Stockholm, Sweden Report of what it's like to live there - 10/16/08

Personal Experiences from Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden 10/16/08

Background:

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

No. Cairo, Egypt.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government - I am here for my spouse's job.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From East Coast of U.S. 14-16 hours. Go through Copenhagen, Denmark, or through Reykavik, Iceland.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice, however, VERY expensive.

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

Super expensive. Everything is at least double what is costs in USA.

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

Green Chile, vanilla, baking soda.

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

Many Swedish restaurants available, both traditional and up and coming chefs with new ideas. Pizza parlors, Chinese, Thai, cafes everywhere, American chains (Fridays, Hard Rock, Mc Donalds, Burger King, Quiznos, Pizza Hut ).

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Daily Life:

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

I have access to both. Rarely use local mail, but it is available. You are taxed with incoming mail from family and friends.

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

Available, but I have never had one because they cost a lot. Just a babysitter (High school girl) charges 70 SEK (Around US$10.00) per hour. Nannies and house cleaners are more.

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

Very accessible, you will be charged the handling fee, of course.

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

Yes, several available. Big on Lutheran here

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, very accessible.

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

Some for fun or if you go out far into the countryside. Everyone, almost, speaks English

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

Slightly a problem, but I think most handicap people can get around e.g., there are ramps, special busses,rails in restrooms & showers,etc.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

THey are easy and awesome. So accessible everywhere.

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3. 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?

Bring nothing larger than minivan or smaller sized SUV. Parking places & garages are smaller. Parking is expensive, too. Gasoline prices are shocking. Bring your own car parts (Oil and air filters, wiper blades, snow tires for the winter and regular ones for the summer -(Rules in place that you have to change them). Having dealership or garage change your oil can take several weeks to have done, then it is around US$200.00 for labor and parts to have oil change done.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes.

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

Buy a phone then buy rechargeable minutes for it when you run out.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage on high speed internet. Cell phones or calling cards.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Wonderful. Pets are like kids, and well behaved ones at that. Pets must be walked every 3 hours, and not left penned up all day alone

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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?

Yes.

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

European. Also, a lot of darker colors.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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

Hardly any.

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

Great medical care. If you will be here a long time in the summer you may choose to have the tick borne encephalitis shots (3) as there are so many ticks here. A lot of mosquitoes, too.

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

Beautiful summers with sun that barely sets, long dark cold winters with sun rising barely on the horizon for about 4 hours a day.

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Schools & Children:

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

Stockholm International School - Tried it 1 year, then moved. Did not like curriculum and lack of yearly testing assuring student had met needs for the year. Next moved to British International Primary School in Stockholm (BIPSS).This is beginning our 2nd year at the school, and we are extremely pleased that we did make the move from SIS.

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

Some, but not a lot available in English language.

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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?

It is hard to get care if you are not on Swedish State System. For local Swedes there is a program called "Dagis," in which they drop their children off to for the day. However, the parent must be employed or going to school to qualify.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fair. Less fair in long dark winter months.

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

You name it

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

Yes, very good. Most everyone speaks English, it is clean, relatively safe, very health conscious and law abiding people here.

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

Most definitively. Stockholm hosts the huge Gay and Lesbian EuroPride week and parade here each summer.

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

Some.

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

Numerous museums (Vasa, Natural History, Train, postal, many many more). Learn more about Viking history, and about the royal families through the years, travel into the archipelago on a boat for a day trip or over to near by countries, ski, skate, Ice Hotel, Glass (Crystal) country, Lappland, etc.

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

Swedish Crystal, wooden handicrafts, Scandinavian furniture, a sauna, Swedish wood clogs,

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9. Can you save money?

NO.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, it has been a nice and clean easy place to live. It is almost like being in the USA

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

Hmmm...almost everything is available, if you want to pay the high cost for it.

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3. But don't forget your:

Thermometers with farenheight and your measuring cups for U.S. measures.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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