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Now we know what moving to Sweden is really like and what challenges expats face living in Sweden in 2018!
In 2017, Mundus International worked with expat membership site New in Sweden (NiDS) and Swedish language tuition provider Swedish for Professionals to uncover the details of expat life in Sweden. We wanted to find out the full story about emigrating here so that new arrivals can make more informed decisions about a move. We talked to expats living here, to HR staff that move people to Sweden and to relocation agents to find out what expats struggle with when they settle in.
What we found out? On the plus side, the Swedish economy continues its strong growth, creating opportunities, which companies and expats are moving to take advantage of. But, to date, this is happening in an ad hoc way. We point to the abysmal management of the visa issue as evidence of this. Its probably the worst example, but it makes the point that there is no-one in government responsible for ensuring that the expats’ perspective is taken into account, in the same way as happens in Singapore, for instance.
So, while expats are coming in, they are not arriving in the numbers needed to satisfy demand. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) recently published a report showing that of companies that had tried to recruit employees over the past six months, 72% said that it was “quite or very difficult”. An increase of 16 percentage points since 2015. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise concluded that there was a lack of competence over the entire business sector.
There are a number of negative factors that may limit expat numbers from growing beyond today’s levels. Issues already identified in the media include severe challenges finding accommodation in the main cities and large tax disadvantages, compared with leading centres for expats, such as Singapore, US and China, as well as the visa problems. Our analysis also found other factors, such as the high cost of living relative to local salaries. Many expats also identified the high barriers to finding the right job as a reason not to stay.
Swedish decision makers will need to address cultural challenges if they want to breakthrough to new solutions. Expats told us that they were challenged by their ability to form relationships with Swedes, which left them feeling socially isolated and without the right networks to build their career. Or those of their partner. HR departments could look again into how they support expats and their families, investing in building the intercultural awareness and competence of both the expats and their Swedish workforce.
Get your copy of our report and guide to expat life in Sweden here.
The Report: The report tells you what expats reported to us about their lives here, to us and through other means. It is also written for the companies that employ expats, NGOs, such as international chambers of commerce, and to local and national governments, trying to understand how to attract expat talent, in order to develop the competitiveness of the economy. The 32-page report is in English.
The Guide: If you are a new arrival or are on your way to Sweden, this guide will help you understand what expatriate life is like in Sweden and give you the chance to prepare for life here in the best way. The 27-page guide is in English and covers the main challenges expats are experiencing right now and the reasons for them, the support that is and isn’t provided at a personal level and what help is out there.