A lot of people ask me how it is to survive a real Winter. They would be surprised that, even though, Winters here are for real, one tends to feel a lot more comfortable.
Firstly, the construction is done properly. Double or tripled glazed windows are common, and not a luxury. Losses of energy are minimized, with 2 or 3 doors, rugs, and a lot of wood! There is no such thing as a cold freezing floor on tiles… The heating system is very efficient, regardless of what kind of energy you use (luckily, the cost is also half of what one pays in Portugal).
Secondly, you wear decent clothes. Not in amount (I know some Portuguese were already wearing jackets in September, when it was still 25 ºC!), but in quality. From my experience, 3 pieces are enough; 4 if it is extremely cold or you plan to spend a long time outside. The most important is the absence of weak zones – zones where the cold/wind can catch you off guard and freeze you! A good pair of wool socks and a nice pair of insulated rubber boots are the starting point for you to keep your body comfortable. Body extremities feel the cold more, and if you are like me, you know how important it is to keep feet and hands warm. A decent pair of gloves, with several layers of protection, and a hat with earmuffs, are amongst the most important items to keep you warm. If it is extremely cold, you might want to consider an inner layer of thermal underwear, made from wool, specially if you are not going to do sports. Finally, a warm jacket, water and windproof, and the same for the pants. You can survive several hours outside in the cold – I’ve tested it =)
It also helps the fact that we always have a hot sauna to turn to, wherever we are!
After spending some time here, you will soon find that you have more gloves than handbags, more hunting socks than stockings, and so on… Your hallway is filled up with different kinds of jackets, and at least, 4 different types of gloves. A good thing is that an umbrella is a rarely used item in Sweden, and I’m glad it is that way. I’d rather get snowflakes on my hair, than raindrops…
Come to the Arctic – if you dare!