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Sweden has a well-earned reputation as a progressive country and one of the world’s most equal societies. International Masters students in this Scandinavian nation have the chance to experience its pioneering tech scene and vibrant cities first-hand.
This page will give you an overview of postgraduate life in Sweden, covering everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and transport.
International postgraduates in Sweden will enjoy this tolerant country’s unique approach to innovation and tradition. On the one hand, Sweden is responsible for some of the most influential brands and inventions of recent years – think IKEA, Bluetooth and Spotify – and on the other hand carefully preserving its many turreted castles and rich seafaring past.
Sweden is the fifth biggest country in Europe by land area and one of its most sparsely populated nations. This means that there are vast swathes of stunning countryside, with pristine lakes and dense forests to explore.
Stockholm is Sweden’s capital and largest city, its watery setting among a 14-island archipelago earning it the nickname of the Venice of the North. Masters students in Stockholm can check out an immaculately preserved 17th-century warship at the Vasamuseet or visit the impressive waterside Royal Palace.
Meanwhile, Malmö is a gritty port city with cutting edge architecture. Gothenburg, home of Volvo, is known for its trams, canals and neoclassical buildings. Uppsala and Lund are both university towns with big student populations. In the far north of Sweden, you can experience the ancient culture of the Sami people, visiting a reindeer camp or going dogsledding.
Swedish cuisine is a mixture of hearty meals and fresh produce. Köttbullar och potatis (meatballs and potatoes) is a staple dish, while hjortron (cloudberries) are a popular Scandinavian delicacy.
There are a few different options open to you as a postgraduate student looking for accommodation in Sweden. Usually the best place to begin your search will be your university, who will have an international office ready to help students find the right kind of housing.
The cheapest option will normally be university-owned accommodation, which could be a dormitory or a shared flat. In a dormitory you may have en-suite toilet facilities but will share a kitchen and living space with 10 to 15 other students on your ‘corridor’. A shared flat, on the other hand, normally has two or four bedrooms and communal facilities.
It’s also possible to rent accommodation on the private market. Sub-letting is a common practice.
The cost of university-owned housing could be anywhere between €230 and €600 (including utilities) per month. Private accommodation is normally more expensive.
It’s no secret that the cost of living in Sweden can be rather high, even compared to other European countries. However, you’ll find that if you budget wisely you’ll be able to live comfortably without breaking the bank.
The official Study in Sweden education portal estimates that the average monthly student budget is around €815 (this includes accommodation). Food accounts for about €185, while local transport costs around €50 per month.
Looking for more information about Masters study in Sweden? Our detailed guide covers everything from university rankings and courses to fees, funding and applications.
International students in Sweden can work during their studies without any restrictions on the number of hours. However, you’ll obviously need to balance any employment with a busy Masters schedule, so don’t be tempted to take on more work than you can handle.
Speaking Swedish is a big advantage, so it’s well worth taking some Swedish lessons at your university to boost your language skills and employment prospects.
Hopefully you now have a good idea of what postgraduate life in Sweden is like, whether it’s relaxing with a fika (coffee and cake) inside a cosy Stockholm café or enjoying a lakeside sauna. There are a few more practicalities to consider before your pack your bags for Scandinavia, however.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals should make sure that they have a European Health Insurance Card prior to arriving in Sweden, which will entitle them to the same level of healthcare as Swedish citizens. If your Masters in Sweden lasts for longer than a year you can register for a personal ID number with the Swedish Tax Authority which will also entitle you to Swedish healthcare – you’ll pay the same fees as a local.
Other international students can also register for a personal ID number with the Swedish Tax Authority, but only if their degree is longer than a year. As above, this will entitle you to Swedish healthcare. However, you’ll need to be covered by private health insurance until you’ve received your ID number.
If your Masters is less than a year (and you’re not a European national), you may be able to get healthcare through your university’s health insurance coverage. Alternatively, your home country may have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Sweden. If you aren’t covered by your university or one of these agreements, you must make sure that you have private health insurance, as treatment could prove very costly.
Sweden is on its way to becoming a cashless society, so it pays to have a Swedish bank account (no pun intended) to avoid card charges.
Luckily, opening an account is fairly easy. You’ll usually need a Swedish ID number (if not, most universities have arrangements with local banks to help international students open an account), along with your passport, proof of address and a letter of acceptance from your university.
Sweden has a fast and reliable train network (although it may be cheaper to catch the bus between cities). If you’re arriving by plane, there are three airports in the Stockholm city region, and most major cities have their own airport.
Inner-city travel is efficient and relatively affordable. Stockholm has an extensive metro networks, while other cities have a combination of light rail, bus and tram. Sweden is also a bike-friendly country, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re looking for a green and cheap way of getting to the university library.
Last updated - 06/02/2020