Sweden ranked one of hardest places for expats to make local friends (again)

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Sweden ranked one of hardest places for expats to make local friends (again)
'Sympathisch' in German goes beyond friendly or approachable. Photo: Ulf Lundin/Imagebank Sweden

Sweden has been ranked one of the hardest places in the world to make local friends in InterNations' annual survey of expatriate workers, with close to a quarter of respondents rating Swedes as 'generally unfriendly'.


The survey ranked Sweden 46th out of 53 expatriate destinations in the survey's "Ease of Settling In Index", ranking 44th in both the "Local Friendliness" and "Finding Friends" subcategories. 

Close to a quarter (24 percent) viewed local Swedes as generally unfriendly, compared to an average of 16 percent globally, while 62 percent found it hard to make local friends, compared to 36 percent globally.


This is far from the first of InterNations' Expat Life surveys to find that Sweden is a tough place to make friends, with the organisation even going as far in 2019 to write a special report titled "It's Cold up North", describing the social isolation many expats suffered in the Nordics. 

However, the many advantages Sweden has to offer in other areas meant that the country still scored relatively favourably overall as an expat destination, ranking 24th, well ahead of both neighbouring Denmark in 41st place and Norway in 52nd.


Source: InterNations

InterNations describes itself as "the world's largest expat community", with more than 4.8mmembers, and this is the 10th edition of its annual Expat Insider survey.

Sweden topped the survey in two areas: the way local business culture promotes independent work and the support for remote working and flexible working hours, with 80 percent and 90 percent saying they were happy with these two factors respectively (compared to 46 percent and 60 percent globally). 

This pushed Sweden into 3rd place in the survey's Working Abroad Index, behind only The Netherlands and Luxembourg, with expats based in Sweden particularly happy in terms of Work and Leisure and Work Culture and Satisfaction. 


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terry forrest 2023/07/12 09:57
The results only paint a surface picture, from our experience. Having lived in Härjedalen, Sweden for 10 years our insight would tell a very different story. From the village where we have had a house for nearly 14 years we have been welcomed, helped and made many friends to a now wide network of friends from north to south and east to west. Swedes are open minded so just be yourself, be open and honest and friendship will follow.

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