Article first published in 2019.
Our purposefully vague and open question “What do you love the most about life in Sweden?” brought in nearly 100 different responses through our website and Facebook. Although the enquiry elicited a wide range of answers, the most frequently-mentioned one was the beautiful Swedish nature.
Kai, a 28-year-old from Scotland, has only now managed to stop trying to capture every Instagram-worthy scene:
“It actually is really beautiful. Before moving here, I thought that the nice photos were edited, but it is actually that beautiful here. When it’s sunny the colours are so bright and when it’s snowy the houses are so beautiful. After four months I’ve finally stopped taking lots of photos.”
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Facebook user Sandra Joh got downright poetic when describing her love of Sweden.
“Birch trees, the gentle sounds of laughter and splashes of water, the smell of cinnamon when you enter the country,” she wrote.
Others kept it more concise, with “clean air” and “fresh” and “tasty” water mentioned by several different people.
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21-year-old Frenchman Gavin Marfaing also had nature near the top of his list.
“Sweden is very peaceful, not noisy, and environmental-friendly. Nature, forests and lakes can be found everywhere. Even in cities, there isn’t a disconnect between mankind and nature as in other countries. The country has beautiful and very diverse landscapes, with coasts, mountains, forests, and the Arctic in the North,” he wrote.
Natural beauty seemed to only scratch the surface of what he loved about living in Uppsala, with a shout-out to the country’s unique architecture and design and Uppsala’s “breathtaking” city centre. But Marfaing also had an enormous appreciation for the Swedes themselves, which was another red thread through many of our readers’ responses.
“[I love the] politeness and well-educated Swedes. They may be introverts, but they are so friendly that we feel home and safe very quickly. Swedes are always smiling, they respect the rules (such as letting pedestrians pass at crossroads, which still one year later is very surprising to me),” he wrote.
For Néda Khm, “the people” were also the best thing about Sweden.
“At least in Lund people are calm and nice and respect each other’s space. And I love the fact almost all are so aware of the environment,” she wrote on Facebook.
A fika break in Gothenburg. Photo: Faramarz Gosheh/imagebank.sweden.se
Others liked the locals for a different reason, with two different female Facebook users expressing their appreciation for hot Swedish men in comments that picked up a lot of likes.
Another recurring response was the sense of safety one has in Sweden.
“The fact that I can walk at midnight without any concerns is priceless for someone who used to live in São Paulo,” 32-year-old Nayane Smith, who moved to Sweden from Brazil three years ago, wrote.
“My favorite thing was the safety – you could walk home by yourself at midnight from the Filmstaden with no problems,” Jill Johnson wrote on Facebook, referencing the country’s biggest cinema chain.
Perhaps not surprising, given that our question was timed to coincide with the National Day of Sweden – just one of the dozen of public holidays – the relaxed work-life balance was also mentioned by many of The Local’s readers.
“The myth of productivity doesn’t exist in Sweden. People can disconnect from work Friday at 3pm and enjoy life and their families until Monday morning, not reading their e-mails. Even during weekdays, they leave work quite soon to enjoy some free time. The ‘lagom’ mentality makes the Swedish lifestyle very well balanced,” Marfaing wrote.
“There is a minimal amount of stress, and it’s an amazing place to raise kids,” Edward, a 34-year-old Ukrainian, added.
“Work-life balance, humble and honest local Swedish people, healthcare and education for kids. These are some of the good things in Sweden,” Jithin Karkera wrote on Facebook.
Finally, two of Swedes’ favourite habits sure seem to have rubbed off on our readers. Fika got four mentions and there were a few votes for snus, which 43-year-old Australian Travis Geary went so far as to call “mankind’s greatest invention”.
We’ll respectfully agree to disagree on that point but reading through all of the answers sure did rekindle our own love for Sweden. Maybe we will actually pretend to care about National Day this year.