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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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