American Expat Living in Sweden, Interview with Jamie

Published: 3 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Sweden
Let’s hear some Expat Tales! Jamie is an American who grew up in north eastern Massachusetts, followed her heart to Boston, and then moved with her husband to Stockholm, Sweden. She has a bachelors in political science from the University of Massachusetts, loves languages and all-things international. These days, when she’s not busy cooking up some falukorv and macaroni or shopping at Ikea, she can be found blogging about their new lives. She loves it when new readers stop by and even more, leave a comment to join in on the discussion, so stop on by at! Jamie's expat blog is called Expat Tales (see listing here)

Meet Jamie - US expat living in Sweden
Meet Jamie - US expat living in Sweden

Here's the interview with Jamie...

Where are you originally from?
Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA

In which country and city are you living now?
Stockholm, Sweden

How long have you lived in Sweden and how long are you planning to stay?
We’ve lived here since May 2013 and our plans to stay are indefinite.

Why did you move to Sweden and what do you do?
We moved to Sweden after my husband was offered a job in Stockholm and I encouraged him to accept it.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes — not only did my husband and I move, but we took our cats too!

Strandvagen House Boat
Strandvagen House Boat
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Sweden, compared to the US, has only required some small adjustments really. We cook at home a lot more here and use public transportation — two things that weren’t so normal for us in Boston.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialize with other expats?
So far, we’ve done well. I was very lucky in that I’ve had a decent circle of international friends and through that, was able to establish a new network in Stockholm with relative ease even though I am not working in conventional workplaces. My husband, who is working in a typical office situation, has also done well and really enjoys his new coworkers.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I love all things historical, so even though it’s super cliche and touristy, I love walking through Gamla Stan. I’d also suggest getting out on a boat and checking out the archipelago, as well as all the museums around town, especially including Skansen.

For future expats, I recommend they thoroughly research the higher-than-normal cost of living here and understand what they’re getting into. It’s an amazing city, but also a different way of life than most in the US would be used to, cost and housing wise.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
With a centrally-located apartment, we can be anywhere, anytime with such ease. My husband can walk to work, which he loves. And for me, with biking being so common in the city, with special lanes almost everywhere for bikes, I ride my bike everywhere I can. Then to add to that, Stockholm’s public transportation is phenomenal. Reliable and surprisingly clean, it’s always there — even with night buses running when other things have shut down for the evening.

Outside of the daily life enjoyment, while we have been frustrated with the high tax rate, the amount we get back from them (free healthcare and education through to a PhD) is amazing. The benefits of living and working in Sweden are immense. Any time we think of moving away, these benefits stand out as something we’d be very disappointed to lose.

How does the cost of living in Sweden compare to the US?
While Boston is considered an expensive city to live in, Stockholm was quite the increase even from that. Housing and food costs here are incredible. Even standard fast food is $15 USD per person. Housing, on top of that, is impossible due to a troubled market and then priced exceptionally high.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Sweden?
I’d have to say that the biggest negative is the lack of cheap labor, which in turn inflates costs that countries without such a high minimum wage don’t suffer from.

Sverige Riksdag
Sverige Riksdag
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Go to Skatteverket as soon as you arrive and apply for your personnummer. You don’t exist in Sweden without it and will need it for every single thing you want to do going forward.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Having not grown up in Sweden, all those little life lessons that parents would have provided are lost on us. I’ve slowly learned these things since arriving, but it takes time. They’re small things, but essential for life to feel “normal” — like which brand of milk is best, what my favorite bread here is, how the bus stops are usually laid out, when it’s okay to jaywalk, and more.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Get help finding housing
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  3. Get a month SL (subway/bus) pass to start so you can familiarize yourself with the system
  4. Get a good jacket and warm boots
  5. Plan to get a prepaid SIM card, as you won’t qualify credit-check wise for a normal one for 6-8 months

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
After moving to Sweden in May 2013, I realized I wanted to document things, but wasn’t really sure the best way to go about it. So, I just started writing. At first it was just my family, but as time passes, more and more people have found their way over, leading me to find their great blogs as well. I really love connecting with my readers, hearing perspectives from their various locations, and constantly broadening my horizons. I write about all different topics, most often my life in Sweden, travels, and occasionally tech-related posts because I’m a pretty big nerd at heart.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Stop by my blog and drop me a comment! I’d love to help out in any way possible.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJamie is an American expat living in Sweden. Blog description: In May 2013, my husband and I packed up all our stuff and moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Stockholm, Sweden with our two cats. These days, we're enjoying our new home and can usually laugh at the challenges it comes with. I hope you'll not only enjoy following along, but participate as well!
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