5 Reasons Why I am Moving to Sweden

My move back to Europe is approaching and I thought I’d share with you the reasons why we are leaving Canada.

1. Wearing leggings as pants is illegal in Sweden. JUST KIDDING. I wish.

1. The social benefits. Most people don’t care much about the cost of childcare, but when you have kids and you calculate it is going to cost you $25,000 a year to put two of them into a good daycare, you suddenly realize that subsidized childcare is enough to make you want to move across the world. With Vancouver being the second most expensive city in the world, every penny counts. We will be paying about 85% less there for daycare, and that means we will have a lot more money to do fun things, like go on holiday. Which we will also now have time to do, see below.

Swedish country houses are also a good reason to move there, especially since my husband's family has a really nice big one.

Swedish country houses are also a nice reason to move there, especially since my husband’s family has a really nice big one.

2. A minimum of 5 weeks holiday entitlement. My husband has been getting ten days holiday a year here in Vancouver, which does not leave us much time to go on trips, take a day off now and then, or visit family and friends in Europe. I knew this would be the case when we moved here, but I didn’t realize I’d find it so difficult. Working 50 weeks a year sucks.

3. Cost of living. My husband and I did a detailed spreadsheet of our expenses in a suburb of Vancouver vs. a small city in Sweden (we aren’t moving to Stockholm, in case you are wondering. But who knows, we might end up there eventually.) The same life here is double what it costs there. DOUBLE. That’s a lot less money we need to earn to have a decent lifestyle (and by the way, our earnings will most likely be higher, as those so-called “high taxes” aren’t actually much more than what we pay here. Plus, you actually GET something back.) Cheese and wine are also a fraction of the price in Europe, and that is a very important thing to factor in.

Filippa K - I'll be happy to be surrounded by Swedish style again.

Filippa K – I’ll be happy to be surrounded by Swedish style again.

4. I’ve never really fit into Vancouver. Vancouver may be my hometown, but when I spent two months in Europe this summer I was reminded that the people over there (mostly the Swedes and Brits) and my people. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a lot of people in Canada, but I fit in better in Europe. The culture, sense of humour, lifestyle, and lack of yoga pants on the other side of the pond makes me feel much more at home.

5. Better employment opportunities. Close proximity to the major European cities is going to be good for my career, and the job opportunities available to my husband are better than Vancouver.

I’ll be transitioning over the next few weeks, wish me luck!

Images: Dala horse, Swedish countryhouse, and Filippa K.

  • Rhianna

    So how can I move to Sweden?
    An unmarried Canadian living in NYC.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Haha… Apply? Their population isn’t massive. Or meet a nice Swede?

  • Mikki

    Will you be continuing your blog in Sweden? I have so enjoyed reading your posts. I love your point of view of fashion and it’s industry, your honesty and your wit.

  • Jordan

    Good luck, Alex! You deserve this, safe travels. From a student you inspired.

  • John

    I used to live in Vancouver and Stockholm for a few years and can say from my experience that the cost of living is DOUBLE in Stockholm.
    Also working at different companies in each city, the salary seems to be quite a bit lower in Stockholm compare to Vancouver as well. The high income tax did it rest. Bottom line I saved more money in Canada than in Sweden. That said I’m single, no kids.
    Might be a different story in the rest of the country and where you move of course.

    To be fair you have to compare Vancouvers real estate with something like Stockholm and not with a smaller town in Sweden. If you do that, Vancouver looked pretty “affordable” to me. Price per Square Foot was easy at CAD 1200 back then and reasonable rentals almost impossible to get.

    The additional holiday was a blessing indeed.

    Good luck with your move!

  • Ana O

    Good luck! Sweden does seem like the perfect country to live in. I just wish it was warmer there.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Thank you! And good luck to you too :-)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Of course! I’ll still be here.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Stockholm is expensive, yes, but there is no way the cost of living is double if you compare Stockholm to Vancouver. But you shouldn’t be doing that, Vancouver is the third biggest city in Canada and if we compared Vancouver to Malmo then Vancouver would look like the most ridiculous city in the world. Anyway, it is easy to compare personal situations (and I have been living in a bedroom community of Vancouver, not Vancouver itself) but when you look at the stats comparing average home price to average salary, Vancouver is second most expensive in the world, and Stockholm is not in the top ten. I guess it comes down to quality of life, fact is that it is much better in Sweden than it is in Canada. And that’s what I am looking for! Very excited.

  • Rhianna

    Both seem easier said than done! 😉

  • John

    I spent alone double on groceries. Going out was at least two-three times as expensive. Rentals about up at least one third, IF you can find it. Going with a cab, ridiculous expensive…and so on. I spent A LOT more in Stockholm than Vancouver and I’m talking about an area 45min away from Ostermalm compare to 10min away from downtown Vancouver.

    You must be kidding if you compare the lifestyle of Vancouver to Malmo. Alex it is not all about the size. What Vancouver has to offer is no comparison to the third largest city in Sweden. Malmo is more like Victoria or Halifax. The only city that might be a good comparison, is Gothenburg, but I don’t know much about living there.

    Sweden is for sure more family friendly than probably anywhere in North America, so that’s why comparing a single household with a family household probably doesn’t make much sense.

    I’m happy for your move, just don’t have the wrong expectations if you move anywhere close to the Stockholm core.

  • Francesca

    Good luck! I live in Stockholm, I relocated 2 years ago, and I have to say that not everything that shines is gold, but it will be for sure an adventure! Let me know when you are here, so maybe we can meet :)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Agree that cabs and restaurants are much, much more expensive than Vancouver, but that’s not part of the Swedish lifestyle like it is here. People don’t go out as much. And yes, groceries are a little bit more expensive, but we won’t have to pay for food for our children while they are at school because it is provided, so that will even things out for us. It is extremely hard to find rentals in Sweden due to their housing system so if you end up with a second or third hand contract you will be paying a lot, but the cost of buying is much more reasonable compared to Vancouver. And I really don’t see why Vancouver gets to be compared to Stockholm, what exactly does this city have to offer aside from beautiful views, access to outdoors, and good restaurants? The housing is unaffordable. Public transport is poor. People don’t like to have fun. And there are very, very few good jobs. Vancouver is one of the most overrated cities in the world. But yes, you are absolutely right that Sweden is set up to provide for families and not single people who want to go out a lot – and that’s why we are moving there now and not ten years ago.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Will do! And yes, I know that the grass is not always greener but right now childcare and holidays are very important to us, and I know that Sweden can provide those. I also know that I was not made to live in Vancouver – so I am taking a step in the right direction.

  • http://trendmenu.blogspot.com/ carol

    Good luck, Alex! I’m sure you’ll fit in perfectly in Sweden. And whenever in London, give me a shout. Would love to meet. :)

  • John

    Sounds like Vancouver hasn’t been a city you liked in the first place, so it will be better anywhere else for sure.

    “…but the cost of buying is much more reasonable compared to Vancouver.” – That clearly states to me you have absolutely no idea how the housing situation in Stockholm is currently, but as you are not moving to this city, I just leave it like that.

    Good luck!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Actually, I do have an idea, and I also know a few people who have lived in both Stockholm and Vancouver and who can attest that although Stockholm is expensive, Vancouver is much more overpriced. This isn’t about the cost of a house, it is about the cost of a house vs the average income. This study says it all: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/23/canada-house-prices-vancouver-2nd-least-affordable_n_1224207.html

    It doesn’t matter what things cost, it matters whether people can afford them. People can’t afford Vancouver, and you can’t argue that. Oslo is frequently cited as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but people make a lot of money there so it isn’t ridiculously unaffordable for the residents. That is what counts, not the cost of a taxi and a dinner for a tourist.

  • John

    I only can attest you that my income went down and the cost of living went up compare to Vancouver. It might be specific to my industry and lifestyle, but I can speak only from my experience and not refer to some statistics.
    While I could afford my apartment close to downtown Vancouver with any of the different jobs I had there, I had a hard time to spend almost half my salary on an even smaller place in Stockholm.
    If I look at some of the Swedish colleagues I had, they barely could afford their apartments let alone buy something anywhere close to the centre. If they did buy something they had to cut back on their lifestyle.
    Stockholm must have A TON of very rich people, otherwise I can not imagine how you can afford CAD1200 and up per sqm with an average salary.

    One of the big problems in this city is just how ridiculous it is to get a rental. The city grows by 30k – 40k people A YEAR and there is almost no development going on. To get a first hand contract you need to go on the black market and pay a lot of money just to get the contract. Second and third hand gets very expensive per month, but the most ridiculous thing is – several hundred people apply for ONE apartment!

    Now just imagine with the currently low cost for a mortgage and the short supply of housing, combined with the screwed up rental market how it significantly increased the price for real estate over the last few years. People are overpaying the already high asking price by 15-50% when they go in the bidding war!!

    To get back to you point of “affordability”. No, the salary didn’t went up by much at all. If you don’t believe it, look at the statistics and the articles about it or even better move there and see yourself.

  • Antoinette from White Rock

    Glad to hear that we will not be losing you on line! Looking forward to your stories, impressions and adventures!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I’ll be there much more often so I hope to see you soon!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg


  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I totally agree that the rental market/situation in Sweden is totally effed up and the system is flawed. I don’t know if they are doing anything to resolve it but they need to. That said, the complaints you are saying your Swedish colleagues made are no different from the people I know in Vancouver, but the difference is that Vancouver is not a world class city with excellent jobs. It is a lifestyle city and a playground for the rich. I haven’t looked at statistics for income comparisons for all sectors in Sweden but both my husband and I can earn more there, so that is something. And the research done by Demographia means more to me than personal experiences. Vancouver is highly unaffordable – Stockholm less so. When the average mortgage is ten times the average salary, you have a problem.

  • Jasper

    here here! congrats on your escape from vancouver. i’ve been in montreal since september and i can’t tell you how much happier i’ve been since my move!

  • Serene

    Good Luck on the move! It’ll be easier on you and the kids when you move them over young.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Yes, that’s what we hope!

  • Jasmine

    Hi, Alex! I also live in Vancouver and was recently accepted to Central Saint Martins so I’ll be moving to London this summer. I’ve lived in Vancouver my whole life and as much I love the city and the people (minus the things you outlined above), I feel like it’s time for change and for me to go on to bigger and better things. I’ve also felt like I’ve never quite belonged here so I’m hoping that London will be a nice change of pace and a period of self-discovery. It’s reassuring to know (or in this case, read) about someone who’s been in a similar situation and has had a positive outcome. Good luck with everything and I look forward to reading about your journey to Sweden.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Congrats on CSM! You are about to embark on a wonderful adventure. Have a great time!

  • Ben Angel

    Be careful of the inkasso system here. It sucks. There are hundreds of reasons why a payment doesnŽt go through. Or you think itŽs gone through but it hasnŽt. Companies and authorities have inkasso (debt collectors), kronofogden (bailiffs) tingsrÀtten (county court), government and good lawters on their side.

    Inkasso are privately owned and often driven by the same company who sends the invoice. Who thanks to you and me survive in business and have food and shelter. Kronofogden have in the last ten years dealt with more than 4 million errands. TingsrÀtt should be impartial, otherwise the whole system is unjust. The government now represents large companies (thatŽs typical throughout the world perhaps). Companies also have good solicitors.

    So who on the customers side? None. Ask if there are laws that protect a customer, say who is sick, badly mentally affected, who is old and forgetful. No. Can have a person to come into your home and help you pay the bills. Otherwise no.

    Jag kan inte göra nÄgonting ensam. Om du vill ha ett system som Àr tvÄsidigt gÀrna hör av dig. Kanske starta en kundförbund.för de Àrliga och goda, för de som mÄr inte psykisk bra och för de gamla och glömska.