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Living in Sweden

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By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: People often describe life in Sweden as peaceful, safe, and beautiful. Expats love the high quality of life, the excellent public transportation, the stunning nature, and the friendly people. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,500 per month, depending on the city and lifestyle. The approximate population of Sweden is 10.3 million, and the largest cities are Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. Some of the cons of living in Sweden include the high cost of living, the long winters, and the language barrier.

What do I need to know about living in Sweden?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Sweden, they said:

"If you are thinking about retiring in Sweden, there are a few things you should know before making the move. Firstly, in order to retire in Sweden you must have permanent residency. You may apply for a permanent visa, if you have been living in Sweden for at least five years, but having a visa already in place can help to make the move easier. Secondly, the cost of living in Sweden can be fairly high, but the country has good public services and a social welfare system in place and pensioners receive additional support. Thirdly, while most Swedes speak and understand English, it is still beneficial to learn some of the local language as many of the services are written in Swedish only. Finally, be prepared for cold winters as the majority of Sweden falls below the Arctic Circle," explained one expat living in Sweden.

"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 another expat in Uppsala.

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How do I meet people in Sweden?

When we asked people living in Sweden about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Meeting people in Sweden is easy and generally quite friendly. Start by introducing yourself in social settings, such as joining clubs, attending networking events, or visiting bars and pubs. Another great way to meet people is to take part in local activities. Consider attending festivals, attending classes such as language courses, or participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or skiing. You can also join expat communities, use apps such as Meetup, or enroll in a language exchange program. There are also many different Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people," wrote a member in Sweden.

"ACTIVITIES: Academic in nature, usually for university students (Uppsala University), though there are some things such as art shows, summer races/competitions, and outdoor activities like camping, fishing and hiking CLUBS: Everything from political parties to hobbies, to what is NOT illegal according to Swedish law; ORGANIZATIONS: Everything from English-speaking, to Swedish, to support groups for immigrants, to political organizations are available;," commented one expat who made the move to Uppsala.

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What is life like in Sweden?

When we asked people living in Sweden what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in the area can be quite enjoyable. The culture is diverse and welcoming, and there are plenty of activities for expats to do both locally and abroad. There are many expat-friendly restaurants to choose from and most supermarkets have a section dedicated to international products. The local currency is the euro, and most expats find that the cost of living is quite reasonable. The infrastructure is good, with excellent public transport, fast internet, and well-maintained streets. Expats can also take advantage of the warm climate and surrounding nature. There are lots of outdoor activities to choose from and the area is a great place to explore. Expats generally find it easy to settle in and make friends with the locals, whether through work, leisure activities or cultural events," said another expat in Sweden.

"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)," added another expat who made the move to Uppsala.

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Is there a lot of crime in Sweden?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"No, Sweden has relatively low levels of crime compared to other countries. Sweden has a low rate of homicide, assault, and other violent crimes, though, like all countries, it does have its fair share of crime," said another expat in Sweden.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Sweden accepting of differences?

"Yes, there is a lot of diversity in Sweden. People are generally accepting of cultural and religious differences, and there is a strong commitment to equality and cultural diversity in the country. Immigration has had a significant influence on Swedish society, as more than one million people migrated to Sweden between 1960 and 2015. As a result, Sweden is a culturally diverse nation with a wide range of religions, languages and backgrounds. Sweden's official policy on race and ethnicity is one of non-discrimination, and the government has put in place several initiatives to promote social inclusivity and integration," remarked another expat living in Sweden.

"Uppsala is as liberal in attitudes as Stockholm regarding religion and cultural diversity. There are Jews, Christians and Muslims in varying populations, but there are also other religions (Eastern, Far Eastern, etc.). There is a liberal immigration policy, but may become more controlled in the future. Racism is fairly recent, but not overt. Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and African immigrants are subjects of racism," added another expat in Uppsala.

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What are the schools in Sweden like?

"Schools in Sweden can be broadly divided into three categories – primary schools, upper secondary schools and higher education institutions. Primary schools are free, public and obligatory and usually starts at the age of 7. After 9 years in primary school, pupils are able to continue their studies in upper secondary school, where they can study either in general programs which provide them with general knowledge, or in vocational programs which offers opportunity for practical education and specialization. Higher education institutions such as universities, colleges or other institutions usually offer a three-year bachelor degree followed by a further two-year master's degree and the possibility to pursue a PhD. Most educational institutions offer high quality teaching and provide a wide range of activities and thus, many Swedish students choose to study in Sweden," added an expat with kids at in .

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Is the cost of living in Sweden high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Sweden, they wrote:

"Yes, the cost of living in Sweden is considered to be high compared to many other countries. The cost of food and housing is especially high due to the country's high standards of living, although prices vary depending on place of residence. In general, wages are relatively high in Sweden, allowing for a comfortable living standard for most of the population," added another expat who made the move to Sweden.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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