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PRESENTED BY GLOBAL TALENT GOTHENBURG/WEST SWEDEN

‘Moving to Gothenburg gave me the ultimate work-life balance’

Forest strolls. Seaside vistas. And a job at Volvo Cars. Learn how one woman moved with her family to Gothenburg and why stories like hers are becoming increasingly common in west Sweden.

'Moving to Gothenburg gave me the ultimate work-life balance'
Laura Albregts and her family near Gothenburg. Photo: Oskar Allerby Photographer

Enticed by fresh opportunities and a sense of adventure, Laura Albregts moved from Amsterdam in 2014 with her husband and two young boys for a new life near Gothenburg.

And nearly three years after making the life-changing decision, Laura has no regrets about making her home on Sweden’s west coast.

“The work-life balance is really hard to beat. Things are flexible in a way that allows you to spend time with family and pursue your career,” she tells The Local.

Hearing Laura tell the story of her family’s move, it almost feels like relocating to Gothenburg was written in the stars long before the day she and her husband actually decided to make the move.

Laura Albregts near her Gothenburg-area home. Photo: Oskar Allerby Photographer

Both of them worked for companies with roots in Sweden – he for Swedish security company Gunnebo; she for AzkoNobel, the Dutch chemicals giant that still bears the name of the 19th century Swedish industrialist behind the Nobel Prize. 

As a result, Gothenburg was more than a faraway dot on the map. 

“We knew the city from a sightseeing perspective – we’d been out in the archipelago and taken day trips in the region,” Laura explains.

Learn more at MoveToGothenburg.com

But after the birth of their second child, the family yearned for more space than was available in crowded Amsterdam. And when a job opportunity in Gothenburg emerged for her husband, it didn’t take long before Laura and her family set their sights on Sweden.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What are we going to do next?’ And eventually decided, why not. The kids are small. This is the time for an adventure,” she recalls.

Finding home, sweet home

Despite a scouting trip and placing ads in a range of local newspapers, finding a place to live wasn’t as simple as Laura expected.

“That was probably the biggest hurdle, to be honest. For one, we didn’t know about Blocket,” she explains, referring to the popular Swedish buy-sell site which also features rentals and real estate listings.

Ultimately, Laura and her husband decided to buy a home rather than bother with the hassle of renting. “It feels like we’ve made a bigger commitment to the area, like we’re more rooted. I think it will be a good choice in the long-run. We feel like we can make our home our own,” she says of the family home, located in Stenungsund, located about 50 kilometres north of central Gothenburg.

Family first

At first Laura planned to continue working at a distance for AzkoNobel, but eventually decided to leave her job and go ‘all to build a full life based in west Sweden.

“This was our adventure and I wanted to both spend time helping our children adjust and learning the language,” she says.

With their home and one career sorted, Laura’s next task in the autumn of 2014 was finding a preschool for her children, aged two and three at the time. 

“It took some time to figure out who to talk to, but after we got in touch with the municipality, things moved pretty fast,” she recalls. 

Laura Albregts enjoys more time with family since her move to Gothenburg. Photo: Oskar Allerby Photographer 

She thinks the process would probably go even faster today, thanks to MovetoGothenburg.com, a new online portal and associated LinkedIn page that provides foreign talents with a wealth of practical information and networking opportunities related to relocating and settling in Gothenburg and West Sweden. 

“The site looks great and has all of the practical information gathered in one place. It would have been really helpful for us,” says Laura.

Of course, no website can alleviate certain challenges that come with moving abroad – like the “shock” for Dutch-speaking kids entering a Swedish-speaking school.

“It was tricky at first, but six months later they were speaking Swedish better than me,” Laura says with a laugh.

A new career

Indeed, life was moving in the right direction for Laura and her family – but the question of her own career remained unanswered. While comfortable with her decision to focus on her kids and learning Swedish, the thought of facing a second winter without the structure and stimulation of a job spurred Laura to action.

“I’d been looking passively, sending out the occasional CV in English, but after a year I decided it was time to get organized,” she recalls.

However, the task was “harder than expected” as Laura learned some of the subtle differences in marketing yourself “the Swedish way”.

“It wasn’t so much about selling your skills, but demonstrating that you could fit in and be a part of the culture,” she explains. “And learning Swedish was also really important – that helped open a lot of doors.”

Connect with Global Talent Gothenburg/West Sweden on LinkedIn

Laura turned to the friends and connections she’s made in the area, many of whom invited her into their networks and workplaces. As luck would have it, she stumbled across an online advert for an opening at Volvo Cars that was a great match.

Not wanting to let the opportunity slip away, Laura turned to the network she’d built up over the previous year – which included a few people who worked in HR and could coach her through the application process.

“In the end, I actually had interviews with four different companies, but Volvo felt like the best fit,” she says of the job, which she started in January 2016.

The ultimate work-life balance

Overall, Laura couldn’t be happier with the new life she and her family have created for themselves in west Sweden. And while there were a bumps along the way, that’s all part of the “adventure”.

“If you are a family with small children – take the plunge! The transition provided me with a chance to spend more time with my kids and learn the language,” she says.

And Laura still marvels at the range of things to do in and around Gothenburg.

Gothenburg offers big-city options with a small town feel, according to Laura Albregts. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se 

“Gothenburg has a small town feel but offers big-city options. The diversity is amazing – you have beaches on the coast that in the summer can remind you of Greece, and then lakes and mountains inland,” she says. 

“There’s nature, trendy restaurants, artsy districts, open-air markets, boating, skiing. It’s like everything is possible, and I have more time with my kids than ever before. It’s really the ultimate work-life balance.”

And Laura reckons that foreign professionals considering a move to Gothenburg will find the experience even easier than she did. The city’s population of talented foreigners is growing – and the city and business community are taking notice.

According to Statistics Sweden, the number of university-educated foreigners living in the region has increased by more than 60 percent since 2008. The trend has prompted a number of initiatives, including the Global Talent project and major investments in housing and infrastructure to make Gothenburg and West Sweden more accessible and attractive to talented foreigners.

“There are so many networks and activities to help you meet more people – language cafes, parent groups, expat groups. They’re great resources,” she says.

And the new MovetoGothenburg.com portal is another great resource that people can access even before they arrive.

“The new site is really good. I wish it had been there when I moved. It’s got everything that I had to find out the hard way.”

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Global Talent Gothenburg-West Sweden.

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CHRISTMAS

Christmas in Sweden: The 10 best julbord spreads in the Gothenburg area

Whether you're a Swedish Christmas newbie or a seasoned julbord connoisseur, here's The Local's selection of 10 of the best (often slightly fishy) festive meals in the Gothenburg area this winter. Feel free to share other tips in the comments!

Christmas in Sweden: The 10 best julbord spreads in the Gothenburg area

The Swedish julbord is an extensive spread that has evolved from a variety of traditions and today consists of an elaborate buffet of typical Christmas food. It is popular not only to sit down for a julbord on Christmas Eve with family, but also to go out for a special julbord meal at a restaurant in the run-up to Christmas – with family, friends or work colleagues.

See here for the low-down on the Swedish julbord.

Reflecting the city’s fishing industry heritage, many of the julbord spreads on offer in Gothenburg are a bit heavier on the seafood than what you might find in and around other Swedish cities, such as Malmö (see our Malmö Julbord guide here) and Stockholm (see our Stockholm Julbord guide here). 

Here are the top ten julbord spreads we can find in Gothenburg: 

All prices listed are per person, unless otherwise stated.

Source: Fiskekrogen

Fiskekrogan 

This charming and very classy restaurant, based in an old 1920s Grand Café, gets a mention in the Michelin Guide and is an outstanding place for a high-end julbord. 

The restaurant promises to serve up “all the tasty classics which we’ve always made”, with “a wonderful combination of tastes both old and new with inspiration from the delicacies of the sea”. You can book it here

When: November 24th-December 25th

Price: 845 kronor for lunch, 1,095 kronor on evenings and weekends

Hotel Eggers 

This 19th century hotel by Gothenburg’s central station promises a julbord that is “one of the most atmospheric and cosy” in Gothenburg, and it leans heavily on classic and traditional dishes such as Jansson’s Temptation, meatballs, herring, cabbage, and ribs. You can book it here.

When: November 24th-December 22nd 

Price: 675 kronor for lunch, and 850 kronor for adults (300 kronor at all times for children up to 12)

On board a boat in the archipelago

Strömma line

You can have a julbord buffet at sea on one of two vessels operated by Strömma, Gothenburg’s main operator of ferries to the islands in the archipelago. The company has buffets on two of its boats, the early 20th century M/S Göteborg and the more modern M/S Carl Michael Bellman. 

On the former, the chef Lotta Bäckström promises to “mix up classic Christmas favourites with new dishes and exciting flavours”, with dishes on offer including saffron pears, bilberry herring, and green pepper salmon with orange, as well as the classics like Jansson’s temptation. Book here

On the latter, you can eat to the sounds of a singer who will regale you with Christmas favourites. 

When: November 11th to December 21st

Price: 770 kronor with children from 6-15 years old half price.  

Skärgårdslinjen

The rival Skärgårdslinjen ferry service is offering a julbord with a Christmas show on board two of its cruisers. 

“Forget sausage and meatballs, here we serve up the delicacies of the sea,” the company declares, promising langoustine, prawns, mussels, fish and lobster soup.  Book here

When: November 11th to December 21st

Price: 995 kronor for adults on M/S Trubaduren, and 945 for M/S Medvind. Children 295 kronor

The Hamnkrogen restaurant in Liseberg is a popular place for julbord. Photo: Goteborg & Co

At the Liseberg theme park 

The Liseberg theme park might not seem like the most atmospheric place to have a Christmas buffet, but it is home to two restaurants which do offer that experience: Hamnkrogen and 1923. 

Bear in mind with these two julbord offerings that you will also have to pay entrance to the theme park, with prices ranging from 125-355 kronor depending on age, date, and whether you want to go on Liseberg’s rides or not. Children under 110cm in height go free.

Hamnkrogen supplies a julbord along the same seafood-centred lines as at Fiskekrogen, with shellfish and fish dishes, although they also promise traditional julbord favourites and “a large selection of vegan dishes”. Book here

When: November 19th to December 22nd

Price: 715 kronor evenings and 525 kronor for lunch and weekends

The julbord at 1923 is absolutely traditional, with no additional emphasis on seafood and comes slightly cheaper. Book here

When: November 19th to December 22nd

Price: 695 kronor evenings and 510 kronor for lunch and Saturdays (Sundays 590 kronor!)

Gothia Towers 

The Imagine restaurant on the 29th floor of Gothia Towers offers a julbord with a view across Gothenburg and beyond. It’s a reliable rather than flashy spread of all the classic dishes. 

Gothia Towers is currently in the process of being surpassed as Gothenburg’s tallest building by the new Karlatornet, but that doesn’t do anything to detract from the view. 

When: November 18th-19th, November 25th-26th, and then Wednesdays to Sundays from December 1st to December 24th. 

Price: Wednesdays and Sundays 745 kronor, Thursdays 795 kronor, and Saturdays 845 kronor

Långedrag Värdehus 

If you head out of the busy centre to the coast, Långedrag Värdehus offers what they call “a classic julbord inspired by the sea with all the Christmas delicacies”. And you get a sea view. Book a place here

When: November 16th to December 22nd 

Price: Weekends and evenings 995 kronor, weekday lunches 845 kronor

Gunnebo Slott offers an organic Christmas buffet in beautiful surroundings. Photo: Gunnebo Slott

Gunnebo Slott 

Out in the countryside to the southeast of the city, Gunnebo Slott offers perhaps the most organic Christmas spread on offer around Gothenburg, with 99.4 percent of their ingredients classed as organic. The spread is served in their atmospheric wooden café, with guests warmed by a fire. 

When: November 28th to December 22nd 

Price: 695 kronor on Saturday evenings, 395 kronor lunch Monday to Friday. 

Tullhuset 

If you’re willing to go even further afield, the Tullhuset restaurant on the island of Honö out in the archipelago offers “a pure fish and shellfish” julbord, which promises culinary “creativity”, but “neither ham nor meatballs”. There are, however, vegetarian and vegan options. You can book here

When: November 18th to December 21st 

Price: Friday and Saturday evenings 725 kronor, Sunday-Thursday 675 kronor. Children under 13 years old, 350 kronor. 

Blackbird offers all the Christmas favourites in “veganised” form. Photo: Blackbird

Blackbird 

While vegans might feel deprived at some of the other restaurants in Gothenburg, they won’t at Blackbird, which promises to “veganise Christmas dishes such as herring, ham, sausage and Jansson’s Temptation”, while also focusing on all the vegetables which are in season. You can book here

When: November 30th to December 22nd

Price: 475 kronor on weekends, 445 kronor on weekdays

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