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You’re pregnant – congratulations! You’ve picked a fine, family-friendly city to have your baby in! Not only are Sweden’s maternity AND paternity benefits so generous, but there are also so many activities on, both within and without the English-speaking community.

Health

The first point of call to make when you discover that you are pregnant is to find your nearest antenatal clinic; you can do this through Sweden’s Health guide: Vårdguiden, most antenatal clinics have midwives who speak fluent English. This will also tell you what to expect in terms of number of visits, scans and other ways you will be seen to in Stockholm; if it differs from your home country greatly, do rest assured that Stockholm is a wonderful place to give birth in, but also don’t be afraid to push for things (no pun intended) that you want with your midwife and doctor. There is a swedish doula network, with doulas fluent in English, and if the baby isn’t your first then it is possible to give birth at home (though not that common)  It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the list of emergency clinics and what numbers to call in an emergency; hopefully you will never need them. Whilst at the hospital, ensure you get all the documentation you need to register your baby’s birth with your embassy.

 

Exercise

For the health conscious mum or mum-to-be there are a lot of options in Stockholm for both ante- and post-natal exercise. However, if you are new to Sweden and/or not confident in your Swedish yet, it can be intimidating to take a class in Swedish. Luckily there are places that do classes in English. One such is Pilates by Janessa, offering  gentle, safe and effective strengthening of your muscular support system –  helpful in preparation for labour, and in core muscle recovery after the birth of your baby. To inquire about joining a pre- or postnatal Pilates class (or to train privately), email Janessa here 

If you DO feel confident in your Swedish (or just going with the flow!), there are many options from ante-natal dance courses (dans för gravida) and aqua-fit, to courses run at your local gym. There may even be a post-natal belly dance class,  where you can take your baby along with you, Mum-and-baby Yoga or if you really feel ready for some drill sergeant action – there are mamma boot-camps to get you back into shape post partum.

 

Finance

It’s smart to look at money and what having a baby will mean in that respect; little ones are adorable, heart-warming… and EXPENSIVE. So it’s good to know what you will likely get as parental benefit in money terms. However much you get will depend on circumstances, but regardless you will also get a fixed amount of barnbidrag, or child benefit, which will supplement your income. When you start looking at things to spend that money on, you may find it’s better value to buy things online from Europe for your new arrival; if you’d rather buy local, consider Stockholms 2nd hand markets for bargains or numerous facebook groups.

 

Meeting Mums-to-be in Stockholm

It’s relatively easy to get in touch with other mums-to-be; if your Swedish is good enough (or you’d like it to be), ask your midwife for a profylaxkurs, where you will be introduced to how the system works.  Additionally, for first time mothers midwives often offer a 20 week group where you meet other local mothers due around the same time. There are English options available too; ask your midwife what she recommends. You can also do some less formal networking amongst the expat groups, including joining the on-line resource Mums in Sweden. It would also be a great idea to join a meet-up to find other expat mums and dads to be; this will also set you up in good stead for when you start maternity leave in earnest and are looking for playdates and fikas. It’s a great way to scout out baby-friendly cafés in your area too.

Since most parents will be off work for at least a year, Stockholm is riddled with places that you can take your little bundle to.  Your health visitor may set up a parent group (föräldragrupp) if you’re a first time parent, otherwise a good place to start is your nearest  öppna förskolan, or playgroup, where you can find a clean, safe place of entertainment for you and your baby. Another great place to go to, particularly when your baby is a little older are the lekland, indoor play centres, which are usually free for adults and under 1s. There are a number of activities you can do with your baby and for your baby, such as baby massage, baby sign  and understanding good eating habits.

 

Preschool

Parental leave here is generous, but it does end and most parents will have to manage the transition from being at home to going back to work. Swedish children tend to go to preschool between the ages of 1 and 2 and it’s worth remembering that you can apply to some from the moment your child is born; consider this since queues can be extremely long. Have a look at the Swedish School system in general to help you make decisions.You may decide that you want your child to go to an international preschool; perhaps even one that feeds into an International School or you may prefer a local one; it’s important that you find the right preschool that works for your family.

 

Religion

If you are religious and looking to arrange a dop, Christening, or other ceremony, it may be worth looking for some English Speaking churches, synagogues, temples, mosques or other places of worship to arrange your personal naming service and introduce the latest little Stockholmer to the community.

Once again, congratulations! You’ve picked a wonderful place to start, or add to, your family.

Article: Gemma Helen Safikhani Kashkooli

Featured Image: Leo Grubler/Flickr

The holidays are over, the julgransplundring has been completed, it’s dark, it’s cold and maybe you’re feeling a bit of a let down after all that excitement.

Sauna

The post-holiday blues are apparently a very real problem but don’t despair! Whether you want to exercise your brain, your body or your social skills, YLC’s Judi Lembke has five of our favourites ways to get back into the swing of things in the new year.

 1. Tour the Riksdag

With national elections being held later this year perhaps it’s time to learn a bit more about how the Swedish government works.  In winter the Parliament (Riksdagen) holds hour-long tours in English on Saturdays and Sundays at 13.30.  The tours are popular so do get there early as there are just 28 spots available. Weekday group tours are also offered in winter only; they must be booked in advance and have 10-30 participants. After the tour you’ll be armed with the basics of how government works in Sweden, which should come in handy when the national conversation becomes more and more dominated by the elections this year.

2. Go ice Skating

Stockholm is littered with outdoor skating rinks and it’s the perfect city activity in winter.  Some, like the rink at Kungsträgården, have rental skates on offer, while others, such as the giant rink at Vasaparken, are simply there for your enjoyment should you have your own skates. The best part is going for a fika, perhaps a warming hot chocolate or latté, after your skate at one of the city’s many fabulous cafés.

 3. Tour the Stockholm archipelago

We all know Stockholm has one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos at our fingerstips but most people only think of exploring it during the warmer seasons.  You’re missing a rare treat if you don’t take a chance to explore the archipelago in winter. Winter boat tours are available and you can even sit outside on the deck with a blanket while the arctic winds whip you about. There are a number of boats that have onboard restaurants – this will afford you a great meal and a fabulous vantage point from which to delight in the stark beauty of the Baltic in winter.

 4. Hellasgården

Located just 15 minutes from Slussen (bus #401) this nature area has almost too much on offer to mention, but for winter it’s ice skating, cross country skiing, and – get ready – ice swimming! If you’re not brave enough to jump into the frigid water or strap slippery things on to your feet you can simply take a brisk hike along the well-marked nature trails. They fire up the barbeque every Saturday and Sunday and if you’re frozen to the bone after lots of outdoor activity head into the sauna and warm yourself to the core.

 5. Organize a potluck dinner

The holiday leftovers have been eaten and after all that cooking and preparation for parties and celebrations the idea of hosting yet another dinner probably makes you want to curl up in a ball and shut out the world.  But wait!  You can still be social without making a huge effort. Come up with a theme – healthy, Mexican, French … anything will do – and ask a few friends to each bring a dish for a fun and casual dinner at yours.  It’s a nice way to catch up after the holidays with minimal effort on everyone’s part and people will be relieved to kick back and have a relaxed evening in with good friends.

Have some great ideas on how to beat the winter blues? Tell us about it in the comments below or head over to our forums.

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced  writer and editor who, when she’s not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.  Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

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Kick start the year by feasting your eyes on some fresh visuals. Stockholm’s vibrant art scene is a great way to replenish your creative coffers after a busy holiday season! 

art agenda january 2

From conceptual canvases to fabulous photography, here’s YLC’s top picks for the art lover in you. 

Gallery and Exhibition Openings

6 January:  Solo exhibition by  Swedish artist & film maker Anna Kleberg.  Djurkyrkogården (The Pet Cemetery) @Andrehn-Schiptienko 

9 January:  Solo Exhibition @ Galleri NordenhakeIn conjunction with the Moderna Museet exhibition, an interesting retrospective by the Cypriot artist Christodoulos Panayiotou.

16 January:  Martin Erik Andersen, Endless Promises @ Galleri RiisSolo show by the conceptual Danish artist.

18 January:  Mikkel Carl @AnnaElle GallerySolo exhibition by Danish artist & philosopher Mikkel Carl

18 January:  Peter Frie, Some Trees @ Lars Bohman Solo exhibition by Swedish painter Peter Frie.

22 January:  - Group Show, Dancing Machines – From Léger to Kraftwerk @Moderna Museet.  The exhibition focuses on the relationship between man and machine. It includes the 3-D video installation “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9” by Kraftwerk.

23 January:  Charlie Roberts, Hex @ Galleri Magnus Karlsson.

25 January:   Beckers Art Award 2014 @ Fargfabriken.  The Beckers Award are fantastic opportunity to discover emerging artists on the Swedish artistic scene.  This year’s winner is David Molander.

29 January:  Andreas Eriksson @ Bonniers KonsthallFirst large-scale solo exhibition by Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson.  

Art Listings

Through 19 January:  Martina Hoogland Ivanow @ Kulturhuset - Solo exhibition dedicated to the internationally acclaimed Swedish photographer.

Through 19 January:  Cindy Sherman - Untitled Horrors.  Retrospective dedicated to the acclaimed American photographer and artist @ Moderna Muséet

Through 19 January:  Blackboard: Teaching and learning from art Group Show @ Artipelag

Through 26 January:  – Joan Jonas - Reanimation @ Kulturhuset.  Exhibition dedicated to one of the pioneers of performance and video art.

Through 2 February: Ernst Billgren - Old future @ Kulturhuset.  To celebrate the opening of a new gallery. Gallery Wonderland, within Kulturhuset this exhibition features an installation from the well-known contemporary Swedish artist.  

Through 2 February:  Jill GreenbergWorks 2001-2011 @ Fotografiska.Selection of work by the American artist/photographer.

Through 16 February:  – Gunnar Smoliansky - Moment @ Moderna Muséet- An unprecedented exhibition by Sweden’s most prominent photographer.

Through 2 March:  Elliott Erwitt - 100+1 @ Fotografiska - A unique opportunity to see the amazing photographs by one of the world’s most celebrated photographers.

Through 27 March: Group Exhibition - Surrealism & Duchamp @ Moderna Muséet. A unique chance to see an outstanding part of the Moderna Museet’s collection. The exhibition includes works by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Meret Oppenheim, Giorgio de Chirico, Hans Arp, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst.

Through 27 March: Christodoulos Panayiotou - Days and Ages @ Moderna Muséet - Solo exhibition by the Cypriot artist who revisited and analyzed the complex history of Cyprus.

Last chance to see

Through 5 January:  Christmas Group Show @ AnnaElle Gallery.

Through 6 January: Lena Cronqvist @ Liljevalchs.

Through 10 January Daido Moriyama, Hokkaido / The World Through My Eyes @ Galleri Riis.

Through 12 January: Paolo Roversi, Secrets  @ Fotografiska.

 

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Arianna Bongioanni

New Year’s Eve is nearly upon us and it’s time to break out the bubbly! YLC asked sommelier Matthias Breitsameter for his pick of the month.

NewYearsToast

December – a month of snow (well, we’re hopeful), Christmas, cookies and occasions for get-togethers with family and friends. While kids’ eyes sparkle with reflected tinsel on Christmas Eve, parents look for the sparkle in their glass on New Year’s Eve. But does it always have to be champagne on New Year’s Eve or will sparkling wine do?  Let’s take a look back at the history of the sparkling stuff.

 

The drinking of sparkling wine goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times but according to those in the know the bubbles may have been more of an accident than put there on purpose. The first recorded sparkling wines (created through a different method than Champagne) were made in the 16th century in the Limoux area of Languedoc region in southern France. Some of these wines were brought from France to England and there they found the liquid to be frothy upon arrival. Those who tasted it declared the beverage to be excellent and they were even convinced it made you more intelligent!

Shortly thereafter sparkling wines became more common on the dinner-table, but as it grew more popular it was noticed that the Champagne region, due to a cool climate, produced the finest bubbly;  un-ripeness of the grapes in the region gave higher acidity and low sugar levels in the wine, producing a particularly fine drink,  The common belief that Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon (1638-1715) invented the Method de Champenoise is not accurate. Rather, the monk refined the method by  investigating the suitability of  Pinot Noir for the production of sparkling wines, due to its low tannin content.

The legendary quote ”Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!” is attributed to Pérignon, although the first appearance of that quote appears to have been in a print advertisement in the late 19th century, so it may have been the Don Draper of his time who actually coined that one.

British enjoyment of sparkling wine from Champagne grew – unfortunately, filling glass bottles with fizzy drinks was not only time-consuming but also dangerous: the bottles tended to explode and any number of people lost their lives along the way.  The Brits, being an inventive people, decided to right this wrong and can lay claim to producing coal-fired glass bottles, without which champagne would not have survived.

When word of this intoxicating new drink spread across Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries so did demand – but it was expensive and transportation was a slow and arduous process, so naturally only kings and other esteemed figures could afford to offer it at their tables.  Champagne proved so popular with the ruling set, in fact, that Frenchman Charles-Henri Heidsieck – eventually known as Champagne Charlie – rode a white stallion ahead of Napoleon’s army as it advanced Moscow, bringing with him cases of champagne and, cleverly enough, an order book – he was ready to celebrate and take orders no matter which side won.  After Napoleon’s defeat the Champagne region was occupied by the Russians and wine cellars were emptied. The wise Widow Cliquot from Vieve Cliquot said: “Today they drink, tomorrow they will pay”. Her words were prophetic; until the 1917 Revolution the Russian empire was the second largest consumer of Champagne in the world.

Now that we have a bit of background, here’s how Champagne is traditionally made:

The grapes are harvested  in an early stage of ripening. The most popular grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, which produce a wine with high acidity and low alcohol – about 9 ABV (Alcohol by Volume). While other grape varieties, such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Arbanne and or Petit Meslier, are allowed to be used to produce Champagne they are rarely used.  Some let the wine age, while others are more impatient.  It really depends on the style and taste you’re looking for in the final product. The resulting taste is also dependent on how much of each grape variety is used.

After the fermentation and aging the still wine is filled into bottles, then ‘The Dosage’, which is a mix of sugar in the form of juice or syrup,is added along with yeast. The amount of sugar decides the sweetness of the final product:

Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of residual sugar per liter)

Brut (less than 12 grams)

Extra Dry (between 12 and 17 grams)

Sec (between 17 and 32 grams)

Demi-sec (between 32 and 50 grams)

Doux (50 grams)

After adding the Dosage the bottle is sealed, with a second fermentation occurring in the bottle. During this time the sugar and yeast transform into alcohol and carbon dioxide while the bottles mature with the neck downwards and a daily or weekly one-tenth twist (how often depends on the Chef de Cave – cellar master – and the house traditions).

The process can take 12 month or longer and in the end the neck gets frozen and all the dead yeast and other non-willing compounds are removed, a process known as “remuage”. The bottle is then topped with a cork and either ready for market or even more ageing.

Some champagne terms to make you sound like you know what you are talking about on New Year’s Eve:

Blanc de Blanc: A Sparkling wine made from 100 percent Chardonnay – especially Champagne.

Blanc de Noir: A sparkling made from red grapes, can be 100% Pinot Noir or Petit Meunier, but also be a blend of these two

Rosé: Champagne made with Pinot noir in this case the grapes had contact with the skin at the first fermentation.

NV (Non Vintage): That means that the wine can come from different vintages, that has the benefit of a consistency over the years

Every time a celebration or a special occasion happens it is often toasted with a glass of Champagne. While in the old days it was literally a drink fit usually only for kings, with time and evolution the production and therefore the availability has increased and one can buy Champagne for good value in any shop.  One thing is for sure, though: the more you spend on this very special wine the finer the bubbles and the feeling of luxury.

Recommendation for New Year’s Eve:

Grande Reserve

Name: Gosset

Style: Grand Reserve

Year: Non Vintage

Blend: 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier

Aging on the lees: 3 years

Importer: Divine AB

Beställningssortiment in Systembolaget

Price: 399:-SEK

Tasting note: The colour in the glass is yellowish with a lot of delicate bubbles which confirm the three years spent in the secondary fermentation. The smell is fresh with hints of lemon and green apples. In the mouth it’s  foamy in a very delicate way, the flavours reminding you of gooseberry, lemon, apples and brioche. The great thing is that it is not too dry and has a fruity and flowery aftertaste. All in all it has a good balance between sugars and acidity, while having an aftertaste of 10 seconds.

This is Champagne with good value for money and a great start to the New Year. However, there are many other sparkling wines from the globe which can be fun and tasty, such as a Cava from Spain or Sekt from Germany – but we’ll save that for next year.

Merry Christmas and a happy, successful, loving new year!

 

Matthias Breitsameter

Matthias is a sommelier and has spent the last few years traveling around the globe, working in 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants. He is passionate about what impact wine has on both food and culture.

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YLC has scoured the motorways and traversed the retail parks for the best south of-the-city retail plazas that will ensure you stay warm and cosy while you shop. Retail therapy just got even better – and winter-proofed too!

shopping-gallerias-stockholm

Freezing temperatures, snow and icy winds are but a breath away and before you know it, thermals are tattooed to your body and it takes a hour to head out the door because of the mammoth task of wrapping countless woolly items around your head and torso. If it wasn’t so life-alteringly important – i.e. you need an LBD for Saturday night and little Rosie really would look cute in a new padded onesie – you probably wouldn’t even bother.

If battling against howling Arctic winds just to get your shopping fix seems beyond unbearable, it may be time to turn to the city’s indoor shopping malls. Where everything is under one roof and toasty indoor car-parking cuts down your shiver-time to a mere few seconds – to nil if you have a garage.

So whether it’s an underpants shortage, you have a hankering for handkerchiefs or you’re just potty about pot plants, Stockholm’s out of city shopping plazas have it all. And, if you thought all shopping malls are the same, think again. We’ve found smaller independent brands, eclectic charity shops and a wealth of wonderful dining experiences for your delectation and delight.

 

Nacka Forum

Top highlights: Lucky kiddie-winks; Nacka Forum is home to one very famous toy store, Hamley’s. The London-born toy shop is over 250 years old – the flagship in London’s Regent Street opened in 1760 – has a subsidiary branch right here in Stockholm.

Definitely one for fashion-lovers, Nacka Forum has top fashion brands in abundance. Send your hubby to check out the newest techy-stuff at Media Markt or sporting goods at Stadium while you check out Mango, Vero Moda, Thernlunds and Zara.

Eateries: Head to Neko Sushi or Soup Time for fresh, nutritious shopping-fuel or Forums Pizzeria for family-friendly lunch deals.

Opening times:

Monday – Friday 10:00 – 20:00, Saturday 10:00 – 18:00, Sunday 11:00 – 18:00

Parking: You’ll be happy to know the car park is totally gratis for 3 hours. That’s free! And with 1,900 parking spaces, getting in quickly and easily is bound to be worry-free.

Transport: Nacka Forum is located about 5 miles south-east of Stockholm. For those who travel by car: Take Värmdöleden – Route 222, exit toward Nacka C. Buses run from Slussen.

For all you seafarers and marina-types, Nacka Forum is even accessible by boat from Lindingo, Slussen and Nybroplan. Check http://www.nackaforum.se/W/do/centre/hitta-hit for more information.

 

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” Bo Derek

 

Liljeholmen 

Liljeholmen offers city shoppers three floors of shiny, modern retail to explore. Even the car park is an exciting discovery. A mix between a cave and a disco, this underground provides 900 parking spaces, hidden away from the nasty winter weather.

Highlights: ICA’s deli is well worth a visit for its well-thought out design and wide range of sumptuous, high-quality preserves, cheeses and meats.

“We try to make it cosy, to have an atmosphere,” ICA’s Deli Manager told YLC. “We’ve also got plans to serve warm foods here.”

With Jul just around the corner – as if you needed reminding. Check out fine cosmetics company Stenders, which sells a plethora of luxurious pampering products such as massage oils, scented candles, essential oils and hair care for “the ultimate at-home spa experience.”

Also check out French chain Oliviers & Co. which sells a fantastic range of Mediterranean products including olive oils, truffle products, authentic pastas and vinegars sourced from family businesses in Italy.

Eateries: Liljeholmen caters for international taste-buds with lesser-known Thai, Asian and Indian outlets alongside popular restaurant chains Zócalo and Forno Romano.

Opening times:

Weekdays 10:00 – 20:00, Weekend 10:00 – 18:00, Food 08:00 – 22:00

Parking:

Two hours free parking every weekend (when shopping in Willes and Kvantum with a minimum spend of 100 kr) and 900 secured parking places. During the week: 10 kr per hour.

Accessible by tram, bus and tunnelbana. Check: www.sl.se for more travel information from where you live right to the front door of the shops.

 

Skärholmen

A little further afield is this relative oldie (but still a goodie) shopping galleria. This year, Skärholmen or SKHLM celebrated its 45th anniversary and with ample parking and all the obligatory brands in one accessible shopping hub – ICA, Coop, System Bolaget, H&M and Ahlens are all here – there’s plenty more reasons to celebrate.

Highlights:

Eurekakids (www.eurekakids.se ) is a Spanish toy brand that offers play and learning: a carefully selected range of fun, good, secure and stimulating products for young ‘uns.

A big plus for bargain hunters is the Myrona just outside of the main mall. This popular charity store sits on two floors and has a large furniture section for the discerning bargain hunters and collectors.

Check out two-floors of bookworm heaven at En Anna Bokhandel and Skärholmen library (The library has about 60,000 books and other media for children, youth and adults.)

Eateries: Jensen’s Bøfhus, Forno Romano, and Asian Pong as well as cafes, ice-cream and juice bars sit together in one central food court, so there’ll be no arguments as to who wants what; perfect for keeping the whole family happy.

Opening times:

Weekdays 10:00 – 20:00, Saturday 10:00 – 18:00, Sunday 11:00 – 18:00

Transport:

By car it takes about 20 minutes from downtown Stockholm or Södertälje to reach SKHLM. There are  3,000 parking spaces, and here you can park for free for five hours . Take the T-Bana red line towards Norsborg or if you’re travelling by bus, several bus lines stop right outside SKHLM. Check www.sl.se for customised route planning.

 

Kungens Kurva

Kungens kurva has everything with a capital E: in fact, there are 400 companies in the area including 150 shops, as well as countless restaurants, cafes, hotels and a cinema. Toys ‘R’ Us, Media Markt, Elgiganten and XXL all have stores here.

With many of Kungen’s biggest stores outside, it might be worth a sharp blast of wintery winds from car to store, especially when considering the bargains to be had. If you don’t fancy braving the weather, head to Heron City for indoor shopping.

Top highlights: The MQ Outlet store is definitely worth a visit when considering clothing and accessories here are priced at a budget-saving 30 – 70% discount.

Arken Zoo at Kungens kurva has for hire a dog bath equipped with an ergonomic shower, professional blow dryer and trim tables, where you bathe and blow-dry your dog in peace and quiet.

Eateries: Find chargrilled delights at Greek Kolgrill in Heron City, or watch your lunch being freshly prepared by Thai chefs at Bamboo South.

Fancy making a day of it? Heron City even has a bowling alley, children’s playground and 5D cinema.

The need to know details:

Heron City opening times:

Monday – Thursday 06:30- 00:00, Friday 06:30 – 01:00, Saturday 07:30 – 01:00, Sunday: 07:30 – 00:00

All car parking here is free. Should you be arriving on alternative transport, you’re in luck. The big IKEA here offers free bus rides during the week from Central Station to IKEA every hour starting at 11:00. Or take the T-Bana to Fruängen and then bus 173 to Skärholmen.

 

So, there you have it. YLC’s guide to warm and toasty indoor shopping for the whole family in Stockholm’s outer metropolitan area. And no need for thermals.

Happy shopping!

 

Victoria Hussey

A self-confessed country-girl, Victoria swapped English village life for city-living in Stockholm in April 2013. She has spent the last five months swotting up on Swedish fashion and grappling with an increasingly Stockholm-influenced (namely black) wardrobe. Victoria enjoys travelling to far-off lands, alternative music and wishes someone would invent some kind of socially-acceptable breakfast ice-cream.

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So you’ve decided to move to one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Congratulations!!

However, moving anywhere can be stressful and Sweden has some very strong cultural norms that you may find odd at first. The key is preparation, preparation, preparation.

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At least 3 months before you come, ensure that you have or will have access to a visa and a work permit, if you need those. Call around the removal services in your area and check out prices; leave around 3 weeks for your goods to arrive here. Set a date with companies to cancel or pass on all your monthly bills that you don’t want following you to Stockholm: telephone, Internet, television, mobile phone, gas, electricity etc. It’s no fun paying for things twice!

The Essentials

Speaking of which, do make sure you have enough money to last you until a paycheck hits your new Swedish bank account; things are expensive in Stockholm! From a practical perspective, you need to know that you will not be able to get much done in Sweden without a perssonnummer (personal number), a unique identification number, without which you cannot do the most essential tasks, such as finding a job, going to the doctor, attending school or opening a bank account. To get this critical number, you must first register residency with Migrationsverket, the Swedish Migration Board. Once you have a perssonnummer, you’ll need to carry around proof that you have it in the form of an ID card. Be aware that these items will make your life in Stockholm a lot easier; do make them a priority on arrival.

If you are travelling with a family, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the Swedish education system and calling up either a school or preschool that you’re interested in applying for in advance. If your family includes a four legged friend, do check out the regulations on bringing your pet to Sweden. One of the best things to do when moving is to look at the worst possible scenarios. It’s a good idea to know the important numbers to call in an emergency and also the list of hospitals in Stockholm. You’ll hopefully never need them, but it’s best to be prepared!

Housing

Ideally, you’d want to move out of your place in your home country one day, hop on a plane and arrive to move into your new home there and then. This is not anywhere near as easy as it sounds, particularly in Stockholm, where it can be so hard to find a rental apartment. It might be easier to buy a place than to rent it, actually. If you’re moving with a company, make it a condition that they find somewhere for you to stay and then, when you’re here, you can scout out the different areas in Stockholm and see which one you want to call home.

Career

If you are lucky enough to have moved here with a job or for a university here, that is fantastic and makes life a lot easier in practical terms. But if you have moved (like many of us here), for love and need to apply for work, it’s worth having a look at your CV and revamping it for the Swedish job market. Then, think about going to the Arbetsförmedlingen, (the Swedish Public Employment Office), who provide services to help job seekers find employment. It’s also worth networking with people; Stockholm is definitely a city where it can literally pay to know someone. You can either join a meet-up in the city, look into the Stockholm Volunteering Project or have a look at English speaking preschools in the area, where you may find a vacancy and Swedish may not be a requirement. At the very least, it will help you make warm friends in a cold city.

Language

Another great way to get a job, socialise or just make life easier for yourself is to learn Swedish.  If you can start to pick up a few bits of the language in your home country, that’s fantastic. Within Stockholm itself, there are so many free resources; why, the government itself will pay YOU to learn Swedish.  Aside from all the courses available, it’s also worth joining the Stockholm Language Exchange, where you will meet non-natives with Swedish at all levels for you to converse with in an informal environment. Is it important to learn Swedish in a country where most speak fluent English? We’ve met happy people who’ve lived here for ages and can’t say more than ‘tack’ and other happy people who are totally immersed in the language and culture – the need is as great as you want it to be.

Good luck in your move – we’re so happy that you’ve decided to make Stockholm Your Living City.

 

Photo Credit: masochismtango

 

You’re here! You’ve made the decision to come and stay in the city that defines ‘cool’ in both senses of the word. It could just be the best idea you’ve ever had. Negotiating Stockholm is a complicated business, but we’re here to help make things better with an idea of where and how to start.

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Upon Arrival

There are some critical things that need doing in the first few days that you’ve arrived in Stockholm:

  1. Register residency with Migrationsverket, the Swedish Migration Board to get your perssonnummer, a unique identification number, without which you cannot do the most essential tasks.
  2. Once you have a perssonnummer, you’ll need to carry around proof that you have it in the form of an ID card.
  3. Open a bank account to receive all those fat pay-checks you’ll hopefully be getting.
  4. Register with your embassy here; they can be a valuable source of information.
  5. Scout out the different areas in Stockholm to find a place to live. It can be difficult to find to find a rental apartment in Stockholm, since demand is high and queues are long; in fact it might be easier to buy a place than to rent it.
  6. Once you have a place, make sure you’ve shopped around to get the best electricity and water deals
  7. Contact your local communications companies to get connected.
  8. Public transport is one of the highlights of Stockholm; it’s clean, safe and easy to use. If you’ve got a car, it’s worth looking at what the rules of the road are and tips on parking.
  9. Have a look at what to do in an emergency and which hospitals are near you.
  10. Register with your GP; you can find your nearest one in Vårdguiden, Sweden’s health guide.

If you are pregnant or travelling with a family, please click on the relevant guide for help.

Career

If you are lucky enough to have moved here with a job or for a university here, that is fantastic and makes life a lot easier in practical terms. But if you have moved (like many of us here), for love and need to apply for work, it’s worth having a look at your CV and revamping it for the Swedish job market. Then, think about going to the Arbetsförmedlingen, (the Swedish Public Employment Office), who provide services to help job seekers find employment. It’s also worth networking with people; Stockholm is definitely a city where it can literally pay to know someone. Look into the Stockholm Volunteering Project or have a look at English speaking preschools in the area, where you may find a vacancy and Swedish may not be a requirement. At the very least, it will help you make warm friends in a cold city.

Make friends

One of the best things you can do for yourself is build relationships with people in Stockholm. There are many social groups in the Stockholm area where you can find new friends that share your interests – from sports, food and after work drinks to kids’ playdates. Connect with your hobbies you loved at home and bring them to your Swedish life with a new twist. If you used to go to the gym, find one here; better yet, take advantage of living in a city that is a third composed of water and go swimming; or walk in the city to discover your new surroundings. Learn a little about Swedish traditions and see if you can join in celebrating them. Try just attending a handful of events and you will likely start some new friendships quickly.

Language

A great way to get a job, socialise or just make life easier for yourself is to learn Swedish.  If you can start to pick up a few bits of the language in your home country, that’s fantastic. Within Stockholm itself, there are so many free resources; why, the government itself will pay YOU to learn Swedish.  Aside from all the courses available, it’s also worth joining the Stockholm Language Exchange, where you will meet non-natives with Swedish at all levels for you to converse with in an informal environment. Is it important to learn Swedish in a country where most speak fluent English? We’ve met happy people who’ve lived here for ages and can’t say more than ‘tack’ and other happy people who are totally immersed in the language and culture – the need is as great as you want it to be.

 

Photo Credit: J. A. Alcaide

It can be hard to live in a foreign country. Between the new environment, cultural differences, language barrier and missing family and friends, it can be a difficult transition to make Stockholm your new home. But with time, effort and these tips, we hope you’ll be feeling settled soon.

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When you decided to move to Stockholm, you were probably filled with excitement and apprehension. Thrilled by the opportunity to live in an amazing city and nervous about how you’d get settled into life in a foreign country. Maybe it was a new job assignment that brought you here, maybe it was a Swedish spouse, or maybe you were just attracted by all that Stockholm has to offer. Even if you were happy to move here, it is possible that it has been harder than you expected and you are feeling homesick, lonely, or bored. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself get settled and integrated into life in Sweden.

Make friends

One of the best things you can do for yourself is build relationships with people in Stockholm. Yes, you will still miss your loved ones at home but you can start to develop a social network here that will help you create a sense of home. There are many social groups in the Stockholm area where you can find new friends that share your interests – from sports, food and after work drinks to kids’ playdates. Try just attending a handful of events and you will likely start some new friendships quickly. If you have children, öppna förskolor (open preschools) are places where parents and children meet to play for free. They provide a wonderful opportunity to create social ties in your neighbourhood. You can find information about schools in your area on your municipality page. Of course there are always your colleagues at work. However, if you are in a job-setting with mostly Swedish workers, you should know that many Swedes prefer to have a separation between home life and work life and may not be as eager as their foreign counterparts to start friendships that extend outside the office walls. Do take part in fika at your office and get to know your co-workers. It will help to have good positive relationships with the people around you all day.

Stay connected

Even the best friends here can’t replace the people you miss from home. Be sure to find ways to stay connected to important people in your life. You can bridge the gap with video chat options such as Skype, Facetime, and GoogleChat. It can make such a difference to be able to see your family and friends as you talk. And fortunately, these options are free to use which beats the high cost of international telephone calls. Try planning your next visit now. Even if it won’t be for a year, just knowing when the next time you will see your loved ones again can help you feel better by focusing on a specific date.

Fight SAD

Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a real disorder affecting many people each winter season. SAD is characterized by depressed feelings, lethargy, and lack of interest in usual activities as seasons change. With the few daylight hours during winter in Stockholm, it is very normal to develop a depressed mood and possibly SAD. You can combat the winter blues by getting plenty of Vitamin D, enjoying the sunshine mid-day, taking a vacation to a warmer brighter location, and making an extra effort to stay involved with your social network and hobbies during the winter months. However, if you are concerned you are experiencing more than just winter blues with the seasons’ shift and are concerned about SAD, make sure you talk to your doctor get some help. If you are really unhappy with your decision to move to Stockholm or you just aren’t finding ways to get connected, consider talking to someone about what is going on. Whether that person is your spouse, family from home, a new friend here or a counsellor in Stockholm, you will likely benefit from talking about your frustrations and sadness. Evaluate what specifically you are missing and find ways both to connect to those things at home and create enjoyable substitutes here.

Get active

Once you have finally gotten all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted and have your residency permit, ID card, and set up your Swedish bank account, it is time to settle into old routines in new places. Connect with your hobbies you loved at home and bring them to your Swedish life with a new twist. If you used to go to the gym, find one here; better yet, take advantage of living in a city that is a third composed of water and go swimming or skating, depending on the weather. If you used to enjoy photography, check out Stockholm’s lovely landmarks and sight-seeing attractions. If you used to volunteer, join The English Volunteering Project  and find a cause that interests you. As a bonus, you’ll probably find some new friends this way too.  Just because you are in a new environment, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue your old activities.  Find ways to integrate your interests into your life here – it will keep you happy doing what you love while helping you become familiar with Sweden.

Embrace the new

You are in a new city and possibly even on a new continent. Take advantage of all the new experiences waiting for you. Celebrate Swedish holidays, sample the Nordic cuisine, practice a new winter sport, wander through different parts of the city, and discover all that Stockholm has to offer. If you aren’t from Europe, you can use Stockholm as your base as you travel to other parts of Scandinavia and Europe to explore a new part of the world. You just might find new interests that you never had before that make living in Sweden rewarding.

Learn the language

While many foreigners certainly get by only speaking English during their time in Sweden, you may want to consider learning Swedish. Not only will you feel more integrated into the culture, you will be able to understand so much more of what is going on in the world around you. A person can miss so much by not being able to read the headlines on the newspaper in the line at the grocery store or not able to understand the announcement on the overhead speakers on the train. The Swedish government provides free Swedish lessons to foreigners. You can find these SFI courses through your municipality’s website. You can also take private classes or even hire a private one-on-one tutor. It will take a lot of time and effort, but if you are planning to be in Sweden longer than a year, the rewards will be worth it.

Hopefully your homesickness will pass by trying some things on this list.  Try to give yourself at least 6 months of experimenting with your new home and making an effort to transition.  If you are still homesick at the end of 6 months and you have really given a lot of effort to become settled, evaluate if you want to stay or if changes need to be made. However, if your homesickness does subside and you are starting to take pleasure in your time in Sweden more, keep making the same efforts and enjoy getting settled into your new life in Stockholm. Before you realize it, you might be calling Sweden “Home Sweet Home.”

 

 

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This article is sponsored by Turning Point, the only international counselling centre in Stockholm

 

Article: Jessica Larson

Photo Credit: loungerider

Are you moving to Stockholm with your family? Good news – it’s a city with lots to do for young and old! For practical information on what to do when you first move to Stockholm, please look at ‘Upon Arrival’; this article deals with what there is to do in Stockholm with a family.

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School

Your first point of call will probably be to look at different schools available; it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the education system here. If you have children of 6 or under, then you’ll be looking to find the right preschool; children do not attend school until 6 or 7 in Sweden. If you’re wanting an international option, we at Your Living City have compiled a list of both international preschools and International Schools for you to look at. For young adults of university age, there are a wealth of great options within the city.

Meeting other Mums

If you’re travelling with children under 1, it’s worth knowing that very few preschools will accept children that age. However there are many different places that cater for parents of small children such as  öppna förskoloropen preschools, or leklandsindoor play centres, which are usually free for adults and under 1s. There are a number of activities you can do with your baby and for your baby, such as baby massage and understanding good eating habits. It’s a good idea to join a meetup group, particularly the Stockholm International Parents Group, where there are events on almost every day and a lovely set of parents to chat to.

Another good resource for information is the site, www.mumsinsweden.com, where you can ask any questions pertaining to living here with a family and be sure of a warm response. If you are religious and looking to introduce the latest little Stockholmer to the community, it may be worth looking for some English Speaking churches, synagogues, temples, mosques or other places of worship.

Health

The school you choose may inform which area you decide to live in or vice-versa and of course your commute to work is a big factor. Once you have decided on which area of Stockholm you’d like to live in, it’s time to look up at Vårdguiden, Sweden’s health guide, to find your nearest healthcare centre and register your family with the local doctor. Look at the vaccination program here to see if there are any huge differences and discuss how to manage them.

It’s not anything we hope you’ll ever need access to, but it’s worth knowing where the local hospitals and emergency clinics are in relation to you, as well as what to do in an emergency.

Finance

One thing everyone agrees about Stockholm is that it’s expensive. So it’s good to know what you will likely get as Maternity and Paternity leave, which may well be available even if you have drawn both in your home country, since the system is so generous here. However much you get will depend on circumstances, but regardless you will also get a fixed amount of barnbidrag, or child benefit, which will supplement your income. When you start looking at things to spend that money on, you may find it’s better value to buy things online from Europe for your new arrival; if you’d rather buy local, consider Stockholms 2nd hand markets for bargains.

 

Photo Credit: Breigh Mattson at Your Little Family Photography

Many a newcomer to Stockholm has been shocked by the harsh reality of Sweden’s high prices for imported goods. Online shopping is the answer to our purchasing prayers. Here’s a list of European based shops that ship to Sweden.

If you’d like to support Your Living City, you can do so simply by purchasing through our links; it’s no cost to you, but makes a great difference to our community site.

 

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