Before I start listing negatives of living in Stockholm just to make sure people don’t misundestand me is that I actually enjoy living in Stockholm. I’m writing this article to paint a more realistic picture of Stockholm. Stockholm isn’t for everyone and I’ve noticed(this is based on anecdotal evidence so take everything I say with a grain of salt) that people either love or hate Stockholm. Maybe you will be one of those that hate Stockholm. I recommend living here atleast 1-2 months before deciding to make a permanent move. It might appear to be for you when you’re here on a short visit but you will surprised by the culture differences even if you’re from a similar western culture. I’ve heard many brits, french and italians tell me how different Sweden feels.
People are distant
There is a grain of truth to the whole introverted scandinavian stereotype. The fact that Stockholm is the capital makes it even worse, big city people are generally harder to connect with and combine that with scandinavian culture and you have recipe for a place that’s difficult to make friends in.
You can definitely make friends, but it’s far more a uphill battle here than Barcelona or Madrid(sorry, had to go with stereotypes again). A common pattern I’ve noticed with the expat community is that their social circle consists mainly of other expats.
Swedes find their friends in university, high school and other situations where friends have been through the “vetting” process. Making friends as an adult in Sweden is considerably harder most tend to stick with the friends they made early in life.
The housing market is screwed up
Besides being a very expensive city to rent or buy you will have to deal with the dysfunctional que system. If you weren’t aware Sweden doesn’t have a proper free market. You can rent second hand but you will end up with temporary contracts. If you want a “permanent” rental, you need to enter the que system. The more time you have been in the que the better apartment you can get. However, we’re talking multiple years of staying in the que before you get a decent flat. Even in bad neighborhoods you have to wait a few years these days.
So your options is to pay through the roof on the second hand rental market and on top of that it will be a temporary contract(usually ranging from a few months to a year) or you have to buy a property, which is not a feasible option for most expats who plan to live here short term.
If the company you work for provide housing or for whatever reason you can circumvent the whole housing situation here then one of the biggests cons of living in Stockholms goes away. I’ve known people who simply gave up on living in Stockholm because they couldn’t get around the dysfunctional housing market.
The Culture & Social Conformity
Again, it depends on your personality. Some personalities don’t mix well with scandinavian big city mentality.
Swedes are known to be conformists. The situation is even more extreme in Stockholm. Conformity is not necessarily a problem, but if you are the kind of person who likes speaking their mind and want people to be direct with you then you might rethink your move to Sweden alltogether, this problem isn’t unique to Stockholm but applies to the whole country.
Scandinavian culture in general is very non-confrotational . If you don’t like what your neighbor is doing put a note on his door instead of speaking to him/her.
Besides property being expensive, Life in general is expensive in Sweden and it’s really expensive in Stockholm. A night out will easily set you back over 1000 SEK if you don’t control your spending. Everything from nightlife to grocery shopping is among the most expensive in all of EU. Stockholm only get beat by handful of cities.
It’s no secret that Sweden is a high tax country. I’m not sure if I want to put doing business in Sweden as a negative point though. The high taxes isn’t a great selling point, you will often end up paying more than 50% of your profit in taxes but Sweden isn’t all that bad for entrepreneurs. Sweden ranks high in ease of business, the bureacraucy is very efficient here. Stockholm does well in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship so even with the high costs and high taxes it does seem workout pretty alright. If you’re running a simple business that doesn’t really need to take advantage of the eco system(lots of successful startups here) then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to register your business in Sweden. I have a more mixed opinion than many others on this subject, most people knee jerk react when they see the high taxes and immediately write Sweden off for a country to be an entrepreneur in but that’s not quite fair.