getting settled in… Norrköping/Sweden

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So, I moved to Sweden some months ago, and thought that I could try to summarize my experience again.

Why? The idea is still that moving to a different country, one relies a lot on online information, on things like apartment hunt, mobile contract, and bank account etc. And having it in one place is great.

I admit that finding the necessary information for Sweden is way easier for an English speaker than it was in Israel, but I still think it might be helpful.

Since fall 2015 I’m a postdoc in Norrköping, and with this move I had the advantage of already speaking Swedish before moving here. That definitely made a few things easier, but most situations can be navigated in English. Again, some things may be helpful for anyone moving to Sweden (like mobile phone, opening a bank account, the general approach to apartment hunt), but other stuff is/might be more specific to Norrköping.

Apartment hunt:

First tip (and completely contrary to Israel): Start your search really early!

In general, the rental market in Sweden is smaller than in many other countries, people tend to buy apartments. In combination with the tight housing situation in general, not too many apartments are available.

This results in a couple of things:

– Most rental companies have a queuing system, that is, you need to register, and collect points according to the amount of time that you are registered, and when you want to try to at least see an apartment, you will get that offer based on your point score.

– It is way more common to rent a place secondhand.

– Apartments are not exactly cheap.

So, register with rental companies in the city you will move to as soon as you know it.

On http://kvalster.se you can select a city, and get an overview of  available apartments.

https://www.blocket.se is kind of like Craigslist for Sweden.

I ended up looking for new constructions and contacting the rental company directly. This way I ended up getting an apartment three months after my arrival (though I think it helped here to actually speak Swedish), and found a temporary place (a room with a family) via a local Facebook group.

Possible Facebook groups for Norrköping are: Lägenheter i Norrköping (=Apartments in Norrköping)Norrköping

Personnummer:

Most things you like to do in Sweden will be linked to your personal number (a number that consists of your date of birth and four additional digits, that uniquely identifies you). You need it to open a bank account etc.

You can get the preliminary number before your arrival, but that won’t be enough in all situations.

To obtain a personal number you need to contact Skatteverket, that is, go to your local branch, register for being folkbokförd (registered at your address) and for receiving your personal number.

The time of it will take to receive your number varies: I am an EU citizen and got my number after two days, otherwise you might wait way longer.

Mobile contract:

For someone moving to Sweden for the first time this headline is somewhat misleading, you won’t be able to actually get a contract unless you were folkbokförd in Sweden for at least eight months.

That is, in the beginning you will have to opt for a prepaid card (kontantkort).

Companies offering mobile service in Sweden are for example: Telia, Tele2, ComviqHallon

Bank account:

I went to open my bank account the day after I arrived, it was somewhat complicated. You can open the account (if you have a passport), but you won’t get cards to access it etc. unless you have a Swedish ID (id-kort). Unfortunately, they managed to create a loop here: you need your ID to open the bank account, you can’t pay for the ID in cash, in fact you should pay from your bank account, only way around that is to pay cash for the voucher in a shop.

Only then you will be able to order a cash card and a credit card.

One more interesting thing about banks here: most banks do not handle cash, that is, if you want to insert cash or a check, you need to go to the bank that still handles it (in Norrköping this is the Nordea branch on Drottningsgatan), and in case of check to your bank afterwards.

Id-kort/Swedish ID:

If you’re not a Swedish citizen (in which case you should go to a police station) you can apply for your ID at Skatteverket Skatteverket: id-kort, though not all branches allow you to do so, a list of those who do can be found here: list of branches that offer id-kort

The checklist they have for an ID card is:

be registered as living in Sweden

be aged 13 or over

be able to show a receipt for the application fee payment

be able to show who you are (prove your identity)

have the permission of your guardian if you are under 18 years old

Healthcare system:

Unfortunately, the health care system in Sweden is not good!

It seems to be underfunded. You belong to some vårdcentral (if you apply you can switch) and this is your first point of contact for any interaction with the healthcare system. Beware! You cannot directly contact the front desk to get an appointment, or just go there and talk to them to get an appointment. You will have to call a number, leave your personal number and phone number, and a nurse will call you back. That is, if the phone queue isn’t closed for the day, which will happen sometime in the morning, in which case you will be asked to call back the next working day. To the nurse you have to describe your problem (usually in Swedish), and she will decide whether you need to see a doctor, a physiotherapist, or – a popular method in Sweden – whether you should just wait. So, you have a hard time to reach the healthcare system, and a lot of time is spend before you have a physical encounter with your doctor or the like. Also, you would most likely not see the same doctor for different issues.

Unfortunately, I had to try the healthcare system quite a bit, and just putting someone on sick leave for weeks and wait seems to be the way more likely option, then seeing a specialist. For me that only happened after I saw one Germany. I really think that the healthcare system here is the major argument against moving to Sweden!

How hard it is to actually see a doctor is reflected in the time that you can be on sick leave without seeing a doctor: seven days. After that you will need a sick certificate, but also you will not get your full salary.

Medication is what you will have to pay for, but you might have the chance to get reimbursed in part from your employer.

In addition, for each doctor visit, each visit to a physiotherapist etc., you will need to pay a fee. But there is a limit of about 1200 SEK, once you payed that much, you won’t have to pay fees for 12 months.

On the other hand, if you have an acute illness or you just want to, you can go to the ER/A&E, you might have to wait quite long but you get treated. Also untested for life-threatening conditions, the healthcare system works great, otherwise, most Swedes will tell you to just not go and see a doctor.

Post:

You won’t find post offices as separate shops, post offices are integrated in nearly every grocery store. That’s the place to send your mail and packages, and also the place to collect your packages, because they won’t be delivered to your home address, but you will only receive a paper informing you that your packet arrived.

(Post/packages from and to Germany are quite fast.)

I’ll stop for now, and add something later, in case I managed to forget sth., which I most likely did 🙂

I hope this helps someone – enjoy your stay in Sweden!

Lycka till!

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Stockholm:

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