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Moving to Sweden

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to 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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Knowing how to move to Sweden depends on your nationality. Citizens from EU/EEA countries have a right of residence in Sweden and will generally find it easy to move to the peninsular country. Non-EU/EEA nationals will need an offer of employment from a Swedish company before arrival.

If you are wondering why you should move to Sweden, all you have to do is read this guide to figure it out. Benefits of moving to Sweden include a high-quality school system, world renowned healthcare, and a society intent on promoting equality no matter someone’s gender, age, or social status.

relocating

Relocating

The process of moving to Sweden is simple as long as you have all of the correct documents. Like most aspects of moving to Sweden, if you are an EU citizen there is very little you will have to do. For example, EU nationals moving from within the EU to Sweden do not need to declare their goods at the Swedish border. However, if an EU national is moving to Sweden after having spent a year or more in a non-EU country, then they will have to declare their goods. Nationals of countries outside of the EU will have to show evidence that the household goods they are moving are their own, used personal goods.

Pets moving to Sweden are not required to be quarantined as long as they have had their required vaccinations. If your pet is coming from a country deemed “high risk” for rabies, they will need to be vaccinated one month before arriving in Sweden. If your pet is not coming from a “high risk” country, a normal yearly vaccine should suffice. For expats, only standard vaccinations are required to move to Sweden, although the recommendation of a tick-borne vaccination may surprise newcomers.

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visas-work-permits

Visas & Work Permits

Knowing the steps for how to get a Swedish visa depends on your nationality. EU/EEA residents have a right to residence in Sweden and do not need permission to live and work in the country. Likewise, EU/EEA residents can also move to Sweden without a job and spend a few months job searching.

For non-EU/EEA residents moving to Sweden, the main visa requirement is to have a job offer before entering the country. The employer will then begin the visa application process on behalf of the expat by starting an application online through the Swedish government’s website. There are different types of visas for expats depending upon whether their job is considered highly skilled or not, and the visa cost is generally the same for each. Until an expat receives permanent residency, they will have to update their visa every time they change jobs in Sweden.

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housing

Housing

Finding accommodation in Sweden is difficult. When looking how to rent a house in Sweden, you will need to familiarize yourself with the concept of first and second-hand leases. A first-hand lease refers to someone who rents directly from the owner of the apartment. A second-hand lease refers to renting from the first renter. This is also called a sublet in other countries. Second-hand leases typically last only one year before the original renter must return, or the landlord will put the apartment back on the market. Due to second-hand leases, many Swedish natives and foreigners alike find themselves needing to find a new place every year.

To avoid the complication of first and second-hand leases, foreigners planning to stay in Sweden long-term should look into buying a house. The process to buy a house in Sweden as a foreigner is fairly straightforward and expats will not face many restrictions. Like with rentals, average house prices are high even when buying, but expats will have many types of houses to choose from.

Expats moving to the Scandinavian country should be aware that much of their salary will go towards their housing in Sweden. Whether it is the cost of the average rent or Swedish utility prices, prices throughout the country are high. In recent years, Sweden’s housing shortage has gradually improved, but, on the whole, expats still find this shortage to be one of the most frustrating aspects about moving to Sweden.

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healthcare

Healthcare

Sweden’s healthcare system and health insurance is world renowned. The country has such an effective scheme in place that many other countries around the globe use it as a model for their own healthcare system. Part of the reason is that the public health system is so comprehensive that many residents do not feel the need for private insurance in Sweden. In fact, less than 10% of native Swedes use private insurance.

Expats who want to use Sweden’s healthcare system will need to register as a Swedish resident first. If you do not register, you will need to buy private health insurance instead. Private health insurance is more expensive than using the public system, but benefits include shorter wait times and a great selection of practitioners when looking into how to find a doctor. Expectant mothers are required to get Swedish residency as there is very little pre-and post-natal care within private hospitals. Pregnant expats can also expect to give birth with the aid of a midwife rather than a doctor.

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Banks & Taxes

Everyone moving to Sweden can open a bank account; however, your residency status will depend on the type of account you can open. EU citizens can open a basic account straight away. Non-EU residents can as well, but their account will be subject to restrictions until they acquire a Swedish tax number. The difference between a non-resident and resident bank account in Sweden is basically access to a debit card and the ability to make cash withdrawals from an ATM. Read this guide to find out how you can get access to an account quickly, as well as a recommendation of the best banks in Sweden.

Knowing how much the tax is in Sweden may surprise some expats. What is even more shocking is that Swedes generally do not mind the exorbitant prices. These high taxes go towards subsidizing healthcare and schools and other communal entities, which are central to Sweden’s egalitarian society.

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education

Education

Although the school system in Sweden is of very high quality, many expats may choose to send their children to international schools while in Sweden. The cost for private and international schools is highly regulated in Sweden, averaging between 30,000 SEK to 100,000+ (3,000 to 10,300+ USD). Prices will vary based on school, location, and the age of your child.

All schools in the country, even private ones, follow the same general curriculum. This is because Sweden believes strongly in equality, which starts in the education system. Recent polling suggest that there may be some educational discrepancies when comparing the school systems in richer versus lower-income areas, but overall the quality has still remained high. If you are looking for the best schools in Sweden, you will want to check out the major cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Uppsala.

Those looking to study in Sweden for higher education will also find many premiere institutions to choose from. A national goal of Sweden is to be a world leader in research, and expats interested in the fields of green energy and innovative technology will find a great deal of educational opportunities in the Scandinavian country.

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working

Working

The requirements for working in Sweden differ slightly depending on your nationality. EU/EEA nationals can move to Sweden as an unemployed person and search for a job within the country. Non-EU/EEA citizens would do best to secure a job from outside the country, especially given that a work permit can only be issued to them from outside Sweden.

No matter your nationality, working in Sweden is ideal for many expats. The average salary is high (over 20,000 SEK/2,000 USD per month) and workplaces do not encourage overtime or skimping on paid holiday leave. Likewise, the Swedish business culture easily adheres to the country’s overall egalitarian attitude, with a strong emphasis on community and equality. In a Swedish company, you are not likely to notice much hierarchy, and formal titles are not common.

It is possible to work in Sweden as a self-employed person, but be advised that you will need to have established your company before moving to the country. Additionally, you will still be required to pay into Sweden’s social security.

If you are interested in starting your own business or working for a company in Sweden, read our guide on how to land a job and get started.

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country-facts

Country Facts

Salaries in Sweden are high, but that is because the cost of living in Sweden is also high. This is primarily due to the competitively priced housing market, but also Sweden’s location. Compared to the rest of Europe, Sweden—along with Finland and Norway—is remotely located. Many everyday goods must be imported, thus driving up the cost of groceries and other common needs. It is also expensive to live in Sweden because of the high tax rate, which adds nearly 20% or more to everything.

Driving in Sweden is one of the best ways to get around. However, Sweden’s public transportation system is so top-level that many expats do not feel the need for a car at all.

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Updated on: October 14, 2019
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