Archive for Stamatis Kalogirou a Lecturer of Applied Spatial Analysis and a president of the Hellenic Society of Swedish Scholars. He has studied computer science and geography. His main research interests include internal migration modelling, spatial inequalities and population ageing. He loves travelling and one of his favourite destinations is Stockholm.

Finding accommodation in Stockholm is a challenge but solutions are available if you insist

I was very happy to get the Guest scholarship and already made plans to go around Stockholm, visit museums, drink coffee, eat kanelbulle while reading a book, visit nearby cities such as Uppsala, walking in the streets of the old town thinking of a bright future!

Arriving in Stockholm was smooth. It was a bright day and I went to a hotel hoping to move to a place arranged by the university for me the next day. However, things were not so simple. Since I was going to stay for just two months, I was on a waiting list without an offer and, thus, I had to look for a place by myself quickly. October is already too late to look for a place to move immediately, but I was thinking positively.

I quote from the KTH website: “Due to the difficult housing situation in Stockholm the best thing to do is to start looking for private accommodation as soon as possible. It can be very hard to find accommodation in August and September, and the best is to perhaps stay with a friend if you know someone who lives in Stockholm. Even if it is hard to find somewhere to live most students find something relatively fast. Don’t give up as something will come your way in the end.” Source: Accommodation for Master’s Students.

Indeed, there is limited housing development in Stockholm, thus limited availability of houses for rental. That’s also why accommodation is expensive in Stockholm. KTH offers several options under a service called KTH Bostad (Accommodation Service). Students arriving in September can apply for university accommodation in May of the same year, and if there are enough places, to get an offer by June. Otherwise, they can look for accommodation by themselves with the assistance of KTH Bostad that offers a list of property offers. One may seek for the services of a real estate agent or companies providing rental services such as SSSB.

Alternative and more flexible option is to rent a room at a house (sharing accommodation) or share with other students. These are offered throughout the year, often for a limited period, usually from people in large homes or people that may go on a long vacation. It is important that there is trust between the tenant and the landlord, so when you visit a place please try to find out who you are going to be sharing a house with. Do not insist to get an offer if the person does not feel like renting to you. There are other fish in the sea. Of course, the place should be in a nice and convenient area in terms of access to public transport and safety, especially for females returning late at home. There is even a facebook group “a forum for students of KTH to discuss about housing issues in Stockholm” (THS Housing) you can read about various accommodation issues. Always try to know more about you legal rights and always respect the local laws, legislation and moral laws, in order to avoid inconvenience.

My personal experience was very positive. I got to live at a lovely place, north of Stockholm city, very close to the lake and the woods and with a good access to public transport. It took me a week to find it after visiting about five places with the kind help of my supervisor from the KTH. I got to know a Swedish artist and we became friends, keeping in touch since 2005. Thus, I was able to better meet and appreciate the Swedish culture and authentic way of living. I felt safe; I loved Swedish food and IKEA furniture and had nice conversations, walks and long and peaceful sleeping nights.

A lot of information about accommodation in Stockholm and Sweden in general is available online. Please start reading here: Accommodation for Master’s StudentsAccommodation and KTH Bostad. Never forget to visit SI’s portal

If you are a Greek student or researcher, please get in touch or post to the local SI’s Alumni Group in facebook, the Hellenic Society of Swedish Scholars. Myself, a board member or a group member might be able to advise.

A street in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm

The uniqueness of the Swedish landscape

It is Friday lunchtime at the KTH when my colleague arrives at the dining table full of enthusiasm. “Today I have a surprise for you” he says, “you are going to discover the astonishing, yet calm, Swedish landscape out of Stockholm and how we get to relax after a long stressful week”. “Excellent!”, I replied having no idea about what was going to follow. I got full of energy since my exploratory self was happy and I was eager to relax in a natural environment escaping from a week spent in front of a computer monitor fitting statistical models. The destination was set: exploring the traditional Swedish sauna in the woods by a small lake just outside of Stockholm.

The journey started with a train trip followed by a bus trip with a direction towards the woods north of Stockholm. In the way one could enjoy a varying landscape with high residential and commercial buildings, social housing with unique architecture surrounded by parks followed by detached houses with lovely gardens. Just thirty kilometers away from the Stockholm’s city centre a new world just unfolds. In order to get to our final destination, we had to walk about three kilometers. It sounded exhausting in the begging but how could I refuse such an opportunity. Besides, I was already wearing walking shoes… The walk was a great experience. In the begging it was easy walking on the side of a road and then became more challenging inside the woods on mudded paths. The fresh air, the surprises hidden in turns of the path, such as a farm with horses, a barn with a roof made of straws and a neighborhood with bungalows and lovely windows decorated with flowers, were enough to let me disengage from the working week in the office.

The arrival to our destination was full of emotions. I felt like a Hobbit returning to the Shire after a long and adventurous journey. My optical nerves immediately created the cultural landscape of the area: a beautiful lake hidden inside a forest, the manmade constructions such as the bungalows, a saloon and a sauna by the lake and most importantly people with happy faces. Everything was made by wood giving the feeling of travelling back in time. There are no words to express the experience of the human body getting off the sauna and jumping into the lake. It is an experience for “strong hearts” and highly recommended. The day and the journey to this small paradise on the planet earth ended with viewing the lovely sunset and discussing about the most important things in one’s life: human relationships. The heat, the cold, the freshness of the landscape and the skyline colours made this an unforgettable experience.

Photograph by Professor Hans Hauska

A sauna by the lake in winter time
Photograph by Professor Hans Hauska