The home of ABBA, meatballs and Stieg Larsson, Sweden has produced some of the most famous cultural icons in the world. But it's not just the rich cultural heritage that makes this country a fantastic place to live. Sweden is famed for having the best benefits system in the world that grants its citizens unrivalled advantages and is sure to give you a great start in your new home. Enjoy five weeks paid vacation, 480 paid parental days for those looking after children, unlimited sick days, free healthcare and no university fees when registered as a resident. And as one of the most green, tolerant and forward-thinking nations, Sweden is one of the most progressive and modern places to live in the world.
Planning Your Move
Moving abroad is a big step, so it's important to make sure it's definitely the right choice for you and your family. Here are some suggestions to help prepare you for the decision.
- Rent before you buy or take part in a home exchange program. By spending a few months in Sweden before making a big commitment, you can ensure you're happy to go ahead with the next stage.
- Rental accommodation in Sweden is called hyresrätt. These apartments are available to rent under first-hand or second-hand contracts. A first-hand contract is one drawn up between you and the building owner, but these can sometimes be difficult to obtain, with long waiting lists. A second-hand contract is drawn up between you and the holder of a first-hand contract, which are generally easier to get, particularly if you have no fixed income.
- Home exchanges are programs which allow you to swap homes for an agreed period of time with a Swedish family. Visit www.swapmycitypad.com, www.homeexchange.com, www.homeforexchange.com, and www.homelink.org.uk for information on how to sign up.
- Find the region that's best for you. The major cities of Stockholm, Gothenborg and Malmö are modern, dynamic and progressive centres of urban culture and exchange. If you work in the IT industry, these cities are perfect locations to find employment. If you're after somewhere a bit quieter, or looking for a retirement home, consider the picture-postcard region of Skane, with its sandy beaches and warm seas (in the summer!), or if you're not daunted by winter conditions, the underpopulated northern regions offer a peaceful snowy retreat.
Your New Home
When you arrive in your new home in Sweden you'll want to make sure that everything is set up ready for you to move in straight away. The complicated and often stressful process of buying or renting a house or flat is made all the more difficult when you have to travel long distances to view the property and are not always available to be on-site if problems should occur. Not only this, but if your Swedish is not good, negotiating with the Estate Agent may prove tricky. Here are some tips to help you get the best start in your new home.
- In Sweden, an apartment that you buy is called a bostadsrätt. In the case of these apartments, property ownership differs in Sweden from other countries, as when you buy an apartment you are purchasing a share in the whole building and will inherit the right to contribute to decisions about communal areas such as courtyards and laundry rooms. You must ask permission of the housing board before sub-letting your apartment.
- On top of the money you pay for your apartment, you must also pay a monthly fee covering building maintenance and other costs.
- In contrast to the bostadsrätt ownership, if you buy a house in Sweden you will probably have full ownership of that property much like you would in the UK.
- Homeowner's insurance is strongly recommended, and called hemförsäkring.
- As with anywhere, property prices vary greatly with region. City living is quite expensive, but timber cabin rural retreats can be as cheap as £25,000.
- Like in the UK, an Estate Agent will normally manage the buying process. Solicitors are not mandatory but highly recommended, and it is normal to hire an independent surveyor.
- Once the sale is completed, it is the buyer's obligation to apply for deeds of title within three months of the transaction and submit them for registration (if you have one, your solicitor may do this on your behalf).
Once you have chosen your new home, one of the first things to think about before leaving the UK is how best to transport your belongings to Sweden. Sterling Relocation is an award-winning moving company specialising in moves to all over the world. Have a look at their website for a quote: www.sterlingrelocation.com. Movecorp European Removals (www.movecorp.co.uk) and Schumacher Cargo Logistics (www.schumachercargo.com) also offer competitive rates.
The Practical Details
The excitement of moving abroad can easily eclipse the practical - and often boring - details, but these are vital for a smooth transition to a new country. Please check with the local authority of your region to make sure you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations.
- What to do when you arrive in Sweden depends on your residency type. As an EU citizen, you are entitled to live and work in Sweden without a work permit, but if you plan to stay for more than three months you will need to register your right of residence with the Migration Board. How you apply will depend on whether you are moving as an employee, as a student, as self-employed, or as a pensioner or person with sufficient means. See this website for more details on the differences between these types of residency: www.migrationsverket.se/info/eumedborgare_en.html
- In order to register your right to residence, you must complete an online application and submit the following documents: copies of your passport of national ID card, an employment certificate and your paychecks or accounts for the last three months (if applying as an employee). If you are applying as a student, as self-employed or as a retired person, the application requirements will differ slightly. Check out www.migrationsverket.se to find out exactly what you need to do.
- Once you have held your certificate of residency for five years, you have permanent residency rights.