The 4 most unexpected things you’ll find when moving to Sweden

I have heard it a thousand times!

The worried ex-pat moving to Sweden from far warmer climates asked nervously, “How dark is it and just how cold does it get”?  

These are valid questions. Everyone has heard about the darkness, but the summer light is less well known. Many newcomers are pleasantly surprised when they find that it’s light around the clock in the summer. Already in March, the sun will rise early and by May sleep masks and dark drawing curtains are needed. So instead of people getting depressed by the winter, they are in awe of the light. 

One family that moved to Stockholm from the US, put a time-hop in their window and showed all their friends at home that it never got dark in the summer. 

Once the curtains are up, people really appreciate the light and the long evenings in the summer. In Global Mobility, we work hard in the summers to help all the families move here and it’s still possible to see family and friends since the light gives you a feeling of longer days. Another perk is that so many people leave town that it’s easy to park. 86% of Swedes live in urban areas, but about 55% have access to weekend cottages and often work remotely in the summers.

A light summer means a dark winter and you will soon find that Swedes are experts at lighting fires, candles and cozying it up in the darker season.

Innovation, patents & tech startups!


Sweden has a long tradition of being innovative and many everyday products have their origin in Sweden. Did you know that the zipper, the pacemaker, dynamite, and the refrigerator were all invented in Sweden? 

The cold climate is also the reason so many sports clothing companies have been born here. 

This means that ex-pats that move to Sweden often do that to be part of inventions, new products, and to get to work with really smart & talented people. 

Even traditional industries are working with cutting-edge technology, not least to find environmentally friendly energy options. 

Sweden is the fifth largest country in Europe!

While Sweden is huge the distances are short. If you have your office in the center of Stockholm city you can still see a cow within fifteen minutes. Even very urban areas have access to forests and if you are out running or walking you are likely to see deer, wild foxes, and many other wild animals. 

For anyone wanting true wildlife and exploring eight different growth zones, Sweden is the place to be. Denmark, which has a more temperate climate, has three growth or hardiness zones. The further north you travel the fewer people and the more animals you will have the opportunity to see. In the south spring comes weeks earlier than in the north and the summers are far shorter. 

Typical Swedish Foods

Like many countries, Sweden offers cuisines from all over the world. In the last 20 years, many new and fun restaurants have opened. Sweden has many award-winning chefs and one of the most prestigious assignments is of course to cook the Nobel Prize Award Dinner. 

The food is being upgraded, but the interest for game meat and locally grown greens prevails. While there is an abundance of restaurants, one thing that surprises ex-pats is the planning that goes into going out for dinner. Making reservations must often be done far in advance, and being spontaneous isn’t easy. More than one desperately hungry person with low blood sugar has walked around the street trying to find a place to eat. Fortunately, more flexible eating arrangements have emerged, not least during Covid-19 where we now find far more food trucks, street options and many choose to buy food and go out in the parks weather allowing. 

So if you have seen the Swedish Chef on Sesame Street talk about meatballs you are right, but only partially so. There’s a lot more to Swedish cuisine. 

Helping newcomers feel right at home and demystifying Sweden is our passion. One passion project was the Online course Professional Inspiration that helps our clients prepare for the move-  How to foster resilience and answer practical questions around what to bring and what to leave at home, and most importantly to give a great first impression at work. Once an ex-pat arrives there are so many questions they have that they may not want to ask their colleagues. That is why we are here and the Professional Inspiration is complimentary for all of our clients. Many have taken it already and it prepares them for a great stay in Sweden. 

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