Work and Life in Sweden

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I have been living in Sweden for more than 2 years, and to be honest, I haven’t adjusted yet and I’m still living in a bubble. Even though everybody speaks English, there’s no doubt that there is still a language barrier.

I love living here, of course, and life in Sweden is a lot different than in the Philippines.

Culture and tradition are different. Its social welfare system is on a different level (in comparison to the Philippines)! Work and life balance are definitely there. I am still learning about Sweden, but so far I don’t regret moving, and my life definitely changed after moving.

What is it like living as a foreigner in Sweden?

I moved to Sweden because I got a job in Stockholm. Most companies here have relocation packages so they will help you move and settle in the country. As a foreigner who moved for work, it isn’t that difficult to settle down once you arrived in Sweden.

The company (or the relocation partner) helps you register in Sweden to get a personal number (personnummer), open a bank account, and find an apartment.

In case you are moving on your own, don’t worry because you only need to do these things, and you can do it on your own:

  1. Register in Skatteverket to get a personnummer
  2. Open a bank account (once you have a personnummer)
    • Get a BankID and Swish 

Note: the personnummer is the key to living in Sweden because you can do anything online if you have it. Otherwise, then life in Sweden will be difficult!

I didn’t have it on my first 6 months, and it felt like I am here in Sweden but I’m not living here!

As a foreigner living in Sweden, it isn’t hard to communicate because as I have said everybody speaks English. What’s challenging is making friends with Swedes!

Swedes don’t prefer small talk and when I say they respect privacy, they really do! It might take a while to have a Swedish friend, but when you do, it’s worth it.

Another challenging part about living in Sweden is everything is in Swedish. As someone who doesn’t speak Swedish, I always need a translator to understand whatever is written in my mail!

There are pros and cons about living here, but work and life in Sweden is awesome!

Work in Sweden

I am currently working in an IT company in Stockholm. It is a fast-paced environment but there is still work and life balance.

Stress is still there, but it is not tolerated. It is important to mention things like this to your manager because your mental health is more important. As far as I know, there is stress-related sick leaves in Sweden!

We are working from home now because of the ongoing pandemic, and I’m lucky that the company fully supports everyone.

The benefits are different from each company in Sweden. Some companies offer free lunch, some companies offer health or fitness benefits, etc. Either way, it’s a win for you!

Perks & benefits at work

Life in Sweden is already amazing, but the work benefits are good too!

  1. 30 days of vacation per year. It is normal to go on vacation for 4 weeks straight during summer! So, expect that work is slow during this season. 
  2.  All are equal & no discrimination. As much as possible, everyone is treated as equal. Gender and race don’t matter; at least based on my experience. Luckily, I haven’t experienced any discrimination. 
  3. Flat organization. This is difficult for me to adjust because I am used to following a hierarchy at work. 
  4. Family is the top priority. In Sweden, parents have 480 days of parental leave that they can use. How cool is that?
  5. Work and life balance. It is quite unusual when people stay at the office until past 5:00 PM especially on a Friday.
  6. Free coffee, tea, and fruits.
  7. Free phones!
  8. Health and benefits allowance. This allowance can be used to the gym, etc.
  9. Game room. Because it’s okay to take a break from work!  
  10. FIKA. It is a “coffee and cake break” & it is more than that. People working in Sweden know how important Fika is and you cannot say no to it unless you have something really urgent!        

Life in Sweden

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. This is probably why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world.

So far, I have been spoiled with my life in Stockholm. I sometimes complain to my husband, and he’ll usually tease me that it is a first-world problem! I didn’t notice and realize that it is a big thing for me, but trivial for him.

Autumn in Sweden - Trees

Stockholm is a city, but you will still see a lot of green areas even when you commute to work! This is nice because you don’t need to travel outside Stockholm to have a change of scenery.

Summer and spring are the best seasons in Sweden, love the long days and short nights. Autumn is the worst though! It is gloomy, always raining, and there’s no sun at all!

If you are new in Sweden, here are my favorite resources:

  1. The Newbie Guide to Sweden
  2. The Local SE 
  3. Stockholm | Gone Girl International
  4. Stefan Thyron Vlogs

How expensive is Stockholm

Coming from the Philippines, Sweden is much, much, much more expensive. But if you are working, whatever that job is, you will still earn enough to have a comfortable life in Sweden.

I don’t know how expensive it is in other cities, I know that Stockholm is the most expensive city in Sweden, followed by Gothenburg and Uppsala.

Food is definitely expensive! One decent meal for lunch would cost around 100 SEK (or PHP 600), but you can also get a decent meal at 50 SEK (salad) or around 75 SEK.

I usually spend 300-500 SEK for groceries weekly, but I’m not much of an eater so I am saving so much on my groceries as well. I would say 3000 SEK per month is enough for groceries for one person.  

When I visited Helsinki, I realized that food there is more expensive than in Stockholm.

As for clothes, the price is almost the same range in the Philippines. So it wasn’t much of a shock. There are cheap clothing stores here, but I usually order in YesStyle because of my size.

Transportation. It depends on the validity of your travel card, but 30-days validity costs 930 SEK only. You can have an unlimited ride to trains, buses, and boats within Stockholm.

I would say that there wasn’t much of a difference when I used to commute to work in the Philippines but cheaper. I wouldn’t complain though since the public transportation here is really reliable and trains are working most of the time, no traffic as well.

Phone and mobile data. I don’t have expenses on this one since it is provided by the company. Though the mobile plans here are affordable too.

Home internet, electricity, utilities, etc. It is covered in my rent already. 

Apartment. I may have saved so much from food and other expenses, but most of my salary goes to my apartment! It is normal in Stockholm to spend 30% – 50% of your salary to rent.

Depending on your location and how close you are to the city or train station. In my first apartment in Stockholm, I lived within the city so rent is on the more expensive range.

Salon. Haircut costs around 400-500 SEK. They rarely accept drop-ins so you need to book an appointment in advance. I pay around 1.800 SEK for hair color.

I miss living in the Philippines and I miss my family and friends. My husband is there too, so living alone in Stockholm is challenging. I met a few people and I have friends here so it is less lonely.

I enjoy sharing what it is like to live abroad particularly living in Sweden so watch out for more posts! In the meantime, checkout my other posts about life in Sweden.

  1. Whoa. Enjoyed reading this Q&A! I’m just really happy for you! You’re so brave to move in a foreign country na wala kang kilala. I feel like I don’t have enough courage to do that! You’re an inspiration ♡♡♡

    1. Ewan ko ba, minsan iniisip ko na lang “bahala na”. I’ll deal with it na lang later, ganon. Haha. But so far hindi pa naman ako na ho-homesick! I guess I’m really enjoying my stay here. Kaya mo yan! ??

  2. I want to ask what you put in the appeal letter? I am in the same situation and I dont wanna hassle my employer and risk my employment

  3. Hello Karen,

    I have a question regarding the employment contract authentication. Does the employer need to be present in Philippine Embassy in Norway to have the contract authenticated? It seems to much hassle for the employer.

    1. Hi! Your employer does not need to be present at the Philippine Embassy in Norway. They can just send the documents by post. But, as far as I know, you do not need to authenticate your contract (red ribbon) for documents issued in Norway, Iceland, and Sweden. You can have it apostillized instead. You can refer to this info from the Philippine Embassy in Norway:

      I hope this helps! 🙂

    2. Hi Mark,
      Were you able to have your contract authenticated? I have the same concern.

      Hi Karen,
      I think the link is only for documents other than employment contracts.

      1. Hi!
        If the document is issued in Norway, Iceland, and Sweden, then the apostille should be accepted. Since “Beginning 15 June 2019, we will no longer physically affix red satin ribbons to documents brought to the Embassy for consularization, or more commonly known as “red ribbon”. ”

        But it maybe still depends on which country… also if POLO is available, it may be a different process as well.

  4. Wow! Ang hirap mag work na ibang lahi ang mga kasama mo. Pero, nag hahanap rin ako ng work abroad. Nakakalungkot lang na wala ako mahanap. 🙁

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