Tag Archives: Housing

Shocking Stockholm and beautiful laundrettes


We are all always interested to hear what outsiders have to say about our home town.  So you can understand that I was fascinated to stumble across these impressions of Stockholm on the Quora website.

First and biggest complaint? The impossibility of finding a apartment. Now there’s something to talk about at our next course in Housing English!



But it’s not all bad news. Despite finding the booking system a little strange at first, on leaving Stockholm, the writer felt nostalgic for the communal laundry, the beloved “tvättstuga.” You’d be amazed at how many foreigners who have lived here are overwhelmed by nostalgia when you mention it.



You’ll be in hot water if you’re late for the laundry!

Last week Gary and I spent two lively days at SABO (the umbrella organisation for municipal housing companies) leading a course in Housing English. The participants were letting agents and other municipal housing staff from all over Sweden. Two full days training and an evening out speaking English at the Dubliners pub. It’s a very successful model.

We got to talking about how there are some things that, if you live in a certain country, you know instinctively. They are so obvious that they don’t even need to be mentioned. One of the most important of these is: always pay the rent on time. If you don’t landlords will come down on you like a ton of bricks and there can be all kinds of unpleasant consequences.

We asked the group if they had any more pieces of advice for a new arrival in Sweden. Here are some of their suggestions.

Laundry punctuality

Punctuality is important. Always come on time to meetings, doctor’s appointments, and laundry sessions etcAlways take your shoes off when visiting someone’s home.

Don’t jump queues. You will be very unpopular.

Bring a gift for your host when going to a dinner party.

Clean the laundry properly after use and remove fluff from the dryer.

Respect Swedes’ personal space. Don’t stand too close to them.

Don’t forget the law of public access (Allemansrätt). You can pick mushrooms ad berries in the forest and even camp for one night

Cash is no longer king. Most transactions are done by card.

The environment is important. Remember to recycle and to sort your garbage.

Show consideration for your neighbours. Be quiet after 10.00 pm.

Don’t sit next to someone on an empty bus and start a conversation. Swedes will think you are a little strange. Or drunk!

If you have the contract for a flat in one of the big cities, don’t ever give it up!

A very varied and rather useful list!

Lively times in Lund

Recently , my colleague Gary Watson did a language training course for LKF, a housing company in Lund in the south of Sweden. As part of the training, I rang up each of the participants and asked them to explain a little about the housing market in their area.

My mental picture of Lund is a green, slightly sleepy university town, not dissimilar to Oxford and Cambridge. Lots of students on bicycles, lively coffee bars etc. Lund University is one of the oldest in the country.

Founded in 1666, it was an attempt to re-Swedify Skåne. The southern part of Sweden had been under Danish control until the Treaty of Roskilde. Fans of Kurt Wallander will know that the Swedish spoken down there sounds far more like Danish than the posh version we speak in Stockholm.

The university may be ancient but it is certainly cutting edge when it comes to technology. The LKF people explained to me about a massive new research building project: the MAX IV Lab and the ESS (European Spaliation Source). A spanking new, next-generation, synchrotron radiation facility and a new, state-of-the-art European facility for materials research that are currently being built.

The local community are very excited about this project. It will bring a lot of new jobs to the area and attract top class researchers from all over the world. I drove past the area last summer and was very impressed by the futuristic design, but at that point had no idea what it was. Now I do and I’m even more impressed.

You can read more about it on the university website:


In the capital they may be loathe to admit it, but the area around the Öresund Bridge is one of the most dynamic in Sweden these days.