Are you thinking about working and living in Stockholm, Sweden? If the answer is yes, don’t miss the following interview.
My name is Mayela and I come from México. I am 25 years old and I´m currently a masters student in Stockholm, Sweden.
Why to move to Stockholm, Sweden?
I decided to move to Stockholm, Sweden because I wanted to study a masters in the sustainability field as I am an environmental engineer. Why I picked to move here? Because Sweden it is recognized as one of the most sustainable countries in the world and I thought what better place to learn about sustainability than here! I moved here at the end of the summer of 2020, so I´ve been here for a little bit over half a year.
Living in Stockholm, Sweden: procedures for non-EU citizens
The first thing I had to do in order to move here was apply for the master I wanted in the Sweden´s official admissions website. After being accepted, I applied for housing at my university´s website. They provide a one-year housing contract in different types of accommodations like student rooms, shared apartments and studios (note: this is only offered to non-EU students). Then, I started the procedure to obtain a residence permit for studies. This permit allows you to study and work in Sweden.
I had to submit my acceptance letter, passport and proof that I would be able to support myself financially for the period of the permit, which can be 1 or two years. All this through the migrations office (migrationsverket) webpage. When granted, I got a residence permit card at Sweden´s embassy in Mexico. It waited around 10 weeks from the start until I got the card so I would suggest starting the application as soon as possible!
What is Swedish culture like?
I come from a Latin American country, therefore I am used to the warmth, not only weather wise, but the warmth in the people. In Sweden, people are way much reserved. They won´t sit next to you in the subway unless there´s no other option, and they don´t usually engage in small talk. But don´t get me wrong, they are extremely polite and nice! For them, personal space is a sign of respect. And a funny thing is that they always take off their shoes when inside. In Mexico your mom would call you out for being barefoot inside the house but here it is mandatory, so don´t forget to wear your funny socks!
Can you live in Sweden without knowing Swedish?
I would say that around 95% of the population speaks English, so you don´t need Swedish to move around. But it is definitely helpful to learn because all the public signs, grocery stores, public transport is in Swedish. Also, while searching for a job really makes a difference is you know Swedish cause a lot of jobs have it as a requisite.
Living in Stockholm: jobs
I haven´t had the opportunity of working here yet, but I know that there is a big difference in the work culture regarding vacation time, working schedules and salaries! In México you get around one week of paid vacations the first year you start working, and here you get 5. And something very outstanding is that here they respect a lot their free time. It is very hard to see a swede working outside their working hours or weekends. And the summertime is holy for them! So, everyone uses their vacation days then.
Where to look for a job in Sweden?
Prices to live in Stockholm, Sweden
The price range of rooms and apartments is very wide. I rent a 18m2 student room with a private bathroom and shared kitchen and the rent is around 3 700sek (364€), I would say that is the cheapest option available. There´s shared apartments at around 7 000sek (688€) per room or entire apartments for (982€) 10 000sek (this are the prices my friends pay, but I´m sure they´re not the only options). Also, a pro tip is that the further away you are from the city center prices can go down by a lot!
How much does it cost to live in Sweden?
According to the migrations office (migrationsverket) in order to get a residence permit the support requirement is a minimum of 8 568sek (842€) per month. But if you know how to use your money wisely you can live with less than that.
Pros and cons of living in Stockholm, Sweden
As a student I don´t have to pay taxes, but it is known that the taxes here are pretty high. But education (in all levels) and healthcare are free, so it is clear that the tax money comes back to the residents in those facilities.
What do you miss the most about your country?
Of course what I miss the most is my family and friends. But thankfully we live in a world where I am able to talk to them quite often through social media and videocalls. And the food! Corn tortillas, mexican beans, chilaquiles, and spicy candies and salsas are the things I miss the most.
Moving to Sweden: tips and future plans
- Do you plan to stay there for a long time? Would you recommend this country to live? I would love to stay here long term! Specially as a woman, Sweden has been a country where I found the strongest gender equality and safety.
- But I am not sure if it is for everyone though, mainly because of the harsh winter with a noticeable lack of sun. If you are fine with that, I would totally recommend the experience! Even if it is for a short period, summer-fall were my personal favorites.
- And for those that would like to move in Sweden, do you have any particular advice? Start learning Swedish in advance, bring super warm weatherproof clothing and start any type of bureaucratic process as soon as you can!
- could you tell us what will be your next project/destination? I still have a year and a half to go before I graduate, but my ideal future plans include finding a job and starting a life here in Sweden!
In short, if you’re looking for a safe country, with good jobs conditions and you like the cold, then Sweden is your destination.
To read more experiences in Scandinavia, I recommend you to take a look to the article “living in Denmark“.
Interview conducted in March 2021 with @mexicaninsweden