• Sweden edition
Dreams of 'röda stugor' lead to move to Sweden

Dreams of 'röda stugor' lead to move to Sweden

Published: 20 Oct 2010 10:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Oct 2010 10:28 GMT+02:00

The area around Västervik in southeastern Sweden is one part of the country that is attracting many of these migrants. As Sweden grapples with a projected shortage of workers in certain sectors in as little as 10 years when current employees retire, municipalities across the country are racing to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to their communities.

"We see a trend that more people are coming, especially people from other countries in northern Europe: not necessary Scandinavia, but Germany and the Netherlands," says Hanna Hägg of the municipality and immigrant service of Västervik.

She cites the example of Germany's Maren and Fred Ziechmann, who moved to Rumma, 25 km northwest of Västervik, last year to open Björkhyddan, a three-room bed and breakfast and bakery. Although their home is not red, the landscape is dotted with the red cottages and outbuildings of neighbouring farms.

The couple in their 50s, who had previously lived in China and Japan for seven years, initially came to Sweden last year during a five-month, 6,200-km cycling vacation through Norway, Sweden and Finland. They fell in love with Sweden. Returning to Berlin on September 21st, they started looking for houses in Sweden in November and signed a contract the following month.

"Fred and Maren came because they had a busy life with a lot of work. They were looking for nature and less stress and started a business in the countryside outside Västervik. They are good ambassadors for Sweden. Many German tourists come to the region thanks to them," says Hägg.

Hägg points out that while many German and Dutch migrants find house prices affordable in Sweden compared to Germany and the Netherlands, a stronger motivation for moving to Sweden involves leaving behind stressful lives and overpopulated areas.

"We see a lot of people move from the big cities to the countryside. Fred and Maren started the business not necessarily to make a lot of money. They live there and make some money, but it's mostly for the lifestyle - they wanted something different. They have a bakery and are artists as well - they paint beautiful paintings," says Hägg.

Hägg points out that Västervik welcomes migrants like the Ziechmanns with open arms. By living in the countryside, they help to keep services such as buses running in sparsely populated areas.

In addition to couples like the Ziechmanns, who have adult children, Hägg and her other colleagues at other municipalities across Sweden work together to actively recruit families with children to move to their regions. Hägg says young families are attracted to Sweden because of the high quality of life, safe environment for their children and proximity to nature.

Hägg estimates that 900 Dutch immigrants move to Sweden every year and an equal number from Germany. New residents are attracted to the Västervik region because it is close to the sea, which is especially important to Dutch migrants, and the archipelago, which provides a uniquely Swedish landscape.

Like the Ziechmanns, many German migrants are initially tourists and are specifically drawn to Småland, the southern Swedish province in which Västervik is located, due to a love for Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgren's books and stories. The archipelago is also exotic to German visitors to Västervik and the many elks in the area are a big attraction.

What Hägg has found is that similar to the Ziechmanns' story, many tourists come in the summer and ask her about moving to Sweden after returning home.

"It's a decision that takes a lot of time, moving and leaving your safe life to start something new, learning the language, looking for a job, getting the kids into school. A lot of pieces have to fall into place. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes seven to 10 years. Few people just pack their bags and move," says Hägg.

Migrants who come to Västervik tend to find work in their fields or branch out on their own like the Ziechmanns if they prefer to remain independent.

"Entrepreneurs are always good for a country," notes Hägg.

Although Germany and the Netherlands are the current sources of targeted emigration from European countries, Hägg foresees tourists from other densely populated countries that will come calling in the future as well.

"Tourism is the window for people to move to Sweden. They see Sweden when they come as tourists. That's when the seed starts to grow because they like nature and the way Swedish people are. They experience something and they want more than just the tourist part. They start to think, 'This is the place where I want to live,'" observes Hägg.

Related links:

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Getinge Floods
Rain to continue 'all week' as flood worsens
Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

Rain to continue 'all week' as flood worsens

UPDATED: Sweden's weather agency issued a severe weather warning for the extreme rains and flooding in southern Sweden, adding that the rains are likely to continue all week. READ  

Sweden and the Bronx
Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx
The Bronx. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx

What do the Bronx and Sweden have in common? More than an affiliation with the Yankees, it turns out. And one small Swedish town is about to make that abundantly clear. READ  

Bildt: 'We must increase efforts in Iraq'
Bildt in Baghdad on Monday. Photo: Karim Kadim/TT

Bildt: 'We must increase efforts in Iraq'

After meeting with refugees and politicians in Iraq on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Sweden must increase its efforts to help Iraq reach a lasting solution. READ  

Swedes slam 'racist' art show from Denmark
One of the participants in the art project. Photo: Anna Andrea Malzer, Global Stories

Swedes slam 'racist' art show from Denmark

Swedes have gathered in numbers to protest against a Danish "blackface" art show in Malmö, which organizers say is supposed to give "a deeper understanding of discrimination". READ  

Presented by Stockholm School of Economics
Swedish school with executive appeal
Photo: Stockholm School of Economics

Swedish school with executive appeal

More and more executives are combining work with further education, namely an MBA. The Local explains just how the process works at the Stockholm School of Economics with its Executive MBA program. READ  

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

Ever wanted to live in a loft-like apartment on the hip district of Södermalm, with a view like something out of a colourful children's book? Check out The Local's Property of the Week. READ  

Sweden to get 100,000 refugees in 2014: report
Refugees in Iraq. Photo: Khalid Mohammed/TT

Sweden to get 100,000 refugees in 2014: report

UPDATED: Sweden can expect a record-breaking 100,000 refugees to arrive this year, reported Swedish media on Tuesday. The Migration Board said the prognosis was officially 60,000 in July. READ  

Swedish town on alert over toilet invader
The man pictured is not the Bajsmannen. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedish town on alert over toilet invader

A town in central Sweden is on the lookout after a mystery suspect has repeatedly broken into apartments and defecated in their toilets. READ  

Riksbank: We must take action on household debt
Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Riksbank: We must take action on household debt

The Swedish economy is beginning to recover after several difficult years - but the risk for household indebtedness remains high, Swedish Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves warned. READ  

Assange extradition battle
'Assange to stay put until US guarantee': lawyer
Photo: John Stillwell/TT

'Assange to stay put until US guarantee': lawyer

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for rape allegations, has made it clear he will not leave the Ecuador embassy in London until it is guaranteed he will not be extradited to the US. READ  

Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Serial chicken smuggler caught at Norway border. Again.
This gold coin may be the key to solving a Swedish massacre
The Swedish mentor (and why you may need one)
Food agency warns girls: 'Don't eat stinky fish'
Blog updates

17 August

Sea Fever (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as its not something I take any pleasure in writing. After much deliberation I have made the heartbreaking decision to abandon my trip after 1200km due to reoccurring injury. It is not a decision I have made lightly and it is one that has been truly devastating..." READ »


17 August

St. Louis strong (Blogweiser) »

"It’s typically a bad sign when my hometown makes news in Sweden. St. Louis was in the headlines here a few years ago when a tornado struck the airport. The city also caught attention after a politician talked about ‘legitimate rape’. Now, shooting and riots this week in Ferguson, a part of St. Louis, are..." READ »

Reinfeldt calls for tolerance to refugees
People-watching August 16-17
Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace
Top ten literal Swedish words
'Terror training should be illegal': Liberal Party
Swedes talk about 200 years of national peace
Islamic extremist shakes Sweden with TV threat
Teacher fined for 'Hitler salute' in German class
Swedish politician proposes ban on begging
Swede asks for epidural and gets disinfectant
Swede reports 'expensive' sex to police
Sweden plans to scrap SFI for adult education
Kiruna residents talk life in a town on the move
Why is feminism such a hot topic in Sweden?
Swedish dad takes kids to Israel to learn about war
RIP Åle, the world's oldest eel
Introducing: The Swedish crayfish party
Stockholm bus spontaneously combusts
Top five tips for climbing Sweden's tallest mountain
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: