How To Move to Sweden (First Steps, Challenges, and More)

Sweden is a beautiful country that is abundant with lakes, forests, and breathtaking views.

With a reputation for friendly people and delicious food, Sweden is a highly desirable country for travelers and those looking to move permanently to a new location. 

To move to Sweden, foreigners must go through an application process to receive a residence permit, obtain employment, secure housing, register for taxes, and make arrangements to relocate personal possessions. 

Relocating to a new country is a lengthy process littered with potential challenges, so it is vital to follow each step carefully and thoroughly.

This article will explore the first steps to moving to Sweden and the challenges one might face when relocating.

Also, Do Danes and Swedes Hate Each Other? to learn more.

moving to Sweden
What are the first steps to moving to Sweden? See below

What are the first steps to moving to Sweden?

The first steps to moving to Sweden include applying for and receiving a residence permit and registering with the Swedish Tax Agency.

It also includes obtaining a Swedish identification card and driver’s license and securing employment and housing. 

These first steps to moving to Sweden are explored in detail below: 

Apply for a Residence Permit

In order to permanently relocate to the country of Sweden, foreigners must first obtain a residence permit.

The residence permit allows the individual to reside in Sweden for 90 days or longer. 

The application process for a Swedish residence permit includes an application that must be submitted to the Embassy of Sweden either in person or by mail. [1]

After submitting the application, the applicant will need to schedule and complete a residence permit interview. 

Register With the Swedish Tax Agency

All Swedish residents are required to register with the Swedish Tax Agency, also known as Skatteverket. [2]

Upon registration, new residents will receive an individual identification number, similar to a social security number, that will be necessary for paying taxes and receiving wages from employment, among other things.  

Obtain a Swedish Identification Card and Driver’s License

In any country, it isn’t easy to get important tasks accomplished without a form of legal identification.

When relocating to a new country, it is necessary to complete many important tasks like opening a new bank account and applying for housing – each of which requires legal proof of identification. 

Typically, Swedish officials will only accept a current driver’s license from the home country for the first year, so new residents must be prepared to obtain a Swedish driver’s license within that time frame.

It will also be important to get familiar with Swedish traffic signals and signage.

Secure Employment

Oftentimes, individuals moving to Sweden will be doing so because of a job. A residence permit is reasonably simple to obtain when requested with a Swedish employer’s support.

However, if the new resident has not secured employment prior to moving, The Swedish Public Employment Service operates in a wide range of languages and is a great place to find information and support for finding employment in Sweden. [3] 

Secure Housing 

Housing in Sweden can be found by renting or buying a home. 

When renting in Sweden, there are two options: 

  • First-Hand renting means that the lease agreement is made with the owner of the entire building. This type of housing contract is less common.
  • Secondhand renting means the lease agreement is made with the first-hand renter or the owner of the individual apartment. 

Another option for housing is to buy a home in Sweden.

Although the availability of homes in Sweden is scarce, it can be done if the buyer begins their search early enough before their intended move date. 

When moving for education, students can usually find housing fairly easily through their university. 

Also, Why Do Swedes Have Blonde Hair? to learn more.

Sweden water
What’s hard about moving to Sweden? See below

What’s hard about moving to Sweden?

The hardest parts about moving to Sweden are completing the immigration process, sorting through limited housing availability, and adjusting to the climate. 

Immigration Process

The immigration process for moving to Sweden can be challenging. Although it is a fairly streamlined, simple process for anyone moving from the EU, moving to Sweden from anywhere else in the world is far more complicated.

Work permits grant new residents the right to work in Sweden, but these permits are only approved for those who already have a job offer.

These job offers can be hard to come by for foreigners since current Swedish and EU citizens are the first priority. [4] 

Availability of Housing

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when moving to Sweden is finding available housing.

The housing market, both for buying and selling, is incredibly competitive – especially in large cities like Stockholm, the nation’s capital. 

High demand and low supply drive rent prices up and make finding even an available room to sublet quite challenging. For this reason, anyone intending to move to Sweden should begin searching for housing as soon as possible. 

Adjusting to the Climate

Climate shock can cause new residents to experience feelings of disorientation as they adjust to the unfamiliar.

With its long winters and short summers, newcomers may go through an adjustment period as their bodies get used to a new climate.

Some areas in Sweden have drastic daylight changes that cause long periods of total darkness as well as round-the-clock sunlight. [5]

Also, Is Sweden Socialist? to learn more.

Sweden northern lights
Does Sweden welcome foreigners? See below

Does Sweden welcome foreigners?

Sweden welcomes foreigners and is known as one of the most friendly, helpful countries when it comes to migrants and refugees.

However, Swedes may appear cold or unfriendly due to their reserved nature. 

A 2017 study by US News ranked Sweden as the #1 best country to be an immigrant. The following year, it was ranked #3, still a remarkably high ranking. [6]

Sweden welcomes a large number of immigrants each year.

According to the OECD, 14% of the country’s population is made up of foreign-born individuals. [7]

However, while friendly, Swedish people are typically rather reserved, private, and humble. In some instances, this could be considered a bit cold.

Furthermore, because of the cultural importance of respecting the privacy of others, it is not common for Swedes to engage in spontaneous, personal conversations. 

Therefore, it may take an ex-pat some time to build relationships as they learn the culture and communication skills for engaging with the people of Sweden. 


Completing the necessary steps to move to Sweden can be a challenge, but if the process is followed correctly, this goal can be achieved.

Also, Sweden vs. Finland: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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