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Moving to Sweden from the US

Beautiful, peaceful and cold - Sweden offers expats a high quality of life, a strong economy, an educational system that is praised around the world and an egalitarian, progressive society. 89% of Swedes speak English, so you’ll find it easy to get around while you are still learning the language.

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The life expectancy here ranks among the highest in the world - which comes as no surprise. You’ll feel immediately less stressed out when you start getting used to better pay, more vacation time and having enormous tracts of gorgeous unspoiled wilderness in which to unwind.

US Cities Compared to Sweden

The people of Stockholm enjoy hot summers and very cold winters averaging around 24℉, so if you’ve spent time in Nova Scotia or the far Northeast of the US you’ll feel right at home! Some say that Stockholm feels like Seattle with slightly colder weather. The Swedes have been early adopters of American products and trends for a long time, which has created a strong presence of American culture in Stockholm.

Becoming a Swedish Citizen

To become a Swedish citizen you must be at least 18 years old, have permanent residence in Sweden, have lived in Sweden for at least five years and have no criminal record. If you have been living in Sweden but you have been abroad for more than six weeks in a year, the entire period you were outside Sweden will be deducted from your total period of residence.

You can fill out your application for Swedish citizenship online via the Swedish Migration Agency website, and then you must print it and send it via post to the Migration Agency. You will need to submit your documents as well, including your passport and a criminal record check.

Job Market

Sweden is known throughout the world for its excellent working conditions and practices.

It has a strong economy and the industries that are currently offering an abundance of jobs include healthcare, information technology, science and pharmaceuticals, teaching and education, property and construction, engineering and manufacturing and business management.

Although English is widely spoken, you will find it more difficult to find a job if you cannot write and speak in Swedish. A great way to get your foot in the door in the Swedish workforce is to take part in work experience or an internship, which will give you a head start when applying for a job.

House Prices and Renting

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The cost of living in Sweden is quite high, but the smaller towns are more affordable than Stockholm. The higher cost of living is proportionate to the high income in Sweden.

On average, rent prices are lower in Sweden than in the USA. For example, the average one bedroom apartment in a city centre in the USA would cost $1,188, while the average equivalent apartment in Sweden would cost $839. When it comes to buying property, Sweden is one of the worst countries for first-time buyers as house prices have been increasing in the last few years and demand is falling. Based on statistics from the UBS Global Housing Bubble Index 2016, Stockholm has the world’s 3rd most overvalued property market, with the top two slots going to London and Vancouver.

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Education

The education system in Sweden is considered one of the best in the world, and every child has a right to a free education. Children start school at the age of seven and they must attend nine mandatory years of schooling.

The school system is separated into two stages - Grundskola which is the primary and lower secondary school and Gymnasieskola which is the upper secondary school. When it’s time to go to university, there are 36 to choose from and most of them are publically funded and free to citizens.

Culture

The Swedish people are generally quiet, reserved and egalitarian. They are very progressive, feminist and tolerant of different races and sexual orientations. You might find that they dislike arguing and find loud boasting to be rude. Usually people will speak calmly and softly, and it’s rare to witness a Swede showing strong emotion in public.

An important part of Swedish culture is Fika, which is an informal coffee break with friends, family or coworkers. Sweets are often included with the coffee, such as a biscuit, cake or cinnamon roll.

Food and Drink

Swedish cuisine is cold climate food - mostly stodgy meat or fish with potatoes. Meatballs are the most famous Swedish dish (served with cream sauce, brown sauce or lingonberry jam). Other Swedish dishes include pea soup, pickled herring, blodpudding (sausage made with flour and pig’s blood) and Gravlax (salmon cured in sugar, dill and salt).

One of the hottest restaurants in Stockholm at the moment is Lilla Ego, which serves traditional Swedish cuisine including horse tartar, halibut and much more in a sophisticated fine dining setting. A cheaper option is Kajsas Fisk, a well known stall within the Stockholm Fish Market which serves delicious shellfish and fish dishes.

Nightlife

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The most popular and famous Swedish beverage is Absolut Vodka. If you want to have a drink somewhere really “cool” you could check out the Absolut Ice Bar, which is made entirely out of ice and has a below zero temperature inside. Gloves and jackets are available to borrow. Sweden also produces a number of great beers, and there has been a rise in the number of microbreweries.

Stockholm has a vibrant LGBT friendly nightlife scene and Stockholm Pride takes place at the last week of July. There has never been a need to identify a particular “gay district” in Stockholm as LGBT bars are scattered throughout the city and everywhere is friendly and welcoming.