How I became a surf blogger in Sweden

Surf's up with The Local's Swedish Career chat this week. We've taken a turn from the norm and talked to John Brodie who's kicking off what looks like a promising career in surf writing.

How I became a surf blogger in Sweden
John Brodie's back. Photo: Private
Like many other expats in Sweden, Brodie came to Sweden for the love of a Swede – a woman he'd been with for three years. But just weeks after he moved to Stockholm in March, the tide took an unexpected change.
"We kinda split up. We parted ways," he tells The Local. 
"I hopped on a train to Gothenburg with a small duffel bag, a good pair of shoes, and nothing to lose."
There, he found a job the very next day after contacting an interior design company.
Photo: John Brodie 
"I got that job through Instagram actually," he says with a laugh. "One of the guys there was an artist from the US, I ended up shooting him an email, and blah blah blah – they brought me on board."
Brodie's carefree and laidback approach resulted in another life-changing career move this month. He was set to start a job as an international account manager of a Stockholm company, but he smelled adventure through his surf blogging.
"My writing really took off in the past two weeks. It's been an overnight success, it was really unexpected," he explains. "So I decided to pursue that instead. I called my boss and told him I wouldn't come in on Monday."
The writing began after Brodie pretended to be a journalist to get on a Stockholm winter surf trip. He saved the story until the summer, and it was published on various sites around the world. 
Keen readers flocked to his blog, and soon offers came in to travel the world and write about surfing.
Photo: John Brodie
The 25-year-old was most recently offered sponsorship by the Scandinavian arm of Reef, a US surfing outfit, and has plans to visit Maine in the US and Cornwall in the UK soon.
As for his approach to the Swedes, Brodie doesn't offer advice, but admits he's taken an unusual approach. 
"Everything I've done here has been backwards, against the grain. Sweden has a very structured culture, but where I grew up in Silicon Valley, when Facebook, Google and Yahoo were starting to go crazy – there, you take your own path until people say 'What the hell are you doing?'," he says.
And those with standard Swedish structured careers are still getting their heads around his waif-like life. 
"I think it's a big culture clash. My Swedish friends don't understand me, but when I choose something, I always give it 100 percent. And whenever I think of settling down I get that urge inside of me again that wants to explore."
Photo: John Brodie

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.”