5 tips for expats

Just Landed In Sweden: The Checklist

Once you’ve arrived in Sweden, there are a number of things you need to get fixed and arranged quickly. Some things you can and should do in advance, and others you can do when you arrive. Here is the just landed checklist to follow.

1. Apply for a residence permit

In most cases, you should apply for this before you come to Sweden. If for some reason you can’t and already here, contact Migrationsverket and inform them as soon as you have just landed. They will be able to guide you through the necessary steps, that vary from country to country. For the most part, Migrationsverket takes time but the application process is normally quite smooth.

2. Get a personnummer

This is the pain point that all of the expats I have spoken with struggle with. Once you’ve got your upphålstillstånd, you can apply for a personnummer. This can get complicated but is a necessary step if you plan on staying in Sweden for any length of time. We’ve written a full guide on how to get your personnummer before, and tip #4 on this list is a bit of a shortcut to getting your personnummer quickly.

3. Get health insurance

Whilst you are waiting for your personnummer and the necessary paperwork, make sure you apply for health insurance. If you don’t have a personnummer, you are not entitled to all of the health care benefits in Sweden and you might get caught with extra fees and costs. You can cancel your insurance once you get your personnummer (if you like) but make sure you are covered whilst you have just arrived in Sweden. We have more info on healthcare in Sweden here and you might want to have this arranged before you’ve just landed.

4. Look for a job

Finding a job in Sweden can be a little tricky at first, especially if you don’t speak Swedish. Luckily there are plenty of resources for expats to find English speaking jobs in Sweden and we’ve written a full guide on how to find a job in Sweden here.

Finding a job in Sweden is key if you plan to be here, even if you are just studying, as you can get an income to start enjoying yourself and travelling in and out of Sweden. Plus cities like Stockholm have some amazing bars, restaurants, entertainment places and more for you to enjoy, so make sure you start looking for a job.

5. Look for an apartment

Another pain for expats and Swedes living in Stockholm. Stockholm is an especially hard place to find apartments in so start looking early to get in the queue. I’d recommend you rent in a few parts of the city before buying something so you know what the area is like and how the city feels. Most people turn to Blocket when looking to start renting, and we’ve gone into more detail about renting in Stockholm here.

6. Get an ID card

This is not essential, but very helpful for when you need to

  • Collect post from the post office without your passport
  • Opening a bank account (in some places)
  • Getting ID’d at Systembolaget/without pointing and explaining where the date of birth is

This is a quick and easy process compared to applying for a residency permit and personnummer, and a good thing to have if you plan on being in Sweden for the long term. It costs 400kr and takes around 2/3 weeks and the whole process is managed by Skatteverket.

7. Learn to drive

This is not for everyone and can be a very expensive task, but I’d recommend you learn to drive when moving to Sweden. I actually learnt to drive in the UK and so my EU licence works here too, but if you are from outside the EU or don’t have a licence already, take the time to learn to drive in Sweden and travel the country. Plus the freedom to have your own transport is an added bonus. Teachers for driving in Sweden vary regionally.

If you don’t want to drive or take on the extra cost, just use public transport. It’s very good in Sweden and very cost effective.

8. Learn Swedish

This is key. I added this at position #8 to let you get settled in Sweden first, but learning Swedish is going to be very important. Even if you don’t plan to become fluent, learning the basics to order things at a restaurant, asking for help and understanding what is going on around you in society is so important. Learning Swedish in Sweden is free (and often comes with student financial aid) so there are no excuses. Most Swedes are happy to speak Swedish with you to learn and improve too.

Tip: if you know English, Swedish is pretty similar in its sentence structure and many words are similar.

9. Head to a meetup

There are lots of expats in Sweden from all over the world. Signup for Meetup.com to find an event near you and meet some others in your city. In Stockholm, some people arrange a language cafe where others learning a language can meet up and practice. The Language Meetup Group is a great event I’ve been to before.

We organise an event called the “Good Old Fashioned English Pub Night”. Sign up and come along for a few beers. This is a great thing to do if you’ve just landed, just so you can meet some new people and not feel lonely.

So I hope this works as a kind of just landed checklist for you when you’ve just moved to Sweden. If you have extra tips you’d like to suggest, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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