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Moving to Sweden from the UK

Hello, everyone,

My partner and I are considering moving to Sweden in the next couple of years from the UK. Having previously myself lived in Norway for some time, I'm aware of the expensive lifestyle etc. However, I am interested in hearing other peoples experience in moving to the country!

Currently, in the UK I'm a self-employed videographer and my partner is an architect. We've both done our studies, so would be looking for work in Sweden.

Few questions I have are:

Did you move before or after finding work?
How long did it take you to find work?
Would you recommend living in the cities or further out?
Finally, was it easy to make friends?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Katie

Hi Katie,

I moved to Sweden with a work permit and therefore had a job waiting for me (one of the conditions of a work permit)
In terms of where to live, it depends what you like, I'm a city girl but not sure if you prefer cities or being further out?
I found it fairly easy to make friends with other expats, but I had to be a bit more patient when it came to making friends with Swedes.

Cheers,
Nicola

Watchoutkt :

Hello, everyone,

My partner and I are considering moving to Sweden in the next couple of years from the UK. Having previously myself lived in Norway for some time, I'm aware of the expensive lifestyle etc. However, I am interested in hearing other peoples experience in moving to the country!

Currently, in the UK I'm a self-employed videographer and my partner is an architect. We've both done our studies, so would be looking for work in Sweden.

Few questions I have are:

Did you move before or after finding work?
How long did it take you to find work?
Would you recommend living in the cities or further out?
Finally, was it easy to make friends?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Katie

Well i just moved to sweden about almost 4months now, my husband lived in sweden about 5years, he moved from the UK when he was jobless, but then he likes to be here, and he would never come back to live in the UK anymore. I am from Indonesia anyway, and im still jobless now, i like to be here and living here is fine. But finding appartement os something really hard here.
Well hope u lucky

hi Katie,

I've been in Stockholm for over 15 years and am still here because of my kids. I wanted to give you my take on living here, not everyone will agree with me but I have to say that 90% of foreigners I've met here think the same as me (most have left which will give you an idea what I'm going to write). I don't want to be negative, just tell you how things really are, or at least how I and many others see them. I've lived in various countries - Australia and Italy, and travelled a great deal - so I think I can compare Sweden on a reasonable basis. You may disagree with everything I say, it all depends what sort of person you are and what you're looking for out of the place you live, but maybe a few of my thoughts will help or at least prepare you.  I'm from the UK, if anyone wants to disagree or criticise my views, that's fair enough.

The weather - not sure i need to go much into this? From October - April is appalling, in Dec-Jan its dark before 3pm and never really gets light at any point in the day. Needless to say its pretty cold all year with the exception of a couple of summer months (but rarely what I'd call warm), if you don't mind this fair enough - personally I even travel to the UK in winter where you can sometimes feel the sun on you face in January and the light feels like a real treat. Luckily I'm self employed so get away to better climes very regularly.

The people - very introvert, lacking in social skills and any niceties, incapable of small talk, no banter, selfish, arrogant. After all these years I can't figure out what makes them tick, they rarely smile or laugh, I see a massive difference compared to the UK, most of Europe, US, Australia etc. Don't expect any level of engagement from them and if you get any its won't set you alight. You can go to the same store every day for 10 years and the same staff member won't look in your eye, let alone say hello - that's a simple example but it runs right through all society. Personally, I actually get something out of exchanging a hello with the bus driver as I board, a few random words or a chat with others - but you won't get that in Sweden.  Swedes are basically rude - obviously they don't see it, having no social skills.

Taxes - too high of course + the social security (NI) is 30-35%, as a self employed person its madness having a business here.

Prices - restaurant and drinks are at a level that means you're basically end up staying in at home like most Swedes. My plumber charged 450 SEK per hour, plus 400 SEK for driving to me (10 mins). Plus 40 SEK for sending me his invoice (that is standard, infuriates me though!). My electric bill is 80% taxes, a garage quoted me 5500 SEK for a simple service (oil change) etc etc.

Service levels - very poor in all regards. Don't expect anyone to go out of their way for you.

Alcohol - a very narrow minded and restricted government policy. I got a few frowns when I offered parents a glass of wine as a kids party.

Education - extremely poor system, zero classroom discipline, very ow academic standards -  not at all what I was expecting. Something to think about if you have kids here. A couple of UK/Australian teachers I know are very critical of their schools/other teachers/standards and this has unfortunately been my own personal experience at my kids school.

PC capital of the world - everyone is totally crippled by political correctness. Even the Norwegians say this about the Swedes and that's saying something!

Housing - you'll probably need to buy something, a decent rented place is very difficult to find.

Language and work - it's a myth that English is so widely spoken you can walk into a job and expect English to get you by. If you're skilled in something specific you might be fine, but mostly you are going to need a decent level of Swedish.

....ok, I'm leaving it at that, I could go on.... Not sure any of this is useful and you may want to disregard the lot which is absolutely fine and understandable - but I wanted to give the facts about Sweden from my  - and most people I know's - perspectives. I'd recommend coming for a few weeks in winter to get a better idea, but visiting will never, of course, tell you how it is to live in a place.  Personally I can't see why anyone would choose to live here rather than warmer places in Europe, or the US, Canada, Australia etc. but each to his own. I made that mistake and the day my kids are out of school will be off like the wind.  If you'd like to ask anything specific, I'd be happy to get back to you - hope some of this helps, I'm writing this solely to try and explain life here as I see it.

cheers, have a good one :)
Richard

I lived in northern Sweden, a small skogsbyn/forest voillage for many years. I agree in general re the social skills which tends to make Swedes rude at times, though they don't see it. They prefer to think they're 'reserved' whereas, in truth, they're rude. Very difficult to get anywhere, certainly in employment terms, without the lingo. The view of booze is crazy, Systemet a total, State rip-off. Food also can be an issue, with poor quality veg, in particular, often an issue. (Look at those daft metal bins for Spuds & Onions - there to hide the poor quality!) I enjoyed winter with the cold, snow etc. No problem, needs good clothing and fore-thought, I reckon. Swedes are fine, once you get to know them well, but that takes years.

I missed mentioning about the quality of fruit and veg available here - its very poor in my local supermarkets - I literally say that to myself every time I'm looking at it, it really gets to me - how do people put up with it? That's actually a major issue here - people do put up with all sorts of things from poor food, to poor service, to getting ripped off etc - there's only one way to think, no-one seems to question anything, no matter how bad it is. Total lack of opinion it seems.

Hi guys,

I agree with most of the above (you lost me at the alcohol at a kids party — I don't think that was smart to offer some at that particular event, but that's off topic).

I am not from the UK, but I lived in East Sussex for about 3 years. It's funny how I feel exactly the same regarding some of the points brought above. E.g. the quality of fruits/veg in supermarkets in Sweden compared to England.

It is indeed a hard time to succeed an expatriation in Sweden (both mentally and physically), especially if you don't speak the language — I find myself very lucky to have a Swedish SO; without her, I would have fled somewhere else I reckon.

Some of the positive sides of living in Sweden according to me:
- I feel very close to the nature and it is very pleasant. There's a saying here: "there's no bad weather, only bad clothing. So I go out even though it's pouring, snowing, freezing,…
- I feel very safe everywhere I go and I don't feel like I have to lock my door the second I get in.
- Healthier relationships with people in general, due partly to the fact that alcohol is quite difficult to get/buy. In England, my coworkers used to drink very often, even during working hours - we had a pub next door. I could hear drunk people shouting/pissing/fighting on the street in the evening, same around my flat. Here, it is so quiet and peaceful.
- It is true that people are introvert, yet some of them are very kind and helpful. Some are quite afraid to speak English (especially if you go up north) but many are happy to be able to practise their English.

@katie, I guess you have to find out what you are looking for here in Sweden. You lived in Norway so maybe it would be a rather similar experience, with lower wages.

Have a nice day everyone,
JL

I agree with your sentiments. Certainly, in the northern part of the country, there is a population some of whom are very reluctant to speak English. All perfectly understandable. And, as you note, they can be very helpful and good, trusted friends. We found this to be the case. I too went out walking etc in forest whatever the weather was doing, even down to minus 40C. Also agree about a general feeling of well-being and security, never any fears or security concerns. I'm now resident in SW France where wine is aplenty and cheap, so drink a fair bit. Also weather much better in winter. But, despite these plus points, I still miss the place and would return again without hesitating. It gets under your skin, I find.

I d thought I d give my 2 cents on this and I will go through the sections raised by Rich to give a different approach. No harm intended but I think it is always good to have pros and cons (and not only cons)

I'm French, married to a swede, and living in the UK , I also lived in Spain and travelled a great deal. we often go to Sweden and had many discussions about the swedish mentality. This obviously doesnt give me the full experience but an insight from a Swede perspective.

Swedish weather: well, you know what to expect when you go there. Unlike the UK, everything is adapted for the weather (in the uk, a bit of rain or snow will paralyse the whole country)

Swedes being rude: definitely not, it is just they are anti-social, closed up, up their bum,annoying, and keep for themselves. it is completely different from the UK or France and Spain but saying they are rude and arrogant (which is reserved exclusively for the french btw) is just inaccurate.

Alchol: thank god for the systembolaget!! I wont discuss why it is wrong to offer wine at a kids party of course :) . Alcohol is part of the english/french culture at all levels. Have a walk on a saturday evening in any city centers or any hospitals to see the effect of unregulated sell of alcohol. English (or French for this matter) like to binge drink on the weekend, and have a few at the pub or at home during the week. some will say nothing wrong, others will claim addiction. I stand for the latter, i worked in many pubs and clubs in London over the years, and now i dont drink anymore, lol.

taxes: really high, but the real question is what do you get in return. In the uk, for 22% tax, you get probably the worse health system in Europe, very difficult to claim benefits, and when you do, well, it aint much, a very complicated HMRC if you are self employed. On top of which you have council tax, tax you pay to have dirty streets, crummy building (separate hot/cold taps, wth!)
In Sweden, everything is so 'swedish' that you dont have to do much research, everything either come to you (because you have a 'person number') or everything is available online (swedes dont like people)

Education: I actually work in education in the UK. So i can say subjectively that it is appaling and one of the many reasons i cant wait to leave this country.
Rich forgot to mention that universities are free in Sweden (unlike the UK were students in debt themselves for at least 20 to 25 years). if education was so low standards in Sweden, how do you explain that they are amongst the leader in technologies, science, ecology, engineering and pop music!

Housing: close to impossible to rent. cheap to buy or rent if you can.

Language: each time i go to sweden, i am well upset because all the people i meet speak a much better English than me without ever being abroad.

@Rich: dont wait for your kids to leave school, I am taking my kids out of the English education system in a few months to settle in Sweden.

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