As most of you know I will be moving to Stockholm in September to start a master. Right now, the biggest issue is accommodation. Finding a place to rent in Sweden in general is difficult, because there is a politically managed market for rental apartments on the basis of a queue system. This means that if you are searching an apartment to rent, you would go to a website like http://www.sssb.se or https://bokabostad.stockholm.se and sign yourself up. Once you have an username, you start accumulating queue days. Users apply to properties in these websites, and the user who has more days accumulated gets the contract. You can sign up in these website the day you turn 18, and Swedish people usually do that. So what’s the average time in the waiting list to be able to sign a contract? TWO YEARS! Yes, f$&king unbelievable! It was posted in the news as well http://www.thelocal.se/24858/20100208/.
So the chances for an exchange student to rent a flat there are slim. There are subletting contracts, usually more expensive and for a fixed period of time, but even those are hard to get because for every subletting announced there are 100+ applicants. Adds of the kind of “You can rent the corner of my living room for 3500 SEK (more than 350 euros) and don’t forget to bring your own bed” are not rare to see. And the sad thing is that people actually pays it because they have no other choice.
There is, however, something called last-minute apartments. In the SSSB website mentioned above, from time to time they will post an apartment called last-minute, and those are rented in a first-come first-served basis, with no queue. Now the problem is, SSSB website gets thousands of visit per hour, it’s highly unlikely to be the first one seeing a last-minute offer. How can I rent an apartment then? Either by subletting (with lot of luck or networking) or get a last-minute one (with extreme luck). I am already working in the networking part, and for the last-minute ones, I came up with a creative solution.
Theoretically, I knew it was possible to design a program that goes to the SSSB website, check the number of last-minute apartments, and if there is one, it will send me an email. The geek within me suddenly awake. I knew some bash scripting in linux that could do some of those functions. I won’t disclose much information about how it works just in case I decide to make a business out of it some day lol. It took me some 6 hours or so to make the script, and still, the program could run as long as my computer was on. So I came with another solution, and now the program is ran 24h thanks to a remote server in my godaddy hosting account :).
Now guess who’s going to be the first one (or one of the first ones) to know when a last-minute apartment is posted. I hope that the 8+ hours invested in the trick are worthwhile. It’s a though situation, so it was time to be creative with the solution.