Northern Sweden hails Russian ‘invasion’

Sorsele municipality, in northern Sweden, are overjoyed in the continued interest in the area, after receiving over 900 applications from enthusiastic Russian families keen to move there.

Northern Sweden hails Russian 'invasion'

”I think it is very positive for Sorsele. We have been placed on the Russian map. There’s been a show about us and our idea on Russian television. Any publicity is good for us,” said the local council head Göran Wikström to Sveriges Television (SVT).

The enormous success of the drive so far has lead to nearby municipalities Malå, Storuman, Vilhelmina, Dorotea, Åsele, Norsjö and Lycksele to follow suit, according to SVT.

As The Local reported in 2010, within the next five or six years, over 350 locally employed public sector employees will retire from Sorsele municipality, in the county of Västerbotten.

That’s 30 percent of their workforce and it was feared that Sorsele wouldn’t be able to find anyone to fill the positions.

The local authorities therefore decided to market themselves to their Russian neighbours, with the aim of boosting dwindling population figures and to ensure an influx of foreign labour.

However, there is no guarantee that the job openings will be filled by the Russians. According to Wikström, they will be competing about the jobs with everyone else.

As part of the project, which will cost about six million kronor ($891,000), the idea is that the Russians would learn Swedish before their arrival to Sweden.

The council is hoping for funding from the EU. According to them, there’s plenty of housing but fewer jobs.

So far, the council reports a massive interest.

And according to the local authorities, among the 900 applicants are doctors, teachers, veterinary surgeons and engineers.

Despite one aim of the project being boosting population figures, Wikström told SVT that it isn’t necessarily women of child bearing age that they especially welcome.

”Absolutely not. We want whole families with children as every community need young people,” said Wikström to SVT.

However, local authorities stressed that money from the EU is essential to make the project work.

The first Russians could then be arriving in the county of Västerbotten in a year’s time.

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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.”