If you’re considering a move to Scandinavia, you definitely wouldn’t be the first person to consider making this shift, no matter where you’re coming from now.
After all, the Nordic countries are renowned for having so many advantages for those who live there. Whether it’s the high standard of living, strong social net, beautiful landscapes and much more, it can be hard to pick one as your preferred country to live in.
This is why having this list of the best reasons to move to Sweden can really help. You’ll see just why you should move to Sweden if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to start a new Swedish life – and perhaps a couple of negatives, just to make sure you have a full, balanced view of what you may be getting yourself into.
Reasons to move to Sweden
1. Healthy work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is absolutely a priority in Sweden. In fact, the OECD found that only about 1% of Swedish employees work very long hours in paid work, one of the lowest rates in the OECD, where the average is 10%.
And the final perk? Swedish workers are legally entitled to at least five weeks of annual leave per year!
2. Reasonable working hours
This aligns with the fact that the average working hours in Sweden are lower when compared to other countries. As you can see below, while Sweden isn’t the absolute lowest in the OECD, working hours are much less than other countries, showing their commitment to a good work-life balance.
3. Good income levels in many careers
Sweden is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to income inequality. What this means is that, in many fields, the standard income for most workers is enough to have a good quality of life.
You can see how well Sweden does on this point when comparing it to other western countries, like the UK and US. The Gini Index provides a “score” for each country showing its income inequality, with a lower score being better overall. Sweden’s current “score” is 29.3, while the UK is 35.1 and the US is 41.5.
This means that, on average, you’re much more likely to be able to afford a reasonable quality of life on a normal salary in Sweden compared to those countries with higher numbers.
4. Low income gap between genders
Knowing that you’re going to be paid what you’re worth, no matter your gender, is an important point to consider before moving somewhere. Luckily, Sweden ranks highly on this point.
It’s not perfect and, as you can see below, it’s not even the best in Scandinavia on this point, with Norway and Denmark actually scoring better in this regard. However, Sweden still does very well here, including that the gender gap is much lower compared to countries like the UK and US.
There’s definitely still work to be done but at least you can see that Sweden is on the right track.
5. Vast career opportunities
Did you know that Sweden is full of bio-chem and high-tech hubs all over? The three main cities where a career in this field is lucrative are Karlskoga, Lund, and Stockholm. Here, you have a wealth of career opportunities that attract a lot of international talent.
When you also look at the global demand from massive Swedish companies such as Ericson, IKEA, Spotify, and Volvo, it’s evident that there’s a demand that skilled international workers can complement.
Add on the fact that many Swedes speak English fluently and there’s no reason why you couldn’t consider getting a job in Sweden.
6. Parental leave benefits
If you’re considering having kids in the future but are worried about the impact on your career ambitions, never fear. Sweden is one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to prioritizing the balance between your career and family.
That is, in Sweden, parental leave is paid out for 480 days (approximately 16 months) for each child. In the spirit of gender equality, parents are encouraged to share the leave.
For this reason, 90 days out of the total 480 days are reserved for each parent. Only single custody parents are entitled to take out the 480 days on their own.
During this period, parents generally get 80% of their salary if they have been working legally in Sweden for at least 240 days and paid taxes. Safe to say, this is much better than many other countries and means that employed parents in Sweden get to bond with their children longer.
7. Low-cost quality education
Did you know that you can go to any Swedish university for free if you’re an EU or EEA citizen or have Swedish permanent residency? Yes, you read that right. If you’re looking for reasons to move to Sweden and think that you’ll be able to get permanent residency there at some point, you’ll have access to a truly world-class education system at no cost.
(And you’ll also get a monthly grant while studying! Yep, they pay you to study!)
Even if you don’t think you’ll meet those criteria, studying in Sweden as a foreigner may be cheaper than you get at home. Tuition fees commonly range from between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 per year – that’s around EUR 8,000 to EUR 15,000, or USD 9,000 to USD 17,000. And don’t worry, many courses are done in English!
And it’s not just university benefits for why you should move to Sweden. That is, if you have kids, this move could be a good idea for them too. The OECD reported that in Sweden, 84% of adults have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 79%. In addition, the average student in Sweden scored 503 in reading literacy, math and sciences, above the OECD average of 488.
Considering that you’ll get a high quality education system at no cost, you can definitely see why this should be one of your reasons to move to Sweden.
8. Excellent healthcare system
When looking at the countries with the best healthcare systems in the world, I’m pretty sure you’ll notice a trend. That is, the top five at the moment are Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland – clearly some strong representation from Scandinavia here!
This is based on a bunch of factors, including:
- The care process (preventative care measures, safe care, coordinated care, and engagement and patient preferences)
- Access to healthcare (affordability and timeliness)
- Administrative efficiency
- Healthcare outcomes (population health, mortality amenable to healthcare, and disease-specific health outcomes).
While we’ll get to Sweden’s tax rates shortly, at least this shows how the tax paid is really used for the betterment of its citizens and residents.
9. Exposure to a family-oriented culture
As you can probably tell from the generous parental leave benefits, free (and high quality) education system and great leave on offer, there’s a very strong focus on your family and personal life in Sweden.
Just from my own observations, you’ll see this in many workplaces. It’s widely accepted that people can leave early to pick their kids up from school and the day care options are also pretty good.
It’s also a very safe country (Sweden’s gun laws are very strict, for example) so raising a family here could definitely be a good decision.
10. High air quality
One reason to move to Sweden is the fact that you know that you’ll breathe easy. In fact, Sweden has some of the highest air quality in the world.
Even in major cities in Sweden, the air just feels so much fresher than you find in other countries. There are many reasons for this but, as is perhaps obvious, this comes with a myriad of health benefits – not to mention that you just feel good going about your day to day life in that kind of environment.
11. Great water quality
Along with the high air quality is the fact that the quality of water in Sweden is top notch and ranks among the best in the world.
From my own very unscientific perspective, I can confirm that the tap water in Sweden tastes really good. In fact, there’s literally no need to buy bottled water here as what you get from the tap tastes absolutely pristine. While I live in Copenhagen at the moment, I have to say that (don’t tell the Danes…) I like the taste of Swedish water much more.
12. Clean energy policies
Not only has Sweden pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2045, it’s actually codified this into law. And the country is achieving this in a number of ways, one of the main ones being its clean energy policies.
Sweden has generated the majority of its energy through renewable energy for more than a decade now and the target is 100 per cent renewable electricity production by 2040. In addition, Swedish carbon emissions are low compared to other countries. For example, as you can see from the graph below, the average American releases almost four times more CO2 per year than the average Swede.
This means that if you want to keep seeing that excellent air quality and prefer to live somewhere that is actively trying to do this, this point could very well be one of the strongest reasons to move to Sweden.
13. Reasonable institutions and easy bureaucracy
A country’s bureaucratic process can either make you fall in love with it or not. So you may be happy to hear that Sweden was ranked at the top of a variety of rankings in the Responsive Government Survey.
This included that it was found that: “Sweden was a pioneer when it came to the development of self-service government, and that this was helped hugely by the willingness of the population to be identified by officials. […] As well as enabling the government to design and deliver services digitally, [Sweden’s digital identity] schemes assist with the collection of data about demand for and use of those services.”
Now, keep in mind that this is largely due to what seems to be general confidence by Swedes in how their data is used by the government.
I fully acknowledge that not everyone around the world feels the same way, so when considering why to move to Sweden, you may want to keep in mind that being part of the Swedish system involves handing over some of your data. The Swedes are fine with it though, which hopefully gives you some reassurance.
14. Transparent society
“Insyn” is a Swedish word defined as “behavioral transparency in social contexts”. What this means in practice is that Sweden has a strong culture of transparency, believing that this helps to accountability, communication, and openness.
For example, if I wanted to find out how much my neighbor makes annually, I can simply call a number and request this information because public access to information is promoted by the government. Just keep in mind that your neighbor will be told that you’re the one who asked for this information – after all, transparency goes both ways.
While you may find this a bit weird at first, greater transparency overall is better for society. And Sweden is really walking the walk in this regard.
15. LGBTQI+ friendly society
The Spartacus Gay Travel Index is used to measure how gay-friendly countries are all over the world. Sweden has continued to rank very highly, including that it was number one in the world last year. This shows how the recognition of LGBTQI+ rights are an essential part of policy considerations.
In fact, these rights in Sweden are regarded as some of the most progressive in Europe, if not the entire world. You can find out more here.
16. Higher quality of life
As you can probably start to tell, Sweden continues to measure favorably in many global rankings measuring various aspects of living. And this is also the case when you look at the Better Life Index, in which Sweden ranks higher than most countries.
Specifically, Sweden outperforms the average in income, jobs, education, health, environmental quality, social connections, civic engagement, safety and life satisfaction. Not a bad list of things to have in your life, when you really think about it.
17. Good public transportation system
Generally, many European countries have a great public system when you compare them to the rest of the world. There are buses and trains that are clean and available to transport you across cities and even to other countries in the European region.
And Sweden is considered one of the countries with the best and most efficient public transportation system in the world. Not only is it convenient (most Swedish cities have public transport readily available to take you where you need to go even at midnight) but it’s cheap and more sustainable than driving yourself.
So not only is this a very convenient way for you to travel, but you’re helping to save the planet too.
18. Protected human rights
Swedish legislation ensures that everyone’s human rights are protected. You can be a citizen or an immigrant, but your rights will be considered.
A lot of value is placed on human rights in Sweden. In fact, the government itself actively promotes the fact that public power should be exercised with respect for the equality of everyone and the freedom and dignity of the individual.
19. Excellent social welfare system
The Scandinavian countries are known internationally for their excellent social welfare systems and Sweden is no exception. In fact, Sweden is one of the highest spenders on social programs in the world, with more than 25% as a share of overall GDP going towards this.
However, the result of this is, as we’ve seen, a country with one of the best education and healthcare systems in the world, among other aspects of its social system.
This system also helps to ensure that those who need support are taken care of. In fact, everyone can rely on the social welfare systems if they need to improve their lives.
Sure, taxes may be high throughout Scandinavia compared to the rest of the world. But you can certainly see how these funds are going towards making a better quality of life for everyone.
20. Great outdoor activities
If you like the great outdoors, this should be one of your top reasons to move to Sweden. That is, did you know that you can walk, ride, cycle, ski and camp on any land you like in Sweden without the landowner’s permission? You can also forage, picking flowers, berries and mushrooms (excluding protected species and those in conservation areas).
The Swedish tourist board even listed the entire country on Airbnb in 2017, as a way to promote the freedom to roam.
Of course, there are some reasonable limitations. For example, you cannot enter private gardens, nor can you camp within 70 meters of someone’s dwelling. You also can’t exploit the countryside for economic purposes, such as going hunting in Sweden or logging, without additional permits.
Overall, though, these rules when combined with the vast natural landscapes make it much easier to embark on some of the most memorable outdoor excursions you’ll ever have.
21. Swedish archipelago
The Swedish islands offer by far some of the most beautiful places that you’ll ever get to see. In particular, you can easily access the Swedish archipelago from Stockholm and enjoy all that it has to offer. This includes 30,000 islands and perfectly natural landscapes.
One great way to get a taster of this is by taking a boat trip along the coast. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
22. Coastal areas
If you’re looking to live in an area that has close proximity to water, Sweden has you covered. After all, this is a country where you’re basically guaranteed to come across vast open waters wherever you are.
It doesn’t matter if you enjoy catching fish in smaller waters, kayaking through pristine islands or even surfing massive waves, Sweden offers you water-based opportunities that are spread throughout the country.
You can take advantage of the opportunities that the waters in this region have to offer. The multiple coastal areas ensure that your summers, and even winters, are joyfully adventurous.
23. Natural landscapes
A big part of Sweden is untouched. The landscapes remain as beautiful as they were originally. If wilderness is what you want to find, then Sweden will give you that and more.
In fact, more than 70% of Sweden is made up of beautiful forests, leaving you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of what these can offer.
24. Reasonable climate, including in winter
If you’re looking for cooler weather, Sweden has you covered. It’s no surprise to hear that the climate in the Nordic region can involve some pretty low winter temperatures. In fact, in the northern parts of Sweden, the snow can cover the country for more than 200 days.
That said, it’s not unbearably cold unless you go up to the Arctic Circle. In Stockholm, for example, the coldest month is February with an average maximum temperature of 1°C (34°F). While you’ll definitely need a sweater and jacket for this, you can also probably see that it’s definitely manageable.
Plus, how else will you experience the winter wonderland that areas of Sweden offer without adding some layers to your wardrobe!
25. Long days in summer
This may seem like a funny reason to move to Sweden (or anywhere) but I promise that this is an advantage. Once you experience the long days in summer – including that the sun doesn’t set at all for several weeks in certain parts of the country – you’ll see what an amazing experience this is.
Sitting in a park with your friends in Stockholm as the sun sets at 11pm is incredible and really makes you feel like you’re able to enjoy everything that the country has to offer during the warmer months.
Of course, this means that it gets dark in Sweden early (or even all day in the north) in winter, but this can be cool too. For instance, ever dreamed of seeing the northern lights? Sweden has you covered!
26. Architectural appeal
The architectural design style in Sweden is one to admire. The buildings around the country have a unique use of Scandinavian architecture, with different historical styles contributing to some spectacular results.
Just consider some of the most impressive architectural marvels throughout the country, ranging from Stockholm City Hall, Uppsala Cathedral, to Gripsholm Castle.
If you’re an architecture buff with a healthy interest in history, this could definitely be a reason to move to Sweden.
27. Small business opportunities
There’s a lot of frustration that comes with migration when you’re a small business owner. In most cases, you’ll have to sell your business before you can finalize your move.
However, if Sweden is your choice for migration, you’re in luck. The Swedish Public Employment Service helps you to attain financial assistance for your business venture.
But that’s not all! This Service is also able to provide financial assistance through the “Start-up Grants” programme. This lets you get financial assistance for up to six months while working on getting your own company off the ground. Not bad!
28. Incredibly fast internet connection
Did you know that the internet connection in Sweden is considered to be the fastest in the world? This may not be such a surprise when you consider that this country is known as a pioneer of tech advancements in this digital age.
Another thing to note is that the internet is also very cheap when you compare it to other countries in Europe.
What’s particularly good is that the internet is so widespread here, even outside of major cities. You can still access fast Internet connections even when you’re in the islands or wandering the countryside.
29. Sporting activities
Sports in Sweden are almost a religion. Watch any soccer (football) match where the national team is playing and the entire stadium will be a sea of blue and yellow with dozens of Swedish flags soaring above. Ice hockey and handball are also huge, meaning you have opportunities to both play and watch year round.
30. Strong music scene
For a country with a relatively small population, Sweden absolutely bats above its average when it comes to music.
Everyone’s heard of ABBA, but what about Roxette, Ace of Base, Robyn, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, The Cardigans… I could go on, but you get the point. This country has had a massive influence on the global music industry.
And this spills over into the local scene where you definitely won’t struggle to find somewhere to watch a gig. And who knows, you may just stumble across the next ABBA at the bar down the road from your new Swedish home!
31. Sparsely populated
Sweden is still a country that has a vast range of areas that are still sparsely populated. In fact, there are a large number of remote spots that you can come across. This is great to take in nature without any disturbances.
With urbanization at the core of many European countries, Sweden has become a popular place to visit if you want to experience nature. There aren’t as many people which also means that there’s less noise pollution and traffic.
Is Sweden a good country to move to?
Yes, Sweden is a good country to move to for many reasons. For example, the quality of life is comparatively high when compared to other countries. Plus, you have access to what’s rated as amongst the best education and healthcare systems in the world.
There is a large number of people who want to migrate to Sweden for its impressive society. The country’s total population is made up of a diverse 200 or more nationalities. This makes it an ideal living environment despite where you come from.
Research further suggests that Swedish people are considered the nicest people in the world! This comes as no surprise when you realize that the Good Country Index suggests that Swedes are more satisfied with their standard of life than any other citizens. This is a great reason to give this lovely country a chance if you wish to start afresh somewhere.
What’s the best thing about Sweden?
The best things about Sweden are the emphasis they put on education, health, personal well-being, and climate issues. Other things, such as progressive politics and the fact that it continues to promote contributions towards the goodness of humanity, are also key benefits of moving to Sweden.
Given that there are many reasons why Sweden may be considered one of the best countries to live in, it’s difficult to pick just one thing that you can say is the best about this country. So why limit ourselves!
Pros and cons of living in Sweden
While the advantages of being a Swedish resident are high, there are still some relatively disadvantages for some people. The following are some of the five main pros and cons of living in Sweden that you should think of.
Advantages of living in Sweden
- Excellent workplace environment – Your employment benefits in Sweden make it easier for you to enjoy your job. Expect to enjoy at least 25 paid vacation days per year, for example, along with reasonable working hours.
- Great entertainment opportunities – Want to go enjoy the great outdoors or stay in your home city and catch a great live music performance? Sweden’s got both and plenty more on offer.
- Livable salaries – Most professions in Swedish allow you to live a comfortable life on your salary, even when it’s a standard living wage. On top of your salary, you receive bonuses, holiday pay, and even holiday remuneration. While there’s no minimum wage in Sweden, you’re still likely to earn a salary that satisfies your living standards.
- High quality of life – Want a strong education system, great healthcare, excellent parental benefits and a strong social net in times of need? Sweden’s got it all.
- Freedom – A country that values your life is a country that’s worth considering for living purposes. Sweden has a lot of policies that promote good values for its citizens and that make it easier to establish a life there. With its strong anti-discrimination policies, freedom for all from bias of any sort is effortlessly achieved.
- English is widely spoken – When you move to Sweden you’ll notice that almost everyone is bilingual. This should be ideal for anyone who isn’t a Swedish native speaker. In fact, Swedes usually learn English as a second or third language at times.
Disadvantages of living in Sweden
- The weather – In most cases, people don’t like cold weather that lasts for the majority of the year. This means that you’ll likely take longer to get used to the weather. In Sweden, the summer season lasts for only a few weeks because, in the north, summers aren’t only cool, but they’re also very short.
- High taxes – The thing about good things is that they come at a price. The same can be said about Sweden. You have to understand that you’ll pay very high taxes compared to where you’re probably from for the incredible social welfare system that you see in place.
- You probably don’t already speak Swedish – While Swedish isn’t the hardest language to learn in the world, it does help to learn the language of anywhere you’re moving to. So if you don’t speak it yet and want to move to Sweden, time to start studying.
- Expensive consumer products – Sweden is quite an expensive country to live in. A study showed that food prices in Sweden are the second highest in the EU. If you come from a country with lower prices on consumer products, this can impact how you adjust in Sweden.
- Controlled access to alcohol – A policy that was implemented in the 50s has been an ongoing tool to crack down alcoholism in Swedish communities. Notably, this means that you can only access your alcohol from government-controlled stores. It can take some getting used to the fact that you only have limited hours and days of the week for accessing alcohol.
Life in Sweden for foreigners
If you want to move to a country like Sweden, you should understand that it might not be the same experience for you as it is for the locals. As a foreigner, there are common challenges that you’re likely to face as you integrate with the rest of the community.
Take for instance the inevitable language barrier that you’ll likely experience when you first arrive – although it’s worth repeating that the level of English in Sweden is superb.
There are other things such as the food and overall culture that you should anticipate to be different to what you’re used to. If you’re unfamiliar with the way that Nordic countries operate, you might also struggle to acclimatize to the unified rules that everyone abides by. This is likely to make you feel homesick for a while.
The great news is that these are very common feelings that everyone goes through as they navigate the newness of life once again. You’ll get used to it all and start to soak it all in. Moreover, a country like Sweden will give you the best possible opportunities to enhance your life, so that you’ll seldom focus on the not-so-good things about it.
One thing to keep in mind is that moving to Sweden without a job offer is not the wisest thing that you can do. You’ll realize that life in Sweden is depressing, at least according to some people, when you don’t have the financial support you need to live your life fully.
It’s for this reason that it can be good to line up a job before you move to ensure that you have the means to fully enjoy your new life in Sweden.