• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Sweden 'worst country' for making friends
Is it difficult to make friends with Swedes? Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden 'worst country' for making friends

Emma Löfgren · 23 Sep 2015, 15:37

Published: 23 Sep 2015 15:37 GMT+02:00

The expat quality of life survey published by HSBC on Wednesday names Sweden as top country in Europe and third best in the world, just behind Singapore and New Zealand.

But while the Nordic nation scores highly in areas such as its famous work-life balance, job security, health, generous childcare and quality of family life, Sweden fails spectacularly when it comes to being a good place in which to strike up new friendships.

Based on interviews with over 21,000 expats in 39 countries, the nation manages to scrape only a 36th spot for 'social life' and an abysmal last place for 'making friends'.

Swedes are polite, but they don't do small talk. And while they may appear reserved, they're usually just respecting your privacy. Once you've made local friends, you'll find them loyal and warm,” explains the survey.

It is not an uncommon feeling. While The Local often hears expat readers describe Swedes as warm and genuine friends once you get to know them, the way to their hearts can sometimes feel as long, dark and cold as the Nordic winters.

DEBATE: 'Swedes make great friends but terrible strangers'

Business analyst James Jensen, 26, runs a hangout group on the Meetup.com social website in his spare time for twenty-somethings wanting to meet new people in the capital.

One of the problems, he says, is that it is difficult for foreigners to break into long-standing social networks of old high school friends. But the Australian mainly puts the issue down to the Swedes' inexperience in the art of making small talk with strangers.

I can tell that they really want to learn, but they were never taught how to do it. When people find out I'm Australian they try to make small talk with me, but they really struggle. They speak good English, it's just that they don't know what to say,” he explains with affection.


Australian expat James Jensen now has plenty of friends in Sweden. Photo: Private

Jensen moved to Stockholm from Australia a year ago and emphasizes that he loves his new home.

It's one of the best places to live, that's why I came here. But in Australia you can go up to anyone in a bar and start a conversation – you don't do that in Sweden. It's very hard on a social level when you arrive in a country for the first time,” he says.

Marco Forzati, 40, who came to Sweden from Italy 15 years ago, is the founder of the startup Time Village. It is technically a time-sharing project which allows members to connect online and share skills and interests in real life, but he says many also use it to make friends.

It's interesting to see how the way people meet is changing with groups like Meetup.com and Facebook. It was a bit more difficult when I came here; people were going to Swedish classes to meet new people,” he says.

Story continues below…


Marco Forzati (second from left) at a Time Village event in Hornstull, Stockholm. Photo: Private

Forzati himself arrived as a university student and admits he therefore had an easier ride with a natural social network of classmates right from the start. But he insists that Swedes should not be seen anti-social, just different. And he would advise fellow foreigners to be patient.

You take the time to get to know someone and it goes very slowly. But I've heard a lot of people say that if you become friends with a Swede you have a friend for life, and actually that's true. If I need help I know that I can call one of my Swedish friends and even if we haven't spoken for a year they will be there for me.”

Interestingly, while the HSBC survey names Sweden as the worst place for making friends, it is among the best for finding love. A total of 39 percent of expat respondents found their long-term partner after moving to the Nordic country.

That doesn't surprise me. It goes back to the idea that you view friendship as a long-term investment the same way you do when you try to find a partner. Once you find someone you stick to them,” says Forzati.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Löfgren (emma.lofgren@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Top Swedish businesswomen slam boardroom quota plan
Antonia Ax:son Johnson opposes the plan. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

It's a slippery slope, they say.

What's on in Sweden
Five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm
A ghost walk in Gamla Stan is one way to kick off July in Stockholm. Photo: Jeppe Wikström/Visit Stockholm

From Vikings to ghosts, music and more: The Local looks at five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm.

In pictures: Eight cool compact Scandinavian houses
Houzz.se editor Sara Norrman rounds up some neat but great Scandinavian houses. Photo: Sommarnöjen

Size isn't everything, and Houzz.se's editor in chief Sara Norrman proves it with this looks at nine brilliant uses of compact Scandinavian houses.

Brexit and the growing digital divide
A business meeting at Artipelag in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com

Modern tech hubs like Stockholm are thriving while smaller regions struggle. We need to close this gap and we need to do it quickly, argues Leif Rehnström, CEO of the Skellefteå-based Hello Future!

Brexit vote
'Brexit is an opportunity for businesses in Stockholm'
Could London's pain be Stockholm's gain post Brexit? Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/TT

The Local speaks to British business owners in Sweden about how they think the Brexit vote will impact their work.

Swedish police to hand out anti-groping armbands
A boy and a girl wearing the armbands. Photo: Swedish police

Swedish police have launched a campaign aimed at curbing sexual harassment among young people.

Use it or lose it: Swedish banknotes expire this week
The notes in question. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Make sure you don't forget to spend your old Swedish 20, 50 and 1,000 kronor notes, which will no longer be legal tender by the end of the week.

Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
York from above. Photo: Peter Czerwinski

The woman was told to go back to her own country after she was heard speaking Swedish to her children.

Meat-free days soaring in Swedish schools
Meat-free days are up by as much as 80 percent in Swedish schools. Photo: Lunds Universitet/TT

The number of Swedish schools ditching meat has grown significantly according to a study of municipal environmental credentials by a sustainability magazine.

Why these recalled Ikea drawers ‘can result in death’
Ikea demonstrates the potential danger at a news conference in Washington. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP/TT

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said on Tuesday that 35 million chests and dresser units recalled in North America can 'result in death or injuries to children' if not properly anchored.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Blog updates

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
3,308
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se