Before and during your stay in Sweden
Congratulations, You just got offered a position in one of the universities in Sweden, an excellent choice coming here! You might be wondering, since you will finance your studies on your own, fully or partially, what is next and how can you be sure that you will still live a decent life in one of Europe’s expensive countries to live in? Here are some tips that might help you:
A little bit of context, I come from Indonesia and I’m studying a master’s program in Environmental Economics and Management at Sverige Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU) in Uppsala through a partial funding scheme. It means that the only expenses that I have to cover are transport (getting from Indonesia to Sweden, and within Sweden) and living costs, as the tuition is already covered by the SLU Scholarship.
- How much money should I prepare?
The Swedish Imigration office provides a guideline of a minimum amount to proof you are financially able to live in Sweden. The amount varies each year, so it is best to check on their website. However, based on my experience back in 2020, the minimum amount of money that I should have per month is SEK 8,450, and you have to multiply that by 14 months, so the total is SEK 118,300 for one year of residency. You have to repeat the same process next year as you renew your residence permit.
Note: If you fully fund your studies without any financial aid, you also have to prove that you already paid your tuition fee for your program.
- How can I prove my ability to Finance myself?
You can do that by asking your bank to provide an official statement that you have this specific amount of money in your account under your name. This letter is not the same as bank account printouts, as the immigration office will not accept only that. The letter should be in English, with official headings, logo of the bank, complete address, and a signature from the bank officer (see picture above)
- It’s a proof of the ability to finance yourself, and not a deposit!
This letter only serves as a guarantee that you present when you apply for your Swedish residence permit card, no money is required to be deposited into a Swedish bank account. So you can still adjust your actual expenses – even for me, my monthly expenses are still below the required 8450 SEK.
- Welcome to Sweden! However, you don’t have Swedish Crown in your pocket. Now what?
So you went through all of your pre-departure finances and now you have arrived at Arlanda International airport. However, you have not got access to a Swedish bank account until all of your paperwork with Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency) is done regarding your personal number which could take up to 6 months. As in my case, several Indonesian bank accounts are able to make transactions in Sweden, but currency rates differ from one bank to another. I suggest you split your money into two bank accounts from different banks, one as your daily expenses account and the other one as your savings.Moreover,it’s a good back up plan if one of your cards is not working because in many cases it happens a lot with Indonesian bank accounts.
I use Bank Mandiri and Jenius. the one that I use for daily expenses and online transactions (bus ticket purchases, transfer to digital bank account for paying rent, etc.) is Jenius as they are easy to manage and easy to track your spending. While my Bank Mandiri account is for my savings accounts. So, I can avoid over spending my budget as I transfer my monthly budget to my Jenius account. I also added one additional digital bank account to pay my rent, which I use Revolut bank account that I can top up using my Jenius bank account.
Note: It is not advisable to bring cash/banknotes to Sweden as Sweden is a cashless society and most shops do not accept cash/banknotes.
- Congratulations! Now you got the basics of managing your finances. What’s next?
The first 4-6 months, I personally say would be the most challenging period in getting used to managing your finances as a student in Sweden. Everything feels expensive compared to back home and you might have a constant fear of not being able to stay on budget. However, as you spend more time living in Sweden, you will find your own nooks and crooks on how to make the most of your budget and end up still having money to spare at the end of the month.
Rent would be your most significant expense as a student, especially as a new student you don’t have much choice in finding your own room. Thus you need to work with what the university has chosen for you which is often not on the affordable side. Nevertheless, along the way, you will learn options that you can move into once you have your personal number, such as Nation Housing, Shared Flats, etc., that can be significantly cheaper than what the universities offer.
As for food, your diet might change also. You might find ingredients that you find from your home countries (in my case, Indonesian or Asian ingredients) super expensive, so you shift to a more local diet that is more affordable. This also goes to other things such as entertainment and leisure time that might be affordable back home but expensive here, such as eating out, going to the theater, etc.
You can still enjoy your time in Sweden without having to worry if your finances will make it at the end of the month or not, as long as you are willing to adapt and find new things that are within your budget. You will find a new group of people, networks, places that can also give you an opportunity to make extra pocket money through part-time or freelancing jobs.
At first, planning your finances can be stressful because you are not yet familiar with the actual conditions in Sweden, especially when you can only rely on internet research before going here. I will say that this is a learning process rather than a very rigid plan that you have to set the moment you decide to go to Sweden. Stay strong, stay alive, and good luck with your study!
Master of Environmental Economics and Management
Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU)
Editor: Annusyirvan Ahmad Fatoni