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Moving Internationally from the US to Sweden

Are you considering a move from the United States to Sweden? The idea of relocating to a new country can be both thrilling and overwhelming. Sweden, with its breathtaking natural beauty, high standard of living, and progressive values, attracts many individuals and families seeking a fresh start. In this article, we will delve into the process of moving from the US to Sweden, covering important considerations such as visa requirements, cultural differences, healthcare, education, and more. 


Sweden, located in Northern Europe, is a Scandinavian country known for its picturesque landscapes, from pristine lakes and dense forests to the awe-inspiring Northern Lights. The country’s commitment to environmental sustainability, social welfare, and equality has made it a coveted destination for people seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.


Moving to Sweden offers numerous advantages, including a robust healthcare system, high-quality education, and a strong emphasis on work-life balance. Sweden’s cities are vibrant and cosmopolitan, offering a blend of modernity and rich history. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of Stockholm, the cultural scene of Gothenburg, or the university town of Uppsala, Sweden has something to offer for everyone.


Before making the big leap, it is essential to thoroughly research and plan your move. Understanding the visa and residence permit requirements, housing market, healthcare system, and cultural nuances will help you navigate the transition smoothly and make the most of your new life in Sweden.


Researching Sweden

Before you embark on your journey from the US to Sweden, it is essential to conduct thorough research about your prospective new home. Familiarizing yourself with Sweden’s geography, climate, culture, and history will provide you with a solid foundation to make informed decisions and ensure a smooth transition.

Swedish Countryside

Geography and Regions

Sweden, located in Northern Europe, is the third-largest country in the European Union. It is bordered by Norway to the west, Finland to the northeast, and Denmark to the southwest. The country is known for its diverse landscapes, ranging from the breathtaking archipelagos along the coastline to the majestic mountains of the north.


Sweden is divided into 25 provinces, each with its distinct characteristics. From the picturesque beauty of Dalarna with its traditional red cottages to the cosmopolitan vibe of Skåne in the south, exploring the various regions will help you identify the areas that align with your preferences and lifestyle.



Sweden experiences a varied climate due to its geographical expanse. The southern parts of the country have a temperate climate, with mild summers and relatively mild winters. As you move further north, the climate becomes more subarctic, characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The coastal regions benefit from the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, resulting in milder temperatures compared to areas further inland.


Understanding the climate of the specific region you plan to settle in will assist you in making informed decisions regarding appropriate clothing, outdoor activities, and seasonal changes.


Culture and Lifestyle

Swedish culture is known for its emphasis on egalitarianism, sustainability, and a strong work-life balance. The concept of “lagom,” meaning moderation and balance, permeates many aspects of Swedish society. The country places great importance on social welfare, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

The Traditional Swedish Cottage

The Traditional Swedish Cottage

Taking the time to learn about Swedish customs, traditions, and social norms will help you integrate into the local community and establish meaningful connections. Embracing the Swedish lifestyle and participating in local activities will most definitely enrich your overall experience in a new country.


History and Heritage

Sweden has a rich history that spans thousands of years. From the Viking Age to the era of the Swedish Empire, the country has played a significant role in shaping European history. Exploring Sweden’s historical landmarks, museums, and cultural heritage sites will provide you with a deeper appreciation of the country’s past and its influence on modern Swedish society.



While many Swedes speak English fluently, learning the Swedish language can greatly enhance your experience and integration. Swedish is the official language of the country, and making an effort to learn even basic phrases and expressions will be appreciated by the locals. There are language courses available for expats, both before and after your arrival in Sweden, to help you develop your language skills.


Economy and Job Market

Understanding the Swedish economy and job market is essential if you plan to work in Sweden. The country has a strong economy with a focus on innovation and sustainability. Key industries include manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, and renewable energy. Researching the job market, specific industries, and available employment opportunities will give you a head start in your job search and increase your chances of finding suitable employment.


By conducting thorough research about Sweden’s geography, climate, culture, history, language, and economy, you will gain valuable insights that will inform your decision-making process and contribute to a successful transition. The knowledge you acquire during this research phase will serve as a solid foundation for your exciting journey of moving from the US to Sweden.


Cost of Living

Is living in Sweden more affordable compared to the USA? No, living in the USA is more affordable than in Sweden. Based on World Bank data, the cost of living in Sweden is, on average, 9.3% higher compared to the USA. Additionally, the average monthly income in the USA is also higher.


Visa and Residence Permits

When planning to move from the US to Sweden, it is crucial to understand the visa and residence permit requirements. Ensuring that you have the necessary documentation in order will enable you to legally reside and work in Sweden. Here are the key factors to consider:


Visa-Free Travel

As a US citizen, you are allowed visa-free travel to Sweden for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. However, if your intention is to reside in Sweden for a longer duration or work, you will need to obtain the appropriate visa and residence permit.


Residence Permits for Work

If you have secured a job offer or plan to work in Sweden, you will need to apply for a work permit and residence permit. The process involves the following steps:


Job Offer: Obtain a job offer from a Swedish employer. The offer should meet the requirements of the Swedish Migration Agency and demonstrate that the employer has made efforts to recruit within the EU/EEA and Sweden before offering the position to a non-EU/EEA citizen.


Application: Submit the work permit application to the Swedish Migration Agency. The application can be submitted online or at a Swedish embassy or consulate in the US. You will need to provide supporting documents, including a valid passport, employment contract, and proof of qualifications.


Processing Time: The processing time for work permit applications can vary. It is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended move to allow sufficient time for processing.


Residence Permit: Once your work permit is approved, you can apply for a residence permit. The residence permit allows you to legally reside and work in Sweden. The duration of the permit depends on the length of your employment contract.


Residence Permits for Study

If you plan to pursue higher education in Sweden, you will need to apply for a residence permit for studies. The process typically involves the following steps:


Admission to a Swedish Institution: Secure admission to a recognized Swedish educational institution. Ensure that you have received the necessary acceptance letter from the institution.


Application: Apply for a residence permit for studies through the Swedish Migration Agency. The application can be submitted online or at a Swedish embassy or consulate in the US. You will need to provide supporting documents, including a valid passport, acceptance letter from the educational institution, and proof of financial means to support yourself during your studies.


Processing Time: The processing time for residence permit applications for studies can vary. It is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended start date to allow sufficient time for processing.


Health Insurance: As a student, you will need comprehensive health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Sweden. Make sure to obtain the necessary health insurance to meet the requirements.


International Moving Services

When it comes to moving your belongings from the US to Sweden, it is crucial to choose a reliable and experienced international moving company. SDC International Shipping is a trusted choice for international movers. With their expertise and trained professionals, they can make the process much easier for you. They offer a wide range of services, including packing, transportation, customs clearance, and delivery to your new home in Sweden. You can learn more about our services and request a quote here.



Moving from the US to Sweden is an exciting adventure that offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. By considering the factors mentioned in this article, such as visa requirements, housing, healthcare, cultural adaptation, and utilizing the services of a reliable international moving company like SDC International Shipping, you can make a smooth transition and embrace the Swedish way of life.



Can I work in Sweden without knowing Swedish?

While some jobs may require Swedish proficiency, there are opportunities for English-speaking professionals, especially in multinational companies and certain industries. Learning Swedish will, however, expand your job prospects.


How long does it take to obtain a Swedish residence permit?

The processing time for residence permits can vary, but it typically takes a few months. It is advisable to start the application process well in advance of your intended move.


Is healthcare free in Sweden?

Healthcare in Sweden is not free, but it is also not expensive. If you are a resident in Sweden, regardless of your nationality, you are entitled to the same medical care that Swedish nationals receive. However, expats who are not EU citizens and have not yet qualified for Swedish residency will have to take out private health insurance to cover their costs. If you have a residence permit in Sweden, you can show your residence permit (UT) card to pay a lower fee when you visit healthcare services or pick up certain medications at the pharmacy. Children and young people under the age of 18 are entitled to the same healthcare and dental care as other children living in Sweden. The Swedish government sets a yearly cap for out-of-pocket fees at around 1,000 SEK (100 USD), and anything exceeding this amount is covered by the Swedish government. Public healthcare in Sweden covers basic medical needs such as hospitalization and basic outpatient services. If you have been living in Sweden with a residency permit for over one year, you may be asked to show that you have private insurance to cover your healthcare costs.


What is the average cost of housing in Sweden?

The cost of housing in Sweden varies depending on the location. Major cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg tend to have higher housing prices compared to smaller towns. For example, in city centers, a one-bedroom apartment in Sweden costs between $778 and $950, and a three-bedroom between $1,255 and $1,535. It is advisable to research the specific area you plan to live in.


How do I open a bank account in Sweden as a foreigner?

To open a bank account in Sweden, you will typically need a valid identification document, proof of address, and a Swedish personal identity number. A Swedish personal identity number is a 10-digit number that is widely used in Sweden to identify individuals. It is composed of your date of birth followed by a 4-digit number in the format: YYMMDD-XXXX. It is assigned to individuals who are staying in Sweden for more than a year, including international students who study in Sweden for 12 months or longer. The personal identity number is widely used throughout daily life in Sweden, whether it is for memberships and subscriptions, opening a bank account, joining an insurance plan, or accessing healthcare. It is recommended to contact different banks to understand their specific requirements.


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