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Moving to Sweden? A Guide to Swedish Living, An Expat’s Guide

The Paperwork

One of the first things you’ll confront upon choosing to move to Sweden is the paperwork. You’ll need to apply for a residence permit before you land in the country. Luckily, this can all be done online. In addition to streamlining the process, applying online also decreases the waiting time your papers will be subject to and ensures speedy processing. Keep in mind, though, that some caveats apply to the online application system: first, you must have a Swedish citizen as a reference person. You must also possess a passport and be at least 18 years of age. To complete the residence application, you’ll need copies of your passport, paperwork proving you are married (or unmarried), and documentation demonstrating certain health conditions or states (see this page for requirements).
Once you fill out the application and submit needed paperwork, you’ll be required to conduct an interview with the Swedish immigration officials. Your request will then be processed, and you will be notified of the decision via email. Once the process is finished, you’re cleared to move to Sweden and get to work finding housing and a job, if you haven’t already.

Finding Housing in Sweden

Finding housing in Sweden can feel a bit like navigating a maze. While the country has several fantastic housing options for a wide selection of expats, the housing system works quite differently from other places in Europe. In Sweden, roughly 22% of available housing is social housing. These houses are managed by local housing associations and, while their purpose was to make housing more easily accessible, the waiting lists can be long for these properties. Because of these long wait times, most rental properties available are sublets, which come at high prices and can be incredibly competitive to find.
Keep in mind, though, that these sublets often get into tricky legal territory since there are no “buy to rent” laws in Sweden. With this in mind, it’s wise to hire a Swedish realtor to help you find housing in the country.

The 5 Best Places to Live in Sweden

While there are many outstanding places to live in Sweden, these five cities offer ample job opportunities, quiet pace of life, culture, and attractions to appeal to any expat:

1. Stockholm
Known for its glamor and elegance, Stockholm is a city that glistens no matter how you look at it. While many people imagine the city as a centralized entity, it’s composed of 1 4 islands that are linked together by a mind-boggling 57 bridges.
Despite the sprawl that may imply, however, Stockholm is incredibly walkable and bike-friendly. Ideal for expats who want to live in the heart of Swedish life and culture, Stockholm offers elegant Swedish design, art galleries, world-class eateries, sharply dressed citizens, and some of the best shopping in the country. Live here and you’ll also get to take advantage of outstanding museums, cobblestone streets, and the unique meeting of old-town Stockholm with the elegance of modern buildings and businesses. What’s more, since the city is surrounded by an archipelago and many forests, it’s easy to get outside and enjoy nature from this very upscale hub of culture, shopping, and commerce.

2. Solna
Located just north of Stockholm, Solna has a population of roughly 71,000 people and is a city and municipality at the same time. Voted the best place to live in Sweden by Fokus magazine, Solna is known for its entrepreneur-friendly dynamic. Ripe with opportunity in industries varying from tech to service, Solna boasts more than 8,000 businesses, most of which are booming. Because of this, it’s one of the most popular places for hardworking expats to set up shop. In addition to its thriving business scene, Solna also offers a safe lifestyle, highly walkable layout, and plenty of attractions and amenities to keep residents entertained, happy, and busy. Ideal for families, young professionals, tech gurus, and individuals alike, Solna offers all of the benefits of Sweden in a unique and approachable package.

3. Nacka
With a population of 33,000 people, Nacka offers quiet waterfront homes and plenty of lucrative jobs for skilled expats. Located southeast of Stockholm, Nacka draws expats due to its high quality of life and beautiful scenery. Known as the place where Sweden’s island and big city lifestyle come together, Nacka is a cultural hub full of history and elegance. Expats who choose to live in this area will find waterfront attractions, a slow, relaxed pace of life, plenty of good jobs, and enough restaurants, cafes, stores, and evening events to keep even the most discerning expat busy.

4. Lund
In the southern part of the country, Lund is an attractive city for expats who want to attend or work in the university system. With a population of 82,000 people, Lund boasts the country’s most famous school and is lively with all of the trappings and attractions of a university town. The entire city of Lund centers around one of the oldest cathedrals in the country. Stemming out from all sides are colorful lanes filled with medieval homes, quirky bookstores, brightly painted shops and cafes, and gardens spilling out over iron fences. Packed full of world-class museums, attractions, galleries, and shops, Lund is a place that’s popular among students, discerning professionals, and families alike. The second oldest city in Sweden, Lund is ripe with history, culture, and color.

5. Danderyd
Danderyd is widely considered one of the most affluent areas of Sweden. With a population of just 10,000 people, this quiet village north of Stockholm has some of the most educated people and the highest income in the country. Filled with leafy parks, happy families, and ample festivals, celebrations, stores, museums, and galleries, Danderyd is a place that’s favored by professionals and highly trained craftspeople from around the world.

10 Things to Know About Moving to Sweden

Sweden is a beautiful country with plenty to see and do, and knowing these ten things can help you be better prepared to integrate into Swedish life:

1. You’ll drink a lot of coffee
In Sweden, the tradition of Fika promotes ample coffee drinking. Within this tradition, family, friends, and coworkers get together for coffee or tea at least once a day. These meetings offer an opportunity to relax, take a break from the day, and enjoy a sweet treat with a caffeinated beverage.

2. Lines can be long
Virtually everything in Sweden, from the deli counter to the pharmacy, revolves around a ticket system. Take a number, get in line, and don’t get your hopes up about quick waiting times.

3. English is spoken everywhere
In all of the world, Sweden is rated as the second country for the prevalence of English as a second language. With this in mind, language barriers are minimal, and it’s possible to enjoy the country for years without becoming an expert in the Swedish language.

4. Stores close early
Like many places in Europe, stores in Sweden close at about 5:00 in the afternoon. This means shopping early can save you time, stress, and hassle.

5. Parental leave is among the best in the world
Sweden is a wonderful place for parents. The country offers nearly 500 days of paid maternity leave, which can be split between parents.

6. Outdoor attractions are popular
Swedish people love to get outside, and living here likely means you’ll take part in skiing, hiking, and swimming on a regular basis. In Sweden, even private land is public, and as long as you treat the land with respect, you’ll be allowed to venture nearly anywhere you choose.

7. July is a favorite holiday month
In many places throughout Sweden, businesses shut down for the month of July to allow proprietors and employees to take four weeks of time off.

8. Moderation is prized
In Sweden, people abide by the law of Lagom. While the word doesn’t have a literal English translation, it means “just enough” and rules the way that people conduct themselves both in public and in private.

9. Private homes are shoe-free zones
It’s considered rude to wear your shoes into a Swedish home, so expect to take them off at the door as you enter. In addition to showing your respect for the host, this also helps keep homes cleaner.

10. Punctuality is critical
Swedes are punctual people, and it’s wise for expats in the country to learn to be on time to everything from casual get-togethers with friends to business meetings.

The Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden

To make an informed decision about moving to Sweden, consider the following pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

The Case for Sweden

While the winters can be long and dark, there are many fantastic reasons to move to Sweden. From the exceptional healthcare to the delicious food, friendly people, and high quality of life, there are dozens of things to love about this robust, healthy, outgoing country.
Expats who choose to live here will enjoy everything from ample outdoor attractions to a simple life filled with art, good jobs, friendly neighbors, and highly walkable cities. Regardless of whether you choose to live amidst the hustle and bustle of Stockholm or the quiet, tree-lined streets of Danderyd, it’s not difficult to find a place where you fit in and thrive in this country. While the prospect of moving to Sweden is exciting, it’s still important to take the time to consider the downsides. While good jobs are common here, finding housing can be difficult, and many expats find the real estate market frustrating.
If you can cope with that, however, and the dark winters, Sweden is a beautiful place to grow a career, start a family, lay down roots, and get out and enjoy life. Unlike many other parts in the world, Sweden offers a unique mix of quality of life, the quantity of natural beauty, availability of friendly, accessible people, and plenty of delicious food – all of which is more than enough to make you want to stay forever! Regardless of why you choose to move to Sweden, one thing is for sure: you’ll have no trouble finding your community in this beautiful and welcoming country.