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Advice before moving to Gothenburg, Sweden

Jobs, salary, relationships, winter blues, etc.

JD_AUS
post 15.Aug.2020, 08:00 AM
Post #1
Joined: 4.Aug.2020

Hello All,

I am planning to move to Sweden from Australia within the next year or two to be with my partner again (she had temp. residency here in Aus but wanted to be with her family when this covid thing blew up) and hoping to get some "local" advice before I move. I've done plenty of research on visas and looking for work etc. but this has all been through Swedish government websites. At this stage now, I would love some advice from people currently living in Sweden or who have recently moved from Sweden but spent a good amount of time there.

I will be moving to Gothenburg so with that in mind, some things I would like to know would be:

1. Is it easy/difficult to get a job in Gothenburg as a non-Swedish speaking foreigner? More specifically, within the construction industry.

2. What is considered to be a good "living" salary in Sweden? For example, in Australia, if you're earning AUD100,000 per year (before tax), you can live a pretty comfortable life depending on your spending habits. After a quick conversion, this works out to be approx. SEK623,280.04 per year or SEK51,939.98 per month before taxes. I understand Swedish taxes and everything come in to play here but generally speaking, is this sort of salary good and is it relatively achievable in Sweden? And again, is it common within the construction industry?

3. How do people generally combat the "winter blues"? Having visited Sweden twice (both in the summer and winter) and meeting plenty of my partners Swedish friends, I can tell the winters can become quite challenging after a while. Other than staying inside and "hibernating" all winter, are there things people generally do with friends throughout the winters to avoid becoming bored/miserable? I'm planning on taking up some sort of sporting hobby as a start.

4. Is it really that difficult to create relationships in Sweden? I've heard the stereotype about Swedes being very reserved although I've been fortunate to make friends through my partner so haven't been overly exposed to this. My concern however, is when I finally start working there. Australian culture is generally quite social and people usually make an effort with new employees to make them feel welcome which often leads to positive workplace and personal relationships. Is this the same in Swedish workplaces?

5. Lastly, on the topic of workplaces, what is office culture like in Sweden? Are there any do's and don't's in the office? What are the biggest changes between office culture in say Australia/UK/USA and Sweden? For example, in Australia, it's common for people to go for drinks after work at a bar or go out for lunches during the week - is this the same in Sweden? And again, if anyone has advice specifically for the construction industry, that would be great.

I've read quite a few topics on here and there seems to be a lot of negative posts on people who have moved to/left Sweden. I'm fully aware everyone has there own opinion but would preferably like to focus on the positives. However, if you have had a very hard time finding work or making relationships in the workplace, I do want to hear these stories so I can be aware of the challenges I may face. On the other hand, if you had a very positive experience, I would like to hear this as well.

Thank you in advance!
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Martin565
post 15.Aug.2020, 10:50 AM
Post #2
Joined: 4.Oct.2017

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TheExpatEagle
post 15.Aug.2020, 07:30 PM
Post #3
Joined: 23.Aug.2016


I didn't reply to your previous post because I doubt this will help but it will be difficult for you to find work unless you speak Swedish and even then... A lot of building work going on here is contracted out and they import builders from places like Romania.

Basically the builders come over for the week and live in the place they are doing up or in a caravan then go home at the weekend. They even have German builders come over to do work during the week then go back at the weekends.

The UK has the same problem with cheap labour in the building trade. It is at the extent where the government is going to change the tax law to make anyone working in Sweden pay Swedish tax instead of the tax where they live. This is to try and encourage companies to employ local builders but in reality it won't but more tax will come into the system.

If I were you I'd take the first year to study Swedish full time and prepare by speaking Swedish only at home with your partner. Your command of the English language won't be a plus here because everyone can speak English and a lot of companies that do not use English are actively banning it including between kids at schools.

If you have any qualifications look in to getting them converted to the equivalent Swedish one. And don't forget you'll need to take another driving test if you can drive.
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JD_AUS
post 16.Aug.2020, 05:57 AM
Post #4
Joined: 4.Aug.2020

Appreciate the response Expat Eagle,

I suppose something worth mentioning is that I am in a more office based role rather than physically on the tools so I am hopeful the challenge of competing for a role against someone from a neighboring country is mitigated to some degree.

I am due to finish my degree next year in Urban Development so I appreciate that advice - I will get in touch with some of the universities over there to get an idea of how useful my Australian degree is.

And I've heard about needing to take a driving test again, I'm fine with that but something I've heard is it's quite intense as well as expensive? Is this true or is it pretty easy to pass?
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JD_AUS
post 16.Aug.2020, 06:09 AM
Post #5
Joined: 4.Aug.2020

Hi Martin,

Appreciate the response and your honest feedback - sounds like it was quite a grind for you.

I've been to Gothenburg on a couple of occasions when my partner and I flew there for holidays - I thought it was fine personally, a lot slower than some of the cities I've lived in here but I never thought the place was boring as such. In saying that though, I've obviously been in holiday mode while I was there and everything was new and exciting so it could be completely different after living there for a few months/years.

Is your partner of the same mindset as you in terms of moving back to the UK or is she happy being back in Sweden? I have found a lot of my partners friends that came to Australia, went back to Sweden because they missed home but ended up coming back to Australia - it was interesting to me that this was the case and I'm wondering if my partner and I will do the same. It's the long winters that I feel I will struggle the most with - it's winter here and as I'm typing this, it's 22 degrees Celsius and I'm in shorts haha..
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Martin565
post 16.Aug.2020, 07:11 AM
Post #6
Joined: 4.Oct.2017

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TheExpatEagle
post 16.Aug.2020, 07:44 PM
Post #7
Joined: 23.Aug.2016

QUOTE (JD_AUS @ 16.Aug.2020, 06:57 AM) *
Appreciate the response Expat Eagle,I suppose something worth mentioning is that I am in a more office based role rather than physically on the tools so I am hopeful the chall ... (show full quote)


Don't underestimate how difficult it is to get a job here if you don't speak Swedish. If you are office based then it is even more so.

I can't comment about the cost of a driving test but I'm led to believe you will need lessons too because there are 3 parts to the test. Also if you have no experience with snow you might need some tuition there too.

I know a number of people from your neck of the woods who have come here, some returning Swedes and if you hope for the best but expect the worst you will at least be mentally prepared.
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Grommet
post 17.Aug.2020, 04:35 AM
Post #8
Joined: 10.May.2020

Just a couple tips. Get a job BEFORE you move. Sweden is in an economic slowdown, and unemployment is rising. Hopefully you have loads of savings to keep you afloat if you don't manage to get a job right away (or perhaps, ever).

And make sure you have accommodations ahead of time.

Have an exit plan in place BEFORE you arrive. It very well might not be for you, and you don't want to be stuck there. If Sweden isn't for you, the last thing you will want is to be stuck there (expensive and a very restricted culture). Discuss with your partner what happens if it isn't working out for you. Will she want to go back to OZ with you?

Yours would not be the first relationship to train-wreck when as a foreigner things are less than optimal for you. Chances are your partner will not share your criticisms. Swedes seem very incapable of honest reflections about Sweden. They are very American in that way. "Sweden is best" kinda thing, and "if you can't see that...what's wrong with you?"

Also, try to make your own friends. Make a life outside of your relationship too (not easy to do in Sweden). If things ever go tits up, and your whole world is revolving around your partner's connections, be prepared for them ALL to disappear. This did not happen to me, but I have read it over and over, and I've seen it in action too.

I'd visited Sweden a few times before living there. Holiday-mode is an understatement. What you have seen on holidays, and what you are bound to experience once living there, are miles apart.

Be prepared for LONG delays in your paperwork. Yes, some seem shocked by this, as they have had a great experience, but from my experience, it was a mess from start to finish. And I had right to reside as a family member of an EU/Nordic national.

You will see pretty fast the honeymoon wears off, and you will start to see which way the wind blows.

Things "might" go well for you, but they might not. The reality of living in Sweden is very different from the PR image projected. Very different. Most Swedes have no clue because it is all they have known. It is already a good start if you are hanging with Swedes who've been out-and-about. But I would say it is a red-flag if they want to return. Especially for women of child-bearing age. Sweden is great for when you have a kid, and yes, loads of holidays, but that's about it. Summers "can" be quite lovely, long days, with a chance of sunshine (recent summers are not the norm, although maybe with global climate change). Winters are gloomy, especially in the south; mud, wet and grey...for about 6 months straight. Good luck with that.

I can't in good faith recommend anyone to move anywhere in Sweden, based on my experience. I left after 6 years of riding the escalator to nowhere.

My only regret was not leaving sooner than I did. I've lived in 6 countries (UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Canada), and by far, Sweden ranks at the bottom, except for when it comes to having kids, and holidays (although kids/holidays in Finland are the same).

Anyway, in my experience, no one wants to listen. You need to just do it, and find out for yourself. So, I wish you all the best, and great if it works for you.
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Gimp
post 18.Aug.2020, 04:05 AM
Post #9
Location: Pakistan
Joined: 27.Jan.2020

QUOTE (Grommet @ 17.Aug.2020, 04:35 AM) *
Just a couple tips. Get a job BEFORE you move. Sweden is in an economic slowdown, and unemployment is rising. Hopefully you have loads of savings to keep you afloat if you don ... (show full quote)


Lol!!!

And the regret still eats away!!!!

Lol

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nickw
post 18.Aug.2020, 02:15 PM
Post #10
Joined: 18.Aug.2020

hi,

Like others I really think you will struggle in Sweden. How do I know? Ive been here 9 years and its been a huge struggle daily to live and work here. I know many do make a life in sweden, but many, many dont and unfortunately Im one of the many who hasnt been able to integrate.
To answer your points...

1, Sweden, as most other countries has entered recession so I expect the construction industry to be fairly dire for the forseeable future. The bubble had burst even before covid. From experience I dont think your foreign degree will be recognised here because sweden doesnt tend to recognise any foreigh education institutes. (first hand experience of this)

2. I dont think you would get that kind of salary, sweden tends to pay a living wage for alot of sectors that may attract minimum pay in other countries but a glass ceiling exists (especially for immigrants), in other countries alot of industries can pay very well with potential uncapped earning capability but sweden you will be paid a fairly average wage with very slow rate of increases. (I lived in london for 10 years and was paid 3 times more than when I arrived. Here ive been here nearly 10 years and my salary hasnt really risen much)

3. they dont. Not even the swedes, ask around and youll be told to go outside in the country or put candles on, but the truth is most swedes cant survive the winter so if you are coming from somewhere where its 22 in the winter I really dont think you will make it. I made the first 2 or 3 winters but now dread them every year.

4. yes, been here 9 years and have no swedish friends, not from trying but here swedes dont see people in the office as friends, more like work colleagues where you will do after work every 6 months for 1 hour. It really is brutal. Even the friends you think you have now will start to drop away once you make the move. I had, what I thought were friends in the family but was soon ignored once the move was made.

5. Answered this a little above but the difference is huge. I stayed at a few jobs way longer than I should have because the office was so fun or I made some really good friends, here the office is very different, expect a little small talk around fika time as the main highlight of the day.

Ive met a few internationals who have made the move and are happy here, but I think alota of it is down to personal situations. I know an America chef and he gets paid way morethan in the US and enjoys his 6 weeks of holidays, but if you are like me, a professional who wants to challenge themselves proffessionally and personally, then its very hard.

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Martin565
post 18.Aug.2020, 04:21 PM
Post #11
Joined: 4.Oct.2017

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JD_AUS
post 22.Aug.2020, 12:34 AM
Post #12
Joined: 4.Aug.2020

Appreciate the responses everyone - definitely some food for thought.

I think the idea of an "exit plan" is a good one just in case it comes to that. It kind of sounds like the key for me will be to accept Swedish culture from the start and do my best to not compare or hold on to the "Australian way" of things because the culture there (both socially and professionally) seems different in almost every way so there's no point trying to maintain that - would be like trying to force a puzzle piece in to the wrong part of the puzzle.

Two follow up questions though:

1. Do any of you know of any expats that have relocated to Sweden and have been successful in integrating i.e. good job, made friends etc?

2. Those of you that are still in Sweden - what is it that is keeping you there if it's been such a hard experience?
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nickw
post 22.Aug.2020, 08:19 AM
Post #13
Joined: 18.Aug.2020

QUOTE (JD_AUS @ 22.Aug.2020, 01:34 AM) *
1. Do any of you know of any expats that have relocated to Sweden and have been successful in integrating i.e. good job, made friends etc?


I joined a few groups (FB etc) and unquestionably expats exist who really show the love for sweden, say its the best thing they have done and would never go back. Without obviously knowing the person, and this isnt scientific in anyway they tend to fall into specific groups who have largely benefited from the move, most likely were previously working in low pay, manual work in the UK and have benefited hugely from the move, a living wage, collective agreements, vab, holidays etc. The older generation and those who like to live in near isolation up north somewhere also seem to do well also. And I briefly fell into this group, being socially ignored at work and coming home 5pm on a friday was the price to pay for free childcare and saving myself 1200gbp a month. So although I started to feel the struggle it didnt start to manifest itself because of the personal monetary gain.

What I would say with near certainty is that young professionals moving to a city have not successfully made the move. I know of many, many people who have made the move and left, unable to make it work. Probably the largest issue is the rental market, and those making the move without a 1st hand contract, then the lack of friends, social interactions etc.

I made the move because I naively thought I would make good friends at work (never happened) and the family, who I met many times coming over whilst on holiday would help (the guys who you are going out with now will stop meeting up once you make the move)

why am i still here? the million dollar question. Kids. if I didnt have them I would have gone a long time ago.

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nickw
post 22.Aug.2020, 08:55 AM
Post #14
Joined: 18.Aug.2020

other tips...

you are probably thinking you can make friends at work, and have the family to lean on at the start. Im 99% certain that wont be the case, I had what I thought would be a good family friend(s) to go out with when I moved, we often went out when I came over on holiday and me and the gf often stayed there when visiting. We didnt go out once when I made the move, the "shall we go out next week?" was met with "maybe" or "next month is better", then silence. A cousin of the gf lived 5 minutes away, a really nice guy and I must have asked him 20 times if we can go out, always met with "maybe". 9 years on and still not one drink and he still lives 5 minutes away.

you most likely wont make friends at work, swedes just dont tend to see work colleagues as friends, and this has been the single biggest issue for me. In the UK you make great friends at work, a few beers on a friday after work will easily spill over to a bbq at the weekend, where you will meet their friends etc etc. Within 6 months of not knowing anyone in london when i moved i had probably 20 names in my mobile I could call at the weekend to meet up. this will never happen in sweden. This is intensified if you arent swedish but even the swedes tend to stick to themselves, Ive seen a few swedes make friends but as a rule, work is really just for work. Best explained with "after work", which is the swedes version of a drinks after work, this is organised 2 months in advance, happens once or twice a year, a large number tend to drop out the day before, those that go will go for 1 drink, paying for it themselves (it is funny to see 12 individuals with the bank card at the bar ready to pay), stay for 1 hour and talk about work. It unlike anything ive experienced before. After waiting 2 months for your first after work you will most likely be home at 5.30 instead of 5.00 biggrin.gif



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Martin565
post 22.Aug.2020, 09:36 AM
Post #15
Joined: 4.Oct.2017

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