Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reasons to move to Sweden - why you should become a viking

Why should you move to Scandinavia, and in particular Sweden, off all countries in the world like the land of freedom and opportunity (USA you dummies)?

You can become a viking here and learn how to train your dragon, what's better than axes and beards, swinging hammers and worshiping Odin the All-father?

Ok....ehhh...No.
So, really, with all the myths and rumours that circulate, why would you want to live in a country that is so expensive, where everyone is blonde, 2 meters tall, taxes deduct 50% of your income, that has freezing winters with temperatures up to -30C, 9 months of total darkness and a few hours of daylight? Sounds like hell for a foreigner such as me, coming from a country with mild winters and really hot summers. Let's break it down a little then.

I actually hope that this post might convince some of you to move to Sweden!

1) It is NOT so cold. 
Ok this is the only drawback i can find and i thought i should mythbust this first. Sure it can get down to -30C if you live North, but souther the climate is milder, the temperatures can soar up to 25C during the summer. Summers can be incredible here. The sun has risen before you even wake up and will actually set after you have slept. So if you work or study you will have plenty of time to do any day activity you wouldn't be able to do in another country. And Sweden is a vast country that offers many alternatives, rowing, karting, skydiving, horse riding, check my previous posts!
Also, someone wise told me, it's not cold, you just have bad clothing ;)
2) At least 5 weeks PAID vacations for workers.
I don't think this needs a massive explanation, don't make me bring out Ms. Information again. For me that means that once i get a job after my MSc. i can travel around Europe again without stress. And these vacations are mandatory.
3) You have kids or plan to start a family? You hit the jackpot.
Are you working and have a new baby in the family? You get 480, yes 480 days of parental leave. For EACH child. I think you get around 80% of your salary on those days and according to this study it's one of the best places in the world to grow up. The top three countries are Scandinavian, with Sweden coming in at No. 2. Risk of maternal death over a lifetime is only 1 in 14,100, and gross national income is a whopping $53,150—maybe because all kids receive 16 years of formal schooling. Great.
4) Taxes are worth every penny.
Taxes in Sweden can amount for a substantial sum of your income, almost 50%. But for once it is actually money well spent! There is cheap health care for everyone (ie. dental care is free for under-18's), the infrastructure is great, as well as the public transport. Metro stations and buses cover wide areas in all time frames, making the use of a vehicle diminished. Everybody promotes the use of bikes, which leads on a healthier lifestyle.
Also don't forget that the salaries in Sweden are pretty high compared to other countries, so there is a higher quality/standard of living. Let's compare for a moment selling newspapers in the streets of Stockholm VS serving coffee for a whole day in Greece. 15 Euros/h vs 4 Euros/h. Even after tax it sounds fair huh? While not everyone is as rich as the owner of IKEA or H&M there is a bigger balance in the middle areas of the society and the government tries to eradicate poverty so everyone can have a chance.
There is tremendous help for people that are having a rough time or could be homeless, or unemployed (a really low % by Europe's standards). I would be happy to pay taxes if i have to if they offer me and the rest so much.
5) Education is great, universities are free.
Ok, universities since 2010-11 or so are not free for students outside the EU/EEA but there are scholarships for that that promote the cultural diversiveness in Swedish institutes. And they are very respected amongst the world, ranking steadily each year in the top 100.
No wonder people from the UK or even the USA move here more frequently. Instead of shelling out loans and graduate debt ridden with a mountain to climb they can focus more on their studies, or gain scholarships and grants/reliefs, to ease the pressure, as US universities can cost thousands of dollars each year.
If you are a EU/EEA member you can work/study for free here, only having to cover your living costs. I couldn't think of a better country to study. I would have given my left leg and my right arm to do my BSc here instead of my native Greece.
6) Gender Equity and class.
People dress well. Swedish women are beautiful. It's one of the few countries you can wear the side-perm and never be out of fashion. It's one of the most advanced countries for women, with them representing 44% of the parliament. Not bad ladies? I am a fan of equity and i dislike racism, so this gets a plus in my head. Along with the fact that there are no stray animals here. Like in Greece as well. Oh wait....
7) Low corruption and transparency.
From what i see the level of corruption is significantly lower than other countries, that reminds me not to talk about Greece's bright politicians again...Also watching the news, i hardly remember any war or conflict involving Scandinavia. Sure there are a few occasions let's not put everything in one basket, but still. If you want corruption go play a warlock in world of warcraft.
8) European Location, citizenship.
You are in the middle/north of Europe. You have access to every major country in a heartbeat. Be it Russia, Germany, UK, Italy. Just hop in a plane in Arlanda Airport and you are anywhere. You have/get EU citizenship? Fantastic. Now you can work in the European Union or live there with no need for a residense/work permit. For me this means that every month i could get 3 free days and visit someplace else. Travelling is my passion.
9) Clean, Green country.
Not much to say here. Everyone recycles, they don't litter, people are polite and they don't smoke where they are not supposed to (that's your face silly). Innovations happen for a sustainable environment. I remember my University recently asking for suggestions on how to become more sustainable and eco-friendly. And as i previously stated, everybody uses bikes. 
10) Incredible sights.

From the beauty of the Northern Lights to the little islands of Stockholm, to the vast mountains and staggering forests, this country will never cease to amaze you. I remember in my cover letter during my application here, i said i wanted to promote Sweden and become an ambassador for this country. I just can't wait to move there.

You should too! Consider it, leave me a comment, or simply add me in Facebook!

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