Are you thinking about moving to Sweden? Considering the country’s popularity among expats and immigrants, weighing the pros and cons of living in Sweden can provide useful insights to help you decide if it’s the right place for you.
Having resided in this Scandinavian beauty for several years, I am excited to share my nuanced perspective on the pros and cons of living in Sweden. This is not a traveler’s checklist or a tourist’s guide – it’s a reflection of what it truly means to live in Sweden, the good and the challenging.
So, if you’ve been toying with the idea of moving to Sweden, this post will give you an insider’s look at what it might mean for you. After all, knowing whether Sweden is a good place to live isn’t just about looking at immigration statistics or reading about cultural norms – it’s about hearing from someone who is living the experience every day. Let’s dive in!
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Fun Facts About Living in Sweden
Cost of Living in Stockholm
The most frequent questions I got about living here are related to the cost of living in Stockholm:
Everyone has different living expenses, but the average estimated monthly costs of a single person in Stockholm are more or less 11.000 SEK without rent.
According to the maintenance requirement of Migrationsverket, the standard amount is SEK 5,717 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 costs alone are bigger.
Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
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Sweden is a great place for foreigners to call home. As someone who grew up in the Philippines and studied in Australia, I can confidently say that living in Sweden is worth considering. Although there are a few things I miss from my homeland, the advantages of living in Sweden far outweigh the cons.
While I can’t speak to living in other major Swedish cities, I can tell you all about my experience in Stockholm. Keep in mind that my views are subjective, and you might have a different take on it.
Coming from the hustle culture in the Philippines, where traffic and pollution are also rampant, living in Sweden is like a breath of fresh air. The quality of life in Sweden is exceptional, and their beliefs and values align more closely with mine.
Pros of Living in Sweden
There are countless reasons to live in Sweden. I’ll share some of my favorite aspects of living in Stockholm. The beautiful city has captured my heart in more ways than one, and I’m excited to share with you just a dozen of the many reasons why Stockholm is such a fantastic place to live!
Lagom & slow-paced lifestyle
When you live in Sweden, you need to embrace the concept of lagom. This means finding the perfect balance in all aspects of life and enjoying a laid-back lifestyle with ample time to appreciate nature and seek contentment.
Fika or social coffee break
Fika is an essential part of Swedish culture. It refers to a break in the day for coffee and pastries, usually enjoyed with friends or colleagues. Fika is more than a simple coffee break, though – it’s an important way of creating relationships. It’s customary to take your time over fika, and conversation can range from work topics to personal experiences.
Taking a fika break also helps with productivity and creativity – the short pause gives you time to reset and refocus on tasks! As such, it’s an excellent pro of living in Sweden that many people enjoy taking advantage of!
Fika is nothing new to me since we have something similar in the Philippines!
Midsummer, long vacation days, and higher pay
Living in Sweden has its pros, the midsummer being one of them. As the days become longer and warmer, Swedes welcome the summer solstice with an abundance of festivities and celebrations. And who could forget the long vacation days?
With 5 weeks of paid vacation mandated by Swedish labor laws, not only do you get enough time off to unwind after a year of hard work, but you also enjoy a boost in pay during your vacation. What better way is there to enjoy those warm midsummer nights?
Reliable public transportation
Sweden is known for its reliable public transportation. Public buses, trams, and trains are all safe and efficient means of getting around the country. Whether you want to explore the major cities or venture to rural areas, Sweden’s public transportation system makes it easy and enjoyable.
Livable salaries, especially in IT
Living in Sweden is a great opportunity for software engineers and IT professionals looking for livable salaries. The country has one of the best working environments that reward its citizens with enough salaries and quality benefits. The cost of living in Sweden may be relatively high, it’s still easy to have a comfortable lifestyle while leaving plenty of room for savings.
If you’re an IT professional looking to work in Sweden, you can expect to secure a comfortable salary that allows you to enjoy the beautiful Swedish culture.
Sweden is well known for its excellent work-life balance, which is why it’s one of the most attractive countries to live and work in. Employers are required by law to provide a minimum of 25 vacation days per year and employees typically enjoy more flexibility when it comes to working hours. This helps Swedes avoid burnout and prioritize their leisure time.
Additionally, Sweden has generous family leave policies that are among the best in Europe. Parents can take up to 480 days of shared parental leave with a benefit rate of around 80%.
If you are unemployed or have lost your job, the Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden’s public employment service, is a valuable resource. They play a crucial role in connecting job seekers and employers, ensuring a vibrant and dynamic workforce. It offers plenty of advice and support to those seeking employment while assisting employers in their hiring processes.
Closing gender gap
Closing the gender gap is a major pro of living in Sweden. The government has invested heavily in initiatives to ensure that anyone, regardless of gender, can have access to quality education and job opportunities.
Sweden also has one of the highest percentages of women in leadership roles across all sectors, from corporate executives to government ministers. This commitment to providing equal opportunities ensures that everyone can reach their full potential and contribute to a more gender-equal society.
Comprehensive social welfare system
Sweden has an extensive social welfare system that offers its citizens a variety of benefits. Sweden’s social welfare system includes universal healthcare, free education, generous parental leave policies, disability services, and retirement benefits.
This comprehensive system provides residents with financial and economic security, helping to ensure that everyone in the country has access to basic needs. This social welfare system acts as a safety net for people who are affected by events like unemployment or illness, allowing them to receive much-needed assistance.
Sweden is very LGBTQ-friendly and is one of the most progressive countries in Europe when it comes to LGBTQ issues. For instance, Sweden legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, as well as allowing adoption for same-sex couples from 2003.
The country also has a hate crime law that protects people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This attitude towards LGBTQ rights has helped make Sweden one of the most attractive places for individuals to live in Europe.
Diverse food options
Sweden has a wide range of both traditional and modern food options, with something for everyone. From traditional Swedish comfort food – to new vegan food trends, Swedes are always looking for delicious and diverse options.
The country is particularly great for those with dietary restrictions due to its broad selection of gluten-free, lactose-free, and other allergen-free alternatives. In Sweden, it’s easy to find anything from fresh sushi to organic vegetables!
Diverse and multicultural society
Sweden is widely known for its diverse and multicultural society. It is home to many different cultures, religions, and ethnicities. This means that Sweden is a great place to live for people from all walks of life, as they can be sure that their differences will be respected and accepted.
Living in Sweden also provides residents with many opportunities to learn about different customs and cultures, enabling them to become more tolerant of others in the process. The country also boasts a thriving economy and high standards of living, making it an ideal destination for those looking for stability and security.
If you’re interested in discovering the potential advantages and reasons why someone might decide to move to Sweden, I have a more comprehensive post on that topic. For a detailed look at why you might want to move to Sweden, check out my blog post on reasons to move to Sweden.
Cons of living in Sweden
While Sweden is frequently praised for its high standard of living and abundant natural resources, it’s essential to acknowledge that living in this beautiful country also has its challenges. Before deciding to move to Sweden, it’s important to consider some of the potential drawbacks that may arise.
Keep in mind that these are my personal opinions, and what I perceive as downsides to living in Sweden may differ from the experiences of others. Nonetheless, it’s valuable to gain insight into both the pros and cons of residing in this Scandinavian nation.
Long and Dark Winter Months
Living in Sweden during the winter months can be a difficult experience for many people. The long, dark days can be draining, leaving individuals feeling exhausted and low on energy. What is even more concerning is that the sun does not rise until late in the morning, making it impossible to get up early and make use of daylight hours.
Moreover, temperatures are usually below freezing which makes outdoor activities uncomfortable or even dangerous at times. All these factors make living in Sweden during the long winter months one of its biggest cons.
High Taxes and Cost of Living
Sweden’s high taxes and cost of living are one of the biggest drawbacks to living in the country. For example, its overall taxation level is significantly higher than the European Union average. An average income tax rate of around 30% is imposed on all employees. Additionally, Sweden’s costs for food, accommodation, and other daily expenses are quite expensive compared to other European countries.
Challenges in Integrating into Swedish Society
Integrating into Swedish society is not an easy task. Despite the country’s commitment to creating a hospitable and welcoming environment for immigrants, there are still significant challenges that newcomers face when attempting to integrate into Swedish society. The Swedish language can be one of the biggest obstacles, as many Swedes speak English but it is usually more difficult to communicate with locals in their native language.
Cultural differences such as more individualism and less emphasis on collective solutions can create a difficult learning curve for those who are used to different social norms. Overall, integrating into Swedish society requires both patience and determination from those looking to make Sweden their new home.
Want to learn Swedish? I recommend iTalki! I use this app to familiarize myself with the language and boost my confidence in conversing with others.
Work Permit Acquisition and Renewal Delays
Immigrants in Sweden frequently encounter extended waiting periods when applying for or renewing work permits. The focus of these issues lies in the extensive delays, which can span several months.
During this time, people find themselves in a limbo where leaving Sweden is not an option, as their current permit may have expired and they must stay in the country awaiting the decision. This period of uncertainty, paired with an inability to leave or engage in employment, can create a sense of being stuck and lead to various challenges, including financial strain for those without a steady income.
Sweden is facing a housing shortage that has been steadily increasing over the years, making it difficult for people to find affordable and long-term housing contracts.
In addition to rising rents, another major problem faced by many residents is the difficulty in finding a long-term contract in Sweden. Many landlords are now offering only short-term leases, which can be uncertain and difficult to plan around.
This issue is especially challenging for families who may not have the flexibility or resources necessary to move frequently.
Access to Healthcare
Be aware of potential challenges in scheduling medical appointments, particularly for non-registered individuals, and the relatively higher cost of dental care.
Job Search Obstacles for Foreigners
Acknowledge that finding a job in Sweden can be time-consuming and competitive, despite certain industries not requiring Swedish language proficiency.
Racial discrimination, often an unseen barrier, can be one of the reasons not to move to Sweden.
Government-controlled Alcohol Stores
Alcohol in Sweden is 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%.
Adapting to Laundry Practices in Sweden
Laundry facilities in Stockholm apartments are limited, requiring residents to book time slots in communal laundry rooms, which can be challenging to secure, so it’s important to check for in-unit facilities or nearby laundry rooms before signing a contract.
Reliability of Commuter Trains
Consider the occasional reliability issues with the commuter train (pendeltåg), particularly with line 43, which is cancelled for six weeks every year. These cancellations can significantly affect residents’ travel to the city, extending the journey to up to an hour, and creating inconvenience and disruption to daily routines.
If you want to explore the potential drawbacks and reasons why someone might choose not to move to Sweden, I’ve written a more detailed post on that topic. Check out my blog post on reasons not to move to Sweden for a deeper understanding of the considerations involved.
Is Sweden a Good Place to Live
Sweden offers a unique blend of advantages and challenges for those considering relocating there. Its comprehensive social welfare system, progressive stance on LGBTQ rights, diverse culture, and environmental focus are just a few of the many reasons people are drawn to this beautiful country.
However, it’s essential to also consider the potential downsides of living in Sweden. The long, dark winters, high taxes, and difficulties in finding housing or a job can be challenging for some people. Navigating the healthcare system and adjusting to local customs like laundry practices may also require some adaptation.
Ultimately, your experience in Sweden will be influenced by your personal preferences, adaptability, and goals. As with any life-changing decision, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making the move.
Living in Sweden has been a journey of discovery and growth for me, and I love living in Sweden.
I hope that by sharing my experiences, I’ve provided you with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about whether Sweden is the right place for you.
Don’t forget to prepare your moving abroad packing list and make your transition as smooth as possible! Lycka till! (Good luck!)