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Moving to Stockholm

What to know if you're moving to Stockholm

Stockholm is the dream of many expats who can’t choose between urban buzz and rural serenity. Located on 14 islands, it has a lot to offer to urbanites and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Read the InterNations GO! guide on moving to Stockholm for advice on districts, visa requirements and transportation.

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All about Sweden

Use this guide to understand the requirements for moving to Sweden. We cover all you need to know from how to find housing in a competitive market, what makes Sweden’s healthcare one of the best in the world, and who needs a work permit to live in the Nordic country. Whether you are relocating to Sweden for work, family, or study, we list all the steps to move to this country of vast greenery and staunch equality.

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Relocating to Stockholm

  • Stockholm is the perfect combination of “city buzz” and beautiful green space, which many expats are looking for.
  • The winters can be cold but the summers are rather pleasant in this city.
  • If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you need to apply for your visa before you arrive in Stockholm.
  • Public transport in Stockholm is very good with both good local connections, and many options to travel to neighboring countries.

Moving to Stockholm is the right thing to do for those expats who aspire to be international urbanites, yet do not want to forgo access to parks, forests, and lakes. Like no other city, Stockholm combines urban buzz with green space and blue water. Beautiful from the winter months to the summer months, with its 14 islands and 160km of shoreline, expats living in Stockholm will be in for a treat.

Despite being the biggest city in Sweden, Stockholm often conveys a small-town feeling. Cobblestone streets will guide you through the old parts of the city, lined with historic residences atop high waterfront hills. Let us introduce you to the city of Stockholm.

The Location and Climate of Stockholm

Stockholm, situated in the south of Sweden, is a unique city. With a past that stretches back over 700 years, the expat history buff will find a home like no other. The Swedish archipelago (skärgård) consists of 24,000 rocky islands. Stockholm itself is located on 14 of them, connected by 52 bridges, ferries and waterways. When moving to Stockholm, you will settle somewhere between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea.

Although the temperature often drops below 0°C in the winter, summers are usually pleasant and very sunny. The relatively mild weather and the long days are perfect for long hikes, cycling or swimming. Your move to the Swedish metropolis may even get you interested in fishing, a popular sport among the Swedes throughout the country and particularly in Stockholm. It even extends into the winter, when ice fishing becomes the norm.

Important Districts

Moving to Stockholm is often easier said than done. As is the case in most big cities, housing can be hard to find, and in some cases can take years. You should not be too choosy while looking for accommodation. Whether you are on the apartment hunt or simply exploring the city, we have compiled an overview of the most important districts in Stockholm for you.

Norrmalm 

This district makes up most of Stockholm’s city center, together with Kungsholmen. Norrmalm is home to most government offices and buildings, including various ministries. It may be just the place for you if you consider moving to Stockholm to work in the financial sector. After all, it is the country’s banking and financial center. With the Central Station and Arlanda train station, Norrmalm is also well-connected to the rest of the city.

Södermalm

Or would you rather move to Stockholm’s most attractive district? Södermalm lies at the very heart of Stockholm’s rich past and historic buildings litter the area. Moreover, in recent years an urban revolution has occurred in Södermalm and it has become a favorite among countless artists, fashion divas and musicians. In fact, the area has become known for its “hipster” vibe and has been ranked by Vogue as the “coolest” neighborhood in Europe. In terms of  nightlife, it is the hottest part of the city for anyone who enjoys whiling away the hours in pubs, bars and clubs. As a result, real estate prices doubled in this area between 2000 and 2014. 

Södermalm provides the best of both worlds; cobbled lanes and green spaces meet modern architecture. However, you should note that Södermalm is a victim of the housing shortage, and the average time on the waiting list for a first hand rental contract there is fourteen years. For more information on the rental market, see our guide to Living in Sweden. Nonetheless, even if you don’t end up living there, chances are you will spend time in Södermalm at some point. The district is the home of the Royal Palace and the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) and any tour guide will invariably lead you through its ancient streets. 

Rinkeby-Kista

Are you rather keen on moving to Stockholm’s multicultural district with an entrepreneurial atmosphere? Kista, the city’s northernmost district, has long been home to leading high-tech and IT companies. Kista’s Science City is indeed one of the most important centers for Information Communication Technologies, with about 750 companies, several research institutes and schools. Swedes and expats moving to Stockholm often find jobs here. There are currently plans to build 4,000 new homes in the Kista area, mainly in Kista Science City.

Älvsjö

Älvsjö is one of the greenest districts in the city of Stockholm with lots of new and modern residential developments. The area is constantly expanding, offering more and more space for locals and expats moving to Stockholm. Thus, for expats and Swedes on the hunt for housing Älvsjö might just be the best place in Stockholm to find a home. While the opportunity to travel around the city is presently not as viable here as in other districts, in the near future, the district will also expand in terms of public transportation, turning the area into a major transportation hub. In spite of Älvsjö’s new modern outlook, the oldest building of Stockholm, the church of Brännkyrka, built in the 12th century, is also located here.

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Visa Requirements for Stockholm

Unless you are a national of an EU/EEA member state, you need to apply for a work visa before you move to Stockholm. Although you can submit your application directly to your nearest consulate, it is advisable to submit it online to the Swedish Migration Board. This is due to the fact that online applications can be answered more quickly, however due to the current refugee situation, even if your application is submitted online, there is still a predicted 2–5 month waiting time. Your work visa will be placed in your passport, allowing you to travel to Sweden as you wish. Keep in mind, though, that until your application has passed and you receive your work visa, you will not be allowed to travel to Sweden.

Application Process

Once you have received your written offer of employment, approved by the responsible trade union, you are ready to apply for your visa. Your visa application is either handled by your nearest consulate or embassy or by the Swedish Board of Migration. Keep in mind that your spouse and your children need their own work or residence permit.

Necessary Documents

Expats who are about to apply for a work permit have to submit the following documents:

  • an application form
  • a valid passport and a copy of the picture page
  • a written offer of employment (Anställingserbjudande)
  • application fee (for a standard work permit this is 2,000 SEK)

When your spouse and children apply for their residence permits, they have to submit the following:

  • a valid passport and a copy of the picture page
  • an application form
  • two passport-style photos
  • a copy of your marriage certificate (or equivalent) or a document proving that you have lived together in your country of origin as common-law spouses
  • birth certificates of your children
  • a certificate proving that your children over 21 can finance their stay in Sweden

All documents should be translated into either English or Swedish.

Registration

As we have mentioned before, only nationals of EU and EEA member states are free to move to Sweden and work there without obtaining a residence permit beforehand. While this makes starting an expat assignment in Stockholm quite easy for European citizens, they too have to register their residency.

Make sure to register with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) within three months of your arrival. You will need to visit your nearest Skatteverket where you will then receive your Swedish personal identity number and will be registered under your address. Nordic citizens are exempt from the registration of residency.

Stockholm: Getting there and around

Stockholm is in fact a public transportation hub. It has both an excellent underground system as well as great connections to other destinations within Sweden and Europe. Once you have moved to Stockholm, getting around is actually quite simple. The transportation system prides itself on being efficient, safe and comprehensive.

Public Transportation in Stockholm

While Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) operates trams, buses, commuter trains and ferries, Stockholm’s underground is probably the most convenient way to get around. The city of Stockholm is divided into three zones. With a zone ticket you can take several trips within 75–120 minutes.

You can purchase your ticket at vending machines, SL centers and even via text message. But keep in mind that it is not possible to buy your ticket directly on the bus and train by paying in cash. You should, however, be able to find ticket machines that allow you to pay cash at various bus stops.

If you want to explore the city of Stockholm via public transport, take a trip with bus 69 or tram 7. They offer you the best of Stockholm, taking you to Djurgården and major attractions such as Skansen and the Vasa Museum. The subway stations also exhibit various art pieces, acting as the world’s longest art gallery.

Variable Prices: Traveling by Taxi

You are free to choose from one of the many different taxi companies in Stockholm. Keep in mind, however, that approved taxis with metered fares have yellow license plates. It is probably smart to choose one of these to make sure you are not overcharged.

How much you actually have to pay depends very much on the time of day as there are different fares for day and night travels. However, it should not cost you more than between 290 and 390 SEK to travel about 10km (approximately 15 minutes). As a rule of thumb, large taxis are usually more expensive. Trips to and from Arlanda airport often come at a fixed price of between 459 and 500 SEK. You should try to find out about this beforehand.

Exploring Sweden and Beyond

Once you have moved to Stockholm, you should use the opportunity to explore the rest of Sweden and to visit neighboring European countries. The city’s Arlanda airport is located 45km north of the city center. It offers connections to plenty of destinations all over Europe.

If you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, you can, of course, choose to travel by bus, train or car. There are different bus companies which offer long-distance trips around Sweden and to neighboring Scandinavian countries. Big companies are Swebus Express, which has 150 locations, and Ybuss.

As an alternative, you can also choose to travel by train from Stockholm’s Central Station. National and long-distance trains are run by Sveriges Järväg and Tágkompaniet. Trains in Sweden are very efficient and will take you across the whole country, so hop on a train and explore! But if you don’t want to forgo the convenience of travelling by car, this is possible as well. The E4 motorway passes directly through Stockholm on its way from Helsingborg to Haparanda. The E20 motorway runs from Stockholm to Göteborg, and the E18, which passes the city in the North, will take you all the way to Oslo.

Updated on: December 13, 2017
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