10 things you need to know before moving to Sweden. Read this carefully before you do something that makes a swede be not so happy at you.foto: Inès d'Anselme
10 things you need to know before moving to Sweden
1. Social Security Number (personnummer)
In Sweden it is extremely important to have a social security number or as the Swedes like to call it: a” personnummer” in other words a personal number. This is a government issued number that will be helpful in everyday life. A Swedish social security number is a certificate that you are registered in Sweden. It is used, among other things, to facilitate the identification of persons for authorities such as the Social Insurance Agency and the Swedish Public Employment Service, but also at banks and companies. A social security number is a must if you are staying for more than a year, as it will make it possible to open a Swedish bank account.
2. Bank ID
With a Swedish social security number, the next step is to gain access to the Bank ID service. For this, you need to open an account at one of the banks in Sweden and ask them to help you require access to the service. Some of the most well-known banks in Sweden that can help you with this are Handelsbanken, Swedbank, SEB, and Nordea. With the Bank ID service, it will be possible for you to sign off documents and make transactions online.
Swedes usually do not like using cash, instead, most people use other payment methods such as credit cards and Swish. If you have acquired a Bank ID it will be possible for you to download an app called Swish, which connects to your private phone number and bank account. Swish is often used between friends and families and is of lately a quite common payment method within retail.
4. “Fika” a Swedish coffee break
It is of Swedish custom to have at least one fika per day. In other words, it can be described as a social coffee break where you gather to drink coffee or tea while nibbling on something sweet. The word fika is an integrated part of Swedish society.
5. Swedes like to keep their distance
Generally, people try to avoid sitting beside strangers on public transports if there are free seats available. Sometimes you will see that people leave their bag on the seat beside them to avoid having a stranger seated beside them. This usually happens when the public transport is not full to the brim.
6. Do not walk on the bicycle lane
Swedes love to cycle, and you will see bike lanes all around the cities. However, these lanes are only for cyclists and not for pedestrians. So do not use the cycling lanes if you are not on a bike. The same goes if you feel like walking alongside your bike, then you need to get off the bike lane and enter the sidewalk for pedestrians.
7. Take off your shoes
When in Sweden, you will notice that it is custom to take of your shoes before entering private residences. If you are not taking off your shoes it will be disrespectful towards the homeowner.
In Sweden, there is a societal code of conduct called “lagom”, which loosely can be translated as “just enough”, “in balance” or “in moderation”. There is a Swedish saying “lagom är bäst” which loosely translated means “There is a virtue in moderation”. Essentially “lagom” has become a part of the Swedish mentality and describes the way one should approach everyday life.
9. Be on Time
Swedes usually show up 10-15 minutes before a scheduled meeting. Punctuality is highly valued both in personal- and professional life.
10. There is a state-owned alcohol monopoly
In Sweden, it is possible to buy alcoholic beverages at restaurants and bars. However, if you want to purchase some bottles of alcohol to drink at home, you need to go to one of the state-owned liquor stores called “Systembolaget”. This store is the only one allowed to legally sell stronger alcohol in Sweden.