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The 6 interview questions you have to ask your potential flatmate when you first meet them

The 6 interview questions you have to ask your potential flatmate when you first meet them

Interviewing a future flatmate is an often neglected step in the renting process. The truth is if you want to find the best flatmate, you should take the time and ask them these 6 important questions when you firt meet. Their answer to each of them will not only give you valuable insight on their character, lifestyle, and habits, but it will also make it easily distinguishable if you are the perfect (flatmate) match:

Do you smoke?
This may sound like an obvious question to you (whether you smoke or not) but this (unhealthy) habit has a rather strong impact on your whole life, including your morning routine and the way both your clothes and your surroundings smell. Be upfront about this and let your flatmate know if it is allowed or forbidden to smoke inside. Hint: if you are a non-smoker, you can even include a clause in the rental agreement, explicitly forbidding smoking inside.

Do you have any pets?
A flatmate with a friendly beagle bringing the morning paper or with a gracious Persian cat that eats only black caviar and always gets the best spot on the couch may sound appealing to pet-lovers, but this may not be the case with you if you don’t like pets. Asking your potential flatmate about their opinion on pets will give you a hint whether it will be easy for you to get along as flatmates. If you are both pet lovers , you can even get a pet as a symbol of your new life together as flatmates! If you both prefer a clean and fur-free home, though, then that’s great too. If, however, one of you wants the purring fur ball and the other one sneezes just at the thought of it, you have a problem.

How often do you do chores?
Did you know that cleaning is among the top reasons for conflicts between flatmates? It doesn’t really matter if the answer is every day or twice a month – as long as their cleaning habits are close to yours, it’s a match! Besides, now is a good time to ask if they are willing to share the expenses of hiring a professional cleaning service that will automatically get this issue off the table (as well as the dust, that is).

What do you do for a living?
A person’s profession says a lot about their character, their daily routine, and their lifestyle. For example, if your flatmate has a regular 9-5 job, the last thing you should expect is to find them messing around with a new girl on the living room couch at 1 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. But this should be considered perfectly normal behavior if your flatmate is the star of a local band, right?

How do you spend your spare time?
The way your future flatmate spends their free time will give you enough food for thought whether you will be a good match as flatmates. Imagine they are an early bird who likes exercising in their room under the (loud) sound of Pitbull’s latest hit at 7 am (on a Saturday!) while you find it difficult to even consider opening your eyes before eleven…

How do you unwind?
Determining what kind of a “party” person you are about to accommodate is very important. They may prefer to spend the Friday night quietly in front of the TV, watching the latest Let’s Dance episode. Or they may regularly have friends over, preparing Margaritas, listening and dancing to loud music and basically getting drunk every other night. No judgments either way, but just make sure that their way to unwind doesn’t get in the way of you having fun (or having a nap).


Living as an expat in Stockholm – your questions answered

Living as an expat in Stockholm - your questions answered

Stockholm is one of Europe’s most preferred destinations for expats as it offers unique opportunities to work and live in the capital of Scandinavia. Here, expats enjoy a mix of nightlife, culture, and outdoor activities that any European capital can be jealous of.

If you are still considering moving to Stockholm as an expat, read through the most common questions expats have before taking this step and find the answers here:

Question: Do I have to learn the language?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that you don’t need it to live there but you will need it to work there and, most importantly, to more easily get acquainted with the lifestyle and sooner start feeling less like a tourist. Besides, if you’ve already decided to call a whole new country your home, you should at least make some efforts to learn your new “local” language, right?

Question: Will I easily find new friends in Stockholm?
Of course, you will! There’s a thriving international community in Stockholm, so you will soon find a lot of fellow expats to talk to and spend your spare time with. Mind, though, that the locals are not so friendly towards strangers coming from another country (and not speaking their language), so it will take some time to make friends with Swedes as an expat in Stockholm.

Question: Do I have to learn how to ride a bike?
In case you haven’t, it is time to start taking bike riding lessons right now! Stockholm is famous as the city of the bike-riding lovers, so this skill is going to come in really handy for you as an expat living there.

Question: Will I have difficulties finding a flat to rent?
You should be prepared that finding a home in Stockholm is harder than you’ve ever thought. The Swedish renting system is extremely complicated and most of the expats find the whole renting experience rather frustrating. We have good news for you, though! With Hibih, finding a home as an expat in Stockholm is quick and easy – just visit Hibih and find your new home in no time!

Will I be able to keep a good work-life balance?
With about five weeks of vacation a year plus a lot of public national holidays, finding the perfect balance between your work and personal life should be easy. In Stockholm, you will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities with your friends and family!


Living as an expat in Stockholm – DOs and DON’Ts

Living as an expat in Stockholm - DOs and DON'Ts

Sweden and Stockholm in particular, have a lot to offer. There’s no wonder why Sweden’s capital is a preferred destination for many expats from all over the world. But do you have what it takes to live a comfortable life in Sweden as an expat? We’re here to help!

Here are several of the most important DO’S and DON’Ts of living as an expat in Sweden and Stockholm in particular that will immensely help you overcome the culture shock and feel at ease living as an expat there:

DO learn the language
If you are a fluent English speaker, that’s a big plus. You can even spend years living in Sweden without feeling the need to learn Swedish. If you want to work there, though, you might consider learning the local language. The good news for English speakers is that English has a lot in common with Swedish, so that’s encouraging!

DON’T be surprised when Stockholm gets deserted in the summer
Don’t be surprised when Stockholmers desert their beautiful city soon after midsummer and don’t return until after about 4-6 weeks. As it turns out, local people not only know how to work hard, they also know how to rest! The good news is that while most locals are off to the country, you have all the city beauties to yourself for most of the summer.

DO be patient with Swedes
Swedes are famous for being reserved and this reputation isn’t entirely unfounded. Their innate social reserves make it a bit difficult for expats to meet and become friends with locals, but this shouldn’t discourage you! The good news is that Stockholm boasts with its thriving international community, so finding new friends among other expats and having fun with them should be easy.

DON’T get lost in Stockholm
OK, we know this is not something you would deliberately want to do, but we strongly advise you to avoid getting lost at all cost. Why? Simply because locals are not so willing to help a stranger who doesn’t even speak Swedish with directions. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but you shouldn’t count on them. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

DO be ready to say hello to brands you haven’t heard before
Whether it is clothing, food, or anything money can buy, for that matter, Swedes have it their own way. You will find a handful of familiar brands, of course, but most of their goods are totally unfamiliar to the expat who has just landed in Stockholm. Don’t worry, you’ll soon get the hang of it and you will find that there are some really nice things to buy in Sweden!

DON’T let yourself get frustrated
If there is just one thing that can make your life easier living as an expat (anywhere) that will be learning to embrace change. Don’t let frustration sneak into your expat life. Open your heart and senses to the new culture, new lifestyle, and new people you are inevitably going to experience and be grateful you are given the chance to live the adventurous and exciting life of the expat!


Stockholm expats – tips and tricks for moving as an expat

Stockholm expats – tips and tricks for moving as an expat

 

Living as an expat is not easy. Regardless of the new country you’ve decided to live in, there are always the same stages you have to go through – the culture shock, the time difference, the different pace of life, etc. If you are an expat planning to move to Stockholm, the following tips and tricks will immensely help you go through the different stages of adaptation more easily and pain-free:

Be prepared to embrace the new culture
Sweden is a country with a long history and a rich culture. If you are moving to Sweden from overseas (which is often the case), you should be prepared for a culture shock. The sooner you learn to embrace your new way of life, the better. Remember that Stockholm has innumerable hidden beauties to show you, but you will have to open your eyes (and your heart) for them!

Learn to ride a bike
In Stockholm, you’ll need this skill almost as much as you need air to breathe. One of the few bike-riding lovers, Swedish people (especially those living in Stockholm) ride a bike on a daily basis. In fact, chances are you are going to start riding a bike as an expat in Stockholm way before you start driving a car, so a bike-riding practice will be more useful than getting a Swedish driver’s license.

Finding a home in Stockholm is more difficult than you’ve imagined
You’d better be prepared for difficulties finding a place to rent as an expat. With the complicated Swedish renting system, it’s no surprise that a lot of expats find themselves confused and losing faith in finding a place to stay while in Stockholm. Luckily, there are online services like Hibih that can immensely help you in your search for an apartment to rent as an expat in Stockholm!

Swedish is not an easy language, so you’d better start learning it today
English will help you get around as more than half the population of Sweden speaks it. But this doesn’t mean learning Swedish will be a waste of time! On the contrary, learning the local language will open many doors for you in Stockholm. It may take some time to learn it, but the good news is there are many state-subsidized Swedish-learning courses that can be taken either for free or at a really low cost.

Be prepared to fall in love with Swedish people
One thing most expats are surprised by when first getting to know the local culture is the friendliness and kindness of local people. A truly pleasant surprise, Swedish calmness and tolerance, as well as their relaxed way of living will all add up to the ease with which you will adapt to the Swedish way of life. You will be amazed by the simplicity of life that Swedish people have mastered!


7 renter-friendly decorating ideas

7 renter-friendly decorating ideas
 

Living as a renter does not necessarily mean having to put up with dull living space lacking character and your personal touch. There are plenty of things you can do to decorate your rented space without worrying about losing your security deposit!

Here’s our top 7 of renter-friendly decorating ideas:

1. Colorful pillows
Decorative pillows can be found in almost any department store. Their price is not high and the diversity of colors and patterns they are offered in will guarantee you the perfect match between the furniture that’s already in your rented space and your preferred design style.

2. A cute cocktail cart on wheels
Not many home accents can shout “I am fun to hang out with” like a beverage cart. You can either buy it or make it yourself. Paint it in the color you want and, most importantly, stock it with your favorite spirits. Homemade Margaritas, anyone?

3. Herbs in a pot
Accessorize the kitchen in your rented apartment with planted herbs. This way it will not only look better but smell better as well! Potted plants are a great way to add a personal touch to any living space and herbs in a pot are the best choice for your kitchen.

4. A vintage rug
You can find one online or at a local thrift shop. Vintage rugs come in all sizes and colors and are usually so full of energy and bright colors! Choose one that best suits your style and take it home. Then put it on different spots until you find the best – it can be anywhere (from your terrace to the bathroom, the living room or even the corridor)!

5. Storage space
Again, you can DIY, buy it second-hand or go to the closest store to get one. Think carefully about all the stuff that’s still stored in boxes and find the best way to unpack it and store it in a much more pleasant place to look at than a carton box.

6. Accessories
Are you a fan of kitten-face clocks or porcelain elephants? It doesn’t matter! Any accessory that you already own or have been given (and you like) should be proudly displayed in your rental space. Nothing gives you the sense of home and personal space like these little accents!

7. Curtains
One major drawback of decorating a rented space is the taboo of wall painting. While you cannot (usually) repaint the walls or put wallpaper, there’s one thing you can do that has almost the same effect without hurting the feelings of your landlord. It’s called curtains! You can totally change the atmosphere in the room using the right color and texture of window curtains, so you have no excuses not to do it if you want to make your rented space look more personal.


1st hand versus 2nd hand contracts (pros and cons)

1st hand versus 2nd hand contract (pros and cons)

 

First-hand contracts PROS:
• You can rent them at an incredibly low cost – sometimes, you can sign a first-hand contract at half the market rental price of the apartment;
• The apartments are built by the state – you can be sure that you won’t have to deal with frauds or scammers;
• It can be both permanent, and for a set period of time – you have the flexibility to determine the terms that best suit your current situation and rental needs.

First-hand contracts CONS:
• It’s almost impossible to get one – with such a high demand foreigners, students, and expats have almost zero chances to get a first-hand contract (especially in Stockholm);
• You’ll have to enter the housing queue (bostadskö) – the housing queue is proverbial with its high volume;
• Queuing can take up to 10+ years in Stockholm.

Second-hand contracts PROS:
• Subletting (a second-hand contract) is what most foreigners (expats) choose as a rental option – this is a well-known renting model that almost everybody is well acquainted with;
• It is a common practice in the bigger cities (and especially in Stockholm);
• There are regulatory organs that guarantee you reasonable (and legal) rent rates – if your rights as a renter are violated, you can file a claim at the regional rent tribunal. It will mediate any dispute between you and your landlord.

Second-hand contracts CONS:
• Many first-hand contract holders operate on the black renting market. Due to the high demand for second-hand contracts, a lot of landlords demand a considerably higher rent than the one that’s in your contract (that is paid in cash);
• Second-hand contracts are in a very high demand and difficult to get;
• There are renting period limitations – this can be very inconvenient as a person in search of a long-term rent may end up approving an apartment that is rented for just a month (or vice versa);
• You may fall victim of scammers – the most usual way for them to get your money is try to make you pay your deposit and then disappear.

There is a better way!
Hibih is an alternative to second-hand contracts, helping those who have a room or a flat (or a house) to offer and those looking for a place to rent to find each other and get in touch in a fast, easy and secure way. We are promoting house-sharing through easy communication and by building trust and promoting responsibility. Hibih is the easiest way for foreigners to find housing in Stockholm – both short term and long term.

With Hibih, you will never worry again about renting in Stockholm!


Why it’s almost impossible to rent an apartment in Stockholm

Why it's nearly impossible to rent an apartment in Stockholm

Trying to rent an apartment in Stockholm is as close to a real nightmare as possible – anyone who has experienced it will agree. But why is it nearly impossible to rent an apartment in Stockholm? What it is that makes the renting process so difficult and frustrating?

Lack of open market
Unlike most of the European countries, Sweden has an official queue system that consists of almost all renting options available. With very few private apartment buildings, it is hard to rent a place, not due to a high rent, but due to the official Swedish queue system that will make you wait 10+ years to get a chance to rent an apartment and that’s if you’re qualified…

The backlog of new housing constructions
Even though the queue renting system opens up a huge gap of people who are willing to rent but unable to, new housing constructions are not built with the speed they should be. A common practice for building entrepreneurs is converting factories to apartments, but even this is a rather slow process and the demand is so high they sometimes get rented without any advertising. This, unfortunately, leaves newcomers, expats, and students with no way to find out about these options. Add to this the fact that only about 10,000 new homes are expected to be built annually over the next 15 years and you’ll get that the housing picture in Sweden is not getting prettier.

The black market
Even though there are regulatory organs that guarantee you reasonable (and legal) rent rates when you sign a second-hand contract, the truth is that many first-hand contract holders include the legally-approved rates in the written contract and then demand the rest in cash. With rentals in such a high demand, it is no wonder that many people who are desperately in need of housing while in Stockholm are compelled to agree with such illegal terms.

The renting period limitations
Let’s say you have found a renting option that fits in your budget (second-hand contracts) and your potential landlord is not participating in the black market. You like the apartment, the rent is reasonable, the location is good. Then there is the common problem – the renting period limitations. Let’s say you need a place to rent for 3 months, but the landlord only rents it for 6+ months. Or you need a long-term rent (12 months) while the place you have fallen in love with has a short-term tag added to its price and can be rented for just one month. The list of unfortunate circumstances can go on and on, drawing you into a vicious circle of renting hell with no way out.

The scammers
It is only normal that in a market with such a high demand, scams and fraud find the perfect soil to grow and flourish like garden flowers in a sunny spring day. The main aim of such fake landlords is to get the money from the deposit and then disappear into thin air. Some of them lure potential victims with a “too-good-to-be-true” rental options, others try to get your money by asking you to pay the deposit to a foreign account.

Is your experience finding an apartment to rent in Stockholm bitter or sweet? Share with us in the comments below!


How do first-hand and second-hand contracts work for renting an apartment in Stockholm?

How does first and 2nd hand contracts work for renting an apartment in StockholmOne of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, Stockholm has been a place of attraction for many years. The housing market is quite competitive nowadays and finding an apartment to rent in Stockholm is a challenge that you shouldn’t enter unprepared. That’s why we’ve decided to throw some light on the 2 main types of renting contracts you will come upon when in search for an apartment to rent in Stockholm: first-hand and second-hand renting contracts. The first-hand contract (förstahandskontrakt) A first-hand renting contract is “the queen of renting”. First-hand rents are apartments that are built by the state and you can rent them at a really low cost (sometimes at half the price of a standard apartment rent). That’s what most people are after but just the chosen few (very few) actually get. First-hand means that the contract is signed between the person who is renting and the actual owner of the building. If you are about to sign a first-hand contract have in mind that it can be both permanent, and for a set period of time. The housing queue (bostadskö) Registering for the local municipal housing queue is the most common way to rent through a first-hand contract. In Stockholm, however, it is extremely difficult to avail of it, as queuing can take up to several years – Stockholm is the city with one of the highest queuing times for rentals in the whole world! The second-hand contract (andrahandskontrakt) A second-hand renting contract, widely known as subletting is what most foreigners (expats) choose as a rental option when moving to Stockholm. This is a subletting contract that is usually signed between the person who is renting and the person who owns the first-hand contract. Subletting (second-hand contracting) is a common practice in the bigger cities, and especially in Stockholm. If you rent through a second-hand contract, make sure that your landlord is trustworthy and insist on a formal contract that is signed by both parties. The regional rent tribunal If your rights as a tenant are violated, the regional rent tribunal is the place where you should seek justice. The tribunal is a mediator in disputes between tenants and landlords (the disputes usually refer to topics like renting conditions, transfers, and subletting). Except for when there’s a dispute at hand, the regional rent tribunal can also be the source of helpful information like tenancy legislation, among other things related to renting.

 

 


What to look for when apartment hunting

What to look for when apartment huntingApartment hunting is a very popular activity among the contemporary “nomads”. If just the thought of apartment hunting sends shivers down your spine, read on for some invaluable advice on what to look for when apartment hunting as a renter:         Choosing the right timing If you are flexible regarding the time to move, you should probably find it helpful to know that there is an off-season when it comes to renting. Spring and summer are usually considered high-season (meaning more renting options and more competition), but fall and winter offer better choices for renters on a budget. Dealing with bad neighbors/roommates Noisy neighbors or difficult roommates can turn your moving (and renting) experience into a real nightmare. Be on the look for signs of bad neighbors/roommates and consider the property carefully in terms of the other people you’ll have to deal with while renting your apartment. Be sure to discuss with your future roommate and set some ground rules before signing a contract. As far as you neighbors are concerned, know your rights and don’t be shy to contact management if the case gets out of your control. Checking your cell phone reception and Wi-Fi signal It must seem like a minor problem, but lack of cell phone reception or poor Wi-Fi signal is actually a quite a big deal (especially if you’ll have to go outside any time you want to make a call or check your Facebook). When apartment hunting, take a walk with your phone out and spot any areas with bad reception or poor Wi-Fi. Test drive “Test-driving” the apartment you want to rent is a great way to see if this is actually the best fit for you. Ask the owner if you can spend one or two nights in the apartment to get the feel of it, test the shower, the kitchen appliances, the coffee maker if you wish! This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what your experience will be long-term. A few days spent in the apartment you are about to rent will give you insight into the feel of living in the building (be on the look for neighbors who like to party, crying babies, barking dogs, etc). Is there enough space for my furniture? Apartment hunting is not just about finding a good fit for you. It’s also about finding a good for your furniture. Have a tape-measure with you and a piece of paper with your furniture’s sizes on it. It is a bit time-consuming to think about the apartment in terms of the furniture it should fit, measure, and take notes, but it will eventually pay off. It’s never a good feeling to find out that your dining table doesn’t fit in the dining room and you’ve already signed the papers! Don’t count on your eyes only! Apartment hunting (just like real hunting) is a game that requires all your senses. Relying on your eyes is obligatory to spot anything that looks problematic, but don’t forget to use your other senses as well. Use your olfactory sense to smell unpleasant things like smoke, mould, etc. Depend on your ears when it comes to strange noises – perhaps the landlord has “forgotten” to tell you that there is a violin player living next door, who practices for 8 hours a day…


4 mistakes to avoid when looking for an apartment to rent

4. 4 mistakes to avoid when looking for an apartment to rentMost common mistakes people make when looking for an apartment to rent If there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that moving is stressful. Having said that, there are different approaches to moving. Do you think of moving as a new opportunity to change your life for the better? Is the decision to rent an apartment made due to external reasons like getting a promotion or being accepted to a college/university? Whatever the case is, there are the usual sunken rocks – the mistakes most inexperienced “movers” come upon when looking for an apartment to rent. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when looking for an apartment to rent: Saying “No” to budgeting A lot of people fall in the trap of wrongly estimating their expenses when in search of a new apartment to rent. As annoying budgeting may be, it is a very important aspect of your decision on the right apartment to rent. Have in mind that it is not all about the monthly rent, though. When making your calculations, you should have in mind the additional costs like utilities, cable, phone bills, general area living costs, etc. Saying “Yes” too soon A very common mistake people make is falling in love with a property to rent without checking out the apartment in person. Are you moving to another country? Still, you can shortlist a few properties and plan a short trip to see them all and make an informed decision! Getting the neighborhood out of the equation There’s nothing wrong in preferring one property to another. But, when making a decision which one to rent, you should always consider the neighborhood as well. Here’s some food for thought: Is the property close to your work/school/a convenient Metro station? Is it located in a more “expensive neighborhood”? Is there a grocery store/a dry cleaner’s nearby? Forgetting to read the small print This is a highly neglected part of any contract signing, but it is especially important when it comes to renting a place to live in. The number one rule here is to take your time and not rush into signing before you are absolutely sure this is the place for you. Tenant rights, extra payments about gas, utilities, water, parking, etc. are just a few of the details to ask about before renting a property.