Moving to Sweden

The reason why I’ve been posting about my trips several months after they happened is that I moved to Sweden. An opportunity presented itself in summer and I applied for a new role, which was based in Stockholm and I got the job. So technically my job started from 1st of September, but I had my holiday first and moved to Stockholm directly after my trip on 18th of September.

Here is the story of what does it take in terms of practicalities to move to a different country.

38_Stockholm
Stockholm

Place to stay

First of all I needed a place to stay in Stockholm. The situation with finding a place is difficult, but luckily I got a couple of contacts from my colleagues and went to see both apartments. One would’ve been for a long period and the second one for four months as the person was doing an exchange period abroad.

The first apartment was located in a nice neighborhood in Östermalm, but was not in a bad shape per se, but rather dated and didn’t have any life’s little luxuries as a dishwasher and a washing machine. It was also located about 40-45 min from work and was unfurnished. The upside was that the rent period was “for as long as possible”. The rent was 14 000 SEK.

The second apartment was located further away from the city center in a residential neighborhood called Aspudden, which is south of the city center, so the commute was still 40-45 min. It was in a better shape, although it also missed the dishwasher and the washing machine. On the plus side it was nicely furnished and I didn’t need to buy anything to be able to live there. The rent was 12 000 SEK. The downside was of course that it was for four months only.

I realize that I was lucky to get the two leads and this was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make this year. I ended up choosing the short-term lease in Aspudden. The main reasons were that I didn’t really feel like buying all the stuff for the apartment because I wasn’t sure how long I would stay, the apartment in Östermalm was far away from work, and I love to cook and the kitchen was far from what I was looking for.

I was in Stockholm last week of August when I signed the lease and I moved in on 18th of September. It was a win-win situation because my landlady needed somebody to rent her place while she’s away and I needed a place to stay and to get started.

I was really lucky as at this point I didn’t even have a signed contract for my new position and I’m not even speaking about Swedish ID number.

The upside is that these kind of lease contracts often include electricity, water, and internet costs, which is very convenient because you don’t need to arrange different contracts yourself.

Btw, I registered my address as

My Name
c/o My Landlady’s Name
Address

which was a huge mistake! Some of the mail went to me (I had my name stated on the door of the apartment), but some of the mail went to my landlady’s parents because she did a temporary address change to their place. So I would suggest skipping “c/o” line altogether.

My lease ends in mid-January, but the search for a new apartment in Stockholm warrants a post of its own. 🙂

39_Stockholm
Stockholm

Personal ID Number

In order to get anything done in Sweden, you need a personal ID number. I flew to Stockholm on Monday 18th of September and I went to Skatteverket on Wednesday 20th of September. You don’t need to book an appointment (and I’m pretty sure you even can’t), but beware that there might be a line to even get in. My coworker moved to Stockholm during the “refugee crisis” and she had to wait in line for two hours before she could even get in. I had to wait for maybe 20 min before I was let in and I explained that I’m here to get my personal number and she gave me a form to fill and a queuing number.

I understand that you can go to any Skatteverket to apply for the ID number, but I chose the Kungsholmen office because I thought that I could apply for the Swedish ID card at the same time and it’s the only office which issues the ID cards in Stockholm. I was wrong btw, you need to wait until you get your ID number before you can apply for the ID card.

I filled the form, which was very easy because I was moving alone, for work, and was a citizen of another Nordic country. I also brought all kinds of papers with me (like my contract), but nothing was needed as Nordic citizens have preferential treatment. I waited for quite a long time, I think closer to one hour until my number was displayed. The person at the counter checked that I had filled all the information correctly in the form, took a copy of my passport, and that was it. He said that my personal ID number will come in the mail within a few weeks. I got the letter on 3rd of October, which was dated 2nd of October with my personal ID number, so for me it took about two weeks to get it.

Swedish Phone Number

After I got my personal ID number, I could finally apply for a Swedish phone number. You can of course have a prepaid SIM, but I wanted a “normal” phone number and I had to wait until I got the ID number. I asked. 😀 So went to Telia’s shop on 4th of October and all my info was in the system, so I got the phone number within 10 minutes.

40_Stockholm
Stockholm

Swedish ID Card and Bank Account

Every time you want to visit a bank, Skatteverket, or some other agency you need to do it during office hours. The problem is that I also have to work during office hours! Luckily my schedule is very flexible, but I also have some scheduled meetings, so it’s not that I can run my errands any time I like.

I finally applied for a Swedish ID card on 9th of October. It costs 400 SEK to apply and I was hoping to open a bank account before I needed to pay the fee. For some reason my Finnish bank (Danske Bank) charges me 10 EUR for every transaction made to Swedish bank account. For 12 000 SEK rent the cost is negligible, for it’s 25% of the ID card fee! So I thought that I can open a Swedish bank account first and only then apply for the Swedish ID card. I had my passport after all!

So first I went to Danske Bank figuring out that it would be easy to have the same bank in Sweden as I have in Finland. Except that they said that they don’t have any face-to-face customer service and if I wanted to open a bank account with them, I need to do that myself online and call their customer service on the phone if I have issues. Yeah, ok, but I can’t verify my identity online in Sweden! After that incident I thought screw you and I called Swedbank and made sure that I have all the paperwork needed. Then I showed up at their service desk and was told that if I have a Swedish ID number then I absolutely must have some sort of Swedish ID in order to be able to open an account. So I was unable to open a bank account, so I gave up and realized that I need to pay the fee and get the ID card even if it meant paying 10 EUR in service fees to the bank.

So I paid the 400 SEK fee together with 10 EUR service fee to my bank and went to apply for an ID card with Skatteverket. I once again went to the Skatteverket’s Kungsholmen office and this time I didn’t have to wait outside at all, but there were a few people in front of me also applying for ID card. They measure your height and give you a queuing number. When you are called, they take your photo and signature, make sure that you have paid (screenshot on your phone is fine), and give you the document with which you can come and pick the ID up when it’s ready. It turned out that you can also pay the fee at the Skatteverket office with you card, so I could’ve done that and probably saved the fee, but who would’ve known. They also said that I will receive a text message when my ID is ready, but it should take between two and four weeks.

Around beginning of November I was getting desperate in terms that I haven’t been paid in a couple of months because I didn’t have a bank account in Sweden and I haven’t received any messages about my ID card. Meanwhile I’ve been hearing that most of the foreigners have a bank account at SEB Bank, so I went to SEB on 2nd of November and they opened a bank account for me without any issues! They did also say that if you have a Swedish personal ID number, you must have a Swedish proof of ID, so what they did is opened an account with a fake ID number (despite the fact that I actually had a real one) and said that when I get my Swedish ID, then I should come back and they fix it. They also gave me internet banking access and a Maestro card. The best thing of course was that now I could provide bank details and finally get paid after three months! 😀

I never got any text message from Skatteverket about my ID card, but at some point I received a letter from my landlady’s parents with the pin code for the ID card. It can be used to identify yourself online and the pin code is used for that. So at some point I figured that it must be ready and I just tried my luck and went to Skatteverket on 14th of November and they just gave the card to me. I have no idea for how long it has been ready, but at least I finally got one.

I went to SEB again to change my personal data and due to having a bit of a hectic time at work and traveling for work, I managed to go there only on 24th of November. They fixed my personal info, but they said that I need to come back one more time because it takes a couple of days for the data to be updated in their system, but after that my internet banking won’t work anymore and they need to provide me with new access.

I went there again on 5th of December and they gave me new access and also helped to set up a Mobile Bank ID, which can be used for logging into your internet bank, but also identifying yourself online. All in all SEB has really good customer service and I visited the Liljeholmen office and the waiting time has always been very reasonable.

37_Metro
Stockholm Metro

Home Insurance

After I had all my ID numbers, cards, and bank details in order, I ordered insurance from Länsförsäkringar because a friend of mine has her insurance there. 🙂 After I got around to reading the terms of insurance, I understood that I have selected a homeowner’s insurance instead of renter’s insurance, so I needed to contact them and they changed the contract and the bill decreased by about 500 SEK per year.

At this point it was mid-December and it took me three months to get all the paperwork in order. And this is for a Nordic and EU citizen, so I imagine this is quite an average time. I of course had some issues with not getting the info on time and some of my mail sent to other people, but this sort of thing happens.

Swedish Courses

I also went to study Swedish right away. I work in English, but it is much easier to understand what’s going on around you. Swedish is the second official language of Finland, so I have studied it in school, but I haven’t used it in over ten years. I chose B2 level in Folkuniversitetet and it was pretty good level for me. I understand really well, but I find it very difficult to speak Swedish. I find the courses quite expensive at almost 3 000 SEK for just about 10 classes, but at least that motivates me not to skip them. 😀 Also the group is quite small and consists mostly of people, who moved here for work as adults, so they are motivated.

2 thoughts on “Moving to Sweden

  1. Hope that you are enjoying your time here in Sweden. I know first hand how hard it is to find an apartment here in Stockholm. 12K in rent sounds like someone is ripping you off. Which is sadly the norm here. 😦

    My wife had some similar problems when she moved to Sweden with me a few years ago. She is originally from Finland as well. But it was, of course, a lot easier when I had everything for myself and she could get the papers done without any rush. 🙂

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    1. This level of rent seems to be rather cheap on the andrahand market. Anything that is not the size of a shoebox and is not located an hour outside of Stockholm seems to cost the same or more at least on Blocket. I’m looking at Vasastan and apartments of 40-50m2 cost between 14K and 18K.

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