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Working Holiday in Sweden? Think Again

FAQ for those curious about moving to Sweden

Tjaden
post 25.Jan.2011, 06:18 PM
Post #1
Joined: 28.Mar.2010

Hi all

Firstly, this post is intended to be helpful and constructive and aimed towards those under 30 thinking of moving to Sweden for a working holiday/adventure. Incidentally, it could also be useful for those moving to Sweden for a partner/work/etc. etc. Secondly, this post is not meant to denigrate Swedes or Sweden and should not be quoted by those wishing to do so. If you disagree, or have a different opinion to reflect, by all means. This is purely my (non-bitter, semi-objective) account.

Sweden is tough. As an Australian who just returned from a stint in Stockholm, all I can say is 'life is tough'!. Things I took for granted, like a decent income, easy-to-find employment and accomodation, are ridiculously tough to find in Sweden. I left 5 months into my 12 month visa. The following should highlight the difficulties of living:

Employment - almost impossible to find a decent job (professional AND non-professional). Personally, I'm resourceful, assertive and well skilled (tertiary credentialled), however I worked for 4 weeks out of the 5 months I was there. I was open to any job, including hospitality, bar work, cleaning, call centre etc. The bureaucracy, tax regulations and general economic conditions (as of 2010) dictate that employers prefer to hire Swedes, and only for short-term contracts, or preferably both. I thought of busking I can't play an instrument.

Accomodation - it's a joke. Much of the apartment blocks are state run, meaning you have to be a Swede and be registered for years in order to have a fairly central apartment. Most non-Swedes have to resort to 2nd and 3rd hand contracts, meaning sub-letting and sub-sub-letting. This is normally charged at a premium and lacks security of tenure. There is no such thing as 'share housing', whereby you can live with a group of young, fun types. For reasons unknown (I have a theory or two) most Swedes tend to live in 1-2 bedroom apartments with their partner, or by themselves.

After 4 weeks of daily searching, I had to settle on an apartment 1 hour away from the city by public transportation, which involved a 45min train ride and another bus ride. I turned into an iPhone scrabble fiend.

Culturally - I won't generalise here on the people, it's kinda ridiculous to do so. However, to quote others, 95% of the non-Swedes I'd met who lived in Stockholm were resentful and bitter. Most had moved for a partner and lamented how much easier and joyful things were at home (England, Germany, Netherlands, China etc. etc.). Don't expect to be an invaluable part of a Swedish social circle any time soon. Also, the racial diversity of Sweden is very low, and consequently, issues arise. I won't broach that can of worms here.

Weather - The people shut down when winter kicks in. Do yourself a favour and avoid Sweden in the winter (unless you're on a ski holiday).

Cost of living - rent isn't too bad, compared to major Australian cities ($120-$200AUD/week). Groceries are manageable if you shop smart. Wining and dining is expensive to outrageous. Don't be surprised to pay $12+ for a beer or $15 for a shot. All booze shops are state run and are closed from 2pm onwards on Sat and Sunday. It's funny to notice the Sat arvo green bag stampede.

HOWEVER, the benefits I found were:

* girls were outrageously attractive
* fashion, whether on the street or in the clubs, was amazing (although slightly monotonous)
* swedes are generally friendly, polite and if you perservere, craic can be had. just be on the front foot when it comes to socialising
* visually, the city itself is drop dead gorgeous. old architecture, parks, lakes, archipalegos
* mentality is very progressive. women's rights, technology, health care, social welfare.

Anyway, I don't regret moving to Sweden but I wouldn't recommend it to others. In all fairness, I made some friends and partied and got loose and often walked home from a club in a stupor exclaiming my love for the country, but you could do that tenfold in another European capital.

Anywho, good luck y'all.
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johnjohn
post 25.Jan.2011, 07:03 PM
Post #2
Joined: 10.Dec.2010

The OP has shared some thoughts but I must say every person and experience is different. I found Sweden a welcoming place. I live in the country, village population eight. I came as a single tourist from the U.S. and bought a cottage in the forest for 90,000kr. Visiting during the Summers I experienced the best the country has to offer. I made contact with a local bank and took out a small loan to fix up my house a little .I found the country folk very warm and friendly. After some time and some loan repayment history I borrowed 1,400,000 for a villa on the sea without verifiable income or Swedish residency, 100 percent financing. .I sold the house 3 years later for 2,500,000 kr Bought and sold a couple of more places. Got business loans all helping to get my PUT. I returned to my original little village, bought two large houses on adjoining property for a total cost of 120,000kr. If you enjoy the quiet life in the nature Sweden is a good place to be. John.
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Puffin
post 25.Jan.2011, 07:59 PM
Post #3
Location: Dalarna
Joined: 5.Apr.2006

QUOTE (Tjaden @ 25.Jan.2011, 06:18 PM) *
Hi allFirstly, this post is intended to be helpful and constructive and aimed towards those under 30 thinking of moving to Sweden for a working holiday/adventure. Incidentally ... (show full quote)



QUOTE
Employment - almost impossible to find a decent job (professional AND non-professional). Personally, I'm resourceful, assertive and well skilled (tertiary credentialled), however I worked for 4 weeks out of the 5 months I was there. I was open to any job, including hospitality, bar work, cleaning, call centre etc. The bureaucracy, tax regulations and general economic conditions (as of 2010) dictate that employers prefer to hire Swedes, and only for short-term contracts, or preferably both. I thought of busking I can't play an instrument.


Are you fluent in Swedish?

The employment market is tough for everyone much tougher for those who don't speak the langauge - there is almost zero demand for English only speakers as they can get someone who is fluent in Swedish, speaks good english and usually is OK in a 3rd langauge

[
QUOTE
b]Accomodation [/b]- it's a joke. Much of the apartment blocks are state run, meaning you have to be a Swede and be registered for years in order to have a fairly central apartment. Most non-Swedes have to resort to 2nd and 3rd hand contracts, meaning sub-letting and sub-sub-letting. This is normally charged at a premium and lacks security of tenure. There is no such thing as 'share housing', whereby you can live with a group of young, fun types. For reasons unknown (I have a theory or two) most Swedes tend to live in 1-2 bedroom apartments with their partner, or by themselves.

After 4 weeks of daily searching, I had to settle on an apartment 1 hour away from the city by public transportation, which involved a 45min train ride and another bus ride. I turned into an iPhone scrabble fiend.


Stockholm has a housing shortage it is a well know problem that also affects Swedes moving from other parts of Sweden - especially in mid-2010 there was a crisis caused by the influex of international students taking advantage of the last year of free tuition for non EU students

a huge amount of Sweden's rental stock - especially in Stockholm has been sold off in coop ownership in recent years as owner occupied apartments. One of the problems that the bid cities has that it is hard to buy land for low cost housing as it is snapped up developers prepared to pay premiums to build apartments for sale

Housing if provided by municipal housing companies that must be run on a businessbasis You do not have to be a Swede to queue for a 1st hand rental contract - but you do need to have a full

The municipal apartments that are left are very hard to come by - most people under 30 both Swedes and not Swedes tend to live in sub-lets

It is illegal to charge a premium for a sublet - but few people bother to report it

Many Swedes do prefer their own apartments - but it is not true that there is no shared housing - you see many adverts for inneboende (room-mates) - perhaps it was a terminology problem


QUOTE
Culturally - I won't generalise here on the people, it's kinda ridiculous to do so. However, to quote others, 95% of the non-Swedes I'd met who lived in Stockholm were resentful and bitter. Most had moved for a partner and lamented how much easier and joyful things were at home (England, Germany, Netherlands, China etc. etc.). Don't expect to be an invaluable part of a Swedish social circle any time soon. Also, the racial diversity of Sweden is very low, and consequently, issues arise. I won't broach that can of worms here.


People won't be parachuting into your living room
Takes time to make new friends and feel comfortable speaking Swedish with them

QUOTE
Weather - The people shut down when winter kicks in. Do yourself a favour and avoid Sweden in the winter (unless you're on a ski holiday).


Depends where you go and what you do -obviously people don't tend to hang out in he streets when its minus 30

Many people tend to do wintersports so going skating/skiing with an organised group such as the long distance clubs is a way to meet people

[
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älgen
post 25.Jan.2011, 08:27 PM
Post #4
Joined: 9.Sep.2007

On the whole a fair post. Without the Swedish language anyone will have a hard time doing the working holiday thing. Also, reasonably fair to say that share-housing is not as common here as say in London.
You need a whole lot of luck to find any kind of work (unskilled) if you don't speak the lingo, then a good bit of luck to find a place to live.
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dockmandock
post 25.Jan.2011, 08:40 PM
Post #5
Joined: 30.Jul.2008

All in all a good post, though spoilt by the unnecessary ageism. Believe it or not people over 30 can like to have adventures too.
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Bender B Rodriquez
post 25.Jan.2011, 09:54 PM
Post #6
Joined: 25.Mar.2006

You have to blame the Australian and Swedish governments. The Working holiday visa is for people under 30 only...
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gplusa
post 26.Jan.2011, 08:25 AM
Post #7
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

95% resentful and bitter versus 95% fat drunks. Every country has their quirks.
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emmashore
post 26.Jan.2011, 09:13 AM
Post #8
Joined: 9.Jan.2011

which one's which? :-)

Back to the employment issue, my experience was that all the highly educated, professional working Swedes bragged about how many English speaking jobs there are here and how many people they know that work here without speaking Swedish. Don't get me wrong, I think its important to assimilate and learn the language.. but this takes time! So not only will you be unemployed until you are fluent (not just conversational), but you also have less chance because Swedes prefer to hire other Swedes..

I applied to every single job I could find, followed up with emails and calls, and even offered to work FOR FREE just to get some experience in the workplace here. I explained that I wanted to work unpaid part time and had no expectations for the work to turn into a paid position. Still nothing..
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beanjeanie
post 26.Jan.2011, 09:24 AM
Post #9
Joined: 15.Sep.2010

The points that have been raised are quite valid.
There are no denying here that people who have come from another
country with loads of opportunities (ie jobs and disposable income) such as Australia will find it difficult to adjust.

You will most likely take a huge pay cut (that is if you are lucky to find any job without speaking Swedish fluently) if you cannot find a job that is even close to your profession.
There is no denying here that not being fluent in Swedish here puts you in a huge disadvantage unless you have a skill that other Swedes do not have.
Since i knew what to expect of my impending move, i took on a cafe job back home to prepare myself for this move to Sweden. Hence, i got a full time cafe job after 2 months here and no my Swedish is next to zero as i have only been here for 4 months.
My suggestion is to prepare, set realistic objectives and manage your own expectations so that you have given yourself a realistic chance of success. I knew that getting a similar job to what i had back home without fluent Swedish will probably be a 1% chance but getting a cafe job will be a 50% chance so you play the odds in your favour.

Now i can focus my energy on finding an apartment and living the Swedish way...
Finding a rental apartment will be a whole other issue that i just cant comprehend as it is totally different to what i am accustomed to.
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Streja
post 26.Jan.2011, 11:51 AM
Post #10
Joined: 10.Jul.2006

My sambo is one of the 5% then.

It must be me. I'm lovely, beautiful and friendly. Not to mention I have taught him how to ski.
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