chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in August 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city 

SEK 13,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city

SEK 9,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city

SEK 21,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city

SEK 13,500

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

SEK 30

Milk (1 litre)

SEK 12.50

Rice (1kg)

SEK 26.50

Loaf of white bread

SEK 23

Chicken breasts (1kg)

SEK 124

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SEK 107

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

SEK 80

Coca-Cola (330ml)

SEK 23

Cappuccino 

SEK 38

Local beer (500ml)

SEK 65

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

SEK 800

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

SEK 1.50

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

SEK 270

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

SEK 770

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

SEK 13.50

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

SEK 39

Petrol (per litre)

SEK 15.70

Expat Health Insurance

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