Moving To Sweden – Tips For Your Arrival

We were very lucky when we moved, Dadda had been in the country for 8 weeks before I and the three children arrived in Sweden.  This was due to the time it took us to find, purchase, and move into a house.  However, if he hadn’t been our “advanced party” a few things may have tripped us up moving to Sweden.  However, with no children or family logistics to distract him, Dadda was able to get himself sorted out, get paperwork done, find out what needed to be done, and settle into a new country, before the rest of us landed and we needed help.  He sussed out what was needed to be done ready for us.

Photograph: Sonia Cave

So what would be my top tips for moving to Sweden?

Get A Personal Number ASAP:

This is your top priority when moving to Sweden.  It really is a magic number that is the key to unlocking your life in Sweden.  Without it you can’t get a bank account, library card, supermarket membership (even for self scanning), the list goes on….

Sit Back And Wait:

Be prepared for things to take time, from paperwork to home WiFi being installed.  Nothing is done in a rush here, and as frustrating as that can seem when you are still waiting for Försäkringskassan to sort out your child benefit payments a year after your move (they prefer to write a letter to you and send it via Swedish snail mail when they hit a snag), you need to accept this pace of life with good grace, and plan for it 🙂

Photograph: Sonia Cave

Don’t Plan To Get Things Done In The Summer:

Sweden is on holiday in the summer.  Yes, that is right, the whole of Sweden (or so it seems when you trying to get things done).  One reason for moving here was the Swedish work/life balance, but when the full force of this hits you during an international move/immigration process, it can be a little frustrating.  Dadda arrived in Sweden in the middle of August.  He needed to make his arrival in Sweden official, settle into a new job, look for a house, and buy one, sort out purchasing a family car…..and everything else that goes along with all that.  However, during the summer months it is very hard to pin anyone down due to the fact that they are far too busy enjoying the Swedish summer months….fair enough, the summer life is fabulous here, but just don’t try and do your moving to Sweden then 🙂

Be Punctual:

We are English, we need to arrive 5 minutes before an appointment time or if we are meeting someone, it is polite.  It’s bred into us English people that that is the right behaviour.  Or if like me and you have three small children to drag out the house, you are always running, stressed, and late!  Either way, that is not Swedish.  In Sweden, there is a time for something, and you arrive bang on that time.  We once were viewing a house and had arrived 5 minutes early.  We looked around the property a little confused as to why no one was here from the estate agents.  Then, bang on the allotted time, a deluge of cars arrived, both other prospective buyers and the agent.

Photograph: Sonia Cave

Sign Up For Supermarket Membership:

Obviously this is only after you have your personal number!!  See the first point made.  In the UK, you load your shopping onto a lovely long conveyor belt, wait your turn, then pack it up as it is gently passed down the other end, and then you pay.  Moving to Sweden, I suddenly found the whole packing a weekly food shop up for a family of 5 very stressful.  You can only load a small amount of shopping as the conveyor belt is very short.  This means that you have to keep loading it on, while it is being whizzed through by the cashier.  You don’t get a chance to pack anything before you must pay.  A barrier goes down so the next person’s food goes off down a different lane.  However, in the blink of an eye, their transaction is done, while your food is still needing to be packed and getting so squished as the conveyor belt is still moving everything to the other end in one big pile (handy tip….never put eggs, biscuits, cereal, or milk through first!!).  You now get all hot, sweaty, and stressed as the barrier lifts and the next person’s shopping hurtles towards yours! In short, get membership, get scanning as you go along, and make the food shop a lot easier to deal with 🙂

Embrace The Sauna:

These delights are everywhere, and you need to leave time to use them.  After going swimming you will head into your changing room (male or female), to be faced with everyone casually sitting naked in the sauna, drying after their shower…..mind boggling for a reserved Brit!  You will discover saunas floating in the fjord, so you can leap right into the fresh water afterwards.  You will wander round your little Swedish island discovering them in all shapes and sizes in gardens.

I hope, if you’re thinking of moving to Sweden you will find these tips helpful (if you have already moved you may have experienced them).  If you are not moving to Sweden, I am hoping you will have gained a little insight into what it is like to move abroad!  If you like my photos of Sweden in this post, hop over to Instagram where you can view more photos of  beautiful Sweden 🙂

Click here if you want to read more about moving and living in Sweden.

Moving to Sweden, living in Sweden, Moving abroad, living abroad, Sweden,

Photograph: Sonia Cave

I have had a similar article published by the and it can be found by clicking on the following link 🙂


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  1. Wow arriving bang on time…that is hard! I am very English in that way of arriving 5 minutes before. Great tips and also interesting to know how other countries do things.

  2. I had no idea you needed a personal number for so many things, and that supermarket trip would have caused me to be super stressed as well x
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  3. Oh I always arrive early for appointments so I’d have to wait in the car. I hate being rushed or late so this seems the perfect place for me although I think the language would be a challenge.

  4. So interesting finding out how different some things are! I’m not sure I would cope with the supermarket stress lol. Also I always arrive early for appointments so that probably would need to change! x

  5. I could have written a very similar post. In Portugal you need a fiscal number before you can do ANYTHING. It’s needed to open bank accounts, pay for large items like washing machines, to tax your car, EVERYTHING. And the Portuguese are on what we call “amenable” time. Tomorrow time. It seems to take twice as long for anything to get done down here. And August is shutdown for pretty much everything too!
    Cath – BattleMum recently posted…Hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View RanchMy Profile

    • I can sympathise!! Once settled you can enjoy the long summer as we did in 2017, but when you are trying to move it is so frustrating at times!

  6. Fantastic tips – I would absolutely love to visit Sweden, as it looks like such a beautiful place 🙂
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  7. Wow, it sounds so different and a lot to prepare. The shopping does sound stressful. I hope you’re all sorted now. We want to visit Sweden for a few weeks soon, so I’ll keep my eye on your blog for other recommendations about the beautiful country. xx
    Chloe Ciliberto recently posted…10 CHORES FOR A 3 YEAR OLDMy Profile

    • Summer is great here and I recommend somewhere near water (not hard) so you can enjoy the Swedish summer lifestyle!!

  8. When I first visited Stockholm I loved the slow pace of everything, nothing was rushed which was bliss for me to be honest. Useful tips here
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  9. It sounds like a real learning curve but the way of life really appeals to me and the scenery is truly stunning
    Kara recently posted…Never be without charge with the VARTA Slim Power BankMy Profile

  10. Wow a completely different culture. Sounds interesting.

  11. John

    This blog took me right back to my days living in Stockholm. I loved that bit about shopping. For a country where the pace of life is slower than it is here in the UK I found it strange that the supermarket checkouts seemed geared to getting as many processed as quickly as possible!
    I also noticed how staff arrive dead on their start time and one can get carried on the wave of humanity as they all leave dead on the dot!
    I got caught out a few times by not having a personnel number but Stockholm seemed more geared up to dealing with ‘tourists’.
    Your blog in a year might be enlightening.
    Thanks for your blogs; keep them coming.
    J xx

    • I am glad you could see the same as us!! Thankyou for enjoying them too 🙂 The shopping really stressed me out as I hate it to start with so only ever do it once a week so for a family of 5 it is HUGE!! We have been out enjoying our snow today 🙂

  12. It’s such an adventure moving countries! We moved from Scotland to Germany six years ago, and last year we moved back again.
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  13. This gives a great insite into moving! I thought that with the supermarket when we were there!
    Stephanie recently posted…How To Make Getting Outdoors Easier With Children My Profile

  14. Wow it really does sound like a totally different way of living, I think I would find it hard!

  15. Moving to Sweden seems like an awesome idea, Sonia! I wish you all the luck in the world. These tips are so practical and useful.

  16. Hey, I’ve been following your blog for a while and love it
    What I would like to ask is how you broke it to your family that you were moving away.
    We have been talking about moving away, then talking ourselves out of it for over a year now.
    My biggest worry is the children copping as well as telling my family. We are not looking to move abroad but we are looking to move from one side of the uk to the other.
    Not the greatest distance in the world but still nonetheless a distance that will cause great upset amongst some family members. And it’s this that I think truly puts me off – the fear of upsetting others.
    So am just curious if and how you dealt with this?

    • Thankyou for reading and I am glad you enjoy it 🙂 We were really open and honest from the start of our plans (10-15 years ago and before children) that we wanted to live in Scandinavia. However, the right opportunity (job) never came along and time went by. Hubby still had interviews etc and fly off for them, so it was always in the back of everyone’s minds that we were still interested in doing this. Then three children came along, and though people still knew we wanted to move I think they thought it would never happen. I was always up front and told them whenever he was off on a job interview. The actual process happened very fast in the end (about 2 weeks from application to signing the contract) and I think it did take everyone by surprise, but we had planted the seeds in their minds many years before. Yes they were upset, but they it wasn’t a bolt out the blue. My mother grew up in Norway and moved to the UK when she married my father (over 40 years ago), and I spent summers driving across europe up to Norway to see my grandparents and family, so whilst it is sad for them we are not in the UK, this way of living is not new to them. My hubby’s parents have not had this before, but have been very game flying out to us for stays (roughly every 6 months) and we fly home at the moment about once a year and descend on them!! There is no easy way not to upset people, but we didn’t want a life of what if’s or regrets. Even if this didn’t work out at least we had given it a go. Family and friends now use us as an excuse to have a break over in Sweden, and we have had so many guests,at times it feels more like a hotel!! If this is something you truly want for you and your family, my advice would be to go for it. We had a lot of unknowns, and were risking a lot, but there has definitely been no regrets at doing it, even if we ever head back to the UK. I’ve written a post on expat grief too which may be helpful, and we still have periods of sadness that we work through and things we miss, but on the whole everyone is happy here after the big move and the children have coped so well (they were 8,4,& 4 when we did it). Feel free to ask any questions and I hope that is of some use…..!!!

  17. Wow that is so interesting about the personal number!! I think they should do that in more countries!

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