25 Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden

Perhaps you are looking for a place to make a fresh start or simply looking for a beautiful place to settle down and enjoy retirement. If Sweden happens to be that destination for you, well you’re in luck because we’ve taken the liberty of providing you with a well-rounded view of this country and all the things that it offers.

Sweden has education for aspiring scholars. The country also has a robust and exceptional healthcare system. Here are our 25 pros and cons of living in Sweden!

Pros of Living in Sweden

An aerial photograph of Stockholm, Sweden, showing dozens of large 3 and 4 story buildings in classical architectural styles surrounded by a large river

Here are just some of the pros of living in Sweden. 

#1 Free (Almost) Education

Education is essential, and in Sweden, universities and colleges are free for native residents and members of the European Union

That is not to say that students do not accrue any form of debt. Students in Sweden have on average about $19,000 (USD) of debt at the time of graduation. Yet and still, this figure is around 30% lower than what students in the U.S. have to pay by the time they finish school.

Having said that, if you do not live above your means, find affordable living, and manage your eating expenses, it is more than possible to get a proper education in Sweden without breaking the bank.

#2 Excellent Workplace Environment

Employment in Sweden affords you the ability to enjoy their holidays for the year. It is normal for people beginning a job to start with at least five paid vacations the first year of working. Not only this, there are opportunities to earn more time off as you scale through the ranks and become a senior employee.

Similarly, Swedish parents get almost 500 days of parental leave at their disposal, for which they get paid. This grants everyone an opportunity to connect and spend quality time with their newborn. 

These days get shared between the two parents, and they are free to use them as they please. Typically, parents with a new baby can get up to 60 days away from work, while working at 80% capacity. This ensures that they have income for their household.

#3 Crazy Fast Internet Service

Sweden boasts some of the fastest Internet connections in the world. Moreover, these connection speeds do not work in some obscure locations. However, it is the standard for homes throughout Sweden. Furthermore, Sweden is currently amongst the fastest Internet service providers worldwide, ranking fifth, for those who get online consistently.

They have impressive mobile data connections as well in Sweden. The 4G network is underground and extends to the archipelago. Thanks to the fact that Sweden takes its position as a leader in technological advancement, you will enjoy the fruits of this ambition living here in Sweden.

#4 Enjoy Skiing and Ice-Skating

A photo of a snow covered landscape in Sweden. It shows several huge pine trees covered in snow and three red barns

Snow is no stranger in Sweden, and when the snow begins falling, you can enjoy some adventurous skiing during the winter season. If you decide to stay here, the closest place to ski is only 20 minutes away from Stockholm. While ice-skating typically begins when the hockey season begins, cross-country skiing is always available in the backcountry. 

The weather can be an adjustment for most, especially if you are not used to the cold. However, having a warm jacket with some essentials in tow will afford you a nice time even in the brisk temperatures.

#5 Visit the Archipelago Whenever You Like

The Swedish Archipelago is a stunning sight to see. This particular region of Sweden is breathtakingly beautiful per the accounts of many residents and visitors around the world. This area can be accessed from Stockholm which is a reasonable distance away from the Swedish archipelago. Once there, feel free to roam around the 30,000 islands on display.

The cuisine in the Swedish archipelago is just as impressive as the sights you’ll see while touring the breathtaking islands. Enjoy a small cinnamon or cardamom bun, or, take a load off and have some of their comfort food. They have Sil, snaps, and meatballs, which is a staple of their local cuisine.

#6 Likely Entertainment Scene 

If you’re into music and live performances, these kinds of activities are very popular in Sweden. No matter if you’re into dance, rock, or opera, there is something for people with different preferences.

For those who enjoy the casino and all of the festivities therein, Sweden has four casinos all of which are owned by the state-run Casino Cosmopol.

Living in Sweden you will find that there’s plenty of fun and various festivals which happen throughout the year so there is no shortage of fun to be had!

#7 World-Class Cuisine

If you happen to be a person that likes to cook and typically purchases their food from supermarkets, then you may be surprised to learn that dining in Sweden is refreshingly inexpensive. If you can manage to mostly eat at home, except for your lunch during the week, you spend on average about SEK 16,100 or about USD 1950 a month.

In recent years, more inexpensive international markets like Netto and Lidl have popped up in Sweden. These stores have made it easier to purchase affordable groceries. Moreover, even the native stores such as Hemköp, ICA, and Coop have items that are reasonably priced.

#8 Extensive Healthcare Opportunities

Even though many people have the perception that Sweden has a universal healthcare system, this perception is not completely accurate. Citizens usually pay 100kr to 250kr, or USD 12 to USD 30 each time they visit the doctor.

The maximum cost within the confines of this system is 1,000kr per visit, or about USD 120. However, once you’ve reached this threshold, which is the highest amount that you can be charged, all your other visits cost nothing. Healthcare is excellent in Sweden and if you’re under 20 years of age it’s entirely free.

#9 Gender Equality and Freedom For All

Another beautiful side effect that comes with moving to Sweden to establish a new life and a new career, is to reap the benefits of one of the most equal countries in the world. Moreover, Sweden has strong anti-discrimination legislation which prevents any bias that could take place based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or functional abilities.

Not only is there a show against discriminatory behaviors in the form of legislation, but you’ll also find that the vast majority of the people find such behaviors unacceptable and taboo.

#10 Cost of Living in Sweden

A picture of a city in Sweden showing luxurious apartments by the water. There are dozens of boats in the water. This photo shows how expensive Sweden is

It’s only right that you be concerned about the cost of living in Sweden when you’re considering making it your possible place of residence. With that said, the reputation of the Scandinavian countries precedes them when it comes to being more pricey than other Western European and other English-speaking countries. However, this is not without good reason.

The many benefits interlaced within the fabric of society do not come without a cost. From their free universities to their affordable healthcare system, these things add to the cost of living. However, the price of living is commensurate with the wages that you earn in Sweden. In other words, the labor force supplies the people with the wages that they need to afford to live there.

#11 Sweden is Environmentally-Friendly

The Swedish government affirms that the country is among the greenest countries on the planet. In the past, the country has ranked as the #1 most sustainable nation. In an attempt to combat climate change, Sweden is replacing gasoline with biofuels.

Due to Sweden’s stringent sustainability, it has drastically decreased pollution throughout the country thanks to its clean air innovations. Moreover, Swedes have one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

#12 Nearly the Entire Population Speaks Multiple Languages

If you move to Sweden you will enjoy culture with a penchant for learning a second and maybe even a third language. Generally, Swedes will learn English as their second language, while of course speaking Swedish within their homes as their primary language. 

The fact that being multilingual in Sweden is commonplace bolds well for anyone looking to move to Sweden who hasn’t yet grasped the native language. Thanks to their diversity it may be easier to communicate with them in your native language until you learn Swedish, which is the primary language spoken there.

#13 Swedish Citizens Care About The Appearance of the Country

The Swedes place a heavy emphasis on health and taking care of oneself. There is this pervading thought within the Swedish culture that keeping track of your health and staying well to the best of your ability is a great way to benefit the entire culture.

This way of thinking bleeds over into the properties around the country and even in the cities. People are quick to clean up after themselves and will reprove those who refuse to do the same. The people work to ensure that their country is a true reflection of how they see themselves as a nation.

#14 Sports! Sports! Sports!

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, living in Sweden may persuade you to become engulfed in the atmosphere. Sports events are unifying agents that bring everyone out to cheer for their favorite team. In Sweden, they have handball, which is a pretty fun sport to play, and it’s quickly gaining popularity.  

They also have professional leagues for those handball players, ice hockey, and football players. There’s a culture of hard work established in Sweden which propels many of the players who start on Swedish teams to be picked up by professional leagues in the U.S. 

Cons of Living in Sweden

Here are a few cons of living in Sweden. 

#15 Government Control of Alcohol Access 

A photo of a group of friends standing in a Swedish bar with their glasses raised as they watch football on the television

Between 1945 and 1954, Sweden struggled mightily to tackle alcoholism. After several failed efforts, Systembolaget was born in 1945. This term refers to an alcohol store that gets controlled by the government. It is the lone store where you can purchase alcoholic products with over 3.5% alcohol. 

Be mindful that you’ll have to organize a trip to Systembolaget ahead of time because these stores are only open until 7 pm during the week and 2 pm on Saturdays. There aren’t any operating hours on Sundays at all. Unfortunately, it is the sole option where you can buy decent quality alcohol and a variety of products. 

#16 The Weather Takes Some Getting Used To

Most people hate the weather in Sweden throughout the year. You’ll get maybe a few weeks in the summer where you can catch consistent sunlight, and wear your t-shirts and shorts. For the better part of the year, however, the temperatures will be cooler, and it is rainy, damp, and eventually snowy. 

The winters are pretty harsh in Sweden, and you’re always guaranteed an incredible amount of snow. It’s not as bad in the South as it is in the North, but no matter where you are, sunshine is a rarity. 

#17 There’s a Lack of Urban Areas

Unlike what you may be used to in your home country, when traveling through Sweden you’ll notice that there aren’t any major cities. The capital of Sweden is Stockholm, and that’s the biggest city in the country, with only about 800,000 inhabitants. To put it into perspective. That makes the capital city only as big as Detroit. 

Elsewhere in the country, your largest areas hover around 100,000 people. If you’re accustomed to large and distinct cities, this aspect of living could take some getting used to. 

#18 No Free Tuition If You Migrated to Sweden

Those that aren’t Swedish by birth or a member of the European Union, may want to start saving up for their college education. Sweden does permit native residents and European Union citizens to get free education at the nation’s universities and schools. However, if you move to Sweden and are outside of the allowed regions, you will have to pay out of pocket. 

Be sure that you check with your desired institution before moving there so that you have an idea of your expenses prior to your arrival. 

#19 You May Feel Lonely For Awhile

From the accounts of many others that have visited Sweden for one reason or another, the consensus is that it’s hard to make friends. They say Stockholm is particularly notable for being filled with unfriendly inhabitants. It seems that Swedes only tend to socialize with people they know personally and are completely comfortable with. 

Outside of this, it takes quite a bit of warming up to ingratiate yourself into this society. 

Nonetheless, there are solutions to this problem in the form of book clubs, chess clubs, sports teams, bars, and so on. Sharing common interests usually breaks the ice and helps to make it easier to get to know the Swedes. 

#20 You May Have a Hard Time Finding Housing

Those moving to Sweden have found that it’s difficult to land a first-hand apartment contract. That means that you’re renting your apartment directly from the building owner, as opposed to another tenant. 

The waiting list can get very long in more popular areas, and you could find yourself subletting for nearly a decade. First-hand contracts are typically less expensive than second-hand agreements.

Many people, however, find that this is one the only ways to secure housing. Just make sure you don’t show up to Sweden expecting to land a place immediately. 

#21 Major Areas Get Very Busy

Sweden isn’t a big country, maybe about the same size as London, despite being about five times larger according to its surface area. For bigger areas like the capital, it gets surprisingly congested, especially during rush hour and holidays. During these periods, it’s always busy and crowded.

There’s tons of land in Sweden, but most of the people live in the Southern part of the country where the weather is a little better. Therefore, it’s not as spacious, depending on where you live. You can still get a slow and relaxed way of living, just be prepared during this part of the day and the summer.

#22 Jante’s Law

There’s a code of conduct that all within the Nordic countries feel that they must follow. It’s called Jante’s Law, and it’s unspoken, but closely adhered to the way of living. The Swedish call it Jantelagen, and it represents a target restricted way of thinking. The idea is that people shouldn’t do things that are overly ambitious or out of the ordinary. 

Doing so is frowned upon and viewed as unnecessary and unethical. The goal is to create a unified society that yields conformity and predictability for all. This code contains ten rules that are widely followed.

#23 Swedish is a Difficult Language to Learn

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s just not easy to learn how to speak Swedish. The sounds and pronunciation are hard to grasp. It might feel like it’s impossible to learn at some points but keep at it. You’ll likely have to invest in a few resources such as textbooks and online courses to help you along the way.

So you need a lot of patience and to immerse yourself in the culture to better pick up on the language and way of living. 

#24 Entertainment Can Get Expensive

While the entertainment scene is thriving in terms of festivals, casinos, live music venues, and more, some popular entertainment sectors are costly. For example, the ticket prices are high for events such as going to the movies, plays at the theater, concerts, and especially nightclubs. 

You can find yourself paying an entry fee of 150 SEK (about USD 19) to get in, another 20 SEK about USD 3) to hang your coat up, plus food and drinks for the night. 

#25 Excessive Taxes

One of the drawbacks to the mostly free healthcare system is that you pay extremely high taxes in Sweden. That also comes with the necessity to make your appointment very far in advance. Despite the top-notch healthcare you’ll receive, take note that you have to schedule your visit almost six months ahead of time in some cases. 

Sometimes your wait is maybe even longer than this. This price of free care is annoying to many who enjoy quick access they might be accustomed to receiving. Additionally, dental visits are extremely expensive throughout the country.

Conclusion 

While there are advantages and disadvantages to almost everything in life, we must say that Sweden is a very attractive destination for relocation. Between the free healthcare, education, delicious food from across the world, and the archipelagos, it’s a sight to see!

Enjoy frosty winters and mild summers, constant sporting events, and world-class skiing in the beautiful country of Sweden.

As we mentioned, the cost of living is high, but you’re usually fairly compensated so that you can maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Do you live in, or are you currently living in Sweden and you think we missed something on the list? Feel free to let us know by dropping a comment below!