At 9 pm horizontal rays engulf dense pine forests and radiate over green meadows. The land is painted a golden and mystic dusk.
At 10 pm, and for the next hour, time is forgotten as the sun seems to hang motionless just inches above the horizon.
At 11 pm, after the sun finally sets, vivid pinks, oranges, and blues paint swirling clouds for hours to come.
This is the magic that is a Swedish summer and one of the reasons I keep coming back.
The sheer amount of daylight simply provokes happiness. You can feel it emanating from the thriving natural world and from the Swedish people rejoicing after a long dark winter. It’s a place to meet new people, to jog through endless forests, to write throughout the night, and to get to know one of the most liberal, relaxed and content societies in the world.
Unfortunately, Sweden is notorious for it’s high prices and rightfully so. A Kebab costs around 14$, a beer at a bar goes for 9$, and a Grandiosa frozen pizza will cost you 7$. If you’re coming from budget friendly Guatemala as I often am, Sweden will leave you feeling robbed on a daily basis.
But don’t let the high cost of living dissuade your Swedish summer dreams. It is possible to live in Sweden on a budget and that’s what this runaway guide is all about.
How To Fly To Sweden For Cheap
Thanks to Norwegian Air you can almost always find cheap flights from Europe, Thailand and the US to Scandinavia. From Bangkok, flights range from 244$-400$ depending on the season. From New York and Ft. Lauderdale, flights go from as little as 178$ in the low season. And from Oakland and Los Angeles, prices generally hover around 400$ for a one way trip.
How To Get Around Sweden For Cheap
Once you’ve arrived at either Stockholm, Oslo, or Copenhagen Airports, the cheapest way to get where you want to go is by bus. Tickets can be purchased by cash inside at the information desk or on the bus by credit card only.
If you need to travel further distances, the train is usually your cheapest option. To save money, book tickets in advance on SJ.se. If you’re a student or under 26, be sure to mark that option before you buy for discounts up to 30%. If you’re a foreigner and look young, many ticket checkers often won’t bother to ask for proof.
But by far the cheapest way to travel around Sweden is by ride share. Check out Samakning.se for rideshare listings around Sweden and greater Scandinavia.
How To Find A Cheap Apartment In Sweden
The best places to find cheap apartments during the summer months are in university towns. Not only do university towns tend to be the most fun but since most students leave on vacation, and don’t want to continue paying rent on long-term apartments, they are willing to rent them out for sometimes half the regular price. This means you can often find beautifully furnished studios for between 300$ and 500$ a month. Check out the Swedish equivalent of Craigslist, Blocket.se for listings. First specify the county on the map, then choose the category, “Blocket Bostad” (living place), and finally, select UTHYRES (rentals).
My favorite university town is Uppsala. It’s just 20 minutes north of Arlanda Airport and 40 minutes north of Stockholm. The city, like most Swedish cities, offers the perfect blend of urban life with the natural world. It’s full of great retuarants and bars, and offers some sweet running trails through the nature reserve.
Other university towns to consider include Linköping in Central Sweden and Lund in Southern Sweden.
How To Eat Cheap In Sweden
Like most places, the cheapest way to eat in Sweden is by shopping at the grocery store and cooking at home. ICA and COOP are the two biggest chains but smaller chains such as Lidl and Willys often offer cheaper prices.
However, if you want to go even cheaper, you can always go dumpster diving. Dumpster diving in Sweden is a growing trend among the youth. Although it’s technically illegal and many grocery stores actually lock their bins, it’s fairly easy to find fruits, vegetables, and other edible treasures behind most markets.
Finally, if gardening is your thing, many cities in Sweden, Uppsala included, offer the chance to rent an a 60 square meter allotment for growing vegetables. This usually only costs between 150 and 300 kroner a season.
If you’re a backpacker on a serious budget and looking to camp out, you can always take advantage of Allemansrätten. All Mans Rights states that all land, whether it be private or public, is open to all. This means you can camp on and roam through any land as long as you do not disturb or destroy it. It also means you can enjoy wild blue berries, raspberries, and strawberries when you find them.
While Sweden can be expensive, living long term isn’t as expensive as you might think. If you want to sleep and eat comfortably and occasionally go out, you can get by on a budget of around 1,200$ a month. However, if you’re willing to hit the dumpsters every once in a while and rent a room in an apartment, you can definitely bring that number down to around 700$.