Living in Sweden Guide

By Betsy Burlingame

Expat Exchange Rental Properties

Summary: Expats living in Sweden appreciate the kind, calm Swedish people, enjoy outdoor-life in Sweden and can join numerous clubs for expats. Taxes, the high cost of living and difficulty learning Swedish are among the challenges they discuss.

Living in Sweden - 11 Expats Talk About What It's Like Living in Sweden

Meeting People in Sweden

Expats living in Sweden talked about meeting people in Sweden and local clubs and organizations. Stockholm has a wide array of expat clubs and activities. The American Club of Sweden holds "third Thursday" gatherings at the Hilton in Stockholm. International Women's Club of Stockholm hosts coffee mornings, luncheons, tennis groups, book circles and much more. American Women's Club of Stockholm has a movie club, luncheons, a 20 and 30 somethings group, wine tastings and more. Hash House Harriers has a group in Stockholm, too.

Other cities have similar clubs. In Gothenburg, , American Women's Club of Gothenburg and the International Women's Club of Gothenburg and a Hash House Harriers Group. In Malmo, American Women's Club and the Malmo Rugby Club.

What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture

We asked expats in Sweden what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"Kind people willing to take time to get to know you. Use of bikes instead of cars when possible. Living simply and without a ton of 'stuff' we American's seem to accumulate over the years," said one expat living in Karlstad, Sweden.

"The calm of the people, the friendliness and the tolerance and their belief in the normative power of facticity. I mean that they know in the end anyone can and will adapt to their relaxed way of being," mentioned another expat in Sweden.

The Most Challenging Aspects of Living in Sweden

Then, we asked expats in Sweden what was most challenging about their new culture. They replied:

"Learning Swedish. The tax situation. Finding a home that has what I want in the area I's like to live," said one expat living in Karlstad, Sweden.

"Everything is different but no one tells you about it because it is so obvious but you do not see it. It's like a maze and you struggle and struggle and no one sees you struggling," mentioned another expat in Sweden.

What to Bring When Moving to Sweden (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in Sweden what they wish they had brought when moving to Sweden and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"I wish I had brought: My comfortable king size bed. One year's supply of large sized shoes - Contact lenses and solutions. I wish I had left behind: My lifetime supply of books. T-shirts - you can only wear it for 3 months in a year! My mobile - no one calls," said one expat living in Stockholm, Sweden.

"I wish I had brought some American measuring cups/tablespoons. It was too much trouble to have to convert all my American recipes to metric. Wish I had also brought cold/flu medicines, because you can't find the strength you're used to in the US, except in prescription form. I wish I had left all my dress clothes, because I wasn't working in an office setting, and so they were very impractical to have and not used. Also wish I had left most of my shoes (especially the ones with heels), because those are impractical as well. Goteborg was very rainy and snowy, so some of my shoes were just ruined," mentioned another expat in Sweden.

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Learning Swedish

We asked expats in they learned the language before they moved, once abroad or are still planning to learn the language. They explained:

"I speak very little Swedish. I have been learning on and off for over 2 years. Most of the people I meet love speaking English and rather that over Swedish. That has been difficult to overcome," said one expat living in Karlstad, Sweden.

"I knew part of it before I moved here. Actually the language was never a problem since it's half English and half German, at least as long as you do not want to write a book or work as a journalist," mentioned another expat in Sweden.

Expat Life in Sweden

What is it like living in Sweden? Here is what people had to say:

"People in Uppsala are academic-oriented, or are mostly blue-collar workers because of the university. Work in Uppsala is varied, but those who are in technology or engineering are usually paid better. Family is important in Sweden, and might be hard to get invited to a traditional Swedish home at first for outsiders. Socializing is not as liberal as, say Ireland, but Swedes are respectful and courteous to newcomers. Sports is academically oriented, but observance of the national team is paramount for football (American: Soccer)," said one expat living in Uppsala, Sweden.

"The outrageous cost of living expenses and the high tax tacked on top of everything you buy and own, has also made me rethink how I plan my future here in Sweden. I really do love the people and the country's beauty, but to work until I'm able to retire here in Sweden, just doesn't seem to be the best option for me," confessed another expat.

Deciding Where to Live in Sweden

When we asked an expat living in Stockholm to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, she replied, "My husband was very particular on where we would live. Believe it or not, there are slumps in Sweden and Swedes are so careful about where and how they live that "addresses" are important statements of their "class". We got a tip through some friends."

"If you enjoy a socialist-type of government and you enjoy the company of more university-bound people, then Uppsala, Sweden, is a nice town to live ! There is a variety of outdoor activities to experience, the people treat you with respect, and most citizens have a humble lifestyle in this town," said one expat living in Uppsala, Sweden.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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The Relocator International Moving Quotes

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Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get a Quote

Living in Sweden GuideLiving in Sweden Guide

Expats living in Sweden appreciate the kind, calm Swedish people, enjoy outdoor-life in Sweden and can join numerous clubs for expats. Taxes, the high cost of living and difficulty learning Swedish are among the challenges they discuss.

Sweden Forum Sweden Forum
Join our Sweden forum to meet other expats and talk about living in Sweden.

Contribute to Sweden Network Contribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Sweden.

Healthcare in SwedenHealthcare in Sweden

Sweden's healthcare system is primarily public, but private healthcare and insurance does exist and are used by expats. This article provides expats with an overview of the healthcare system, how to handle medical emergencies, prescription medications, hospitals in Sweden and more.

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Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Sweden.

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Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Sweden.

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Advice for people retiring in Sweden.

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Expats in Sweden confess that culture shock can take you by surprise. But, once they learn to adapt, they appreciate the beautiful weather, relaxed lifestyle and bike-riding culture.

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