Moving to Sweden
If you are looking to move to a beautiful, diverse, and modern country, then Sweden is the perfect place for you. It offers a stunning white winter, followed by a well-deserved balmy summer, beautiful archipelago islands, delicious baked goods and genuine people. Moving to Sweden will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
The attraction of moving to Sweden to immigrants is made patently clear in the country’s performance in numerous international polls and surveys. Sweden ranks near the top of lists ranging from “countries with lowest income inequality”, through “highest literacy rates” to “most competitive economies”.
Despite the high latitude (which leads to large variations in the number of daylight hours between summer and winter) Sweden is warmed by the Gulf Stream in winter and consequently sees pretty mild temperatures.
Average temperatures in the capital Stockholm in January only just dip below freezing while summer highs regularly reach into the high- to mid-20s. The mild climate makes enjoying Sweden’s natural wonders – from the glacial valleys and mountain peaks of Lapland to the giant lakes of Vänern and Vättern in southern Sweden – a joy in all seasons.
Sweden’s cultural heritage extends back even further than the famously adventuresome Vikings of the middle-ages to the early settlers of Scandinavia, while modern Sweden counts Alfred Nobel, Ingmar Bergman, ABBA, and Ikea among its most famous cultural exports.
Visas and becoming a citizen
As a member of the EU since 1995 Sweden has seen increasing levels of immigration – a transition made easier for many by widespread fluency in English among the Swedes.
Citizens of a EU member country and some countries listed in the visa-waiver agreement, such as Canada and Australia, can enter Sweden for 90 days without a visa. Citizens from other countries that do not have visa-waiving agreements will need to apply for a visa before arrival in Sweden.
Work permits in Sweden
If you are a non-EU citizen and you intend on working in Sweden, you will need to apply for a work permit from the Swedish Migration Board. Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and South Korean citizens aged between 18-30 can apply for a 1-year working holiday visa.
In order to be eligible for a work permit, you must find a job, which has been advertised on the EURES portal for at least 10 days and pays at least SEK 13,000 per month (before tax). The position must also be in line with Swedish collective agreements in the industry.
EU/Nordic citizens are entitled to work in Sweden without a permit. If you are eligible to work in Sweden for at least 6 months, your family are automatically entitled to work and study in Sweden, too.
Becoming a Swedish citizen
In general, you can apply to become a citizen of Sweden once you have been a permanent resident for a continuous period of 5 years.
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Healthcare for expats
If you have a residence visa spanning for at least 12 months, expats are lucky enough to enjoy Sweden’s highly applauded public healthcare system.
The public healthcare system puts a cap on the amount of money, which one can spend on healthcare. For example, you can only spend up to SEK 1,100 on consultations every 12 months.
The government will cover any further charges for future consultations in the same 12-month period. There are also designated waiting periods to see specialists and have routine surgeries. If these periods are exceeded, the government will cover the charges for treatment in a private facility.
The job market in Sweden for English speakers is tough, but not impossible to navigate.
If you come from a non-EU country and you need a work permit to work in Sweden, then you will need to find a job before you move to the country. The best place to look for a position is the The European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), as this will fulfil one of the requirements of attaining a work permit.
While many industries are highly competitive, many other are currently experiencing a skilled labour shortage. The Swedish government has compiled a thorough list of areas, which are experiencing these shortages. These include, but are not limited to:
- sheet metal workers
- software engineers
If you secure a job in one of these positions and it fulfills the government’s salary and advertising criteria, then you will automatically be entitled to a work permit.
Although almost all Swedes are fluent in English, most business will be conducted in Swedish, so it will be incredibly beneficial if you learn the native tongue.
Most international qualifications are recognised in Sweden, however, certain professions are regulated by a government authority. Professions such as dentistry, medicine, and law have special authorities, which will consider and determine the relevance of your qualification in Sweden.
Essential information for Sweden
|Currency:||Swedish Krona (SEK)|
|International dialling code:||+46|
|Emergency numbers:||112 for urgent help (both Swedish and English languages are spoken); 114 14 for other matters relating to the police.|
|Drives on the:||right|
|Tipping:||Service charges are already included in most bills, however a small gratuity is expected for meals. Taxi drivers should be given a few extra kronor..|
|Unusual fact:||At one point, ABBA was second only to Volvo as Sweden’s biggest export earner.|
In the last few years, there has been an upturn in Sweden’s housing market. The shortage of city centre apartments in the three largest cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö has invigorated this market growth. This was further stimulated in February 2015, when the central bank lowered the interest rate to minus 0.1%.
If you are planning on living in the centre of one of Sweden’s cities, you will almost certainly be residing in an apartment. Depending on which city you choose, the cost of buying an apartment varies.
In Stockholm, you will be paying around SEK 80,000 per square metre. However, if you choose a smaller city such as Malmö, a similar apartment will set you back approximately SEK 26,000 per square metre.
Cost of moving to Sweden
The cost of moving to Sweden is dependent on where you are moving from. If it is somewhere close by in Europe, then it will be more affordable than from somewhere further, such as Sydney, Australia.
|London to Stockholm||£660 GBP|
|Dublin to Stockholm||£800 GBP|
|New York to Stockholm||£2,100 GBP|
|Los Angeles to Stockholm||£2,900 GBP|
|Sydney to Stockholm||£4,700 GBP|
|Auckland to Stockholm||£5,400 GBP|
In comparison to other parts of Europe, Sweden does have a relatively high cost of living. However, this higher cost of living is proportionate to the average income.
The cost of living in certain cities varies. For example, the average rental price for a 1-bedroom apartment in the centre of Stockholm is almost SEK 10,000, while the same apartment in the centre of Malmö is only around SEK 6,000.
This major price difference can also be expected when you compare the cost of living in the capital city, with its much smaller counterpart. The cost of groceries in most cities in Sweden tends to be similar, with slightly more expensive prices in the larger cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Schools and education
In Sweden, every child has a right to a free education, despite residential status. The education system is governed by the Swedish Education Act, which stipulates that all children must attend nine mandatory years of schooling starting at the age of seven.
If you are moving from a non-Nordic country, there is no need to worry as there are numerous international schools scattered throughout Sweden.
The school year runs from August to June with a half-year break over the Christmas period. The school week runs from Monday- Friday and a standard day begins at 8:15am and ends at 3:30pm. A free school lunch is provided to all students and usually consists of a buffet covering all food groups. Schools will cater to special dietary requirements.
The education system is divided into two stages:
Grundskola (primary and lower secondary school): Children start at the age of 7 and attend this school for nine years. Attendance is mandatory. Children do not receive formal grades until the 6th grade.
Gymnasieskola (upper secondary school): After graduating from Grundskola, students may elect to complete a three-year course at Gymnasieskola. The courses offered are either preparatory (for tertiary education) or vocational.
Universities in Sweden
Sweden has 36 universities, most of which are publicly funded and free to citizens.
There are a number of scholarship programs available to cover tuition for international students. It takes three years to complete a Bachelor’s degree and either one or two years to complete a Master’s degree.
Almost all bachelor programs are taught in Swedish, whereas all Master’s and PhD programs are taught in English. Lund University is the highest ranked university in Sweden, placed 67 in the world, closely followed by Uppsala University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Stockholm University.
Driving in Sweden
In Sweden, driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Seatbelts must be used and headlights must be switched on 24 hours a day. In order to hold a driver’s license, you must be at least 18 years of age.
If you hold a valid license issued by an EEA member country, you are not required to exchange it for a Swedish driving license. You have the option of exchanging your license for a Swedish one, but this is not mandatory.
If your driver’s license is issued by a non- EEA member country, then you will need to exchange it within one year of becoming registered in Sweden. You will need to pass theoretical and practical driving tests to fulfil the requirements for a Swedish driving license.
Ranking against the world
For a relatively small country, Sweden ranks very highly against other countries in the world. As mentioned previously, it has the 7thhighest GDP per capita in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the Global Gender Gap Index (After its Scandinavian neighbours, Iceland, Finland, and Norway).
Sweden is world-renowned for its effective public healthcare system. Sweden also ranks 12th in the Human Development Index which takes into account life expectancy, years of schooling and gross national income.