The Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
Are you considering moving to Sweden? This Scandinavian country is a popular destination for expats, but it’s not always easy to decide if it’s the right choice for you. In this blog post, we will take a look at the pros and cons of living in Sweden. Whether you’re thinking about making the move or just curious about what it’s like, read on to find out more!
Fun facts about living in Sweden
What you should know before moving to Sweden
Before moving to Sweden, here are some of the social norms and things that you need to know! Some were pretty new to me when I moved here.
Want to know more? Here’s a bigger list of things you should know before moving to Sweden! If you already arrived in Sweden, and don’t know what to do next, then check out my guide to help you get started after moving to Sweden.
Cost of living in Stockholm
The most frequent questions I got about living here are:
- How much does living in Sweden cost?
- How expensive is living in Sweden?
- Is living in Sweden expensive?
- Is Stockholm expensive?
Everyone has different living expenses, but the average estimated monthly costs of a single person in Stockholm are around 10.000 SEK without rent.
According to the maintenance requirement of Migrationsverket, standard amount is SEK 5,158 for a single adult.
This would include expenses on food, clothing, personal hygiene products, telephone costs, household electricity, insurance, and other minor expenses.
I don’t necessarily agree with their maintenance requirement as food and electricity cost alone are bigger.
Related post: Are you curious to know if living in Stockholm is expensive or not? I created a detailed post about the cost of living in Stockholm & and what our monthly expenses look like.
Pros and cons of living in Sweden
Sweden is a great place to live as a foreigner. I grew up and lived in the Philippines, I also lived in Australia when I was studying.
Living in Sweden outweighs the cons, even though there are a couple of things that I missed about my home country.
I haven’t lived in other bigger cities in Sweden, so my experiences will mostly be based on living in Stockholm.
My views might be different as well, so make sure you take my pros and cons of living in Sweden with a grain of salt.
Life in the Philippines is tough and hectic. There’s a lot of traffic, pollution, and crime. The hustle culture in the Philippines is not sustainable, the old beliefs and practices that are no longer aligned with my values, and many more, make make me appreciate living in Sweden more.
The quality of life is also better in Sweden.
Pros of living in Sweden
I can give a hundred reasons to live in Sweden, but here are the things I love about living in Stockholm.
Lagom & slow-paced lifestyle
One thing I love about life in Sweden is lagom which means “not too much, not too little” or all things in moderation.
It is a Swedish philosophy for living a balanced, happy life. Lagom is probably why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world.
The Swedish lifestyle pushed me to find my current level of contentment and appreciate what I have right now. I was able to reach that point because living in Sweden gives me time to slow down. I didn’t feel the need to constantly be on the go like I did back in Manila (or spend 4-5 hours a day on the commute).
The relaxed lifestyle also meant that I had more time to enjoy nature. One of my favorite things to do is go for a walk in the woods or sit by a lake. It’s so peaceful and calming.
The slow-paced lifestyle can be a refreshing change of pace for some people, but others may find it too boring.
Fika – social coffee break
Swedes love coffee.
Fika is part of the Swedish tradition or lifestyle where friends, family, or colleagues meet for coffee or tea and eat something sweet.
In the Philippines, we have something similar called merienda where we take a coffee break with other people.
Best places to get fika in Stockholm: Mr. Cake, Vetekatten, Fabrique, Cafe Pascal, and Bröd & Salt.
Midsummer, long vacation days and you get paid more
Workers in the European Union are entitled to get at least 20 paid vacation days per year. The minimum in Sweden is 25 days, but bigger employers offer 30 paid vacation days.
It’s also true that you get a premium on your monthly salary when you go on vacation! Sweden has been very progressive when it comes to worker’s rights.
Because winter in Sweden is harsh & long, everybody goes out and travels during the summer, and goes where the sun is! Swedes celebrate the longest day of the year called Swedish Midsommar.
It would be such a waste to stay indoors while the weather is good!
Reliable public transportation
Somehow embarrassing story: during my first few months here, when people asked me how I like living in Stockholm, my first response was about reliable public transportation!
I mean… in the Philippines, I would need to spend 4 to 5 hours commuting to and from work even though I can go home within 30 minutes if there’s no traffic!
SL is responsible for the public transportation in Stockholm county. You can purchase a transportation card with unlimited access to the metro, commuter train, railway, tram stations, buses, and even boats!
Metro is the most reliable mode of transportation in Stockholm. We live in an area where the commuter train (pendeltåg) is used. And it breaks down more often during summer and winter.
This means we need to use a replacement bus during those times which extends our travel time to the city by 30 minutes more.
Liveable salaries in most professions especially IT
Sweden is an attractive destination for many people due to its high quality of living and desirable working conditions. One of the top reasons for choosing Sweden as a home is the livable salaries in most professions, especially IT.
From software engineering to web development, IT jobs in Sweden are some of the most sought after and offered with respectable wages. With its increasingly digitalized economy, Sweden offers a variety of lucrative job opportunities in this ever-growing field.
I already had an idea about the work-life balance before relocating to Sweden. It is one of the reasons why I want to move to Sweden.
- 480 days of parental benefit for one child.
- Minimum of five weeks of paid vacation.
- Paid sick days (with a small deduction).
- The healthy boundary between work and life
- 40 hours of work per week, but flexible
It depends on your industry, but there are companies here that don’t require you to speak Swedish. If you want to learn Swedish, you will also get an allowance that covers a portion of the fees.
Related: Life and Work in Sweden
The gender gap between men & women is getting closer (at least)
Sweden is one of the most equal countries. This is very much evident since I started living in Stockholm (and comparing it to the Philippines).
The pay gap between men and women in Sweden is getting closer. But, men still get over 11% more compared to women.
This is anecdotal (and something that stuck with me) but it is possible that two people, one has twice the other person’s years of experience, get paid equally. The only difference is the one with less experience is a man.
Also, it’s normal to see fathers pushing prams everywhere!
The well-functioning social welfare system
The Social Welfare System in Sweden is considered one of the best in the world where registered residents have access to basic benefits such as healthcare, social benefits, and education.
The Swedish healthcare system is not 100% free, but the maximum amount you have to pay out of pocket is 1.200 SEK per year. That’s almost free care!
If you are working in a company, you will also get health insurance where you can avail of private healthcare.
You can also see a doctor in a few minutes using an app like Kry or Doktor.se and get treated for a variety of medical issues.
Dentists are expensive though!
I also find healthcare in Sweden one of the cons which I will explain more later!
- Monetary support for children up to 16 years old
- 480 days of parental leave per child
- Special benefits to care about sick and disabled children
- Housing allowance
- Benefits if you are not able to work
- Unemployment benefits
- Benefits for anyone who can’t get a reasonable standard of living
If you are curious about Swedish Social Insurance, you may visit Försäkringskassan.
In Sweden, education from ages 6 to 19 is free. As far as I know, Sweden also provides free lunch for students! You will also get free college education within European Union for public institutions.
Sweden has earned a reputation as one of the most progressive and LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world. With full marriage equality since 2009, same sex couples can enjoy the same rights and responsibilities in every area of life.
The country’s anti-discrimination laws cover almost all aspects of life, including employment, education and healthcare access. Additionally, Sweden is committed to providing safe spaces for the LGBTQ population and fosters an environment where everyone can be accepted for who they are without fear of judgement or persecution.
There are several food options for people with different dietary preferences
Sweden caters to all dietary preferences. There are a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants that you can find here. Whatever your food preference may be, you can find something to suit your tastes in Sweden.
If I want to become vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, I can easily do that in Sweden. I find it difficult to find a similar cuisine as in the Philippines. Even the way seafoods are cooked in Sweden is different from what I prefer.
Sweden is an environmental pioneer and is the first country in the world to pass an environmental protection act in 1967.
One of the common practices when living in Sweden is to recycle. Before relocating to Sweden, I had to check how to recycle since this concept is new to me. In my first apartment, the recycling station is around 15 minutes walk because my apartment is old and the association doesn’t have any recycling room.
- Newspapers, flyers
- Colored glasses
- Clear glasses
- Light bulbs
- Can and bottle deposit system
Sweden is a diverse country
Sweden is a very diverse country, which I love. I’ve met and worked with people from all over the world, and it’s been interesting to learn about their cultures.
It’s also great to have so many different options when it comes to food. There are so many amazing restaurants in Stockholm, and it’s always fun to try new things.
The main language in Sweden is Swedish, but you can easily communicate with the majority of people in English.
Cons of living in Sweden
Sweden is often considered a great place to live, with its high standard of living and abundance of natural resources. But, there are some definite downsides to living in Sweden that should be considered before making the decision to move there.
These are my personal opinion and my cons of living in Sweden might be different from others.
Long and dark winter months
Sweden experiences long, dark winter months and very short summer days. This can take a toll on your mental health, especially if you’re not used to it.
Coming from a tropical country, dealing with winter is new to me. Winters in Sweden are harsh, long, and dark!
People often take vitamin D during this time and you need to make your place as cozy and as comfortable as possible.
I find this season the hardest and it makes me feel more homesick. I had to learn how to deal with homesickness while living abroad.
High taxes and higher cost of living
You pay high taxes in Sweden, but the positive side of this is you get a well-functioning social welfare system. If your goal of moving to Sweden is to make & save money, then Sweden might not be your best choice!
Sweden has also one of the most expensive costs of living. The cost of housing, food, and transportation is high compared to other countries.
It can be difficult to integrate into Swedish society
People can be cold or distant as well, and it takes time to get along and befriend a Swede. But, once you get close to them, you will see they are fun and friendly.
Small talk is not a thing here, but you will always find yourself talking about the weather!
If you just moved to Sweden, you can join Facebook groups to meet people.
There is a significant gap in the time it takes to acquire or renew a work permit
In Sweden, all work permit applications are submitted to Migrationsverket (Swedish Migration Agency). Migrationsverket can also certify employers as certified operators which provide faster processing times on work permit applications.
In my previous experiences, the processing time for getting or renewing a work permit varies. It can be within a couple of days for certified employers. But, recently, there have been delays even for certified employers.
A new work permit application will now take between 1 to 4 months.
You need to start looking for apartments before relocating to Sweden because there is a huge lack of rental apartments, especially in Stockholm.
I would say finding an apartment in Stockholm is one of the struggles of my life in Sweden. You will rarely find a long-term contract. Usually, it is six months with the possibility of an extension.
I have more detailed information about how to find an apartment in Stockholm. And, if you are planning to buy an apartment in Sweden, I have another post where I shared our experience of buying an apartment in Stockholm.
Access to healthcare
While it is an advantage that Sweden has universal healthcare, sometimes you need to get your medical appointments much in advance!
I know some people needed to wait around three months for their appointment. If it is an emergency, getting an appointment wouldn’t take that long!
Accessing healthcare in Sweden can also be a challenge for foreigners who are not registered (or who don’t have a Swedish personal number).
I didn’t have problems with getting help from Kry since I moved to Sweden.
Finding a job could be a challenge for foreigners
There are industries in Sweden that don’t require Swedish such as IT. But, even if you are looking for a job in the IT industry, it can still take time and it can be challenging.
From my husband’s personal experience, it took him 8 months to find a job in Stockholm. He has over 5 years of experience in the IT industry and he couldn’t get any interviews.
Coincidentally, after we updated his name in the resume from Juan Miguel to Miguel, he started to get responses.
Government-controlled alcohol stores
Alcohols in Sweden are regulated by the government. You can only find drinks with more than 3.5% alcohol by volume in Systembolaget.
All alcoholic drinks that you see in grocery stores in Sweden are less than 3.5%.
Laundry in Sweden
One thing I noticed about living in Stockholm is the laundry rooms are a big deal! I am not kidding. If you are an expat in Sweden, I’m sure people have brought up the laundry rooms.
Most apartments in Stockholm don’t have a washing machine or dryer in the bathroom, so you need to book an appointment for your building’s laundry room.
The laundry room is free, and you get 3 – 4 hours to use it. Don’t mess this up because you won’t have an option. Sometimes, it’s difficult to book a room!
Tip: Before signing a contract, check if there are a washing machine and dryer in your apartment. If none, check if the laundry room is in the same building.
I went to see an apartment before and found out that the laundry room is in a different building!
Learning Swedish helps you integrate while living in Sweden as an expat. Sure, English is widely spoken, but Swedish is still the first language here.
I had a few attempts to study Swedish consistently, but my mind is not there yet! In Sweden, there are SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) courses that you could enrol in.
I like learningswedish.se more because I can study Swedish at my own pace and it’s free!
Sweden is a beautiful country. The people are friendly, the environment is clean and there’s plenty of work opportunity. However, life in Sweden isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are pros to living here but also cons that you should be aware of before making your decision about whether or not to move here permanently.
If you want more information on the pros versus cons when it comes to living in Sweden, let me know!
Don’t forget to prepare your moving abroad packing list so everything will go smoothly!
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Thank you for this nice articel!
My husband and I moved to Sweden last year. First we planned to live here only for 6 months, but due to the pandemic, we decided to buy a house and start a life in the countryside.
We definitley love the swedish lifestyle – nevertheless it seemed strange in the beginning.
As we lived in Berlin, Germany, before it was a huge cultural difference. Now we are getting used to it and are happy to welcome back spring & summer!
When I recall the whole last year, then the winter time from Nov- Feb. was really hard. The darkness and cold temperatures were not easy. How do you experienced it?
Valeria from IvyGreen
I love your blog and I can’t wait to read more about life in the countryside!
As someone who grew up in a tropical country, the darkness and cold temperatures were definitely not easy! I love spring & summer though. But autumn and winter are difficult for me to get used to.
Hello ,I’ve always wanted to live in europe especially in sweden but I’m a hijabi and African and I was born in canada I wanted to know if they maybe gave jobs to expats I want to work in medical career and how are they with ppl that are foreigners. How do they treat them. I’m in a new country but this country that I’m in isn’t that welcoming to any type of foreigners.
When I first came to Sweden, my bank contact was a hijabi woman.
And when I went to the hospital, the doctor was hijabi too.
And I have many engineers who are hijabi and work in big companies.
I have lived in 4 countries in Europe. I believe the more countries you have lived the more difficult will be for you to accept Sweden.
I just could not make it. 3 years in Sweden, and I did not find my place. You did not mention on your comments racisms (not sure if you experienced that) but I found Sweden extremely racist. People just do not mix. White are friends or of whites, black with black and so on.
Also depression is very common and they think is because the weather but I also have heard Swedish complaining that they feel very lonely.
Many old guys go to Asia to find young women. There is a lot of double standards.
Really,thanks for the information.
Thank you so much dear for this useful info. Me & my husband is going to move soon at Sweden. Your article helped me a lot to understand many things despite I knew most of them, still I feel something supporting to set a mind according different challenges. Once again thanks a lot for sharing your experience and useful tips for foreigners.
Stay Blessed.. 🙂
Thanks for this article. I’m blessed. I am thinking of relocating to the UK but with this your article, I will think about Sweden soonest.
Hi! Thanks for writing such an informative list! But what is the law of Jante? I see it in the list but there’s no expansion below!
Janteloven (the law of Jante) at its simplest describes the way that all Norwegians (and in fact, other Scandinavians too) behave: putting society ahead of the individual, not boasting about individual accomplishments, and not being jealous of others
It simply means, no one is better than the other. The practice is equality
Thank you, your content is helpful. I’d save and read it again. Cheers
I am Otto , and i am from Ecuador. My girlfriend and I áre getting married next year. So, we áre checking some possibilities to relocate. Sweden was not in our list. However., We consider move there. I have the same career as your husband. I speak English, French, a Little Portuguese and of course Spanish. Maybe, i would contact in the future. Blessings, Otto
This blog was very useful for me since I was calculating to migrate to Sweden with my family i.e., wife and two children of 10 & 2. I am afraid of the severe climatic conditions because I am from Sri Lanka, pearl of the Indian ocean.
I have to look for masters student visa and work only part time. Another thing I want to get clarified is that whether my part time work will be sufficient for the living of whole family.
My wife is a beauty culture diploma holder but she is week in English. What could be her employability in Sweden?
Thank you in advance for your comments.
I am from Sweden and I love reading this.
But I found one little thing, you wrote that Sweden has short summer days – which is not true, the greatest thing with Swedish summer days is that they’re very long – up to 17-20 hours of day light – in the north 30 days of absolute brightness.
Kind of makes up for the dark winters (but not entirely)
I’m a Filipino also. I married a Swedish national from Göteborg about 18yrs ago and we have been living in the USA for that long(I’m Filipino American btw). I’m just wondering about investing in real estate such as rental property(either appartment or villa.) Is that common…private ownership/landlord?
I’m thinking about investing before I make my way to Sweden to retire.
Spent much time there and I really like Torslanda and Vasteras.
Best imo is the Swedish candy and kebab pizza….yummy
Hello! I’m a Nigerian and I intend to apply for a masters program in Sweden. I like a lot of things about Sweden and I find this article very informative. Do you have any advice as regards my intentions? Linkoping University is the choice I’ve decided on
Hello,I am from Nigeria .I love what I read about Sweden but I am abit down with these two factor which are :
1 : long and dark winter month, as a foreigner,what can I do to over come it .
2: you mention about saving .you means Sweden is not a place to work and save,maybe due to high cost of living ?
Does it mean I cant save for the future?
Probably a dumb question. Healthcare, doctor appointments and emergency care were mentioned. What about regular prescription medications? Such as insulin for a diabetic? Thank you