News & Career Tips

How To Move To Sweden In 2023


A scenic view of the old town and church in Stockholm, Sweden.

Starting a new life in Sweden as a non-European is not straightforward, but it can be done.

At the end of 2022, Sweden’s population passed 10.5 million for the first time. Of those, approximately 20% were born outside the country.

More than 24,000 American citizens live in Sweden, a mixture of professionals, students and Swedish-American families.

Whether you’re drawn by the politics, culture, the outdoors lifestyle or a desire to understand Scandianvian happiness, Sweden is an alluring choice but it’s not for everyone. It’s important to thoroughly understand the country before attempting a move. Visiting Sweden for a week and enjoying the tourist facilities isn’t the same as living there day in, day out.

Among the many things to know before you move include the need to learn Swedish to truly feel at home, the cost of living, the difficulty of obtaining housing especially in Stockholm, how taxes impact your personal finances, how healthcare works and the unwritten social codes.

Moving to Sweden for Europeans

Sweden’s membership of the EU makes it straightforward for citizens of EU/EEA countries to relocate, at least at first. You’ll need a source of income to stay beyond three months, at which point you must register with the Swedish tax agency.

If your stay will last more than one year, you’ll get a Swedish national ID number, necessary for most practical matters including opening a bank account, renting or buying an apartment and even joining a gym.

Moving to Sweden for everyone else

In most cases, citizens of other countries will need a work permit in order to move to Sweden. This requires a signed employment contract with a monthly salary of at least 13,000 Swedish kronor ($1,250) or on a par with Swedish collective agreements or industry norms if that is higher.

Obtaining a job offer without already living in Sweden is the biggest hurdle even for highly-qualified individuals. It’s straightforward for a Swedish employer to hire not just a Swedish national, but anyone from the more than 450 million residents of the EU/EEA area.

Aside from work permits, the most common way for Americans to move to Sweden is via family immigration. You may be granted a residence permit if you are married or have been in a relationship and living together with someone who now lives in Sweden. Study permits are also available for people planning to undertake full-time studies at a Swedish university.

Previously, Sweden did not offer a residence permit to non-EU/EEA foreigners seeking employment or wanting to start their own business. That’s now changed, but it doesn’t suit everyone.

Sweden’s new job-seeker visa

Introduced last year, the new job-seeker permit is designed to attract high-caliber professionals to Sweden.

Applicants need to possess an advanced degree (at least Master level or equivalent), be able to financially support themselves throughout the period and have comprehensive health insurance that includes emergency care and repatriation for medical reasons.

While it’s valid for three months, it can upon application be granted for up to nine months. It’s an individual permit, so it does not cover any other family members.

Finding somewhere to live in Sweden

It’s a wise move to accept any housing assistance your new employer may offer, at least to begin with. Municipalities run waiting lists for rental housing and it can take a long time for suitable accommodation to become available. Even if you might pay more this way, it’ll take a lot of stress out of the notoriously difficult process.

Old and new apartment buildings in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm.

For everyone else, it’s worth taking some time to search for relevant Facebook groups. People often rent out rooms or apartments this way. Just make sure you get a signed contract, especially if you are asked for a deposit.

If you’re used to living in a spacious detached house, you should adjust your expectations to compact apartment living if you want to live in a city.

Accommodation in the biggest cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö is the priciest. If you will be working in the city, consider looking for accommodation farther afield with a good train connection. You’ll get more bang for your buck in suburbs and satellite towns.

Staying long-term in Sweden

After four years holding valid residence permits, it’s possible for non-EU/EEA citizens to apply for a permanent residence permit meaning you can live and work in Sweden indefinitely with no need to renew work permits. If you have held a different kind of permit, the required time period may be shorter or longer.

There is no specific retirement permit available in Sweden. This means non-Europeans hoping to retire in Sweden will, generally speaking, have to obtain a permanent residence permit by working in the country for at least four years before retirement.

Alina Lindgren
About:  Alina Lindgren

6 years experience in recruitment and HR. Worked with so of the fastest growing companies in Sweden including Spotify, Epidemic Sound, Epic Games, Ericsson, Volvo and more to build international talent capacity for innovation and business growth.

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