Living in Sweden as an Expat: A Guide for Foreigners

Living in Sweden as an Expat: A Guide for Foreigners

Thinking of living in a new country?

Well, staying in Sweden as an expat is one of the best decisions you’ll make.

Yes, the living expenses are higher compared to other countries in Europe. However, you can expect a lot of benefits in return. 

For one, Sweden offers unique local culture and people — making it a good place to settle down.

In this article, we’ll tell you what you can expect when you live as an expatriate in Sweden.

Advantages of Living in Sweden

Sweden offers something for everyone.

For instance, Stockholm and Gothenburg are some of the best places to live in Sweden if you love the city. Or, you can settle down in the rural areas if you want the outdoor life!

In general, here are some advantages you can expect when moving to anywhere in Sweden:

1. High Standard of Living

The cost of living in Sweden tends to be very expensive — not to mention the tax! 

Despite this, the Swedish population is getting a lot in return from their government in terms of services and benefits. 

This being the case, expat living might be costly. You’ll need to prepare a lot of Swedish Krona to pay for your daily spending.

2. Quality Healthcare and Education

We can say that Sweden is the golden standard for healthcare and education.

Healthcare is highly accessible in Sweden — regardless of social class, anyone can expect quality service. 

The health insurance of Swedish people is pretty extensive, so you can finally prioritize your health. Not only that, but the Swedes also offer free education to students. 

Afterwards, they’ll have a lot of job opportunities waiting for them. Plus, there are many international schools in Swedish cities that can cater to children of expats.

3. Safe and Clean Environment

When someone asks us if Sweden is a safe country, we can’t help but scream YES! 

The crime rates in Swedish cities are pretty low. So, trust when we say you can walk around without feeling like you have a target on your back. 

Take your time outdoors and take in the sceneries the world has to offer. Couple this with the clean environment, and you’ll breathe in the Alps’ fresh mountain breeze in peace. 

4. Efficient Public Transportation

We love commuting in Sweden because of its reliable public transportation. You’ll hardly need to buy a car because its train service and bus stations can easily bring you from point A to B.

Their public transport is fairly efficient to the point that even the Swedish people enjoy their public transport. You won’t have a hard time going around even if you’re new!

We ourselves didn’t experience any delays in reaching our destination.

Disadvantages of Living in Sweden

The advantages of moving to Sweden are enough major reasons that can tempt you to move to this beautiful country.

But you should also be aware of the disadvantages of staying in Sweden:

1. High Cost of Living

If you ever considered moving to Sweden without a job, DON’T!

The cost of living in Sweden is very high. You won’t be able to survive unless you budget your Swedish Krona well. 

The price of basic commodities like the internet, gas, and energy are so high. This is especially true if you plan to stay in major cities like Stockholm. 

Life in Sweden is expensive, so be sure you’re ready for the cost. 

2. Language Barrier

Quite a few people in Sweden know how to speak the English language. 

But not many people have English as their second language, making communication a big challenge. 

The only way to overcome this problem is if you set your mind to learning Swedish. We were glad we learned the Swedish language, though it was admittedly hard.

We could communicate with our friends better and talk about more things! 

3. Cold and Dark Winters

Moving to Sweden means getting used to the country’s very cold and dark winters. It’s so cold, the temperatures could reach below 0! 

Those from tropical countries might have a hard time adjusting to this kind of cold. Living close to the arctic circle increases your chances of getting frostbite. 

We highly recommend you invest in a good thermal sweater. This will help you last longer in the snow and cozy up with your hot mug of coffee with chocolate balls. 

4. Limited Social Interaction

Swedes tend to keep to themselves. They aren’t keen on social interactions, which feels quite lonely sometimes. 

But once you’ve settled in Sweden, finding a good set of friends won’t be a problem anymore. 

Most Swedes are accommodating and welcoming — you just have to be patient! Soon enough, they’ll warm up to you. 

Finding Employment in Sweden

If you’re moving to Sweden, we highly recommend looking for a job beforehand. On top of that, you’ll better communicate with the locals if you learn Swedish.

The country offers many opportunities, especially for those who can speak their language.

Here’s what you can expect when you look for a job in Sweden:

1. Job Market

Many multinational companies can be found in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. Other cities offer the same so that foreigners can find great jobs anywhere in Sweden.

We assure you that you won’t have difficulty finding a job and moving abroad. 

Sorting through the different opportunities may be hard, but you’ll be able to land a job quickly. 

Make sure to look for jobs close to your expertise, so you can still practice your profession. 

2. Prospects for Expats

Many expats live in Sweden, mostly for work. Many multinational companies want to employ people outside of Sweden to expand their strategies. 

This being the case, many opportunities await those moving to Sweden. 

Many expats have already settled down with their families. Some even work like the locals, moving them closer to becoming Swedish. 

3. Tips for Job Hunting

Job hunting is challenging anywhere in the world. Landing a job contract can take some time, but it is possible. 

A big part of finding a job is staying consistent and never giving up.

Push yourself to put yourself out there! Just send your CV to your prospective employers and you might find someone interested in what you’re offering. 

Accommodation in Sweden

In recent years, Sweden has seen some issues in terms of housing. There’s a growing demand for housing, which makes competition fierce. 

Housing Market

Some companies actually offer their services to help you find your first apartment.

If you’re lucky, you can quickly find a property for sale. However, this has proven to be a challenge lately. 

Check out your local municipality to see if there are any available properties.

Put in a good offer, and get your bank account ready. You’ll need to be ready to pay the price. 

Renting vs. Buying

If you’re planning to live in Sweden for life, we suggest buying. The upfront cost may be big, but consider this an investment for your family. 

Renting, on the other hand, is better for short-term stays in Sweden. You can get a rental contract from a local company and settle in immediately. 

If you have a hard time, a good alternative would be to choose first-hand rentals, which operate the same way. 

Tips for Finding Accommodation

One of the biggest pieces of advice we can share is to find accommodation close to the essentials like the following:

  • Emergency services
  • Private schools
  • Transportation hub

Finding this in the city is fairly easy, although you’d have to pay a higher price. Alternatively, you can find accommodation near fishing villages and enjoy the quiet countryside. 

Swedish Culture and Social Life

You won’t believe us when we say Sweden is also a melting pot of culture. Swedes love hanging out with friends and family in their homes or pubs. 

Social Norms and Etiquette

We immediately noticed how polite and accommodating the Swedes were. 

Although Swedes spend their time alone, they’ll never refuse to help you when the time comes. 

Equality plays a big role in the country, whether it’s gender equality or in terms of social class. Everyone treats each other respectfully and is expected to reciprocate the same attitude.

Making Friends and Socializing

The best way to find friends in Sweden is to put yourself out there

You can do this by joining clubs you’re interested in, like cross-country skiing! We ourselves met a lot of friends when we joined this group.

Swedish people don’t warm up pretty easily unless they can see you’re trustworthy.

Our tip is to just be patient and wait for them to warm up and earn their respect.

Soon enough, you’ll have a good time! And remember, the Swedish people aren’t into extreme displays of affection. 

Visa and Immigration

One of the biggest challenges in visiting Sweden is accomplishing the visa and immigration requirements. It was a lengthy procedure that gave us a big headache. 

Visa Requirements

Each country has its visa requirements, depending on what the government requires. 

If you’re lucky enough, you actually might not need a visa to visit Sweden. But if you need a visa, you’ll have to be diligent with the paperwork. 

However, you can also apply for a work visa to Sweden if you already have work waiting for you. Your company can do the work for you and vouch for your character. 

Regardless of what your intentions are in visiting Sweden, make sure to complete the visa requirements. 

Immigration Process for Non-EU Citizens

We were confused with the immigration process because many steps were involved. We’ve actually lost track of how much time we spent in the course of the application.

In general, the immigration process for non-EU citizens is challenging. The government will ask for many requirements before granting you a residence permit.

Admittedly, this could take years. However, we assure you it’ll be worth the wait. 

Tips for Navigating the Process

Having help from a local can make your job a lot easier. They’ll be able to help you with the majority of the steps, especially since they understand their rules better. 

At the same time, be organized with all your documents. Make sure to label them so you won’t lose track of the paperwork you do and don’t have. 

Frequently Ask Questions

Before we leave with our parting words, allow us to answer some of the FAQs we usually get about living in Sweden:

Is Sweden Friendly to Expats?

Yes, Sweden is very friendly to expats. In fact, more people are tempted to stay in Sweden rather than the UK. 

With its impressive healthcare services and free education for children, who wouldn’t be tempted to become Swedish? 

Where Do Most American Expats Live in Sweden?

Most American expats stay in Stockholm. The capital is a melting pot of different cultures and a good place to visit when you miss home. 

Not just that, but you can also find many places where you can enjoy a delicious cheap meal. 

Can an American Move and Live in Sweden?

Good news for Americans because they can move and live in Sweden! They can enjoy their cinnamon buns in one of Sweden’s coolest restaurants. 

All that’s necessary is for them to comply with all government paperwork. 

Is It Hard to Move to Sweden From The US?

No, it’s actually not hard to move to Sweden from the US. However, that’s only assuming if you have all the correct documents with you.

So, make sure to have them ready once you’re serious about making the move. 

The course of how long the process will take varies. So while you’re waiting, consider fixing your affairs in the US so you’ll have a smoother transition. 


If you’ve ever looked forward to drinking warm coffee in front of the majestic Alps, it’s time to move to Sweden!

Enjoy some lingonberry jam on your pancakes, or have warm cinnamon buns waiting for you.

The Swedish people will be more than happy to welcome you and show their culture. 

And let’s not forget that a good healthcare program awaits you. Dreaming is for free, but why not turn this dream into a reality?

You might move in time for the next academic year of your child! 

Follow us

Want to get in touch with
The easiest way to reach us is by e-mail.