Housing in Sweden: a story of co-living, co-housing and… mambo!

Housing in Sweden is an evergreen hot topic. When family or friends gather, there is a very high chance that the issue of housing comes up. Either it comes from young people (like in their 20s or 30s) or from older people, who may seek alternative housing solutions for their retirement. It is not always about the high cost. It is increasingly about how they wish to live and most importantly with whom.

Sharing is deeply ingrained in the Nordic people’s DNA. The world is changing rapidly. So is housing. If it is modern, cool and more environmentally friendly to share your car (that’s carpooling), why wouldn’t it be such to share your housing? No, no, we are not talking about Airbnb. We are talking about co-things like co-housing and co-living.

Find out how the housing-hungry Swedes come up with these modern and innovative alternatives and what’s the next big thing for the whole world.

What is co-living and how does it work?

OK, here is the thing. A lot of people living under one roof. Each one with his separate room but with a lot of options in terms of communal areas or spaces to be shared. Like the kitchen, living rooms and other spaces for relaxation or leisure. Oh, and it all comes at one total cost (cleaning included) which can be more affordable than renting one flat in Stockholm (should you be that lucky to find one). You see, there is a waiting list of more than 650.000 people. To find a place to stay. In Stockholm alone. Mind-boggling right?

This is why co-living alternatives like K9 or COLIVE are becoming more and more popular. The cost is lower, you can have more for your money and there is also a shared experience, a sense of community. Whether from elsewhere in Sweden or abroad, everyone has a place in these new co-living buildings. And it is also more sustainable (how Nordic!). No need for each person to have one whole flat with everything inside. Sharing is caring. Plus it is fun too!


How is co-housing different from co-living?

Well, as Swedes grow older, they wish for more independence and flexibility (versus the co-living spaces mentioned above). Their life is no longer dictated by family or children. The latter have moved out of their parents’ house or have their own family. So, senior Swedes love the idea of sharing housing with other like-minded (and of the same age group) people.

Like in the case of Färdknäppen. More space in their private rooms (a kitchen too) but all the other spaces and amenities are shared (from equipment to rooms). But they also have to cater to the needs of the house: they must cook, clean and maintain the place they all live together. And again, it is about community. They all take care of the others and make life easier and more fun.

Top-5 terms to define the Swedes’ housing status

Language evolves with time. But also with the changes that take place in society. The Swedish language is no exception.

Here are the 5 most popular Swedish terms when it comes to their housing status:

  • sambo: it is an abbreviation of the Swedish phrase living together. So sambos are the ones who live under one roof, together, permanently, without being married.
  • mambo: if young people cannot find a flat or they are not married yet, they can continue to stay with their parents until their late 20s or 30s. This is exactly what this new word means: living with mom or dad (or both).
  • delsbo: something like living together part-time. Maybe because one of the two or both works far away from each other.
  • särbo: kind of difficult to explain 1005 but let’s say it is when they don’t live together yet but their relationship has moved far beyond the we-are-seeing-each-other thing.
  • kombo: co-tenant but much cuter. Like when you live with your other half together. The first part of the word (kom) comes from the Swedish word “kompis” that means friend. Aww!

Which one (if any) would describe your status? If none, ask the Swedes to make up a new word for it!