What living in Stockholm is like for an expat

Expat life in Stockholm

Jane is American and lives in Stockholm with her partner Josh. She is working as a freelance writer, Etsy shop owner and blogger. Today Jane will share her story about the ups and downs of her expat life in Stockholm.

Moving to Stockholm

“Josh and I moved to Stockholm in August 2017 so he can complete his Ph.D. at the University of Leeds. As part of his fellowship, he has to do his research out of the Ericsson headquarters here in the city.”

Making friends

“Making friends has been very hard in Stockholm. Swedes are polite in general but reserved, so it can take some time before you feel like they have accepted you into their friend group. Fortunately, there are some expat clubs and groups for expats living in Stockholm that organize meet-ups and events. I’ve also been very lucky that my yoga studio attracts many expats, so I’ve met a lot of people there.”

Learning Swedish

“I took some Swedish lessons when we first arrived so I could understand some of the basic things: read street signs, grocery store labels in the supermarket, numbers. In the beginning, I naively thought the Swedish language would be easy, but it’s not. The grammar was a lot more complicated than I was used to. I’m slowly picking up parts here and there, thanks to commercials and jingles, but since everyone speaks English I don’t get to practice the language as much as I would like.”

Getting around

“The best way to travel around Stockholm is by public transportation. The network of buses, trams, trains, and boats is extensive – you can actually get anywhere in the city with the same ticket! And once you’re in town, it is simple and pleasurable to walk from place to place.”

Cost of living in Stockholm

“Compared to other locations I’ve lived, the cost of living in this city is on the higher end. Food and other consumables are more expensive than in both the UK and Canada. Going out can be a bit of a shock as well, a pint can easily cost 75 SEK ($8.30).”

Stockholm housing

“Renting in Stockholm, on average, is rather expensive – at least compared to other locations I’ve lived. When you first arrive you’ll have to rent a place via second-hand market or the sublet, as there is something like a 10-year wait list for first-hand rentals in certain areas of the city. The second-hand rental market is not regulated, so you can expect to pay much more than if you have a first-hand rental. How much you have to pay will depend on what part of the city you live in, whether or not it includes amenities and the size of your flat. I’ve read that in 2018 the average cost to rent in Stockholm was higher than 12,500 SEK ($1,400 USD) per month, which is a lot higher than in other parts of Sweden.”

Green space

“The access to nature is one of the things I love most about living in Stockholm. The city is very green with lots of parks and nature reserves you can explore. Locals are also very passionate about healthy living so any time of year you will see people out biking, hiking, exploring and just enjoying the city. With bike sharing and so many locations to rent equipment (skis, kayaks, etc.) it’s very easy to remain active and have fun in this city!”

Swedish food

“Swedish food is rather tasty! I especially love the smoked salmon (lox). I really enjoy Swedish meatballs as well. With some sauerkraut and lingonberry jam, they are the perfect tasty, fast, and inexpensive meal!”

Coffee culture

“Coffee culture – or fika – is important in Stockholm! It’s a ritual every day to take a break and enjoy a fika (coffee with some kind of sweet treat, like a cinnamon bun) with colleagues and friends.”

Pace of life

“The pace of life in Stockholm is laid-back and very efficient. Nothing ever seems rushed but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like time is wasted. Lagom [a Swedish word that means ‘balance’ or ‘moderation’] is the cultural norm here.”

Personal safety

“Whether walking late at night or home alone, I never have the feeling like I have to worry. Unless I’ve been reading a Wallander book (a Swedish crime series), then I’m a little more cautious and on edge LOL.”


“It seems people have this impression that Sweden is freezing during the winter, but it actually isn’t so bad. It does snow and it does get cold, but compared to parts of the US and Canada, it’s rather mild.”

Thank you very much, Jane!

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