Making it in Sweden: A matchmaking Norwegian

Ellen Cabrinetti from Norway is a relative newcomer to Sweden. But despite the natural sibling rivalry between the two countries, she’s settling in quite nicely.

Making it in Sweden: A matchmaking Norwegian

Name: Ellen Cabrinetti

Age: 27

How long have you been living in Sweden?

I moved to Stockholm in August 2007.

Do you speak perfect Swedish?

Well, I like to think so sometimes! However, the truth is that I have only succeeded in switching an amount of words from Norwegian to Swedish to a point where the Swedes understand me at least 98 percent of the time. Even though the languages are quiet similar and we communicate well, there are times when I know nobody understands my attempt to make a joke.

What do you miss about Norway?

One of the privileges of living abroad but still close to my home country is that I get to see my family and friends more than on holidays. However, one of the things that comes to mind is to be able to go skiing on a snowy mountain less than an hour’s drive from the capital. Besides this, I miss small things like reading a Norwegian newspaper in the morning.

Do you know any good jokes about Norwegians? The Swedes seem to love those.

I am still amused with the jokes featuring “the Swede, the Dane and the Norwegian”. The Norwegians are without exception described as clueless and stupid, people who for example “will bring sandpaper to the desert as a map”.

Tell us a bit about your job.

I work with Parship, which is the largest premium online matchmaking service in Europe specifically for people who are serious about forming a lasting relationship. I work with the online marketing activities Parship carries out in Scandinavia and I also work closely with our media partners. The job doesn’t really have a title, but my area of work revolves around marketing. The job includes quite a lot of travelling to Parship headquarter in Hamburg and Scandinavia.

What’s the best thing about living in Sweden?

Working abroad and living in Stockholm is a new experience for me. I would say the best thing is to spend time and learn new things with my friends and colleagues in a great city that has a lot to offer. I love the pulse of the city, and the fact that you can always see crowded restaurants and cafes any day of the week.

And the worst?

Accepting the fact that when Swedes joke about Norwegian success and happiness, and blame everything on the oil money… they are not really joking.

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”