Have you been planning on moving to Sweden for a long time, and you feel that now is the time to actually do it? Perhaps you’ve just retired and want to move to another country where you can discover a different culture and people while cruising on your retirement fund?
Whatever the case might be, you will have a lot of questions before embarking on this life-changing journey. Maybe you’re wondering what it’s like to live in Sweden or you need packing tips for moving overseas? Hopefully, the following guide will make sure that you’re aware of everything you need to know before making this incredible Scandinavian country your new home.
The Most Important Step When Moving to Sweden Is to Do It Legally
The first piece of advice is the most obvious one – if you’re planning on relocating to another country, do it legally. Depending on where you are coming from and how long you plan on staying there, the requirements may be different.
How to Move to Sweden from the US
If you are relocating internationally, like relocating from the US to Sweden, the process will be more complicated than it is for EU citizens. You will actually have to land a job offer before you can get a work permit if you want to move permanently there. So you will have to secure a job, and then the employer can get your application process started with the Swedish Migration Agency.
There are a couple of different visa options for expats, and until you get permanent residency, you’ll have to update your visa whenever you change the workplace. In case you don’t plan on working while you’re there, you can get a visa if you have at least one Swedish parent or if you are married to someone who is already a citizen.
Moving as an EU Resident
Becoming a citizen is much easier for residents of the European Union, with little obstacles in your way when compared to those who are relocating from non-EU countries. Any citizens of the EU who are working or studying in the country have a right of residence as part of the EU’s freedom of movement laws. This right even applies to family members of EU citizens – there is no need to work with the Swedish Migration Agency. If you’re an EU resident and love the culture and the people, then you can become a permanent citizen after living here for five years.
Things You’ll Need to Know If You’re Relocating to Sweden with Pets
In case you are relocating internationally with a pet, there are some things you’ll have to take care of, but there won’t be as much bureaucracy as you’d expect. You will have to vaccinate your pet for rabies one month before your move if you’re coming from a country that is regarded as “high risk” when it comes to this deadly disease. In addition, you will need standard vaccinations, microchipping, an EU passport or a veterinary certificate, and the regular owner and pet details which you can get from your vet. These will state that you are the owner of the animal, its traveling documents, and the description of your pet.
The Cost of Living is High, But so Is the Quality of Life
One of the most important tips you should know about is to keep in mind that the cost of living is very high, but so is the quality of life and the average income. There are a number of different reasons why that is so – the housing market is one of the most significant ones, but so is the country’s location.
All of the Scandinavian countries are located in the north of the continent, which is why most of the goods are imported, which makes them expensive. From anything specific that may have to be imported from another continent to everyday goods and groceries. The costs of renting and public transport are also relatively high, depending on which city you’re relocating to.
Taxes and the Banking
Before you move here, you will have to be aware that the taxes are very high. This may be surprising for many expats, but the Swedes don’t actually mind the high tax rates. This is because many of the needs of the community, high-quality healthcare, as well as public schools, are financed through taxes. All the imported food and necessities are also among the main reasons why the taxes are so high.
If you are interested in opening a bank account there, you will be able to do so. However, the type of account you can open will depend on whether you are an EU citizen or not. Citizens of the EU can open a bank account without any restrictions and will be able to use it straight away. Non-EU residents can also open a bank account, but there will be some restrictions until they get a tax number. This is very important because it will make a difference between being able to use a debit card and withdraw cash from ATMs.
Sweden’s Housing Situation – Expect High Prices
Depending on your budget and plans for the future, you will have a couple of choices to make when it comes to where you’ll be living. But you should expect high prices no matter if you’re looking to buy real estate in Stockholm or if you’re interested in renting as the nation has been having a housing problem lately. You don’t have to move to Stockholm if you’re moving on a low budget and should look at cheaper places like Lund, Lidingo, or Solna.
Renting and Different Types of Leases
One of the most important things to know before you start looking for a place to rent is that there are two different lease options.
A first-hand lease means that you’re renting from the owner of the property directly. On the other hand, a second-hand lease means that you’ll be renting from the original renter, which is called a sublet in other places. The important difference between these is that second-hand lease lasts for one year, after which the original renter has to move back in. This is one of the main reasons why you’ll see so many people looking for a new place to stay every year.
Things to Know About Buying a Home
Since renting a place can be very complicated and challenging, especially if you’re relocating for the first time, it’s advisable to buy a home if you have the means to do so. This is especially the case if you’re planning on relocating to Sweden permanently.
You will have a wide variety of different homes to choose from, and the process of buying property as a non-native isn’t as complicated as it can be in some other nations. No matter if you’re renting or buying a home, you should keep in mind that a hefty percentage of your monthly income will go towards housing and the costs of housing and utilities.
You Should Find a Job Beforehand
As an EU citizen, finding a job will be much easier as you can first move to the country when you’re unemployed and look for work as you go. But if you’re relocating from the US, you will have to find a job beforehand to get a work permit. Knowing the native language will be a big boost in your chances of landing a job, but there are many jobs for English speakers. Just keep in mind that they will probably be more competitive. Working there isn’t as much of a hassle as in some other countries. The average monthly salary is high, one of the highest in Europe, you won’t be pressured into overtime and the holidays are aplenty.
Things to Consider If You’re Self-Employed
In case you are planning on being self-employed, you will have to start your company there before you actually move in. Not only that, keep in mind that you’ll also need to pay into the Swedish social security as a business.
World-Class Healthcare and Top-Notch International Schools
The healthcare system is one of the best ones in the entire world. Many countries around the globe devise their own healthcare systems based on the Swedish model, and there are many reasons for that. The education system, too, is one of the most high-quality ones in the world. Besides public schools, there are many private ones, too, which may be more favorable to expats.
Swedish Education and International Schools
If you are relocating with your family overseas, then you shouldn’t worry about your children’s education at all as you will have a variety of different public and private schools to choose from. And if you’re relocating to Sweden because you want to study there yourself, you will also have a choice between some of the best institutions. Regardless of whether tech, innovative industries or green energy is your field, you will have lots of opportunities at your disposal.
There are many schools which you may find suitable, but if you’re an expat, you may prefer international schools. The prices and fees of all schools, whether they are private or public, are regulated properly and can vary from $3000 to $10000. The price will mostly depend on the school location and the age of your children. The quality of the schools, both private and public is very high, and they all follow a very similar curriculum. If you’re looking for the best high-end schools, then the major cities of Uppsala and Stockholm are the first places you should check out.
Things to Know About Healthcare
The healthcare system is so advanced and reliable that many Swedes don’t even have private insurance. Some studies have shown that less than 10 percent of natives actually have private insurance.
If you don’t register as a resident, you will have to get private insurance yourself. Otherwise, it is fully covered by the state, and you should remember that it is counted in your taxes. Private insurance is much more expensive, but the pros are that you’ll be able to select a doctor you prefer, and it also means not waiting as long as you would in public hospitals.
Make Sure to Give the Swedish Language a Try
Let’s get this right from the get-go – learning the Swedish language is not mandatory if you want to live there. You will be able to get by with English for a long time, and you’ll pick up Swedish as you go. Over 80% of Swedes speak English, and this Nordic nation is ranked 2nd out of 80 countries in the EF English Proficiency Index.
But if you want to embrace the culture, the people, and integrate properly, it would be advisable to know how to speak and read at least some of the language spoken here. Not only will this be helpful when it comes to meeting new people, but it will also mean many more job opportunities and easier life in general. There are many different apps, like Duolingo, you could use if you’re having trouble learning a new language. One of the best tips would be to sign up for the Swedish for Immigrants program, which may be of great help.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Cold Weather
If you’re thinking about Scandinavia and the weather, then you may imagine a snowy blizzard taking over the landscape. But the climate up north can be much warmer than that because of the Gulf Stream. The country is also famous for its long winter days, which can be quite cold and dark, but the other side of the coin is the summer and the long wonderful days. In case you decide to live up north instead of Stockholm like many expats, you may even experience the brilliant northern lights.
If You’re a Fan of Dairy and Meat – You’ll Love the Food Here
There are some differences in the food in the south and the north of the nation, but the meals and the experience are generally the same. For example, eating game meat, reindeer more specifically, is common in the north, while the food in the south is more vegetable-based.
You can’t talk about Swedish food and culture without mentioning the meatballs with brown cream sauce, and the most common side to every meal, lingonberry jam.
Another thing you should be aware of if you want to fit in properly with the Swedes is Fika. It’s a social phenomenon consisted of drinking coffee and socializing at any point in the day, and as such is a vital part of the local culture.