Reading About the Housing Shortage

Just a few days ago I read on SvD (one of Sweden’s major newspapers) that the queue for social rental housing is growing fast. I have often written on this blog about the housing shortage in the Swedish capital, but reading the numbers always makes me a bit dizzy. Since the beginning of this year the queue has grown with 30,000 people, which means that now over half a million people are in search of an apartment.

Letterboxes in Stockholm, by Sascha Benes

Letterboxes in Stockholm, by Sascha Benes

So if I would be in a search of an apartment right now I can probably forget about the more central locations. So let’s focus on the outer parts of town. Over there, the average waiting time for a rental apartment is 8.3 years, which means a rise 7 months since 2014. Many second-hand rental contracts are offered for periods of a half year to a year. This means that with a bit of bad luck you have to move somewhere between 8 till 16 times before you’ll get something permanent.

When looking at these figures they seem extreme. The city of Stockholm barely has a million inhabitants, and when we consider Metropolitan Stockholm, or ‘Storstockholm’, we don’t get more than 2.2 million people. In this light it seems hard to believe that there are more than half a million people in search of an apartment.

Previous analysis of the queue has shown that only 14% of the entire queue are active searchers. Many people list themselves because they might want a (different) rental apartment in the future. On the other hand, there are also people who are really looking for an apartment but don’t actively search through the queue, because they feel that without substantial years listed they don’t stand a chance.

If we really want to have a good public debate about the housing situation, we should present to the point statistics instead of sensational numbers. Knowing exactly who the people are that we need to build for has one great upside, actually understanding what we have to build and where to build it. Truly understanding the demand of the people will lead to the best allocation of our available resources, and ultimately to more happy city dwellers.


Written by Sascha Benes. Follow him on Twitter, Linkedin and .