When it comes to shopping I’m quite a picky buyer. It is often difficult for me to find clothes that I’m completely satisfied with or even food, because I filter out anything that has preservatives or is potentially harmful for health. In my opinion Sweden is a good place for shopping. Even though it is considered expensive, the prices are still affordable and there is a wide variety of goods. In supermarkets you can find pretty much anything according to the national cuisine of your home country, be it Middle Eastern, Chinese, Mexican, Russian, etc., including exotic fruit, such as mango, physalis, cactus, papaya, and so on. As for clothes, it is much easier for me to buy them here than in Belarus or Lithuania, where I’ve lived before. And I wouldn’t say they are much more expensive than in other countries. I really like it that clothes here are quite practical and easy to choose. I can find something each time I go shopping, which never happened to me before 🙂 Borlange also has the advantage of cheaper prices compared to the bigger cities of Sweden.
I shop for clothes in Kupollen, a shopping mall just a few minutes away from the university. There are stores like H&M, KappAhl, New Yorker, Lindex, and other famous brands. When you buy something from those stores, ask if they have a loyalty card. I was pleased to find out that if you get a loyalty card from KappAhl, which is free, they give you a 50 SEK gift coupon to spend at their store. Sometimes there are also discounts if you have a loyalty card. Not all stores have such cards and they are not free in every store. The variety of clothes is very good and I find it easy to buy clothes in Sweden. The prices are higher than average, but still affordable, and you can sometimes find really cheap things on sales.
At the beginning of my studies I had to buy a new laptop. I eventually bought it from ElGiganten store (about 10 minutes away from the university). I wouldn’t recommend buying a computer in Sweden, because here they are really expensive, about 1.5 times as expensive as in other countries. If you still have to buy one here, one option is checking the mecenat.se website with student discounts. You need to register on this website first with your student card to be able to order things with student discounts. The student union will tell you how to get a student card at the beginning of your studies. Another option is to buy a computer on sale in ElGiganten. Just go there once in a while and check what special offers they have. They may have a discount for a certain computer for a week, for example. I bought my computer on discount, so the price turned out to be the same as if I bought one in the US. The warranty is usually 1 year and you can return the product within 30 days if you don’t like it. If you are from outside of the EU, you can ask the store to give you tax return papers, and if you take the product outside of the EU within 1 month, the tax will be returned to you. Be sure to mention it during the purchase if it applies to you. If you want to buy a computer or anything else from abroad, you will need to pay import taxes, so it is definitely not worth it, you will lose more than you save. However, if you have friends or relatives who can send it to you as a gift, you may not have to pay the tax, but it is still uncertain. The tax office told me the tax will be applied anyway, while my friends managed to avoid it. Anyway, it is better to estimate the cost of the parcel as low as possible just in case a tax is applied.
Just a month ago IKEA opened in Borlange! I really like it. You can find anything for your home that your soul can imagine! And the prices are very affordable. Another store is Rusta, 2 minutes away from IKEA, check it out as well. I bought a good iron there for just 200 SEK ($31), which was less expensive than in other stores. Still, IKEA has a lot of things at really good prices. If you need blankets, frying pans, bed linen, towels, etc., IKEA would be the best place for buying them. There’s also IKEA restaurant on the 2nd floor, where you can eat quite cheap.
My favorite type of shopping is shopping for food. Willy’s supermarket is located near the university. It is big and cheap, so most students shop there. The only thing I don’t like about Willy’s is that most of the discounts they offer are specifically for “Willy’s customers” who have the Willy’s card. I couldn’t apply for that card, because I didn’t have a Swedish personal number. I bought some things a couple of times that I thought were on discount, but that discount didn’t apply to me, which was disappointing. Another big supermarket is ICA. It is a well-known brand in Sweden, and its cheapest products are called “ICA basic.” It is similar to “Cento” in Lithuania. I go to ICA primarily for the salad mix during my university lunch break. The salad mix is close to the vegetable section and cost 109 SEK ($17) per kg. You can mix lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, avocado, shrimps, etc. There is a smaller supermarket close to the Locus dorm, called “Hemkop.” It is slightly more expensive, but close in case you need some food urgent and don’t want to walk the whole way to Willy’s. And of course, the cheapest of cheapest is Lidl, which belongs to a German chain of supermarkets. There’s a smaller variety, but the prices are really good. My main reason for going there is a really tasty 200 g chocolate bar Balleron with 27% of whole hazel nuts for 14 SEK. Lidl is a little further, behind Kupollen, 5-7 minutes away from the university.