Scandinavia, in general, is expensive to live in. That said, when compared to other capitals such as Oslo and the notoriously expensive Copenhagen, Stockholm is rather affordable. Out of the 209 countries surveyed for Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2021, Stockholm ranked 72nd which suggests its cost of living is much gentler than Copenhagen (16th) and Oslo (55th). Despite this, expats should not expect to live cheaply in the Swedish capital. 

An expat’s biggest expense in Stockholm, as in most cities, is accommodation. Rental prices can be 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 tend to 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 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 dearly, 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.


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.


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 May 2022.

Accommodation (average monthly rental)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

SEK 25,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SEK 18,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

SEK 14,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SEK 10,000

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

SEK 11.30

Dozen eggs

SEK 34

White bread 

SEK 27

Rice (1kg)

SEK 28

Chicken fillets (1kg)

SEK 110

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SEK 69

Public transportation

City centre bus/train fare

SEK 39

Taxi rate per km

SEK 24

Petrol (1L)

SEK 20

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

SEK 85

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

SEK 22.50

Cappuccino

SEK 41

Local beer (500ml)

SEK 70

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

SEK 800

Utilities

1 min prepaid mobile tariff 

SEK 1.22

Internet (uncapped ADSL per month)

SEK 350

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

SEK 780

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