Moving to Stockholm

Stockholm is widely known as a liberal and friendly city to be in. There are many things that people love about the city, from the openness to the access of the beautiful Swedish countryside. If you want more specific details about moving to Stockholm then read this page for information on:

Moving to Stockholm

General culture

Stockholm is a very open city and much less busy when compared to large cities in the UK. This is largely due to the fact the city is made up of 14 islands and has a lot open spaces, parks and greenery. In this way, and due to a culture of caring for their surroundings more, Stockholm is not polluted and has some of the cleanest air and water in any capital city.

Despite being in the south of the country, Stockholm is still situated further north than even the most northern tip of Scotland. Therefore you need to prepare yourself for a few vital differences in the weather. Firstly the winters are cold. They drop down to -10ºC regularly. Also don’t expect to see much daylight in the winter. The sun sets at 2.30pm through the midwinter and it is generally pitch black by 3pm.

The coffee culture in Sweden is something truly unique. Every day the swedes take a break from their working day or even on weekends have a coffee break and often something to eat. This is known as fika. At work you share your fika with coworkers and bosses whereas outside of work you can go with your friends.

The Swedes and how to make friends

Swedes are known for being friendly yet stoic. Although you can expect them to show happiness or sadness they are not likely to leap around with joy or shout in anger. People may come across as shy or reserved and can be easily embarrassed.

The Swedish people (and general culture) are best described by the Swedish word lagom, which roughly translates to not too much or too little or just the right amount. Kind of like Goldilocks, maybe she came from Sweden? With this in mind you can see why the Swedes like to keep in line with everyone else and not stand out. They like to follow rules and instructions (why do you think that IKEA instructions are so detailed). Queueing is also something to be respected in Sweden, although we Brits know all about that too.

Sweden is also one of the best countries when it comes to equality. This goes in all walks of like, from big things such as racial equality, same-sex marriage rights and equal pay to just something as simple as seeing men push prams down the street.

Below you can find some top tips about how to integrate yourself into the Swedish culture so you’ll make friends in no time:

  • Be lagom – don’t be too much or too little of anything. That’s not to say don’t be you and change your personality, but make sure to bear in mind what the swedes might think of the way you act.
  • Follow the rules – this is something that is very important in Swedish culture, don’t step on any toes by trying to cut corners.
  • When wanting to hang out with the locals don’t invite them over for dinner – for Swedes this comes across as too much time to spend with someone. Invite them out for a fika first. As mentioned, the coffee culture is important and a surefire way to make friends (as long as you’re lagom).
  • Organize plans in advance. Swedish people aren’t particularly impulsive so make sure to give notice. More than a week should be fine but two weeks is more appropriate.

Cost of moving

When it comes to moving to Stockholm you can move your belongings in three ways. For small moves you can move your belongings via air transport. This costs around double the price of moving your belongings overland and isn’t necessarily quicker than road transport. Air transportation usually takes around 8-10 days whereas road transport takes 9-11 days. You could also choose to send your belongings with sea freight which is comparably priced however this takes between 6-8 weeks for small moves and 25-31 days for larger moves. Therefore we recommend overland transport as the best option.

Below you can see the estimated costs of a move from London to Stockholm to help you get a better idea of the price.

1 bedroom3 bedroom5 bedroom
Road£2,100 – £2,900£3,500 – £4,800£5,800 – £7,900
Sea£2,000 – £2,800£4,400 – £6,000£6,800 – £9,200
Air£4,200 – £5,700n/an/a

These are only estimated costs, if you would like a specific price tailored to you then click the banner below to fill in a quote form – it only takes two minutes!

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Tips for moving

Moving is a costly process and the cost of living in Sweden isn’t exactly cheap. There are things that you can do to make the cost of your move cheaper, these include:

  • Moving through the winter months – after Christmas is the cheapest due to seasonal demand
  • Insurance – ask yourself if you really need it? It is an optional extra, and it is unlikely that things will go very wrong. However, we do recommend that you take out insurance, just in case the worst happens.
  • Additional services – removals services offer other services including packing, disassembling and reassembling. Of course its cheaper to do this by yourself or even get a few friends to help you. The cost of buying them a drink to say thank you is likely to be significantly cheaper than a professional moving service.

When it comes to advice for preparing your move look no further than our pages moving tips and moving checklist. Our moving tips page is packed full of tips to help with international and domestic moves. Our moving checklist breaks down everything that you need to do in the months running up to a big move. These pages really are comprehensive and can make your move so much easier.

Working life in Sweden

Working in Sweden has several similarities and differences with the UK. One of the similarities is that in Sweden they also utilize a 40 hour working week. Similarly to London overtime is also common. Although Sweden has experimented with a 6 hour working day, unfortunately this was found not to work due to the drop in overall productivity in addition to proving very costly.

The most noticeable working differences stem from the fact that workers rights are better considered. One of the most obvious places you can see this is in the amount of holidays given. The UK gives a fair 20 days holiday, in Sweden the legal minimum is 25 days per year. Furthermore punctuality is a major priority in Swedish work places and the culture in general. Being late can have serious consequences so make sure to set your watch 5 minutes early. Additionally parental leave in Sweden gives parents 480 days of paid leave – 90 of which are reserved for the dad.

Organizations also tend to be much flatter which means that employers are empowered more. Decisions tend to be made taking on ideas and criticisms from everyone involved in a project not just from those at the top of an organization. In this way ideas are analyzed from all angles.

The work place culture is quite informal in Sweden, Swedes tend to dress down for work and often its not easy to tell who the boss is just by looking around the office. Additionally the coffee culture of fika also extends to the work place. Fika is seen as a time to make chit chat and get to know coworkers in an even more informal manner. Be careful not to ask anything too personal as swedes set a line between public and private life.

Moving to Stockholm 2

How to find work

As most people in Stockholm speak a high level of English you can expect to find a job in an English speaking company without too many problems with language.

Unemployment in Sweden is relatively low at less than 7%. Despite this Sweden still has labour shortages in key areas such as:

  • ICT
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Chefs

Popular job sites for English speaking expats in Stockholm include jobsinstockholm.com, Blocket and The Local. If you speak Swedish to a good level then you could also try your luck on jobbsafari.

Eures is also a very useful site for specialized work which also has more information about the job market in Sweden.

Cost of living

The cost of living in Sweden in general is quite high and the fact that Stockholm is a capital city means you can also expect to pay a premium price. Having said that, Stockholm was recently ranked at 42nd place in the cost of living ranking. London, New York, Geneva, Copenhagen, LA, Oslo, Helsinki, Frankfurt, and Houston are just a few of the cities which hit harder on residents’ wallets.

Rent is expensive but cheaper than in London the real struggle comes in finding a place to live. Eating out is much more expensive in Stockholm than in other major cities in Europe. Due to a state owned alcohol monopoly in Sweden alcohol is also very expensive this affects both hard and soft alcohol. Money savvy students even go to the lengths of getting a boat into international waters or Latvian territory in order to avoid paying the high taxes on alcohol.

Take a look at the table below to see the how the cost of basic consumer goods differs in Stockholm compared to London.

ItemStockholmLondonPrice difference
1kg of chicken£8.95£6.60+35.68%
1l of milk£0.91£0.90+1.07%
1kg of local cheese£7.27£6.25+23.46
Bottle of wine (mid range)£7.88£800-1.54%
McMeal at McDonalds£6.13£5.00+22.53
Cappuccino£3.08£2.62+17.35
1kg of Apples£2.23£1.97+13.19
Potatoes£0.96£1.09-11.91
Bread£1.99£1.00+99.14

Obviously everyone has different budgets and this depends on a number of circumstances. Although we can’t try to estimate a budget for everyone the website Study in Sweden has a useful blog breaking down the cost of a monthly budget for students – the total budget is around £700 per month.

Many expats view the cost of living in Stockholm is much like an investment – and one that has high returns.

Getting around

Despite being made up of islands the city has a vast network of overland and underground transport. Like most cities you can get around on buses, metros, trains, light railway and trams. There are also commuter ferries which serve people between the islands. These cover all areas of the city meaning access shouldn’t be a problem wherever you choose to live.

There are several types of tickets and travel passes that you can use. This includes a an SL card (similar to an Oyster card), a smart phone ticket app, visitor tickets and a text-me-a-ticket scheme where your ticket gets sent straight to your phone. You can buy the SL card for just 20 SEK and can reuse it whenever you travel.

Transport in Stockholm is very accessible and easy to use. The only thing that you need to remember is that you cannot purchase a ticket onboard the buses, onboard most of the trams and light railway trains, or onboard commuter ferries.

For more information on prices, fares and timetables check out the Stockholm transport website.

Stockholm, view of buildings and train at dusk

Finding property in a tough market

The property market in Stockholm is notoriously difficult. If your looking to try and rent a place be advised that we recommend starting your search well in advance. If you take initiative and start your search online we recommend to start on the following websites: c/o Stockholm, the Local and bostadssurf (in Swedish).

Be advised that there are four main kinds of renting in Stockholm:

  • First hand contracts – these are buildings that are mainly built by the state. You can rent these at a very low cost (half the price of other flats) however there is a very long waiting list – often people wait more than 7 years. Once you have obtained a first hand contract you will be able to swap it for other first hand contracts.
  • Second hand contracts – this is the most common type of renting. This usually happens when the holder of a first hand contract sublets it to those who aren’t on the waiting list or haven’t waited long enough.
  • Third hand contracts – this is a bit of a grey area. This is where someone who has a second hand contract sublets it again. Although it is not strictly forbidden in Swedish law, the holders of the first hand contract often forbid it. Furthermore this way usually charges extortionate prices.
  • Renting a room – a simple and well known method. This is a great way to meet new people and very cost effective.

Where to live in Stockholm

Unlike other cities, you might find that the competition in the market limits your choice of options. If you are lucky enough to have be able to choose where you live, or just want to know more about the areas then take a look at the list below:

  • Östermalm – This is where many big business professionals and Swedish professionals live. It is considered the best area to live in Stockholm.
  • Södermalm – Nicknames Hipster Island this area of the city has a certain vibrance to it. It attracts a younger crowd due to the events happening there which includes the nightlife. There are also several residential areas that prove popular with families, as well as having space for young professionals to work in.
  • Vasastan – This area is seen as trendy but that comes at a price. Although the nightlife isn’t as busy as Södermalm you can still expect to find a variety of clubs and bars. There are also several beautiful parks in the area.
  • Gamla Stan – This is the old town of the city and quite well located for tourist attractions. Although this is a great place to stay on holiday the reality of living here is that its quite expensive.
  • Kungsholmen – another large island that is popular with residents. The island is much more urbanized towards the east and offers much more open spaces on the western side. There is also good nightlife here, especially for students.
  • If you’re looking at staying somewhere close to the centre  then there are a number of neighbourhoods which are centrally located. These include Solna, Årsta, Bromma and Liljeholmen.

Tips for getting used to Stockholm

One of the most important things to know about Sweden is that most people do speak a basic level of English. Especially in Stockholm as it is the capital city. This means that you don’t need to feel pressured to learn Swedish if you’re only there for a short amount of time. Of course, if you’re planning on staying in the long term then learning Swedish always helps and will help to integrate you into the society more.

Swedish people don’t really make chit chat on the the metro so its best not to try to initiate conversation without a good reason as this may annoy the locals.

If you’re invited into a Swedish person’s home make sure to take off your shoes inside as this is the custom. It is likely that the host will offer you a pair of slippers they have set aside for guests however many Swedes opt to bring their own slippers when others invite them into their home.

Recycle plastic bags. There is a similar system in place to what we have recently introduced in the UK where you have to pay for any plastic bag that you use. Unlike the UK in Sweden you also have to pay for paper bags as well.

Quotes

Now that your a bit more clued up about your move to Stockholm why not prepare a bit more and request some free removals quotes? They are no obligation and give you a much better idea of the cost of moving abroad. Additionally you could save up to 40% on the cost of your move.