Scandinavian Budgeting

Scandinavian flags

When deciding to do a year abroad in Sweden, money was one of the first things that came up as an issue. Scandinavia although famous for having the happiest people in the world and just being a well-functioning place in general, also has some of the highest taxes and a high cost of living.

However with your student loan in the bank when you first arrive, and the Erasmus grant coming a few months later, it’s really not as hard to budget as you might think. Budgeting can be boring but it’s also pretty basic; every supermarket always has the cheaper brands, which although can be a bit more expensive than Leeds prices are still fairly reasonable. Every city has a student pub or three, which we quickly searched out here and found happy hour and beers that would only set you back about 30 kronor (£3ish).

A great perk of Sweden, is that everybody cycles absolutely everywhere. If you don’t have a bike here I’m not really sure how you’d get by. Bikes here are treated like pedestrians with huge bike lanes on the pavement and there is more bike parking in the centre of town than car parks. I have never once got the bus in Halmstad, nor a taxi, so you don’t have to deal with an Uber 4X surge on the way home from a night out, you just get on your bike.  If you are getting the train or coach somewhere further away there’s a discount card available from the station which really saves a lot of money over the year. As in Leeds if you’re going out, predrinking is the best answer, no one wants to check their bank balance the morning after and wonder why on earth you bought a round of drinks that cost £40.

Two cyclists

The perks of living by the Swedish coast are that we can hang out at the beach (which is free) and have many a BBQ which is pretty cheap (when it’s above 5 degrees and not threatening snow), basically what I mean is it’s easy to have a good time wherever you are without spending too much money. And although most things are more expensive than home, some are actually cheaper and the government does increase your student loan so basic living is pretty easy to budget.

The main thing I have spent my money on here really (except food of course) is traveling and exploring my new country. Trips to Lapland, Russia, Copenhagen and Swedish cities do all start to add up, but are all 100% worth it. You can also take full advantage of going to visit your friends who are also doing study abroad…when else are you going to get a lovely trip to Paris with free accommodation? (Thank you Lucy). My main advice if you want to make the most of this year would be to get a job the summer before you study abroad and save and don’t be afraid to spend money when you’re here!

However clichéd it sounds, you do only get to do study abroad once and you have to take advantage of being in a new country, and in my case having a lot of free time to explore, and so you don’t want money to be the limiting factor.

Group photo in the snow

Written by Isabel Maw – Halmstad University, Sweden

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