Is life better in Sweden or Germany?

Emigration to Sweden: New start in the far north

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Sweden is a popular holiday destination. But some Germans dream of living in the Scandinavian country forever. The following article explains how people who want to emigrate should proceed with their planning, how moving, looking for accommodation and work should work.

Whether new professional perspectives, an excellent social system or the picturesque landscape - there are many reasons for emigrating to Sweden. For Germans, moving to the Scandinavian country is relatively easy thanks to membership of the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, there are a few special features that those who want to emigrate should consider before moving.

numbers, data, facts

  • Area: Sweden has an area of ​​around 450,000 square kilometers and that is it third largest country in the European Union.
  • Population: 10.2 million people. Around 1.7 million of them live in the Capital Stockholm. Otherwise Sweden is very sparsely populated: the population density is only 22.6 inhabitants per square kilometer.
  • Form of government: Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. This means that while the Swedish king is head of state, executive power is exercised by the government and its prime minister.
  • Local currency: Swedish Crowns (SEK)
  • Official languages: Swedish. However, most Swedes also speak Very good English and German skills are widespread, especially in the older generations.
  • Climate: Due to the proximity to the Gulf Stream, it prevails in large parts of the country temperate climate ¬– similar to Germany. However, since the north of Sweden lies above the Arctic Circle, those wishing to emigrate there must be aware of a considerable difference between almost endless summer days and the long darkness in winter to adjust.

If you are planning to move to Sweden, you should prepare it well. Because the plan to want to live forever in a different country requires not only a good dose of courage but also a lot of organization.

Residence permit and work permit

Since Sweden is a member of the EU, German emigrants can make use of the European law on freedom of movement and initially live and work in the Scandinavian country without a permit. A work permit is not required for this. All they need to enter the country is their identity card.

Only after three months does it get serious: Requirements for a longer stay in Sweden

If you want to stay longer than three months, you have to have your stay confirmed by the end of the third month at the latest. The permit is provided by the Swedish Immigration Office (Migration Association) if the emigrant can prove that he is able to support himself. This condition is met by:

  • have an employment contract with a Swedish company,
  • runs his own business,
  • has sufficient assets
  • draws a sufficient pension or
  • Is the partner or child of an immigrant with a right of residence.

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Here to stay: apply for permanent residence

Anyone who has resided in Sweden for five years in accordance with the provisions of the right of free movement acquires the right of permanent residence. This allows immigrants to stay and work in Sweden with their family members indefinitely - regardless of whether the above conditions are met. For this purpose, however, applicants may not have spent more than six months of a year abroad. Alternatively, you can apply for Swedish citizenship at the Immigration Office.

Those who accept this will have a little easier paperwork in the future. Of course, emigrants can still live in Sweden as German citizens. Only the extension of ID documents and driving licenses is a bit more complicated, because these can only be applied for via the German embassy in Stockholm.

In Sweden it is also possible to apply for dual citizenship. So if those willing to emigrate take on Swedish citizenship, they can continue to keep German citizenship.

Living in Sweden

Anyone who decides to emigrate to Sweden will soon have to make the next decision: where exactly should their future home be? Because in Sweden there is a big difference between living in the north or south of the country. Due to the proximity to the Arctic Circle, the winters in the northern part are particularly long and dark. The fact that the sun only shows itself for a few hours a day for months takes some getting used to for many New Swedes. In addition, this section is even more sparsely populated than the rest of the country. Emigrants should also bear this in mind, as a low density of potential neighbors can have an impact on social contacts.

Those wishing to emigrate should also think about where they have the best prospects for a job and in which regions their professional qualifications are being sought. Because in Sweden a permanent residence is a prerequisite for a successful job search.

In addition, it should be clear before emigrating whether you want to rent or live in your own four walls in Sweden in the future. Because this determines the type of search for a new home.

Rent real estate: small selection, long waiting times

Especially if you are looking for a rental apartment, you have to keep your eyes open early on. In larger cities in particular, there is a shortage of rental properties and it is difficult to find an apartment. Because only a few private individuals rent their property because they cannot expect high rental yields due to the government rent regulation.

More often it is the municipal housing associations that build and rent out rental houses. Due to the high demand, they often have waiting lists on which interested parties can stand for several years until something suitable is available. Then, however, you need to act quickly so as not to miss the opportunity.

The few apartments that are still offered on the open housing market are often sublet by their current tenant. Before signing such a sublease agreement (andrahandcontract), but this should be checked carefully, as second-hand apartments are often furnished and only rented for a limited period of time.

Understand Swedish housing advertisements correctly

  • The number of rooms in a property mostly relates to the total number of rooms available. As in Germany, the kitchen and bathroom are excluded from this.
  • The reported rent for an apartment usually also includes ancillary housing costs. The costs for heating, garbage disposal and building cleaning are included in the rent, while costs for electricity, internet and television connections are added.
  • There is no space for a washing machine in most Swedish bathrooms. Many apartment advertisements therefore advertise a washroom (tvättrum), in which washing machines and dryers can be used together. Saunas or guest rooms for shared use by all tenants are also not uncommon.

Only with broker: Buying property in Sweden

If you are sure which region of Sweden you would like to live in, you can go straight to the search for a property there that is offered for sale.

The property search is comparatively easy thanks to numerous internet portals. Purchase offers are generally made with a starting price (Utgangspris) set. If you like the property, you can submit a bid after viewing. The highest bid submitted is visible to all interested parties, so that improvements can be made if necessary. If there are several potential home buyers, the price for the property is often higher than the starting price in the end; if there are few interested parties, it can also be sold underneath.

The Swedish real estate market is difficult to compare with the German one. This is mainly due to the much simpler construction in Sweden. In addition, the equipment of residential buildings is at a lower level, which is why the prices are usually significantly lower.

Real estate sales in Sweden are generally handled through real estate agents. Because unlike in Germany, in Sweden you are authorized to carry out the description of the property yourself. However, very few emigrants have to worry about the commission of up to five percent for this brokerage service, because in Sweden it is generally paid by the seller of the property. You should therefore refrain from real estate offers that require a commission from the homebuyer. They are both dubious and inadmissible.
Buying a house in Sweden has another special feature: Purchase contracts do not have to be notarized, but are only concluded between seller and buyer. Interested parties are therefore strongly advised to have the contract checked and possibly translated by a Swedish lawyer before signing it.
Once you have found your dream house and contractually stipulates that it will become your own property, ten percent of the purchase price is usually due as a down payment. The remaining 90 percent must be transferred to the seller at the latest when the house is handed over.

Typically Swedish: The residential association

While the Germans “only” differentiate between buying and renting, Sweden has a third form of living: the so-called Bostadsratst. Literally translated it means right of residence; However, it represents a hybrid form between a community of ownership and a cooperative. Anyone who buys a Bostadsrätt joins the housing association to which the housing complex belongs.

Similar to the purchase of a house, the right of residence is also offered in a kind of auction, starting with a starting price. In this way, prices can of course screw up, especially if the apartment is popular and is in an area with little housing supply. However, submitting the highest bid is not enough to purchase the Bödstadrat, because the club must first approve the sale and the associated membership.

The residential association always remains the actual owner of the facility, but after joining the new member is registered as a co-owner of the entire property. At the same time, it acquires the permanent right of residence in it - but is also bound to compliance with the association's jointly established regulations.

Because unlike in his own property, the housing association determines whether the apartment may be sublet or whether structural changes may be carried out. The housing association advises on these and other decisions in regular meetings. The amount of the monthly fee to the association and how it is used is also determined here. So, although the members have already bought themselves into the association with a large amount, an amount has to be paid monthly to cover the costs for insurance, maintenance and repairs for the system. Should the association generate a profit, this will be distributed to its members. The well-being of the collective always comes first.

This is how the move to Sweden works

Anyone who emigrates has to settle a lot of things in advance. There are some things that people willing to emigrate can do from Germany. Other things are only possible on site in Sweden.

Regulate in Germany

The most important step before emigrating is thorough preparation. The earlier you start planning, the more relaxed the move to your new home will be. And some things can no longer be done so easily and quickly from Sweden later. It is therefore advisable to arrange the first things from Germany.

Termination of rental, electricity, insurance and mobile phone contracts

All existing contracts should be checked for their deadlines and terminated in good time if necessary. This applies above all to the rental agreement and contracts for related services with electricity providers or insurance companies.

Anyone who emigrates should also check their cell phone contract. Thanks to the new EU regulation, there are no longer any horrendous costs abroad, but a Swedish mobile operator will presumably call for cheaper tariffs for domestic calls and data usage.

Also don't forget: cancel all subscriptions and memberships in company studios and clubs in Germany in good time.

De-register your place of residence in Germany?

Anyone who moves abroad and no longer lives in Germany must deregister at the relevant registration office in Germany. The deadline for this is 14 days. Emigrants should obtain a deregistration confirmation from the authorities. In this way, the German embassy in Sweden can later work for the emigrant without any problems and, for example, change the place of residence in the passport or issue a new one.

If you are not yet sure whether you really want to live in Sweden forever, it is advisable to stay registered in Germany and register a second home in the Scandinavian country.

In any case, it is advisable to place a forwarding order with the post office to make sure that important shipments arrive in Sweden.


As before every trip abroad, vaccination protection should be checked. There are no specific vaccination regulations for Sweden, but the Federal Foreign Office recommends completing or refreshing all standard vaccinations in accordance with the current vaccination calendar of the Robert Koch Institute. These include measles, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and a few more.

Moving company or self-directed?

As with any other move, there is a lot to think about and pack - and because this time you are going abroad - a little more than usual. After all, you don't just have to take clothes with you, as you would for a holiday, but all your household items.

But whether emigrants can really take everything with them also depends on whether the new home is just as big as in Germany or whether the emigrant has to restrict himself in terms of living space in Sweden. If necessary, it makes sense to part with a few pieces in advance. On the one hand, to improve the household budget a little, on the other hand, of course, the size of the move increases with each box, which also increases the time and costs.

Nevertheless, in many cases, emigrants will have to hire a moving company. It is definitely worthwhile to compare different providers with one another.

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Alternatively, emigrants can of course also try to manage the move on their own. For this, however, you may need a truck driver's license and certainly a lot of hardworking hands from friends and acquaintances.

If you want to carry out such a move without specialists, you really have to take care of everything yourself, which can be a logistical challenge. Professional help can therefore be quite helpful, especially if the emigrants are professionally involved until shortly before the move.

Import regulations: what can I bring with me?

As a customs union must be within the EU and thus also from Germany to Sweden no customs duties on the import of goods to be paid. However, Sweden has its own regulations for food, medicines and weapons. Alcohol, too, may only be imported in limited quantities.

The individual provisions can be found on the Swedish Customs website.

For the Import of dogs, cats and other pets Uniform rules apply in the EU. Emigrants do not need a written permit, but they must register their animal companions with customs beforehand. In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • The animal must be provided with an ID tag.
  • Dogs, cats and other pets must be vaccinated against rabies. It should be noted that the vaccine is also recognized in Sweden.
  • The home veterinarian must issue an EU passport for the pet and note both the ID numbers and all treatments in this.

Additions and more information about the current regulations for pets can be found on the Swedish National Agricultural Agency's website.

Arrived in Sweden - what now?

With the deregistration from Germany and the move to Sweden it is not done yet. In order for the restart in Scandinavia to work out, there are a few things that should be done as soon as you arrive.

Personal number and ID-Kort

Anyone planning to stay in Sweden for more than a year should go to Skatteverket be present. The Skatteverket is also the Swedish finance, registration and registry office. It is also responsible for applying for the personal number and the ID-Kort.

The Personal number consists of your own birthday date and a randomly selected four-digit number.Without the individual number, practically nothing works, because the 12-digit number is essential for dealing with authorities or opening a bank account or taking out insurance. It will also appear on the identity card, the ID-Kort, noted. This is comparable to the German identity card, is not a valid travel document, but is required more often in everyday life. If you live in Sweden, you need it, for example, to redeem a prescription in the pharmacy, for bank transactions or to confirm a credit card payment. The possession of an ID-Kort is mandatory for the acceptance of the Swedish citizenship.

The Swedish tax office took some getting used to

Unlike the German tax office, the Swedish counterpart is anything but discreet. It relies on total transparency: every resident can request information about the tax income of another resident at any time. This service is actually used millions of times a year.

Bank account

Cashless payments are widespread in Sweden. Even the smallest amounts are often paid by debit or credit card. In order to avoid possible exchange fees and fees for foreign transactions, it is advisable to open a Swedish bank account.

Most banks of course need the personal number and ID-Kort for this. In addition, emigrants must give their permanent address. If you don't have a permanent address when you arrive, you can talk to your bank and explore other options. By the way: the Swedish authorities work closely together. Subsequent changes of address or name are automatically forwarded to banks and the most important authorities.

Always have a good trip: driver's license

Like all driving licenses issued in the EU, the German driving license is also recognized in Sweden. When relocating, the driver's license does not have to be exchanged for a Swedish one, provided it is valid.

In principle, Swedish road traffic does not differ from its German counterpart. However, drivers should make sure that the maximum speed on motorways is 110 kilometers per hour. You should also get used to driving your vehicle with the lights on. Driving without dipped headlights is prohibited and is punished with a fine, which is linked to the monthly income.

Registering and de-registering vehicles in Sweden can be found on the website of the Swedish Transport Authority.

Playing it safe: Insurance

When starting work in Sweden, every emigrant also joins the Swedish social system. The National Social Insurance Agency (Allmänna Försakringskassa) covers the following areas:

  • Health insurance
  • Occupational damage insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Pension insurance (from the age of 65)

Health insurance also includes sick pay and rehabilitation allowance. Visits to the doctor and treatment costs are also covered by the insurance, but always with excess. For emigrants, it may be worthwhile to take out temporary health insurance abroad to cover the transition.

The Swedish Health Insurance Fund does not cover dental treatment costs, which is why most residents have private supplementary insurance.

Swedish citizens also have the right to housing and child benefit in the welfare state. All of these benefits are paid for with income tax or with employer contributions.

school and education

If the whole family emigrates together, school-age children must be registered at the relevant local educational institution. In Sweden, schooling is compulsory from the age of seven to 16 - elementary school continues for these nine years. Then the children can attend a grammar school for 3 more years. School education, like studies, is free of charge.

The labor market in Sweden

Finding a job in their new home is a priority for most German emigrants. And their prospects are good: Sweden has a strong labor market and there is a good chance of a job in numerous occupational groups. In order for the application to be really successful, applicants have to adapt it to the requirements in Sweden. There are also some differences between Sweden and Germany in working life.

The job search

The search is initially similar to that in Germany. Most jobs in Sweden are also advertised online. For emigrants, this also means that they can start looking for a new job from Germany.

The Eureopean Employment Services (EURES) portal helps EU citizens to find work. This network provides information, advice and helps with the placement of employees willing to be mobile. The employment office (Arbetsförmedlingen) regularly publishes vacancies. Registering there can be worthwhile, as some employers search the database first before they officially advertise a position.

In the healthcare, construction, IT and high-tech sectors, there is a constant need for qualified specialists.

In order to be able to do the job, a Swedish license is required in some sectors. This affects, for example, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and security guards. The teaching profession, however, is not regulated.

Anyone who has found a promising position must next write an application. As in Germany, this is made up of a personal cover letter and a curriculum vitae in Sweden. Polite formulations can be dispensed with and the future supervisor will be happy to be used. As in all of Scandinavia, application photos are rarely part of the application. References and certificates are also not included, but are only taken with you to the interview. Instead, Swedish recruiters are more likely to look for references, such as recommendations from previous employers.

English language skills are generally required to take up a job in Sweden. However, knowledge of Swedish can also be a condition for employment in some professions. Many companies also offer their foreign employees language courses to learn Swedish and thus promote cohesion.

The Swedes have to pay the highest taxes in the EU comparison. Depending on the income and region, up to 60 percent of the income can go to the state. This should be taken into account when negotiating the salary.

Working in Sweden

When they start their new job, emigrants will be able to observe a few peculiarities. Otherwise, everyday working life in Sweden is not that different from everyday life in Germany.

Because Sweden also belongs to the EU, there are many parallels to German labor law. The average weekly working time is 40 hours. And at the start of the contract, a trial period of a maximum of six months can be agreed. Employees have a statutory vacation entitlement of 25 days. However, in Sweden a distinction is made between paid and unpaid leave. Although paid leave is actually only granted after one year of service, most employers also approve an advance on paid time off in addition to unpaid leave. During the paid vacation, Swedish employees also receive at least 0.43 percent of the Monday salary as a vacation allowance per vacation day.

Another difference is the flat hierarchies in Swedish companies; they are known for their loose corporate structures. The boss already meets you in a T-shirt and is used. Because in Sweden - with the exception of the royal family - really everyone will. And during the compulsory coffee breaks that fika Swedes like to talk to their superiors about house, hobbies and dogs.

Pension in Sweden

Many emigrants do not come to Sweden because of new professional prospects, but want to spend their retirement years in the Scandinavian country.

Due to the social security agreement concluded between Germany and Sweden, German pension entitlements will be retained even if Germans want to enjoy their retirement in Sweden in the future.

Employees are also entitled to the pension they earned in Sweden if they eventually move back to Germany. However, this should be topped up with a private supplementary pension, as the Swedish standard pension is only around 50% of the last income.

Hey Sverige!

As with any plan to move the center of your life to another country forever, planning is the be-all and end-all. If you want to increase your chances of a successful new beginning, you should start looking for a new home and a new job at an early stage . Then you can benefit very well from the high standard of living in Sweden.

Janneke Gubo

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