What I Learned After Living in Sweden for 1 Year

Stockholm never fails to surprise me. Every day, I learn something new. Every day, I just love living here. There are so many things I learned after living in Sweden for 1 year.

It might seem trivial for some, but, hey, I lived in the Philippines! Haha.

Exactly one year ago, Miguel and my family drove me to the airport. This is it, I thought. After the long process in the Philippines, I can finally move to Sweden—the country that Miguel and I both wanted to move to.

The first couple of months were my most difficult time here; emotionally and financially.

Sweden, particularly in Stockholm, is so different from the Philippines. I miss my friends and family, but I would still choose to continue living here. If I could bring my family here, I would.

The thought of living alone in Sweden scared me.

First, the living situation will never be the same as it is in the Philippines. Second, the language barrier (though the majority of the people here can speak English). Third, it is a fresh start.

I made it. One year in Sweden! I met a lot of great people, I met people I don’t want to meet again, I learned more about myself, and more importantly, I learned to love myself more and treat myself better.

10 Things I Learned from Living in Sweden for 1 Year

I fell in love with Sweden before I went here. I fell in love with Sweden when I first moved here. And I’m still in love with Sweden a year later.

Sweden is not perfect, but everything here is bliss.

1. I learned to take a break.

Work doesn’t end in one day, and you can always do it the next day—unless there’s a deadline. I like to feel busy at work and even when I get home.

Over the past few months, I am so focused on my blog, growing my followers and potentially hoping to have an extra income. I thought that I have to post weekly, and it felt like I’m writing for the sake of having something to post only. Blogging wasn’t fun anymore.

Instead of planning and pressuring myself to have content, I decided to take a break and just blog whenever I want.

Not only in blogging, but in other aspects of my life too. I always set myself a deadline (which is often good), but it’s unhealthy. I had to “reset” my life and start doing nothing first, then slowly start with something I really want to do.

Karen Roldan - Winter in Sweden
Autumn or winter is a perfect excuse for your lazy ass.

I use the comfort of my apartment and the cold weather as my excuse for my lazy ass. I’ve dealt with the cold weather 5 days a week when I go to work, and I just want to stay home and not wear winter clothes for the rest of the weekend.

I’ve always looked forward to experiencing autumn and winter. One year since I moved to Sweden, and I am so happy I experienced the 4 seasons already.

Honestly, the cold weather is manageable with proper clothing. I thought I would have difficulty adjusting to the weather, but, apparently, the cold weather was not my concern; it is the short days and long nights.

I cannot function in the afternoon—as early as 2-3 PM when the sun goes down—because it is dark all the time. My body thinks that it’s time to sleep at 3 PM. Good thing I am living in Stockholm, not in the northern part of Sweden!

2. People are happier when days are longer aka when there’s more sun.

When the sun is out, the Swedes are out! Or… people living in Sweden are out.

I took advantage of the sun during my first year of living in Sweden. I came from a tropical country, so I didn’t really enjoy being under the sun. Not until I experienced winter in Sweden!

3. Huge taxes, but definitely worth it.

Living in the Philippines in my entire life, paying huge taxes is not worth it. Hello, look at our government. 

But living here in Sweden, I don’t mind paying that much—I mean almost everything here is taxable—because you can benefit from the taxes! I’m not a citizen yet, but I am entitled to almost all of the benefits here.

4. You pack your own groceries.

I am used to grocery stores with baggers. Whenever I buy groceries, I always make sure I buy less so I don’t have a long time putting it all in the bag.

What I usually do when I know I need to buy lots of groceries is order it online and just pick it up on a certain day and time. Saves me a lot of time + prevents me from getting all the food that I don’t intend to buy.

5. You don’t really live in Sweden if you don’t have a personnummer.

My first few months were difficult because I couldn’t get a personnummer which is your identification number due to the validity of my residence permit (it should be at least 1 year).

I have a samordningsnummer (tax coordination number) though! I pay my taxes, but I cannot login or register to almost everything because it requires personnummer. It felt like I am living in Sweden, but I am not.

In everything that you do—applying for a gym membership, getting a bank account, buying online, etc—you need to sign in using a BankID. You can get a BankID if you have a personnummer.

See what I mean?

You can easily get a personnummer if you are registered in Sweden. You can register in Sweden if you have a residence permit valid for at least 1 year.

6. They don’t use cash.

Sweden is a cashless country. Cash is rarely acceptable, so life in Sweden for foreigners could be a culture shock. At least for me.

I love living in Sweden because of this. It’s easier to carry a card and use it for all transactions.

So far, I have experienced using cash when paying for groceries or in a convenience stores.

Usually, you will she cash-free signs before entering a shop, especially in Stockholm City.

7. Buying an apartment in Stockholm is cheaper than renting.

It’s difficult to look for long-term contracts in Stockholm.

What I don’t like about second-hand rentals here is landlords will ask you to pay up to 4x more of the rent. In which most people don’t have a choice but to pay because of the housing shortage.

If you buy an apartment, your monthly cost will be almost half the cost of the rent. Imagine the money that you could save per month!

Anyway, I love my apartment and its location. I would love to stay here longer, but I really can’t wait to buy an apartment and save more money.

8. Indoor shoes only in the gym.

I’ve only heard of removing outside shoes inside the house because we do that too in the Philippines, but having an indoor shoes in the gym is a new thought!

This means that it is guaranteed that the gym will always be clean. When you go to the gym, for example, SATS, you will see that there’s a seat by the entrance where you can remove your shoes or you can get a shoe cover. It is required for you to wear shoes that you haven’t used outside.

9. Nobody judges you.

I am more confident now because I know that nobody will judge me here. If they do, I learned not to give a f*ck anymore.

The mentality of people here is way different than in the Philippines. In the Philippines, literally, everything is a big deal.

Here, you can walk around without wearing a bra (#freethenipple), wear clothes you’re comfortable with and nobody will catcall you (been here for only one year, and I’ve never been catcalled).

10. I’m comfortable being alone.

I am surrounded by friends and family in the Philippines. I rarely have weekends when I don’t have plans.

Since I was new here, I didn’t know anyone but my coworkers. We don’t hang out on weekends, obviously. Then I started to enjoy being alone.

I like the peace I have in my environment, I like how I don’t have to care about the people I’m with, I like having my own choices and decisions, I like being alone.

What do you think about the things I learned in Sweden? Is it normal in the country you live in?

There are days when I feel sad because I miss the comfort of my friends and family. I let myself feel that way because it’s normal and it really takes time to fully settle in another country.

The most important thing to have is communication, and it helps a lot! As I’ve mentioned on the list, I became comfortable being alone now.

One year in Sweden, and I had a good experience! No horror stories yet, please! If I got one, I will definitely share it! Or probably rant on Twitter. Haha.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment down below.

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