Moving to Stockholm
Stockholm can be described in three words, chic, cosmopolitan and classic. As can be expected from a capital city, it is the business and cultural centre of Sweden. Stockholm consists of 14 islands and is located in the south-central part of the east coast. The Stockholm archipelago is made up of 30,000 rocks and islands, which can be easily reached by ferry.
It's worth noting that Stockholm has also been ranked as Europe’s most honest city and the world’s greenest city in a Reader’s Digest poll. It has a 21st Century public transport system, the world’s first legally protected national urban park and a historic centre that features buildings from the Medieval period.
During a financial slump in the 90s Stockholm built a city-wide fiber optic network in order to stimulate the economy. A tremendously successful experiment in urban renewal the network now contributes to the city’s status as one of the most competitive regions outside the USA and an economic powerhouse in high tech industry. With 26% of Stockholm’s residents having been born overseas it’s also a multicultural and welcoming city which is comfortable with a diverse range of languages cuisines and customs.
In comparison to other Scandinavian regions, Stockholm enjoys quite a mild climate. The average winter temperature is just below 0°C. In summer, the average is around 21°C. During the cooler months, it transforms into a winter wonderland. The streets are lined with snow-topped trees and ice rinks pop up in city parks. As the summer approaches, the locals are sprawled on the grass in these same parks, striving toward the perfect summer tan.
The main shopping district is located in the centre of the city and resembles the world’s largest runway. The locals are dressed to perfection and strut the streets, ready for their close up.
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The Job Market
In Stockholm, over 85% of those employed, work in the services sector. As the home of Stockholmsbörsen (Stockholm Stock Exchange) and the headquarters of Swedbank, Handelsbanken and Skandinaviska Euskilda Banken, there are many job opportunities in the finance sector. In the 1990’s, Stockholm was dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Sweden due to the prevalence of companies specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship. These days, Kista is the main hub for entrepreneurs. The head offices of both tech giants IBM and Ericcson are located here.
While most Swedes are fluent in English, you will better your chances of securing employment if you can speak Swedish. Online job boards such as Arbetsformedlingen.se, Monster.se, Jobbsafari.se and Stepstone.se can be used to seek employment.
The unemployment rate in Sweden is currently 8% (4/1/15).
Stockholm’s public transport network consists of buses, trains, trams and ferries. Trains are the most effective mode of transport in the inner city and a single zone 1 ticket will set you back 36 kr and is valid for 75 minutes. You can also find discounted regional train tickets to take you all over Sweden on www.sj.se. Ticket prices start at 195 kr (one way).
The average price of an inexpensive meal is 100 kr. This will usually include a salad buffet, fresh bread and filter coffee. A 3 course dinner for 2 will set you back around 650 kr. Basic grocery items such as milk will cost 9 kr, while a loaf of bread will cost about 22 kr.
All full strength alcohol is sold at a government-regulated chain, Systembolaget. Due to high taxation rates, alcohol is significantly more expensive in Sweden than in other European countries. Many locals will take a short (and cheap) cruise to Tallinn, Estonia or Riga, Latvia to purchase more affordable alcohol.
Stockholm is the largest city in Sweden and as can be expected from any capital city, the cost of housing is significantly higher than its smaller counterparts, Gothenburg and Malmo. The average price for renting a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre is 9,734 kr per month. A one bedroom apartment outside city centre is significantly cheaper at around 6,651 kr. A 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost you around 16,222 kr per month, while a 3 bedroom apartment outside the city costs around 11,155 kr.
As an expat, you can expect to receive the same free public healthcare as Swedish citizens. In order to be eligible for this, you must have a residence permit that spans at least one year.
The vast majority of people residing in the city centre live in apartments. If you would like to live in a house, there are several nearby neighborhoods where you can settle. The cost of buying an apartment in Stockholm city centre is 83,697 kr per square metre. The cost of buying an apartment out of the city is just over half of an inner city apartment at 48, 579 kr per square metre.
House prices in Stockholm have risen exponentially in the last few years and are presently experiencing a period of great growth. A drop in the central bank’s interest rate has prompted this growth. In February 2015, Riksbank decreased the interest rate to minus 0.1 percent.
- Family- Friendly: Bromma- located northwest of Stockholm, Bromma is an ideal neighbourhood to raise a family. Scattered amongst the residential areas are lakes, forests and parks, perfect for weekend activities. Most importantly however, there is International Engleska Skolan (International English School) conveniently located in Bromma.
- Upmarket: Östermalm-the most upmarket district in all of Sweden, Östermalm has become known for its magnificent architecture and gourmet food hall, Östermalmsaluhall. It also contains Stockholm’s hottest nightspots in Stureplan and a street dedicated to designer boutiques.
- Hip & Trendy: Södermalm-this edgy neighbourhood combines Scandinavian contemporary simplicity with vintage charm. In recent years, it has become a hot spot for Stockholm’s artists, hipsters and musicians. The streets are lined with eccentric bars, avant-garde cafés and tattoo parlours.
- Up & Coming: Solna- this up and coming neighborhood is located only 15 minutes train ride out of Stockholm city centre. There is plenty of public transport and excellent roads and highways in this area. This area is currently being developed with several new residential suburbs being planned and built.
Cost of moving
Depending on where you are coming from, the cost of moving to Stockholm will vary. The table below sets out the approximate cost of transporting a 20 foot shipping container to Stockholm.
|From London, UK||£600- £750|
|From Sydney, Australia||$9,800- $10,600 (AUD)|
|From Berlin, Germany||€5,500- €6,000|
|From Dubai, UAE||26,000- 28,000 (AED)|
|From Los Angeles, USA||$4,700- $5,200 (USD)|
|From Montreal, Canada||$4,600- $5,300 (CAD)|
Schools and Education
Stockholm contains several international schools to cater for the community of expats living and working in the city. The Stockholm International School is located in the centre of Stockholm and teaches courses from K-12. The International Engleska Skolan has 11 branches scattered in and around Stockholm’s city centre, also taking classes from K-12. The British International School of Stockholm takes enrolments for children aged between 3-16.
Stockholm is home to 13 universities including the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University, Stockholm School of Economics and the Royal Institute of Art. The range of courses offered across the 13 universities is vast, ranging from degrees in theology to degrees in health sciences. If you are a EU citizen, you are entitled to free university education, if not, you will have to pay fees.
Ranking against the rest of the world
According the United Nations City Prosperity Index, Stockholm is the world’s 5th most prosperous city to live in. The Index takes into account numerous variables including quality of life, environmental sustainability and infrastructure. According to the 2015 Mercer survey, Stockholm is the 19th most liveable city in the world and the only Swedish city to make it onto the list.
As the central business city of Sweden, Stockholm is filled with expats from all over the world and boasts many expat communities. Many of these can be found online such as Meetup's Stockholm Expat and British Expats Forum.
Stockholm is significantly more affordable than its nearby Scandinavian counterparts of Oslo and Copenhagen. As an example, the rental price for a 1 bedroom apartment in Stockholm is approximately 9,737 kr. A similar apartment in Oslo and Copenhagen would cost the equivalent of 11,188 kr and 10,855 kr respectively.
A day in the life
If the weather is nice, you can take advantage of Allemansrätten. This can be roughly translated to everyman’s right to roam. This means that you can hike, camp, cycle or swim in any natural, public space as long as you leave it as you found it. A bus trip from the city centre will lead you to Sörmlandsleden, Upplandsleden or Roslagsleden for a hike or to Rålambshov Park Beach to swim.
To experience the magnificence of Stockholm’s winter, you can visit Kungsträdgården or Vasaparken to ice skate. After a snow filled day on the rink, its time for a break and no day is Stockholm is complete without fika. There are amazing cafes hidden all over the city, but if you are in Östermalm, you should make the effort to visit Sturekatten. It’s cat-themed décor and fresh baked goods will remind you of your grandmother’s cottage.
If you are game, you can complete the evening with a culinary adventure at Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr’s restaurant, Gastrologik. Their renowned surprise menu will certainly get your tastebuds tingling!