Do you wonder if moving to Sweden is the best choice? Well, the answer is subjective. For some people relocating to Sweden could be the best decision ever, while others will regret it. In the end, whether moving to Sweden has more benefits or downsides depends on the lifestyle and living conditions that you want to experience.
Sweden is a great place to live in, but some people may not be able to tolerate some practices and living conditions here. You should not move to Sweden if you don’t want to pay extremely high taxes, experience very cold weather and long and dark nights, feel exclusivity and segregation, and many other things.
There are many benefits to living in Sweden, but there are also some downsides that you should know. You should factor these things in before deciding if the country is right for you. Below, we will discuss the main reasons why you should not move to Sweden.
Also read: Living in Sweden vs Norway.
1. High taxes
Sweden has the sixth-highest tax burden in the world. If you don’t like paying high taxes, then you should beware of this when considering moving into the country.
To support its various public and government projects, Sweden has a very high tax rate. It is through the use of these high taxes that public services, such as healthcare, education, and safety nets, are provided.
Moreover, Sweden is one of the best countries in the world for equality, so it strives that everyone has a similar income. Therefore, if you make more than an average Joe, you also will pay more taxes.
Most Swedish citizens pay only local taxes on their annual income. Tax rates vary from 28.98% to 35.15%, depending on the municipality. The average local tax rate in Sweden is 32.34%.
The Tax Agency also imposes a 20% state tax on income above a certain threshold. The Swedish tax system has an exemption from taxable income known as the basic deduction. A person’s sum varies depending on whether they are under or over 65.
Capital gains are generally taxed at a rate of 30%. Profits from the sale of a property are taxed at 22%.
Although Sweden may have a reasonable cost of living, you should understand how taxes work, the deadlines for preparing them, and how much they will cost.
Read our detailed comparison of taxes in Sweden vs the US.
2. Hard integration into the society
When you move to Sweden, you might feel lonely. Many other expats have reported that making friends is difficult. Some even say that Stockholm’s inhabitants are unfriendly. Swedes prefer to socialize with people who know them well.
Swedish people tend to isolate themselves and remain in their comfort zones. They will not open up until you repeatedly try to get to know them. When you move to this country, making friends can be a long and tedious process.
3. The Weather
Generally, most people aren’t happy about the weather in Sweden. Summer is never warm enough; winter is too cold. You might struggle to accept your new normal.
That said, Sweden is in a temperate climate, with temperatures going as low as -30°C in winter and +32°C in summer. However, Swedish summer is rather cool. It could be perfect if you don’t handle heat well.
If you want to experience severe cold, visit the northeast and north in the winter months.
Besides being a pretty cold country, Sweden doesn’t have a lot of sunshine. A day with a grey sky is very common in this place.
4. Issues with housing
Finding a first-hand apartment contract in Sweden has proven challenging for people moving there. Instead of renting your apartment from another tenant, you’re renting it directly from the building owner.
In more popular areas, the waiting list can be very long, and you may end up subletting for almost a decade. The cost of first-hand contracts is typically lower than that of second-hand contracts. However, this is the only way to obtain housing for many people.
Also read: Cost of rent in Sweden.
5. Unwritten rules of Law of Jante
Nordic countries have a code of conduct known as the Law of Jante. The Swedes refer to it as Jantelagen.
This portrays doing things outside the norm or being overly ambitious as inappropriate and unworthy. The goal is to create a society that conforms to one another, so everyone has predictable outcomes.
In total, there are ten rules that some people follow even though they are not part of any official code.
It would be best if you did not think you were special. It is not true that you are smarter, better, or have more knowledge than anyone else.
It’s not okay for you to think that anyone cares about you, that you can teach others anything, or that you are even good at anything.
In other words, don’t think that you’re better than others. This perspective often causes criticism of those who wish to break away from their social groups or positions in society.
6. Controlled alcohol access
Alcoholism was a major problem in Sweden between 1945 and 1954. Several failed attempts led to the creation of Systembolaget in 1945.
This term refers to an alcohol store whose operations are controlled by the government. Currently, it’s the only store where you can buy alcoholic goods with over 3.5% alcohol content.
Systembolaget is only open until 7 pm during the week and 2 pm on Saturdays, so you’ll have to plan if you want to get a drink. No operating hours are available on Sundays. Sadly, it is the only place you can buy decent-quality alcohol when you move to Sweden.
7. Difficult language to learn
This one should be self-explanatory. Swedish is a challenging language to learn. There is a lot of difficulty in understanding the sounds and pronunciation.
At times, it might seem impossible to learn, but keep trying. Investing in textbooks and online courses will be necessary to help you along the way.
To better understand the language and way of living, you must be patient and immerse yourself in the culture.
If you are moving to Sweden from the US, don’t miss out on the comparison of living in both countries.
8. Lack of urban centers
If you are a city person, Sweden might not satisfy your needs. There is only a somewhat large city in the country, the capital Stockholm. However, together with the Stockholm area, it only has about 1,600,000, which is hard to call a megapolis.
Other major Swedish cities include:
- Gothenburg – 607,882
- Malmö – 325,069
- Uppsala – 166,698
- Västerås – 128,660
As you can see, it’s not a large choice for city dwellers.
9. Education is not free to non-EU citizens
Those who do not belong to the European Union must pay tuition fees if they want to study at a Swedish university. Swedish schools and universities still offer free tuition to EU citizens, but those outside the region must pay fees and costs.
The average tuition fee for undergraduates is 7,500 – 25,500 EUR/year and 9,500 to 15,000 EUR/year for postgraduate programs.
Therefore, international students must have enough savings or support from parents to afford high-quality education in Sweden.
10. Healthcare is not always free
Swedish citizens have access to standard healthcare services as part of the state benefits they receive. Doctors are available whether you need them. However, not all medical services are covered by health insurance, and you might pay out of pocket for dental care, for example.
We recommend taking out private insurance to cover any additional costs. Coverage from Cigna Global is the best.
11. Expensive entertainment
Although the entertainment scene thrives with festivals, casinos, and live music venues, some popular entertainment sectors are expensive.
For example, there is usually a high price for tickets for events such as seeing a movie or seeing a play at the theater, having a concert, or especially going to a nightclub.
There is an entry fee of 150 SEK (about 19 USD) to get in, another 20 SEK (about 3 USD) to hang your coat, plus you need to count in food and drinks.
Read more about the cost of living in Sweden.
12. Major areas get very busy
In terms of surface area, Sweden is not a big country, about the same size as London, although it is about five times larger than London in terms of population.
As you would expect from a large metropolis like the capital, it can be surprisingly congested, especially during rush hours and holidays. As a result, it is always crowded and busy during these periods.
Sweden indeed has a lot of land, but most people live in the southern part of the country, where the weather is a little better than in the northern region.
Therefore, depending on where you live, it might not be as spacious as it would be in other places. While it is still possible to live a slow and relaxed lifestyle, you have to be prepared for this time of the day and during the summer months.
13. Lower levels of customer service
Across Europe, customer service lacks, and Sweden isn’t an exception. Fair enough, Swedish workers don’t live only on tips like it’s in the US. Besides, waitress is a regular job in Sweden that gives all benefits and securities of employment.
For all these reasons, you should not expect excellent customer service whether you go. People are polite, and it’s good enough.
14. Isolation of foreigners
Several cities in Sweden experience the problem of immigrants isolating themselves from Swedish society. They often create separate communities and, therefore, fail to integrate into the local environment.
These people often fall into the lowest social classes and aren’t very successful in life – many struggle to learn the language and find a job.
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