It is easy to confuse the very formal, organised Swedish state with the very informal nature of society. Being new here almost guarantees you’ll get them confused at some point! Here are eight things you can do that should help you avoid the most common mistakes:
2. Never forget to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home
Shoes are strictly worn outside and in certain public settings. For instance, if you happen to find yourself in court – do NOT remove your shoes. However, if you're in a library or hospital, you will notice that certain areas are no shoe zones. Look out for helpful signs and strange blue plastic things in baskets on the floor – they are for covering your shoes with if you don’t want to take them off.
3. Avoid chivalry
If you happen to be male, maybe even a southern gentleman and decide to hold the door for some unsuspecting woman, she might consider it to be an insult. Sweden has come a long way when it comes to gender equality and the current generation of young to middle aged women do not want to be treated differently at all. However, holding doors and offering to help someone who is carrying something (especially a buggy) is fine.
4. Expect to use on-line banking
Physical banks are becoming a thing of the past in Sweden and cash is disappearing. Do not expect to receive much service even if your bank happen to have such a location and do not expect them to handle cash, except if it is coming out of an ATM. Getting used to on-line banking will help you.
5. Don’t judge Swedes by your first impression
One of our resident Swedes says: “Swedes are like coconuts – hard shells with fluid insides. Sort of.” You may well notice that when talking to a Swede that you don’t know that the person usually reacts to your communication with a perplexed look. That's just the Swedish default mode. Keep on talking and you'll see them relax and get into the swing of chattering.
6. Don’t think that people expect you to understand tradition
Things such as surströmming, nubbe and crayfish are sometimes presented as being part of mythical traditions that must be dealt with in accordance with strict regulations. Not even swedes know how to deal with crayfish and most of them hate nubbe. Go with the flow, it's not an exam.
7. Avoid riding your bicycle on the side walk
Doing this is actually illegal, unless the pavement has a sign marking its dual nature. It will also awaken the rage of the Swede, causing some seriously angry looks to be hurled your way.
8. ...and don’t walk on the bicycle path
This is just dangerous. Let's say you're walking in the bicycle path and a bike rider turns a corner and hits you. You will be to blame. Even to the point of being responsible for paying his or her medical bills. It's called negligence and the Swedes don't mess around. Plus it will hurt.
If you now have even more questions about life in Sweden, get in touch with us :)
Recent developments have caused much attention in regards to the Swedish model and the possibility of living and working in Sweden. If you're a citizen of EU, you're in luck. You can essentially travel to Sweden and start looking for a job. However, those of you who are on the outside of the EU have to keep a few things in mind:
1. Make sure that your employer is the real deal
This might not seem like a big deal. As long as someone says you've a job waiting, you're in the clear... right? Well, the situation is unfortunately a bit more complicated. Before jumping to the next step of actually obtaining a work permit, you should make sure that your employer is registered as such. If this is not the case, your supposed employer doesn't even have ability to pay you a formal salary. This could jeopardise your ability to receive a permit and also cause you to put a lot of energy into something that will turn out fruitless.
Luckily, this is easy to check. Just visit one of these websites:
Look up your potential employer and, with a little help from Google Translate, make sure that the company is active and formally registered as an employer.
Also, make sure to save all correspondence you have had with your potential employer and a copy of the job advertisement. Wait, job advertisement? Yes. In order for your employment to be considered valid when applying for a permit, your employer must have had the position advertised so as to have been available in EU/EEA countries and Switzerland.
2. Apply for a work permit
When it's time to apply, you should gather all relevant information such as your correspondence with your employer, a copy of the job advertisement and your passport. Bring everything to the immigration office, Migrationsverket.
If possible, apply on-line.
This will guarantee that your application is dealt with as soon as possible. The wait can be excruciating and there's unfortunately no way to speed it up. You just have accept the due course and try to enjoy yourself while waiting!
3. Register yourself at Skatteverket
Once you have a valid work permit, you will also receive a residence permit card. This enables you to obtain a personal identity number. This number is your key to being a part of the formal society. It enables you to open a bank account, pay taxes and deal with all administrative issues.
You should, as soon as possible, register yourself at the tax office (which also handles anything to do with the population of Sweden, including personal numbers) - Skatteverket. Do not delay this is step – it is probably the single most important one! Pretty much everything in Sweden revolves around a personal identity number, and not having one will act as a barrier between you and an easy life!
Sweden has recently gained a large amount of international attention thanks to a certain US head of state, President Donald Trump. Well, his comments showed Sweden as suffering from and struggling with loose immigration policy, leading to social unrest and rampant crime.
However, the statements have left Swedes perplexed. How come? Most people actually living in Sweden are seeing economic progress, increased general well-being and a continued high level of public service! There are, of course, some issues with large scale immigration but they are mostly bureaucratic, things like lengthening time it takes to process an application for residency, as the staff are dealing with a big pile of applications now.
Let’s hope that all publicity is good publicity!
In light of this, here are five steps you should take to make your move go well:
1. Apply for a course at a university or get a job – before arriving here
Pretty much anyone can stay for 3 months in Sweden without much hassle. But¸ if you're going to secure residency you must apply for a residence permit. Finding work can be very difficult until you're actually settled in. Becoming a student is often an easy way to bridge the gap. Sweden has lots of universities, many of which offer free courses. This could be your best way to move to Sweden.
2. Secure a place to stay
These days, there are lots of ways that you can find a home, be it permanent or temporary. The classic way has always been to register with the public housing queues. These can be found through the website of the municipality you want to live in. However, due to the recent housing shortage, the wait can be long. A quicker alternative might be to check the availability of sublet apartments through sites such as Blocket or Airbnb. Be aware that subletting rentals are formally not accepted and such a lease might not give you much security. A better option might be a cheap hostel.
3. Register yourself in the Swedish population register
This is the key to receive your own personal identity number. Without a personal number (personnummer), it will be almost impossible to obtain a bank account, register with authorities and deal with every day life. Remember step one? Once you have your residency permit, all you need to do is bring your permit and your passport to Skatteverket. Getting registered will be a cinch!
4. Get yourself a bank account
Having a Swedish bank account, preferably with an associated debit or credit card, is a must. It's the way to receive salary, benefits and deal with every day life. Also, many of the payment services that are in use in Sweden DO NOT accept cards that are associated with foreign bank accounts. This is something that many learn the hard way. So, do not put off dealing with this.
5. Enjoy yourself!
The key to fitting in with Swedish society is to become part of it. Forget waiting until someone lets you in. You will have to forge your own way. Do not be shy about practicing your Swedish and dive into every activity that is offered.
Joining us at New in Sweden is probably a good idea too... :)
Subscribe to the blog here:
About the blog
Interesting bits and pieces about life in Sweden, including all-important song words.