Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden

Sweden, and other Nordic countries, have become a focus of American politics as late. Progressives, like Senator Bernie Sanders, are advocating for policies like Medicare-for-all, has been implemented successfully in Sweden for decades. Americans have their preconceived notions, but what is it like actually to live there. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of living in Sweden:

Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
Photo by Jonathan Brinkhort

Advantages of Living in Sweden

1. Sweden is environmentally friendly:

The Swedish government ensures that the country is one of the greenest on the planet. At one point, Sweden ranked as the world’s #1 most sustainable nation. Currently, Sweden is in the process of centralizing waste management and district heating, as well as replacing gasoline with biofuels to combat climate change.  

 2. The air is some of the cleanest in the world:

As a result of its stringent sustainability, Sweden has minimized pollution throughout the country with clean air initiatives. The air is fresh, and everyone can feel the results. Swedes live longer than almost anyone on this planet.  

3. Sweden has free college education:

Swedish colleges and universities are still entirely free, which is no longer as typical for Europe as a whole. Though the EU is still cheaper than the US, over the past two decades, higher fees have become a reality for many European students.  

4.) People in Sweden speak multiple languages:

A majority of the population is bilingual, with English being the most common second language. This makes Sweden an accessible travel destination for English speakers around the world. Those who don’t speak Swedish or English may still be in luck! Many learn additional languages in school!

5. Swedes have more free time without sacrificing pay:  

Those who work in Sweden have access to more vacation time off, paid holidays, and paternity or maternity live than almost anywhere else on Earth. You will start with a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation per year when you start a new job. With seniority, you can earn much more vacation time than that! People in Sweden certainly work to live and not the other way around.  

6. There are many holidays to enjoy: 

Swedes like to celebrate everything – farewell to summer (kräftskiva), hello to spring (Valborgsmässoafton), summer solstice (Midsommar), Gingerbread House Day and Saint Lucia Day. The calendar of typical Swedish holidays is quite tight, so everyone has time to spend it with their loved ones.

7. Sweden is one of the safest places on Earth:

Sweden has some of the lowest crime rates on the planet. Every year, there’s one murder per 100,000 people, which is one-fifth of the murder rate in the United States. No matter where you are, even in cities like Malmo with a bad reputation, you will feel safe.  

8. Right on time, anytime:

Everything is functional, and reliable Swedes are obsessed with order. This means that buses and trains will be on time and most things will work as planned, with the exception of adverse weather events.  

The Cons of Living in Sweden

1. The weather in Sweden:

The weather in Sweden is described as “horrible” by most people throughout the year. In the summer there are several weeks when the sun is still shining and you can wear shorts and T-shirts. It is chilly, wet, and drizzly for most of the year, and then snows for months. When you live in Sweden, you’ll experience more snow than you can imagine. 

2. Swedes can be reserved and unfriendly:

Swedish people usually isolate themselves and remain in their comfort zone. In one of the forums run by “The Local” describing life in Sweden, the author states that “many Swedes are racists.” Although this description is not entirely accurate, the reality of life in Sweden is that people tend to form cliques and stay in their comfort zone. They will not open up until you make repeated efforts to get to know them. Making friends after moving to this country can be a slow and tedious process. 

3. The Law of Jante:

When living in Nordic countries, you’re bound to run into the Law of Jante. The idea is that if you do strange things or are too ambitious, it is an embarrassment. Society should conform, so all outcomes are predictable.   

4. Health and taxes:

Excess taxes guarantees most people are middle-class. Yes, if you pay high taxes, you will receive free health care from the government, but it also means that you need to make an appointment well in advance. Sometimes, and it’s not an exaggeration, you won’t make an appointment for almost 4 to 6 months or more. Unfortunately, this is the price of free care because you have already paid for this service, which you will receive much later in the future.

5. Sweden pays its citizens living wages:

Even if prices seem high, wages in Sweden allow them to remain calm. Importantly, a well-paid job can be found not only by educated and mentally working people. For example, there is a high demand for cleaners.

6. Swedish is a difficult language:

Swedish is not easy to learn. Swedish pronunciation may sound like a chaotic series of paralinguistic elements, and at first, it seems impossible to learn. So you need a lot of patience

7. Finding the works is hard for non-Swedes:

Trying to get a job in Sweden without speaking Swedish can be extremely difficult. Though many Swedes speak English, they expect you to speak Swedish to work. If you’re anon-EU citizen, multiply the difficulty level 10x as you likely don’t have the personal relationships and contacts.  

8. Too much space. Not enough people:

There are no significant urban centers in Sweden.  When you move to Sweden, you will quickly discover that there are no major cities throughout the country. Stockholm is the largest city in the nation, and it has a population of only 800,000 people. For comparison purposes, that makes the community about equal in size to Detroit. Even if you count the entire population of the metro area, Stockholm maxes out at 1.5 million people.

Alan Behrens

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