Living cheap against all odds


So, you may have heard that life in Sweden is not precisely the cheapest… and I’m here to tell you that what you’ve heard is right. Life in Sweden is not cheap. However, it is possible to make living frugally into a challenge. There’s a ton of little tricks you can habitually use to spend less money, and I promise, they can only make life a little bit more fun!

To move around for the least amount of money, what you can do is bike! Gothenburg is well prepared for cyclists, with signalized paths all around and drivers who respect their two-wheeled comrades. It is easy to get a cheap second hand bikes, and also to get free bikes through Cykelköket (The Bike Kitchen).

On my way to become a bike rider!

On my way to become a bike rider!

Food will constitute a big chunk of your budget, and the best decision you can take is to cook your own as often as possible! Eating out is exponentially more expensive than the food you buy in the supermarket… so you better exercise those chef skills! The same goes for coffee. You’ll probably have a lot of it, and instead of buying a couple of cups a week (or a day, as a true swede would), it is better to bring a thermos from home. Two of the cheapest supermarkets are Willy:s and Lidl. They’re well worthy a few extra kilometers!

Months after deciding that learning how to make pizza was better than buying pizza (Credit to Victor "Heisenbrg" Viñas)

Months after deciding that learning how to make pizza was better than buying pizza (Credit to Victor ”Heisenberg” Viñas)

For clothes and household items, you have access to a lot of second hand shops. The most popular are Myrorna and Emmaus, but if you just keep your eyes open while walking around Gothenburg, you’ll surely find a lot more. The items sold in these shops are surprisingly well kept, many look even new! A Swedish equivalent of Ebay, Blocket, will also come in handy to buy… well, pretty much everything you can think of.

And finally, for recreation, there is always something going on for free. You just have to keep on the lookout for announcement boards in Chalmers and in the city. You can turn it into a little game, trying to have the most fun for free!

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A free concert in Slottskogen

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Another free concert

So yes, even if most prices in Sweden may be above what you’re used to, this does not mean that you will undoubtedly go broke. In order to live cheaply in Gothenburg, all you need is some power of will, an inquisitive spirit and a little sense of adventure!