15 tips that will help you navigate life in Sweden

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15 tips that will help you navigate life in Sweden
15 tweets that help explain life in Sweden. Photo: Tina Axelsson/

A new Twitter thread with advice about living in Sweden is making the rounds on social media. We've picked out some of the best tweets.


Briton Tomas Spragg Nilsson, the author of Fear and Falukorv – a book about becoming Swedish – this week challenged Twitter users to like his tweet and receive "one piece of semi-useful advice for living in Sweden" in return. At the time of publication, the tweet has received around 200 likes, so he'll have his work cut out for him.

Coffee is not just a morning drink. We can attest to this. Swedes love coffee, they love it black, strong and in amounts you did not know a person could drink in a day.

Leave Stockholm in the summer months. This goes for a lot of Swedish city centres, which tend to empty out during the country's long summer holidays. Who knew so many of your colleagues owned summer houses?

Apply for a personnummer on day one. Sweden's personal ID number, personnummer, is the key to life in Sweden that unlocks everything from taxes and bank accounts to your library card or gym membership.


Don't believe anything you see on Young Wallander. The new Netflix origin series about Swedish detective Kurt Wallander has drawn scorn among Swedes for a fairly large number of inconsistencies about life in Sweden...

Learn how the angry note works. Sweden's communal laundry rooms in many apartment blocks often have their own legal universe, where the angry note is king. You don't want to be on the receiving end of one.

Join an association. Swedes are – sometimes unfairly, sometimes accurately – often described as a reserved bunch of people, but they do organised fun better than most. Do you have a hobby? Find out if there's an association dedicated to that in your area. If there isn't one – why not make the first move and start one.


Try to learn Swedish. It is relatively easy compared to a lot of countries to get by with English in Sweden, but to truly get to know the country and increase your long-term career prospects, learning the language is key.

Practise learning four-digit codes. Remember that personnummer? It's not the only area of Swedish life where digits are essential. Who needs cash or a key? In tech-loving Sweden, there's a code for almost everything.


There is more to restaurant lunches than meets the eye. Sweden may be an expensive country, but some things are good value for money, even cheap. A restaurant lunch (ask for dagens lunch) is often not much more than 100 kronor and includes free coffee, bread and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

Be careful of false friends. Oh and by the way, they get even more awkward than these.

Swedes like to hug to say hello/goodbye. The French kiss on the cheek, the Swedes give each other a little cuddle. There are intricate rules to how and when a hug is appropriate, however – read more here.

Almost everyone gets paid on the 25th of the month. This also means bars will be packed the following weekend.

Free coffee refills! Ask if påtår is included.

If you dare to try the infamous fermented herring, you must do it outside! But even if some Swedish habits seem strange, embrace them – you may even end up appreciating them more than you thought you would.

If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, employers will usually give you Monday or Friday off. But even if they don't, learn how to work the system and ask to get the day off before your Swedish colleagues do.

Tomas Spragg Nilsson is the author of Falukorv och andra fasor (Fear and Falukorv, available in Swedish and English via publisher Lys Förlag). Follow him on Twitter and read more semi-useful advice about Sweden here.











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