March 16, 2021


Now that we’ve been in Edinburgh a few months, we’re looking to move our of our temporary apartment and into another for the longer term. With all this apartment searching and comparing, I’m reminded of the last time we changed apartments which, of course was in Sweden. 

Before moving to Sweden, I was of course, familiar with the beautiful interiors and design that the country is known for. However, there were quite a few things about how Swedes live and how they choose to build their homes that surprised me along the way. So what are some of the differences between Swedish and American apartments? Here’s a little hint – if you’re invited into a Swedish home, make sure you have nice socks!

Curious to learn about some of the differences between Swedish and American apartments? Keep scrolling! 

1. No shoes allowed! 

One of the first things you may notice when entering a Swedish home is the rack (or stack depending on how tidy you are) of shoes near the door. Wearing shoes inside a Swedish home is a huge no-no, and when you consider the outside elements Swedes are often subject to (rain, mud, snow, etc), it’s not hard to see why! Taking off your shoes when entering someone else’s home is also a sign of respect. Picture this: you’ve spent hours tidying the house, vacuuming, mopping, etc. and your guest walks right in, bringing their muddy boots with them. Not the kindest way to thank your host! I actually grew up in a home that didn’t allow shoes inside (and I know many American families are the same), but since living in Sweden, I’m super adamant about it! We had a repair guy come to fix something the other day and I cringed SO HARD when he walked right in, shoes and all.  

Removing shoes indoors translates to schools and work as well. Though not all employees change into “indoor shoes” upon arriving to work, all school children are required to have a pair of indoor shoes (usually crocs, ballet flats, or something easy to slip on) that they put on once they get to school. As a substitute teacher, this was a bit annoying as A LOT of time was spent changing shoes whenever the students needed to walk outside for break, PE, lunch, music, etc.!

If you find yourself invited to a Swede’s home, just be sure your socks don’t have holes- there’s a high chance they’ll be seen! 

2. Swedish homes are warm and cozy

Known for their long, cold, dark winters, it makes sense that Swedish homes would be built to keep in the warmth. Despite the reliance on heat for a large part of the year and in addition to the higher cost of energy, the average household’s energy bills in Sweden are actually lower than in the US. This has been achieved because of Sweden’s focus on energy efficiency in homes.

Advanced levels of insulation and airtight construction are designed to keep warmth inside, significantly reducing a home’s energy consumption for heating in the coldest months of the year. Swedish homes usually have triple paned windows, whereas North American “double glazing” often only means two layers of glass. We lived in a new apartment while in Sweden, and I often opened the windows in the winter to cool down because our apartment kept the heat in so well!

3. No carpet, no problem

Though many homes in the United States choose not to furnish with carpet, it’s still very common to see. This is not the case in Sweden. While I’m sure there are some homes in Sweden that do still have carpet, it is very rare. Most Swedes opt to use wood, tile, laminate, or some other type of flooring that can easily be cleaned (practical and trendy!). Instead of carpet, many Swedish homes are furnished with rugs to bring coziness and personality to a room.


4.  Laundry in the bathroom?!

Depending on how old the building is, many Swedish apartments have washer/dryers units in the bathroom, as opposed to a closet or separate room often found in American apartments. I thought this was a little weird when I first moved to Sweden, but after a while it just made sense! Why shouldn’t clothes be washed in the same room we wash ourselves? 

As someone who now lives in the UK and has to wash my clothes in the same place I cut onions and handle raw meat – I miss the bathroom/laundry days!


5. The bedroom looks a bit different…

You may walk into the bedroom of a Swedish home and think, “hmmm TWO duvets?!” Though not a tradition confined only to Sweden, having separates duvets, and even double mattresses in a single frame is nothing out of the ordinary in Scandinavian bedrooms.

As an American, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that nights were meant to be spent playing duvet tug of war with my partner, and waking up at 3am shivering because of losing said tug of war was just a fact of life. Our accommodation when we first arrived in Sweden had two duvets, and while a little strange at first, it wasn’t long until we’d committed to this way of life and I can confidently say there’s no turning back. 

From a practicality standpoint, having your own duvet just makes sense. Being able to chose the level of warmth, ditch nightly cover fights, and being able to wrap yourself up into a little burrito without leaving your partner out in the cold? Sounds like a win-win to me!

And for those who may think that having separate blankets isn’t “romantic”, let me tell you – enjoying a full night’s sleep and not waking up cold/plotting ways to murder your partner seem pretty romantic to me! (And c’mon you’re not going to let an extra blanket stand in the way of intimacy, are you?)  

Do you allow shoes in your home? And more importantly – have you tried the double duvet way of life yet?? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon,




    Author’s gravatar

    Interesting topic. Bente and I have our separate duvets, and that was a winner…. I am all-in on duvets now! Other big difference, usually, is Scandinavian bedrooms usually have built-ins, and room for a bed. American homes, apartments have massive bedrooms, which I must admit now, is kinda strange given you really just sleep there and dont hang out to enjoy the TV, fireplace, sitting area, etc. But, differences are good, makes it fun to travel around and take it all in…. Thanks for the posting!

    Author’s gravatar

    It’s fun to learn the differences between places. I can get behind the no shoes in the house but not sure about the bedding:)

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