Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flat-hunting in Stockholm

The worst thing about living in Stockholm is to rent an apartment. I'm currently renting an apartment from a Swede who was abroad for a year. He's back in the city now, and about two months ago, he asked me to leave by the end of this month.

I really don't want to move out from my current neighborhood called Hammarby sjöstad. Apartments in the city center are expensive and small. Other Stockholm suburbs are unpleasantly purely residential (no street life at all). But the only apartment listing website for non-Swedish speakers, Bostad Direkt, shows only a couple of apartments in this area during the last 1 month and a half. When I called them up, they were already taken.

Accepting the reality that I have to leave this neighborhood, I started searching for apartments in other areas by struggling with a poorly-designed search function of Bostad Direkt (it's de facto a monopoly, no incentive to improve their website). I want to stay at a new apartment at least for a year. But most apartments are only available during the summer time when apparently Swedish owners go abroad for summer vacations. Even if it's available for 12 months or longer, they usually come without washing machines due to the stupid norm of using the laundry room collectively in an apartment building, which is really unacceptable to me (and no Swede sympathizes with me on this). 

I found a couple of places. One is actually a house in Nacka, an eastern suburb. I called the owner up and he told me the address of the place. I searched it on the online map. It was in the middle of a forest. I also searched it on the public transport journey planner. The nearest bus stop is 1km away. No way.

Another place is in Älvsjö (pronounced "elf-ho"). I went to see it yesterday. Älvsjö is located 10 minutes away from Stockholm Central station by the commuter train. Once I got off the train, I realized this area is a countryside. A small supermarket, a couple of depressing newsstands, a couple of depressing pizzeria, a Chinese restaurant serving sushi (which very often happens in Stockholm), and a barber. (This set of urban amenity is actually better than other suburbs.) Otherwise, they are houses with lots of green. No apartment building here. If you love nature, maybe this is an ideal place to live given the proximity to the city center. But I don't really appreciate nature.

The apartment was actually a set of rooms in one of these rural houses. The owner of the house seems to mis-classify it on Bostad Direkt. It's the basement with small windows and with worn-out furniture. I have to pass this opportunity. Otherwise I will kill myself.

Another place is in Bromma, a western suburb of Stockholm. This place is available only until the end of October. But I have to compromise. I can search again in autumn. I called the owner, and she asked me to call her back in the morning today. I did. She told me she would call me back in 10 minutes. one hour has passed by now. She didn't call me back. I checked Bostad Direct again. Her advertisement disappeared. Why doesn't she just tell me it's already taken?

Another place is in Vällingby (pronounced ve-ling-bu), another western suburb which is actually rather attractive the last time I visited there for the Massagotti cafe. I called the owner up. She didn't speak English at all.

Now I exhausted the list of apartments of my interest. I'm not sure if I find one until the end of this month.

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