One year in Sweden

I moved to Stockholm a little over a year ago now, time to have a quick look back at how that went and what I have learned about Stockholm and Sweden.

Stockholm

Stockholm is high-tech

People call Stockholm “The Silicon Valley of Europe”, and I have to agree with that statement. There are hundreds of startups here, with Spotify probably the most famous of them all, who attract a lot of highly educated people from all over the world. If you work as software developer or IT specialist, finding a job in Stockholm really is no problem.

That is only true if you are from inside the EU though. People from outside the EU are currently having a hard time to get accepted to work in Sweden, which is not a bad thing seeing the housing problem we currently have here (see further down).

Pro-immigrant and pro-equality site The Local writes a lot about troubles from immigrants (which I am too), often with an overly sentimental tone on how hard it is for the poor fellows to integrate into the Swedish cities and job market. It’s just as hard as for normal Swedes as well, who pay the same rent price or have to go through 20 years being in a rental queue, but they prefer to quietly ignore that fact.

Stockholm is expensive

While it’s pretty easy to find a job in software development or IT here, the opposite is true for finding a place to live. There is a big shortage of housing in all of Sweden, especially in the bigger cities like Stockholm, which is the result of years of bad planning by the housing administration.

What this means in practice is that rent prices are extremely high, if you even manage to find a place at all. Buying a place is actually quite doable, but that requires you to have saved at least 25% of the purchase price before banks will give you a loan. (The official amount is 15% but in practice you should aim for 25% to get a decent deal from banks).

Stockholm is fit

I don’t think there are a lot of cities that have as much gyms per inhabitants as Stockholm does. In the center of the town there is a gym or a CrossFit box or some other kind of sport place on every street corner. Staying fit is also well integrated into the company culture so starting late or leaving early for a gym class is accepted everywhere.

Stockholm is all about equality

Gender, race, income, religion… Sweden makes a big case about treating everyone as equals, and they love it when the world acknowledges this. Every week there’s at least one newspaper or website in the world writing about Sweden and how equal stuff is here.

But they sometimes push it a little bit too far, like the gender equal snow cleaning. It has something to do with the fact that cleaning snow on the streets for the cars (= mostly men use those) has the same priority as cleaning snow on the pavement next to schools (= mostly women use those). I think it’s more an issue of setting sane priorities in general, but what do I know?

Stockholm is lonely

Swedes tend to be quiet and reserved people and that makes it hard to make new friends here. There are also no casual chats on the subway or bus or in the elevator here, everybody just keeps to themselves. And I, as an introvert technology lover, like that.

But when it comes to dating there are still bars, gyms and Tinder like the rest of the world. Swedish people tend to losen up when they get drunk, that really is the key to meeting new people here.

Happy Swedes

Sidenote: Alcohol is expensive here and sold in government-controlled stores only, where you have to be at least 20 years old to buy stuff.

Stockholm is home.

Yep. I like it here and I’m going to stay.

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