The challenges of expat relocation to Sweden

Published:  8 Feb at 6 PM
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Sweden may not be the most popular expat destination as it has its challenges as well as its charms, but its quality of life is one of the best on the planet.

As an expat destination, Sweden tops international survey rankings in the majority of sectors including the all-important global competitiveness and quality of life. However, relocating to this stunningly beautiful country has its challenges as regards culture, bureaucracy and a number of practical issues.

Irish expat Anne Pihl runs her own relocation consultancy based on her own experience some 18 years ago. It’s a ‘been there, done that’ answer to confused expats arriving in the country and facing the same challenges she once had to deal with. Everyone, she says, faces unique challenges and circumstances on their arrival, but the four key challenges of visas, work permits, accommodation, culture shock and settling the family are common to all.

As regards visas, incomers from EU member states don’t face any problems, but finding a suitable home from home can be tricky given Stockholm’s dire shortage of accommodation. The property market is tough and extremely competitive whether purchasing or renting, and causes problems for both Swedes and expats.

An ongoing challenge for newcomers is gaining an understanding of how Sweden works at the bureaucratic level. Essential services such as healthcare, social security, schools and taxation all have their varied demands and regulations, making clarity as to how the system applies to expats an ongoing challenge. Language, time frames and the actual processes themselves can result in misunderstandings in filling in forms for registration and other such applications.

Many expats don’t expect to experience culture shock when moving from one European state to another, but Sweden’s culture and traditions take a little getting used to, as do the exceptionally long, cold winters. Even although many Swedes can speak English, isolation is a real threat when combined with uncertainty over the correct style of workplace ethics. Trailing spouses and children can feel isolated very easily, as can married couples who’re both working in separate jobs.

Source: The Local
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