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What's it like to swap the city for the countryside in Sweden?

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What's it like to swap the city for the countryside in Sweden?
Two expats who moved from the city to the Swedish countryside share their experiences with The Local. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se
11:19 CET+01:00
Moving from a larger city to the countryside might seem appealing for many reasons: more affordable housing, easy access to nature, or a relaxed pace of life. But is the grass really always greener?

"It was the best move I ever made," says Michael Jones of his move from Gothenburg to the countryside around Trollhättan two years ago.

His relocation was financially motivated, as he planned to buy a house and this was much cheaper in rural areas of Sweden.


Michael Jones. Photo: Private

But he has also noticed many more advantages of his new neighbourhood, some of which he had not expected.

"I find the people here are a lot more friendly and open than in the city. There's a lot more community involvement, so for example attending dinners is much easier," Jones explains.

"I still leave my car unlocked and my house doors open."

Another major plus is having nature and wildlife close by, which offers peace, opportunities for family days out, and the chance to go hunting, one of his hobbies.

However, the more peaceful location comes with the trade-off that his commute to work is now longer, and Jones suggests that many people moving to the Swedish countryside will need to be comfortable with getting a car and waking up early.

"Public transport is an issue; in the city you can more easily drink a few beers and catch a tram or bus home. I work in Gothenburg but I get up at 4.40am to drive to the station to catch a train," he says. But to him, these extra efforts are worth it to live in a close-knit and affordable community with nature a stone's throw away.


A view from Jones's house on his workshop. Photo: Private

Irina Banciu moved from the city to the countryside for the same reasons as Jones: to buy a house and save money, while the proximity to nature was another draw.

"We always wanted to try country living as we like the outdoors and liked the prospect of living in a house," explains Banciu, who moved from Copenhagen to rural Skåne in 2016.

But she and her partner found it much harder to fit into the local community than Jones, and she acknowledges that the language barrier was probably a big factor in that. English proficiency levels are typically lower in smaller towns and villages in Sweden, while there are fewer events or activities for English-speakers, which can make it hard to settle in before knowing Swedish.

"Coming from UK where there is still an element of community and village life at least through the local pub, we were surprised at how isolated everything and everyone is," she tells The Local. "We often felt like people were looking into our house or giving us strange looks."

Poor public transport connections made having a social life "impossible", she adds.

Her advice for anyone planning a move to the countryside is to think very hard about the reasons for the decision, and to assess how that will match up with the reality.

"It may be that you love the great outdoors but how much of your daily life are you prepared to spend on commuting and running errands?"

She also recommends researching practical things such as public transport, other local amenities, and events in the area.


Irina Banciu (left) with her partner. Photo: Private

After two years of trying to make country living work, the couple decided to move back to Copenhagen.

"We felt the jump to the countryside was too big," Banciu says. "Although it is lovely to have the space and forests on your doorstep, we decided we were not at the stage in our life where we could make the most of this."

"But we will always miss the big garden in the summer, not having to live by other people's rules, and the beautiful nature."


A view over Skåne. Photo: Private

What is your experience of living in the countryside versus living in the city? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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jean francois - 09 Jan 2019 17:15
We moved from France to Skärhamn last november, after buying a nice old house in the center of Skärhamn. We have been very warmly welcomed, since we said we would stay all year and not just for summer, we got flowers on our doorstep from neighbors, and local fisherman came with 3 huge lobsters for Christmas at a very, very "friendly" price ! Local restaurant owner invited us to parties with rock and pop music bands, and we got to know lots of locals, even as we dont speak Swedish. Overall, wonderful experience here on Tjörn island !
Alan McRae - 09 Jan 2019 18:47
Living in Stockholm for nearly 20 years, I loved the social life, the public transport, and all that goes with living in a friendly city. The people I met were always a pleasure to deal with.
The down side was I never had the chance to speak Swedish. Every thing was easier in English. Lets all speak English, it is too hard other wise. In one pub, when I walked in, the owner would say, The Englishman is here. No more speaking Swedish.
The summer weekends I would travel, often to Dalarna, to fish in lakes and rivers. I would often fish in the Älvdalen area, and bought a freetidhus there, to use as a base.
As I approached retirement, I pondered where to live, so began looking for a nice plot and property near the river. No way did I wish to stay near Stockholm.
I finally found a small farm, with house and barns. The house was suffering from hus swamp, so I bought a brand new house, and had it put up. With a great view of river and mountains.
I was amazed. Nearly every one talks to me in my Language.. Apart from a few who have Älvdalska as their native language. Which has a similar sound, and words to English. I can chat to my local farmer, where I buy fresh meat, about any thing. The last conversation was about rusty brake pipes. He does not speak Svenska.
Even this far out, I have a few English neighbors. We pop in and chat to each other often. The oldest ex EK resident is approaching 80. The youngest is 26.
I love it but if you wish for a hectic social life, not good. If you are happy cutting down your own firewood and want to play with a tractor, moving wood and clearing snow, great. Learning how to build in wood , using an axe and hand tools, great.
I see beaver, otter , deer, elf, fox and badgers. A variety of birds never seen in the UK. I even had a white stoat, with his black tail , just a few yards from the house.
Not every ones cup of tea, but it is beyond my wildest dreams.
Bartomeu Casals - 09 Jan 2019 19:15
We are close to the "official" retirement from our today's job, that in our case is international renewable energy consultant myself, and architect Elisabet.
Currently we share our life time between Sant Pol de Mar ( Catalunya), 40 km north of Barcelona and in front of the beach, and Abjörnaböda, close to Ljungby. Near future plans are to be 80% Swedish and 20% Catalan inhabitants, and later on 100% Swedish.
We had the possibility to choice between bigger populated places, but finally we decide to come to country side. Many reasons to choice this option, like
very warm people, when you explain that you will like to be integrated on his society, and at the same time you try to speak Swedish, poor, but at the end which is appreciated is that you try.
The most difficult thing is to convince our neighbours about the reasons to come here, when most of Swedish like to do reverse, moving to the Mediterranean places. It's the life !!
Samantha Mangan - 10 Jan 2019 08:03
We moved from Landvetter to a lovely country house next to a small lake about 10 minutes out of Borås. We couldn't ask for anything better not only was it much cheaper, we love being near nature and already had visits from the local wildlife. We love the peaceful atmosphere and our neighbours are very friendly. Although they are not comfortable speaking English, we still manage with Swenglish. Yes, you do need a car and you have to get up early as we are still working in Gothenburg but it is absolutely worth it.
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