This post is for Andreea. And for anyone else who moved or thinks about moving to Sweden. Its pretty random, quite naive, and not well documented list, but given the complete and utter lack of similar endeavours, I hope it does help.
This is a list of random things to ask and check, to ensure a problem free life in Sweden. All Swedes do it, and it is so natural for them that they forget telling you about it. I was quite frustrated that no one told me, and I noticed a lot of expats as frustrated as me. But this is not a sign of bad will on behalf of the Swedes – they are just so used with these things, they think everyone in the world does it.
Here we go:
- Make sure you registered at Migrationsverket. The fact that you have a personnumber does not mean you are registered there. For anyone planning to stay in Sweden for more than 3 months, they have to register at Migrationsverket. This does not carry a great deal of impact but it’s the law.
- Become a member of a work union. Unions are very powerful in Sweden, and there are many reasons for that, but one of them is that every single Swede is a member. And what Unions do is they protect your relationship with your employer. This is not an adversarial reaction but your chances of knowing all the laws and regulations in Sweden are not that high. So unions are your expert friends about that, and technically their interest is to defend your rights should need come.
- Pay a-kassa. A-kassa is income insurance. Most unions also have a-kassa but you need to ask for it and pay for it separately. Income insurance means that, in the event of you losing your job, you will get 80% of your salary for some 7 months, and then gradually less, but it will still be a higher percentage than what you would get if you did not have the insurance. But read the rules!
- Subscribe to a hospital! This way you will pay smaller fees if you need to see a doctor. Typically its 300 sek for a visit if you are not subscribed to the hospital you went to, and 100 if you are. You subscribe there by going to your hospital of choice and saying: I want to subscribe 🙂 Changing your hospitals is easy and all you need to do is to just go to your new hospital and subscribe, and this cancels your current subscription.
- Vaccinate yourself against ticks. Here is some info. There are lots of them in Sweden and they might cause serious diseases, so take that vaccine, especially if you are an outdoor kind of person. Its not a very easy vaccination process, you need to get the shot several times, so do it early. Here’s where and how. There is usually a vaccination tour every summer, with a bus that stops at the ICA store near you.
- Pay home insurance. Even if you rent the place. Not only does home insurance cover you in the event of disaster, but most home insurances double down as travel insurances, too.
- Understand pension. I still don’t, but I know there is a percentage secured by state and another percentage paid in private pension by your employer. Those percentages are quite important, and you can also decide how to invest your pension money.
- Save your invoices if you commute! If you exceed a certain sum, you can deduct it from taxes. There are a bunch of other things you can deduct, such as home improvements, for example.
- Subscribe your self to apartment queues (bostadskö)! And we recommend looking around the zone where you want to live, and subscribe to nearby zones, too – sometimes, it is easier to find 1st hand rent there. And if you should do like Romans when in Rome, why not queuing up everywhere you might be interested in living, even if you donöt plan to move there for years. They say it takes 20 years to stay in an apartment queue in Stockholm, so better start early. Thank you, Bea!
This list is not complete. I’ll update it if I get feedback from you, my dear Swedish friends 🙂