Tag: Swedish

Cost Of Living In Sweden – Risk & Reward

When we first heard about the possibility of moving to Sweden, there was a lot of research we needed to do.  One of the main things to look into was the cost of living in Sweden.  It is OK to think you need a certain income coming in, but how would the cost of living in Sweden compare to the cost of living in the UK.  We researched as best we could from a distance, and in a very short space of time.  However, since hitting the ground here (running!!), there are a few things we now know about a lot better, so I thought I would put together some main points and differences about the cost of living in Sweden.

Housing:

There is no doubt about it, you can get a lot more for your money here than back in the UK.  Yes, prices around the main cities can be comparable to ours in the UK, but once you move only a few km’s away from there the prices drop significantly.  Whereas in the UK, you can live a good distance from a main town and still be paying a lot for very little (and yes we did used to live in the south of England so prices were also higher there).  We now live around 15km from a big town with amazing transport links in and out, considering it is a Swedish island too.  We have what can be called a proper garden, not a postage stamp.  This was an amazing bonus point for the cost of living in Sweden, as it was by far our biggest outgoing.

Home Insurance:

This seems to be around double what we would have paid back in the UK for a similar sized home, with contents.  I am not sure if it is because we are living in a wooden house now (the insurance comes complete with free fire extinguisher), but this is a cost that needs to be borne in mind when budgeting.

Groceries:

I have found a weekly shop for 5 people roughly balances out, but if you are big meat eaters you need to budget more for this household expenditure.  We have one vegan in the home and I tend to eat that meal too, and the children get a main meal at school every day, so we do not buy meat so much for everyday use.  Expect to pay double for meat than you would in a standard supermarket in the UK.  Cheese is also another constantly pricey item.  Otherwise most things are comparable in price.  You get the odd randomly higher priced item; raisins, washing powder, and hot chocolate are a few! But generally, our outgoings on food are very similar.  I was pleasantly surprised when we started buying alcohol.  I had thought it would be a lot more than the UK, but it is around the same for a bottle of wine.  Four cans of beer would perhaps work out a pound or two more, but it is not a deal breaker.

Eating Out:

Whilst we don’t really get to do this (I can’t take credit for the photo, that is a friend’s mouth watering meal), it is more expensive.  Two coffees, a hot chocolate, and 2 small pieces of cake will easily set you back over 200 SEK (around £20), while a meal out will be similar in comparison.  Thank heavens McDonald’s and IKEA compare similarly!!  So you can always downgrade to those options, although I do love a good meal at IKEA!!  As for drinks, you can easily pay double for a glass of wine or a pint (half litre!) of beer.

Cost of Running A Car:

We have a Volvo V70 (yes I know, very Swedish, but we were limited with options as we had to fit three car seats across the back seat).  The cost of buying this was similar to if we had bought one in the UK the same age etc, and insuring it is similar too.  Here though you insure the vehicle (so anyone qualified can drive it), rather than a person.  You also mustn’t forget to include your wild animal cover for those deer and elks that like to give you heart failure as you are driving along.  Fuel is also about the same price as well.

Utility Bills:

We are paying a little more over the course of a year for electricity than we did in the UK for both electricity and gas, we only use electricity here.  Bear in mind though it is on 24/7 over the Swedish winter, whereas in the UK we got away with a couple of hours twice a day.  Water costs are about the same, but what is significantly cheaper is everything that comes under the title “council tax” in the UK.  We pay for bins separately and you chose a plan that suits you and your rubbish production.  We are a family of five and have alternate week collections for food and combustible waste. Similar to UK and costs around £20/month.  Everything else (cardboard, metal, plastic, glass etc) we take to the recycling places which are found all over the place. Our nearest is about a 5 minute walk, or no time at all in the car.  Don’t think big recycling centres like in the UK (“the tip”), think a group of metal skips like bottle banks, that you just pull up, sort, and go again.  The rest of our home tax is around £48/month compared to over £170/month for our council tax in the UK.

Public Transport:

Dadda uses the busses daily for his commute into town about 15km away.  He pays £60/month for his travel card for busses that turn up on time, for a regional area for up to around 25km radius away from the main town, for as much travel as he wants (or anybody else, as anyone can use the card), and up to two children under 7 go free with a paying adult.  It is also very reliable.

Children’s Activities:

This was a big outgoing for us in the UK having 3 children.  We don’t over schedule them, but we insist on swimming lessons. Then if there is something they want to do, we let them within reason.  Swimming is hard to compare as the lessons here are 40 minutes, plus our older one can actually attend twice a week if she wanted to.  It averages out to not being too much more than we were paying in the UK.  Our little lady is a member of the (sea) Scouts here and her scouting membership is around £32 for the year.  Back in the UK we paying around £24 for a term for Brownies.  We pay £40/year each for the boys to do a local gymnastic class, plus twin 1 does an hour of football a week too for that price.  Twin 2 could, but he chooses not to.  It is a pass to do whatever is on offer.  The little lady’s modern/jazz dance class works out a lot cheaper….half the price of what we paid in the UK, which was around average price there. But when she and twin 1 did do ballet that was at least double.  So, it can depend on what your child enjoys, but on average it is comparable to the UK and not a shock to the system when you move.

I hope this little insight into the cost of living in Sweden has been helpful if you are thinking about moving abroad. If not, it may have been fun to have a little nosy at how we have found it!  If you are thinking of moving abroad, but not to Sweden, I hope it can give you some direction to research in terms of budgeting.  It was so hard to get a picture of what the cost of living in Sweden would be before we moved.

Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are about the cost of living in Sweden, especially if you have moved here too, and let me know if there is anything you have found living here 🙂

The cost of living in Sweden, Sweden cost of living, Cost of moving abroad, cost of living abroad, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

A Swedish Christmas – Learn How To Do Christmas Like a Swede

The Swede’s have no shortage of Christmas traditions, and living here we have been more than happy to embrace them, and mix them in with our British ones, for a multicultural Christmas celebration.  I’m going to share with you my top 13 Swedish Christmas Traditions.  Sit back and enjoy, and you never know, you may want to adopt a few for your family this year 🙂

My 13 Favourite Swedish Christmas Traditions:

  1. Outdoor lights:  These go up very early, and are put away a month or so into the New Year, well after the Christmas decorations have come down.  In fact last year we were getting a little nervous and kept checking out of our windows to see if others still had them on display.  The twelfth night of Christmas came and went and we worried about bad luck coming on our household!!  We needn’t have worried, we seem to have been OK!  It is a tradition used more to brighten up the long dark winter and they are on display for a a good few months.
  2. Candle Lights:  Again, these tend to go up at the same time as the outdoor lights, and again we have learnt that they stay up many weeks after Christmas.  You need to have a set in every possible window, and when we arrived from England with only one set, we very quickly bought up a supply, and now we are the proud owners of 5 sets 🙂 Heaven knows where I’ll put them all if we ever return to the UK!!!  It really is beautiful though to see.  Offices and schools do this too in every window and it all looks so cosy up at school at the moment.  Driving through town it is lit up with everyone’s candle lights in the offices and flats.
  3. Star Lights:  Staying with lights (are you spotting a common theme here?!), having oversized star lights hanging or as lamps in your windows is an absolute must too.  We had one when we arrived, and again that is just not enough.  We are now the proud owners of 4 hanging stars and one star lamp.  If I do return to the UK I think our home might be mistaken for the Nativity Stable by the locals unused to the sheer size and volume of star lights!!
  4. Christmas Eve:  The main festivities take place on Christmas Eve here.  We have a really lovely balance I think in our family.  We attend the Christmas Eve service at the island’s church late morning, followed by a mid afternoon huge Christmas meal.  Then after which our children open their “Norwegian” gifts (my side of the family has Norwegian background, and like Sweden they celebrate on Christmas Eve, so I have grown up opening my Norwegian gifts on Christmas Eve too).  Then on Christmas morning they will open their gifts from Father Christmas, and then in the afternoon their “English” Christmas gifts.  It allows us to pace the excitement a little too.
  5. Christmas Day Smörgås:  Just in case you are not stuffed full enough after the Christmas Eve celebrations, there’s a loaded table of cold fish, meats, and cheeses to attack on Christmas Day…..so gear yourself up for it (actually last year we all skipped breakfast and just had everything out all day and came and went as we pleased, around playing with Play-Doh and constructing a gazillion Lego gifts).
  6. Tomtar:  These lovely little men are all around you at Christmas here.  I have grown up used to the Norwegian version (nisse), but living in a country where I can now freely get hold of tomte things (serviettes, cloths, towels etc and of course little tomte themselves) still hasn’t quite hit home, and every time I come back from shopping we have another one added to our collection!!  Our little lady has started rolling her eyes at me every time she spots a new one perched somewhere….I know I probably need help but they are lovely 🙂  I think we have more than enough for our Swedish Christmas.
  7. Pepparkakor:  These delicious thin biscuits are indeed a must for every day in December.  Children’s swimming classes end….every one gets out the pool and dripping wet are served pepparkakor and coffee to celebrate. Visitors over…..serve pepparkakor with mulled wine. Watch the children for their little Christmas concert….your picnic basket better contain pepparkakor. Scouts’ Christmas party…..pepparkakor.  It’s the winter equivalent of korv med bröd (refer to my post about 15 things I have learnt living here)
  8. Glögg:  This is another essential throughout the month of December to get you in the festive mood, and we go through gallons!  It is perfect after a freezing afternoon hike in the Swedish outdoors, or on returning from an afternoon sledging.  We have had no problem at all adopting this tradition.
  9. Julmust:  This is a very sweet drink…think Coke, then think sweeter still! In fact, I can feel my teeth wanting to fall out when I drink it!  It is only available for the Swedish Christmas time (oh and Easter when it is the same drink but sold as Påskmust) and it is the non alcoholic Christmas drink for the little people (or those driving).  I do serve my trio this, but I have to say I cringe inwardly every time I do, thinking of the poor dentist!
  10. Risgrynsgröt (Rice Pudding):  No figgy pudding in this house now, it’s rice pudding with either jam or cinnamon and sugar on (or everything on!).  Extremely filling and sold in what looks like plastic white sausages!!
  11. Kalle Anka (Donald Duck):  On the 24th every Swedish household comes to a stand still to watch Donald Duck….since 1959!!  In fact it is so ingrained in their culture, whole Swedish Christmas festivities are planned around this TV broadcast.
  12. 20 Days Of Christmas:  It’s not 12 days of Christmas here, but there are 20 days to a Swedish Christmas…oh yes you need to be sweeping up those pine needles for quite a bit longer here in Sweden than in the UK.  Right up until the 13th January…then remember don’t put any lights away, they still stay out!!! (see points 1,2, and 3).
  13. Christmas Tree Throwing:  And finally when you do take the Christmas tree down, you are supposed to fling open a window and throw it out as a tradition……however, these days it is more common to see it being driven to the recycling centre to avoid being accused of littering!!

I hope you have enjoyed my little insight into some Swedish Christmas traditions, and if you decide to adopt some in your home make sure you let me know which ones in the comments below.  Have a great Christmas and don’t forget to follow us on all our adventures on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest too 🙂

God Jul och Gott Nytt År

A Swedish Christmas -Learn How To Do Christmas Like A Swede, God Jul, Sweden, Swedish Christmas, Sweden Winter, Christmas, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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