Author Topic: Hej Sweden?  (Read 1238 times)

canisius

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Hej Sweden?
« on: March 07, 2018, 05:29:46 PM »
Well . . .

I have been offered a job in Stockholm for about the same salary I make here.  It would be probational for six months and then long term afterwards.  We'd make less so we wouldn't be hit by the national income tax, but of course there is the municiaplity tax.  Still, with the government subsidization of many things it still evens out. 

That said, I want to know if anyone has any experience on
1.) living frugally in Sweden and Mustachian
2.) As a Swedish resident, are there any investments and / or tax-differed accounts we can take advantage of?
3.) Suggestions for our investments.
4.) Anyone know dependable and affordable international shipping companies?

We have one loan at 7% and $7000.
Once we sell our home, car and assets, we'd have $60,000 after paying liabilities against it.
We would have a 403B with $46,000 that we'd consider doing a back door Roth.

freeat57

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2018, 06:26:48 PM »
Hejsan,  I lived in Sverige too long ago for my experience to be relevant to you.  However, it still true that you cannot live cheaply there if you try to eat/drink/drive a car like an American (especially drink!).  I assume you have some of that under control if you are on this forum. 

You might try contacting the guy who has this blog http://tradevenue.se/fantastiskafarbrorfri .  They are very mustachian.  The blog is all in Swedish.  Maybe you can figure it out?  He is @FarbrorFri on Twitter.  (FarbrorFri = uncle free)

havregryn

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2018, 09:39:33 AM »
We used to live in Sweden (husband Swedish, I'm not).
I find Sweden to be difficult if you are in the accumulation phase as salaries are relatively low in relation to cost of living.
In Stockholm you're also going to have one hell of a time finding a place to live.
Unless you are being recruited for something really spectacular, I am going to, based on your statement that you make the same now what you'd be making there, assume that you live in what is a low cost of living area in the US. Cost of stuff like housing, groceries and public transport may come as a shock.

But at the same time Stockholm is a wonderful place to live for someone who has Mustachian values. Bike friendly, lots of nature, lots of free stuff (maybe not so much for adults only but if you have kids you'd love it), lots of people who are not into consumerism, focus on sustainability etc.
So I'd say that any Mustachian would enjoy living in Sweden but don't expect to save a lot of money as it might not happen.
But keep in mind that all healthcare and education are free and will remain free for you as long as you live there and forever if you stay long enough to qualify for citizenship.


Linda_Norway

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2018, 11:41:10 AM »
I live in Norway, even more expensive than Sweden. We manage to live in a quite frugal way. We brew our own beer and cook most meals at home. We also look for good deals everywhere. We have mostly cheap outdoor hobbies and go on cheap camping vacations.

That a work contract has a 6 month probational is the standard here.

Maybe the Swedish unions have numbers available for average salaries in various branches for all ages. This way you could compare your offer.

canisius

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2018, 01:38:50 PM »
I appreciate the responses.  We actually got good news, in my opinion, as I turned down the original offer in Stockholm due to the HCOL, salary, and location, and got something that pays higher and in a location that we preferred, Dalarna. 

The salary is actually a bit higher according to the Union than the average in the area and about the equivalent to what I make here.

We are finding it difficult on housing, but hoping and keeping our fingers crossed.

Our hobbies are pretty simple, camping, biking, and both of my children play hockey, so there’s that.  We gave up eating out with children a long time ago, and to be honest, I can cook better now than most restaurants.  I do have to ask, though, as we regularly smoke BBQ, if there’s any equivalent there or if we need to McGayver a smoker.

Now we’re just waiting on the visa / work permit and hoping there won’t be any problems with my step daughter (I don’t think there will, but I’m a worrier) and wife’s custody papers.

havregryn

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2018, 02:47:56 PM »
Yes, housing is a bit difficult in Sweden. There is no real private rental market so it's a bit difficult for newcomers. Your only options are renting an apartment from a company, buying a co-op, buying a house and maybe renting a house from a private person but that is usually short term. People don't do rentals as businesses in Sweden, it's an almost unheard of practice.  Every place will have a couple of major landlords managing hundreds of apartments and you're supposed to queue to get a contract. Prices should be reasonable though. It's a weird system that feels utterly unfamiliar to anyone who is not born there (me too, I am still wtf about it all).
If you were going to Stockholm your only truly sustainable option would be to buy a place and pray for the best, in Dalarna I guess you may get your hands on a what they call first hand rental (which is the only normal rental, as what they call second hand rental is something that is by definition temporary). I hope you have a relocation consultant helping you navigate this? It is a weird landscape for someone coming from a different world.

I had to google to understand your smoker question (I guess that tells you something), found this
https://www.texasmonthly.com/bbq/interview-johan-fritzell-of-holy-smoke-bbq/

To quote
"Swedes love to grill, but low-and-slow, Texas-style barbecue is a concept so foreign that only one restaurant in the country serves it."

But it says they also sell smokers so you should be fine.

I think you will enjoy Sweden, just really, I think compared to the US (based on reading this forum, not having been there) you will find that most stuff is simply really expensive. You get used to it and a lot of it will be offset by the fact you will have next to no healthcare and education expenses (for kids everything is completely free, as adults you will be supposed to pay something here and there but it is still dirt cheap compared to most places, especially the US).

Maybe this is useful, skip the whole brochure as this is really nothing new for a Mustachian, but this is done by the Consumer protection agency and on the last two pages (which you need to print to align properly) you have their estimates of the monthly cost of certain basic things
https://www.konsumentverket.se/globalassets/publikationer/privatekonomi/koll-pa-pengarna-2018-engelska-konsumentverket.pdf
I think their estimates are fairly Mustachian as they are used to define welfare payments.

Have you done the correct calculations to know your actual after tax salary?
For example, if your pretax salary is 50 000 and you live in Falun, you go home with 33 000.
Keep in mind that for kids you also get something called barnbidrag. 2650 sek per month for two kids.

I am sure you will be able to save but my guess would be definitely less than living in the US.
Everything is simply more expensive.
Take Netflix for example. The basic one screen account costs 109 sek in Sweden. That's 13$. I am sure it costs less in the US (here in Luxembourg 8€).
 And that goes for every single thing you can imagine, it will simply be wtf expensive if you compare it to something you used to pay somewhere else (speaking from the experience of someone who moved to Sweden from abroad and then moved somewhere else again)
Unless you're from Norway like Linda, in that case yes, everything will be cheap lol.
Some more things I remember as ridiculously expensive from Sweden, hm:
1. Shipping (ordering something online is often spoiled by having to pay 50-80 sek for them to ship it to you WITHIN Sweden
2. General postal fees (prepare to need to pay 80 sek every time someone sends you a parcel from the US just because they had to be bothered by it)
3. Cinema tickets (150 sek easily for a 3d movie)
4.  Any kind of entrance tickets into anything really, I am still in disbelief what my boys paid for some fun stuff in Stockholm last summer, and I mean really, to get a family of 4 into a popular museum or something like that that is not free for kids (i.e. that is a tourist bait) you can easily expect to fork out  a 1000 sek before a kid said they were hungry ;)
5. Alcohol (my husband doesn't want to move back to Sweden ever and I feel at least 60% of his motivation is n the fact he can now have a glass of cider or sparkling wine with dinner without feeling like he is endulging in luxury)...you can also only buy booze at specialized stores that are not open on the weekends.

But as said, in the long run all this will be evened out by the non-existant cost of healthcare and education so it should definitely not be seen as an anti-Mustachian deal breaker, just be prepared, I honestly think average or even above average disposable income doesn't go as far in Sweden as in some other places simply because you often can't avoid expensive crap.

I guess in Dalarna you're going to need a car. No experience there but something tells me that's going to be an expensive thing to have in a place like Sweden.

freeat57

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2018, 10:33:42 AM »
Dalarna is perfect for outdoor activities!  As our oaty friend (havregryn) said, the housing part is hard, but I hope your company will provide guidance for that.  Mine certainly did.  If you would like to have some fun, browse the online shopping for groceries to get and idea of your food budget.  Google ICA Livs and choose a store to shop.  ICA (pronounced eek-ah) is a big supermarket chain there.  You can also see alcohol prices for an idea.  Google Systembolaget.  That's the government approved liquor stores.  To see real estate sites, google Bostad Dalarna.  Lycka till!

canisius

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 09:14:23 AM »
Hopefully some of you can help me out with this.  We found an apartment in a great location.  It's about 500 crowns more than we wanted to spend, and a room less than we wanted.  However, it's big, it's 1.5 kms away from work, bikable, right by a park, in a good neighborhood, and close to everything.  The catch . . . Our Work Permit won't allow us to enter the country until July 15, and we'll probably stop for a few days in a lay over in Stockholm.  However, the owner wants to begin rent on June 1.  I hate to spend a month and a half on an empty apartment, but we keep hearing how hard the rental market is in Scandinavia.  We are on the waiting list for Närlingslivsförtur at the Kopperstaden but I haven't heard a reply on how long that will take after several requests.

Suggestions?

Also for any Mustachians from other difficult real estate markets (e.g. NYC, San Francisco, London), I'd be interested in your suggestions.

Thanks

Linda_Norway

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2018, 03:26:02 AM »
Hopefully some of you can help me out with this.  We found an apartment in a great location.  It's about 500 crowns more than we wanted to spend, and a room less than we wanted.  However, it's big, it's 1.5 kms away from work, bikable, right by a park, in a good neighborhood, and close to everything.  The catch . . . Our Work Permit won't allow us to enter the country until July 15, and we'll probably stop for a few days in a lay over in Stockholm.  However, the owner wants to begin rent on June 1.  I hate to spend a month and a half on an empty apartment, but we keep hearing how hard the rental market is in Scandinavia.  We are on the waiting list for Närlingslivsförtur at the Kopperstaden but I haven't heard a reply on how long that will take after several requests.

Suggestions?

Also for any Mustachians from other difficult real estate markets (e.g. NYC, San Francisco, London), I'd be interested in your suggestions.

Thanks

You don't want to spend 1,5 month of rent, the apartment owner doesn't want to loose 1,5 month of income.
Can you try to organize short term rental of the apartment? Maybe someone from your future company needs temporary housing (a foreign consultant)? I think you should have permission from the landlord, but it could solve the problem.

Could you start working earlier, on a tourist visum? Not sure if you are allowed to work on that, though.

Lady SA

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 11:10:07 AM »
caveat - I live in a moderately difficult rental market (not super difficult, but not awesome), and I do not live in Sweden (though I've thought about moving and have actually looked into it, but never gone far with it). I do have some thoughts, but of course, take it with a few pinches of salt!

Have you put together a monthly Swedish budget, that takes into account grocery prices, utility prices, etc? Even high estimations would be fine. Any time we've moved, I've put together an estimated budget to estimate as closely as I can what I think we would be spending in the new area. Given your income and then the new fixed expenses (and non-negotiable savings goals), whatever is leftover would give you your housing budget.

Does this available place fit within that budget? If it doesn't, than you should pass on the apartment. You say it is 500 SEK more expensive than you wanted to spend (thats about $60 USD, right?). Not sure if this means you would be stretched thin, or if you would simply be able to make some alternate tradeoffs and it wouldn't affect things much.

Now, from my experience, if you find a suitable place in a difficult market, you should pounce on it. Do you have savings that can cover the outlay of the "extra" 1.5 months of rent? Yeah it is painful, but rent is just purchasing the privilege of living somewhere. So while you may not currently get to live there between June 1 and July 15, it would likely be money well spent in the grad scheme of things.

For our current apartment, we found it on Craigslist. Like you, the landlord wanted the lease to begin a month before our current lease ended. Because we really weren't finding anything else suitable (we have high standards for kitchens because we cook so often, and for some reason everywhere else had stupid, cramped galley dungeon kitchens with no light and just this horrible, unwelcoming vibe), we jumped on it. So yeah, we paid more money for a month and a half. 3 years later, I really only remembered this because your post reminded me of it. As time goes on, you really won't remember the missing money because you are mustachian, and you have plenty of money. You aren't scrambling or scrimping and saving to afford each month's rent, you should have plenty of savings to absorb this temporary outlier.

From the sounds of it, this place ticks all your boxes, and it would be a really significant to-do item checked off your "moving to Sweden" list. How did you find this place? How long to you have before you have to make a decision on it? Is it "too good to be true", or a scam, or are you pretty confident about it being legitimate? You can also move again in the future if this one falls through. The biggest problem is getting your stuff TO Sweden. Once it is there, its much easier to move things around within the same city if you need to.

All that to say, since the place seems pretty great and I assume it is within your budget and legitimate, I'd jump on it. If it is a stretch for your budget, you should hang tight and wait/look for something else.

havregryn

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 01:24:23 PM »
I really can't tell you on the rental as I don't know how bad the rental market there really is (if this were Stockholm it would be take it no matter what) but I need to say that I strongly doubt that you, as an American citizen, wouldn't be able to enter the country before your work permit.  I can imagine an employee of Migrationsverket who'd tell you something like that as these people are painfully clueless  but that is just ridiculous. As an US passport holder you can enter the EU Schengen area for a 90 day stay with just the said passport and there is no way that Sweden would have somehow magically managed to overrule that with some of their own bullshit (they have the strangest immigration laws and you might eventually have some issues with travel when you need to renew your permit but I will explain that when it happens if it happens not to freak you out for nothing haha) so I strongly doubt they can somehow make you wait until July 15th to enter the country.


havregryn

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Re: Hej Sweden?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 01:47:21 PM »
but yes, scams are an issue, so some more safety checks.
is this a förstahand contract, i.e. is the landlord a company? if the landlord is a person is this a hyresrätt or a bostadsrätt?
nota bene, for both of these things. for the renting to be legit, that person needs a permission from someone else to rent out.  while they can only apply for a permission once they have a name of a prospective tenant (i.e. they cna't have a permission in advance), you need to be able to check with  either the first hand landlord (if it is  a hyresrätt, there this is a company) or bostadsrättförening (that is like an owner's association) whether this permission is likely to be obtained.
this is why it is such a pain in the ass to rent a place there. there is no free rental market there. maybe for houses to some degree, but nope on apartments.

also, learn that Sweden is a stalker's paradise.
there are websites like www.ratsit.se
www.merinfo.se
etc
where you can look up any person and see pretty much anything about them
so if you are renting from a private person, look them up there to see if they are registered at the address they are renting out and if not, make sure to verify why not