Stockholm, Sweden Report of what it's like to live there - 05/08/15

Personal Experiences from Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden 05/08/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Previously posted to Manila, Philippines

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The current contract is American/BA: Three hours to London, and an additional seven hours to DC

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Three years

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

2-3 bedroom apartments in the city (with easy bus or bicycle commute) and houses on Lidingo, a neighboring island. Unless you're dead-set on a house, this is the post for city living, as families on Lidingo are isolated and often require two cars and a 30-minute+ commute.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most everything is available, and the Embassy has a small store to supplement what is missing from the local economy. Grocery stores are more limited than in the states, but everything is very high quality. Groceries are expensive, but this is one of the most expensive cities in the world!

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Canned goods, salad dressing, baking supplies

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most big chains are here, though most restaurants are small and independent. Everything is available, including some amazing Michelin-rated restaurants. Eating out isn't cheap though; food is definitely the biggest chunk of our budget.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO (fast and great service here!)

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Extremely expensive, unless you bring your own from the U.S. or a third country).

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are nice (albeit a bit pricey) and the embassy has a very small gym. There are tons of trails and parks for runners.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We use credit cards for everything! It is recommended to bring a card with chip and pin, as this will speed up every transaction you have (Swedes aren't used to having patrons sign for CC transactions).

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is an international church, as well as several churches that provide head-sets with translation.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Everyone speaks English!

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sweden seems to very accommodating to those with disabilities, but many buildings lack ramps and elevators.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

You can get an unlimited SL (public transit) pass for about US$100 per month, which will get you almost everywhere you need to go (except Lidingo, which has more limited public transit options).

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

None if you live in the city. Something good for the snow if you live on Lidingo (including winter tires, which are required).

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is quite fast, depending on your plan and building, commensurate to what you would spend in the U.S.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone for starters, then purchase a phone and plan once you are assigned your personal number (social security number equivalent required for everything in Sweden).

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine, though Swedish law requires that dogs be walked during the day, and doggie day-care and vet treatment is very expensive.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No; employment opportunities are almost non-existent unless you speak fluent Swedish or work in a niche field that is desirable to Ericsson/Spotify/etc.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Few, as the Swedish government provides all kinds of support and social services.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Mostly business casual, depending on the sector. Embassy local staff is extremely casual, and most officers typically dress for their calendar.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No health concerns, unless you are prone to seasonal affectiveness disorder. Winters can be rough on even the cheeriest of people. Medical care is adequate, but medicine is socialized, so don't expect fast service or cutting-edge tests/procedures. Some pregnant women get additional tests in the U.S. That aren't offered here: quad screen, gestational diabetes, etc.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Perfect! Stockholm has some of the best air quality in the world!

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Swedish restaurants are very accommodating to those with food allergies. Pollen and grass tend to be a problem for people in May/June.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cold and dark during the winter, and winter is LONG here. Beautiful in the summer (i.e. July)

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No experience, but I hear the British International Primary School is the preferred choice for primary school age, as parents tend to have problems with SIS and their curriculum.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

This is an area where post is a real let-down. There is a real need here for affordable Pre-K, and parents have tried (unsuccessfully) for years to establish an embassy day care or co-op. At a minimum, post should negotiate with the Swedish communes for reasonably priced-options. Dagis (Swedish day care) will run you US$2,000 per month (part-time) as a non-resident and nannies are much more. This is an area where post repeatedly turns a blind eye.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community is huge, but doesn't really interact much, as the majority of expats are married to Swedes and very immersed in the local culture. The embassy community tries a bit, but people mostly scatter and do their own thing. (Typical for Europe, as you don't really need the embassy community for social interactions).

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Restaurants, bars, meet-up groups, play dates, traveling, etc.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Fabulous for couples, good for families (with the caveat of childcare), and poor for singles. There are few singles at post and Swedes tend to be very insular.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Sweden is an extremely tolerant country, and much ahead of the U.S. in this respect.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None on the surface. You could probably write a treatise about the underlying racial and religious prejudices, especially considering the recent waves of immigrants from Iraq, Eritrea, and Syria.





View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling through Sweden and Europe; living in a beautiful city.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Anything outdoorsy: skiing, skating, running, boating; archipelago boat doors; a day trip to Drottningholm Palace; the Vasa and Abba museums; eating outdoors during the summer (pic-nicking seems to be a national pastime)

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Swedish crystal, dala horses

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Parks and green spaces are amazing, the entire city is walkable, and public transit is among the best in the world. No need for a car if you live in the city!

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Not really.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Definitely.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Shorts and summer gear

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Winter gear, vitamin D supplements, and patience (Sweden virtually shuts down from the end of June until mid-August!)

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More