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How to move to Sweden: The basics on moving to Sweden

Thinking of making the life-altering decision to move to Sweden? It could be one of the best things you ever do.

Sweden is one of the happiest places on earth, thanks to an excellent culture, a unique approach to working life, and countless stunning places to explore.

If you’re keen to transform your world with top-notch healthcare, exceptional schooling, and excellent job opportunities, Sweden has you covered.

Of course, just like moving anywhere in today’s chaotic world, migrating to Sweden has a few challenges to consider.

As nice as it would be to be able to just pack up and move at a moment’s notice, you’ll need to think about the legal side of relocation, looking for a new home, and various other factors too.

The good news? We’re here to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Here’s how you can move to Sweden.

How to move to Sweden:

  • Learn the basics of relocation and applying for citizenship.
  • Apply for visas and work permits as early as possible.
  • Find a home to buy or rent and settle in.
  • Adapt to the Swedish lifestyle and culture.
  • Don’t try to apply your own culture to Sweden.
  • Find a career and handle your finances.
  • Prepare for healthcare needs and education.
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Step 1: Know the basics of relocation

Relocation can be pretty tricky — no matter where you’re moving.

The rules, if you’re moving from somewhere in Europe to a city like Malmo will be different to the rules involved with moving from the US to Sweden. EU citizens have the right to move to any EU country to work, live, study, or just retire.

You can also stay in another EU country for as long as 3 months without registering for a citizenship, but you do need to report that you’re there.

If you’re moving from the United States to Europe, then things are slightly trickier. You’ll need to apply to be able to live and work in the country, and you may need to find a job before you move, so you know that you’re going to be able to afford everything.

There are a few ways you can simplify the move to Sweden from the US.

How to move to Sweden from the US

For instance, if you have a European descendant, like a grandparent, you might be able to apply for citizenship by descent — that’s one of the easiest ways to immigrate to Europe.

You could also look into teaching English as a foreign language to Swedish people. There’s always s a lot of demand for teachers.

Some European countries also make it easier for you to move there if you decide to go to university in the region first. Earning your education in Scandinavia will put you on the fast-track to success.

If possible, look for someone in your region that can help you with the ins and outs of immigration, or find a forum online where you can speak to other expats.

Good news for furry friends — pets moving to Sweden don’t need to be quarantined if they’ve had their vaccinations. If your pet is deemed “high risk” for something like rabies, they will need to be vaccinated before they arrive in the country.

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Step 2: Applying for visas

Applying for visas and work permits is one of the toughest parts of moving to any new country. The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you’re over the age of 18.

Parents of children under the age of 12 can apply for their child’s citizenship on their behalf. If the child is over 12, they need to sign a consent form too.

Once a child reaches the age of 15, they’ll also need to show they’ve been living in Sweden for 3 years and have conducted them according to the Swedish immigration laws.

If you have a loved one or family member already in Sweden, they may be able to vouch for your identity and boost your chances of a successful move. You’ll need to have lived with that person for a while before you move to Sweden, however.

While EU residents can move to Sweden without a job and start looking for work when they arrive, non-EU citizens aren’t quite as lucky.

As with most immigration laws, the most important thing you can have when moving to the US is a career waiting for you. A job offer from a company that identifies you as a skilled worker will give you an entry point into the country.

The employer will also need to begin a visa application process on your behalf. Typically, you can do this through the Swedish government website.

There are different visa options for expats according to whether their job is seen as “highly skilled” or not. Unless you officially apply for and receive citizenship within Sweden, you’ll need to update your visa every time you get a new job.

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Step 3: Finding a home

Before you can start covering your new pad with examples of Scandinavian minimalism, you’re going to need to find a home.

If you’re looking for somewhere more affordable to live, we’d probably recommend straying away from Stockholm initially. Prices for houses in the Capital are on the rise.

However, there are plenty of other regions you can look at.

The national average house price for a home in Sweden is around $350,000 — which might seem like a lot, but it’s worth remembering that you do generally get paid quite well in Sweden too.

Before you start signing any documents, make sure you submit an application for a residence permit, so you have permission to begin living in Sweden.

If you’re thinking of renting a property instead of buying, familiarize yourself with concepts like first and second-hand leases.

A first hand lease refers to something you have when you’re renting directly from the person who owns the apartment. Think of it as a sublet.

Second hand leases last about a year before the original renter returns, or the landlord puts the property on the market.

Buying a house is usually much easier than dealing with the stress of renting. However, you’ll need to deal with the extra expense of owning a home.

Be aware that the majority of the salary you earn from your job will usually go towards your housing prices in Sweden.

Usually, expenses in the country are quite high for living, but this doesn’t diminish the quality of life that people can generally expect.

Once you do find a place to live in Sweden, you will need to spend at least five years in your place of residence. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be in the same house, but you do need to stick within Sweden.

Don’t go galavanting around other Scandinavian countries unless you’re just taking a brief vacation.

There are circumstances where you might be able to reduce the five year period.

For instance, if you were living with a Swedish citizen somewhere outside of Sweden for two years, then you’ll only need to spend three years in Sweden yourself before you can apply for citizenship.

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Step 4: Adapting to the Swedish lifestyle

Moving to Sweden is a massive change for a lot of reasons. Not only will you be surrounded by some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but you’ll also have a new culture, fashion, and way of life to get used to as well.

As mentioned above, expenses for living in Sweden are quite high, but salaries are often high too, so this means that everything usually balances out.

You will need to prepare yourself for a bit of a battle when it comes to tracking down the right housing, however.

Sweden does regularly suffer from a housing shortage — perhaps because there are so many expats that want to live there.

Notably, to successfully become a Swedish citizen, you’ll need to conduct yourself according to the laws of the country.

The Swedish migration agency will look at how you’ve conducted yourself before moving to Sweden, and how you act when you’re there too.

If you’ve ever committed any crimes, or pose some kind of threat, you may not be successful in your move.

The Swedish tax rate is also quite high — adding around 20% or more to everything you want to buy.

The Swedes are hard workers who frequently put their all into the things they do, but they know how to relax as well. You can expect to work hard through the day, with plenty of breaks so you can sit down for a quick snack and a cup of coffee.

“Fika” is a common tradition you’ll need to get used to living in Sweden, which basically involves catching up with friends and a cup of coffee.

Moving to Sweden and adapting fast:

Another sudden change that might surprise you when you move to Sweden, is the weather. Although Sweden has both hot and cold weather, it’s summers and winters are quite extreme.

During the summer, you can have up to 20 hours of daylight.

In the winter months, however, there are days where you may not see any sunlight at all.

Stretches of long night mean that there’s a lot of darkness and cold weather to get used to. However, you can at least enjoy the beauty of the Aurora Borealis in Scandinavia if you know where to look.

One final tip we’d give to anyone who wants to adapt to the Swedish lifestyle quickly — is to learn Swedish.

You don’t necessarily have to know Swedish to live here, as many people will also speak English. However, it’s difficult to integrate fully into the culture if you don’t know the language.

Swedish can be quite a difficult language to learn, but you’ll be able to keep working at your knowledge over time. You should also think about getting your kids started in classes as early as possible, as it’s much easier to take on a new language when you’re young.

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Step 5: Dealing with work and finances

One of the things that makes Scandinavians so appealing, is their approach to work. Swedish people know they need to work hard when they’re at their place of employment — but they don’t let themselves burn out by pushing themselves too far.

Employers don’t expect you to work overtime unless you want to, and most people can enjoy a very good work/life balance.

Finding a job in Sweden is a little complicated depending on where you’re moving from. As we noted above, you can move to Sweden without a job if you’re an EU citizen and start looking for employment when you’re there.

It shouldn’t be too tough to find a career depending on where you live, as there’s a lot of great opportunities for the right people.

If you’re not an EU citizen, then you’ll need to secure a job in Sweden before you move to the country. Ideally, you’d be best looking for a skilled position, as this makes it much easier to move into the country and start earning a decent amount of cash.

Usually, the average salary is pretty high in Sweden either way, though. You can earn over $2000 per month quite easily, and workplaces don’t skimp on benefits and paid holiday leave.

Can I immigrate to Sweden and get a job?

Swedish business culture is unique and pretty impressive. There’s a strong focus in every workplace on community and equality.

Even though people do have bosses and managers, Swedish people rarely focus too heavily on formal titles and hierarchy, everyone tends to work together.

While you can move to Sweden and work as a self-employed individual, this is probably the toughest route to take. You’ll need to take the time to do your research on a business and establish your company long before you move into the country.

You’ll also be required to pay into the social security payments of Sweden if you’re self-employed.

Once you do have a job, the next step is opening a bank account so you can manage your money. Everyone who migrates to Sweden will have the right to a bank account. However, your residency status will dictate what kind of bank account you can open.

If you’re moving to Sweden from the US, then you’ll have certain restrictions on your account until you receive your Swedish tax number. If you’re an EU citizen moving to Sweden, then you can bypass those restrictions pretty quickly.

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Step 6: Settling in after moving to Sweden

Moving to Sweden has it’s ups and downs, just like moving anywhere in the world. The good news is that there are a lot of benefits to the transition.

For instance, once you’re settled in your new home, you can start to set up some helpful things, like a healthcare and education strategy

The healthcare system in Sweden is renowned around the world. The effective scheme has actually inspired a lot of countries around the globe to add elements to their own strategy.

Healthcare is extremely affordable, and only around 10% of native Swedes will even consider using private insurance.

When you’re moving to Sweden, remember that you’ll need to register as a Swedish resident to use the public health system. If you’re not registered as a citizen, you’ll need to start off by purchasing private health support.

This is a lot more expensive than using the public system, but you will have shorter wait times and a wide selection of doctors to choose from.

Parents and expectant mothers have a lot to look forward to in Sweden too. There aren’t any massive fees to worry about when you have a child. What’s more, when your child arrives, they’ll have plenty of amazing schools to help them in getting their education.

The cost for private and international schools is also highly regulated, so you can expect a decent price if you’re looking for private tutoring.

Notably, every school in the country follows the same general curriculum — even if you go private. That’s because Swedish people believe strongly in the importance of equality — starting with the educational system.

Polls show that there are sometimes some educational discrepancies in specific locations within Sweden, but quality overall remains high throughout.

There’s also a wide range of premier higher education institutions to choose from for students that want to develop their education even further.

Can I immigrate to Sweden?

Immigrating to Sweden isn’t a total walk in the park, there’s a lot to think about if you want to make the move permanently.

If you’re a European citizen, then you already have a head-start in moving to Sweden, as you’re free to go to any country in Europe and begin living and working with very little issue.

If you’re moving to Sweden from the US, there are some extra challenges to face.

In either case, it’s probably not a good idea to start moving to Sweden without a job. The cost of living in Sweden is quite high, so you’ll need to have a good income line up before you begin looking for housing.

Additionally, before you move to Sweden, it’s a good idea to make sure that you understand the differences between this country and your own.

The move to Sweden can be quite smooth if you have the right visas and permits in place. There’s also plenty of people out there who can help you to make the transition.

However, even if you can handle all the paperwork quite easily, the change can be quite the culture shock.

Remember that the weather in Sweden and Scandinavia is very different to elsewhere in the world — with extremely long nights in winter, and long days in Summer.

The extra expense of living can be challenging to get used to at first, and there are a lot of unique quirks that people have in Sweden that might catch you off guard if you don’t do your research.

The good news is that if you go into your move with your eyes open, there are a ton of benefits to living in Sweden too. Ask anyone “why move to Sweden”, and they’ll be able to quote everything from healthier living, to beautiful environments, and a better general quality of life.

Is moving to Sweden easy?

Moving to any new country is rarely as simple as it seems. Even if you’re a European moving to Sweden, the stress of finding a new home and establishing a life for you and your family can be a little overwhelming at first.

However, with the right guidance on how to move to Sweden permanently, and a positive attitude, you’ll be on your way to a Scandinavian lifestyle in no time.

Swedish residents are some of the happiest people in the world, and they’ve got plenty of reasons to smile.

From a fantastic approach to work-life balance, to a commitment to all things cozy and peaceful, the world could learn quite a lot from the unique way that Swedish people live.

Good luck planning your move to Sweden and remember you can prepare yourself for the transition by checking out some of the other handy articles we have here at Scandification.

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