The first formalities in Sweden

Like I said previously, the first thing you have to do is get your personal number from the Skatteverket. By doing this, you are already enrolled in the Försäkringskassan. If you are from EU, you don’t need to apply for a residence permit.

You will wait for this special number (about 2 weeks), without which you can’t do a single thing in Sweden, like for instance, opening a bank account. You will try, like I did, to open a bank account with this solely number, and you’ll probably find out that you need to apply for the Swedish ID Card (2 more weeks). I had been told that Handelsbanken did not require this card and I chose that one, but unfortunately, they do require an ID nowadays. Even though, it seems to be one of the best banks for foreign people, as long as the Länsförsäkringar, because they have good conditions for people who go abroad a lot.

When you have these 3 sorted out, congratulations. You have all that is necessary! At least, if you don’t have a car! If you chose to bring your car, like myself, you have a bit more work in hands. First, if you have a new car, and you arrived in Winter, try to install an engine heater as soon as possible. Your car will thank you and you too! It’s quite an investment, but really worth it if your car is new and you plan on keeping it for a long time! Your engine won’t wear off so soon, and you avoid driving on dangerous conditions (ice on the windows). Try to find a house with garage, or at least, a covered parking space with electricity. It will pay in the end! I hope you bought a good set of Winter tyres (it’s impossible to come from Summer to Winter with studded tyres). Here you have the complete list of the tyres approved in Sweden. So far, I have managed quite well with my winter tyres, but of course, if you come in the Summer, you’ll just have to wait for the Winter to come and then buy here your tyres! If there’s a lot of snow, in roundabouts and crossings, you might find your car sliding a bit! No need to panic, though, and if in doubt, just book yourself a driving course for Winter conditions. Even though I bought snow chains, because it was compulsory for crossing France and Germany, I didn’t even got the chance to use them, and do not think I will, because they plough the streets and roads everyday, even in semiprivate ways, so you can’t use your snow chains. Still, if you have them, it won’t hurt you to bring them on the car! Also mandatory is the yellow reflective jacket and a snow shovel (in case you get stuck).

Then, the worse part: you have a lot of papers to read and sent to the Swedish Transport Agency. Don’t worry, they answer phone calls very efficiently and answer all your emails very quickly, so it’s quite a help! If you are from EU, you will not have to pay for VAT (unless your car is new) or go to the Swedish Customs Service. And you have 3 months to take care of this paperwork, but please, do not forget to have your car insurance updated, and assure yourself that it is valid here! You won’t be able to drive for a short period of time (even if you apply for temporary registration and pay the extra), unless to drive your car to the nearest inspection point. I don’t know exactly how long it will take, because I will send the papers only in February. But I am sure I will get back to this issue.

The housing market in Sweden

I meant to write sooner, but I have been extremely busy these last weeks… I have been on a intensive Swedish course, and I basically did A1+A2 in 60 hours, so there was no time left for anything else. I will get back to lessons later, because I need to reach B2 level, and of course, lots of practice from now on!

I have been visiting some houses but I haven’t found the right one yet. It might seem odd, but it’s difficult to find a house in Lapland these days. The housing market in Sweden works like no other!

There are houses to rent, and two tipes of houses to buy. The rental houses are like in Portugal, except that they normally include heating, water and electricity (warm rent vs. cold rent). If you want to buy a house, you have two options: a real buy, and the house is yours, with prices normally lower than in Portugal; and a buy/rent option, which means you don’t own the house, but own the right to live in it – you can change wallpapers, floors but you can’t destroy walls. Both of them can be bought with a loan from the bank, but whereas in the first case, you only have to pay a monthly fee to the bank, in the second case, you have to pay the bank and also a monthly fee to the owner (a real estate agency). Basically you’ll end up paying the same monthly, because the houses for sale have much higher prices. Sometimes you can even “buy” an house without asking for a loan, because these houses are really affordable, with “starting” prices around 20/30k €. And I say “starting” because these houses, normally, go on bidding and end up costing a lot more. Moreover, this “starting” price is money lost, whereas if you buy a house, you will resell it later, and hopefully, recover some money! So, this is a pretty good deal for the real estate agencies that get to sell a house for several times! And why does this work here so well? Because there is a great house shortage, partially, due to the increase of the immigrants. And also because, more than 50% of the rental houses, work with queueing lists. For instance, in Stockholm, one might have to wait about 15-20 years for a house, whereas ir Northern Sweden you might get it in 1-2 years, depending on the region/city. Of course there is also a private rental market, but with this shortage, you can imagine, there are not much houses left!

For a person like me, with a container in the port, waiting for shipment, it’s really annoying…

Excited with the new job

It has been only three days since I started working in Sweden, but I already know it’s going to be a full year… Lots of exciting projects on the horizon, training opportunities in Sweden and outside, and a complete schedule of mine visits, just like I wanted! But first and foremost, I need to master a little bit of Swedish. Even though everyone at the company speaks English, most of the documents, mails and even meetings are in Swedish, and I can’t keep depending on Google Translate!

People have been really kind to me and always show me around when I get lost! I think I’m really going to like it here! The job, the landscape, the way of thinking and living…

The weather forecast for the next week seems a bit unpleasant, with temperatures reaching -21 ºC! I’ll see how my body handles it 😉

Safe and sound

Yeah, that’s right, I made it through the real North!

I won’t resist pointing some high moments of the rest of the trip:

– Crossing the fantastic bridges of Storebælt and Oresund;

– The Southern Sweden with its beautiful woods and lakes;

– The coast between Hudiksvall and Umeå, with the snow-covered road;

– The arrival in Lapland, having witnessed two aurora borealis and six cute reindeers, with increasingly more snow everywhere!

It really is beautiful up here, even more than I had expected. And believe me, though the sun rises at 9 am and sets at 2 pm, we still have plenty of light, due to the brightness of the snow!

The car has managed pretty well, so far, and I hope, it will! For the following week I have many issues to deal with, starting with the Skatteverket and the Transportstyrelsen. Only then I’ll get my bank account and start looking for a permanent house!

I can’t say I am not nervous for my first day, but I’m really looking forward to it, at the same time!