51 Reasons to Love Stockholm

DN readers struck back after an article about 51 reasons to hate Stockholm, they came up with 51 reasons to love Stockholm.

I don’t think the DN writer picked the best reasons to love stockholm. Several comments repeated themselves (green, beautiful) and some made no sense (stockholm has its own smell). I picked the best and most pompous reasons to love the capital of Scandinavia.

02 “Södermalm is in Stockholm.”
Why, thank you for the geography lesson.

11 “All the weirdos are collected here. Fantastic! Then it is not strange. ”
Just like San Francisco!

14 “The good fish restaurants.”
I hear the fish restaurants in Göteborg are way better AND cheaper.

19 “After seeing a lot of capitals in the world, I think Stockholm is one of the world’s most beautiful cities with plenty of greenery, of islands and water. With functioning subway and other communications in and out of the county, with friendly people as long as they do not sit in the car or by bike. ”

20 “Cheapest dancing in Sweden – all season at Gröna Lund will cost 189:- and then you get five dances a week with free courses in salsa and tango.”
That is cool!

33 “That it is full of people. You can go out on a Sunday to a restaurant or pub and you will have to queue.”
And this is a good thing…?
[Swedish lesson of the day – uteställe – nightclub, pub, restaurant; inneställe – popular uteställe. My fail on the original translation.]

39 “The unique blend of rock city, greenery and sparkling waters.”
Summertime in Stockholm is beautiful. It is probably my most favorite place to be on Earth.

45 “Stockholm has its own smell.”
Mmmmmmm…like old cheese.

46 “The best thing about Stockholm is that it is very far from the northern homophobic, racist Skåne and Gothenburg truculent.”

49 “As real locals have patience with anyone who feels at a disadvantage and thus whines.”

50 “Whoever does not love Stockholm is stupid in the head. Here’s everything you need – and then some. ”
No, no, who said I was arrogant? I was just merely pointing out that if you don’t love Stockholm, you’re a fucking moron.

So what’s your reason to love Stockholm?

Summer Photos of Stockholm

Summer is over. Almost. Officially 14 days until autumn begins.

I posted photos from the summer and maybe there are some from the spring so we can all look towards sunnier days for next year.

Plus I hope winter doesn’t start early again this year. Not lagom.

Our hot air balloon ride over Stockholm
balloons on the ground

The very beautiful Stockholm archipelago
stockholm blue

Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen, and Nordiska Museet
gamla stan

Summer sunsets … around 9PM
starry

Sunset

…and the flip side of a Swedish summer = fog + rain
fog

But filled with hallon paj,
bärpaj

sill,
Sill

nubbe (schnaps),
nubbe

and a smörgåsbord
Smörgåsbord

Gröna Lund

Red Bull Lådbilsrace Octopus
red bull octopus

Sweden, the most grass friendly country ever
Legalize marijuana

Antique cigarettes, at least sixty years old. Wanna smoke?
Antique cigarettes

Midsommarblommar
midsommarblommar

Witch burning, bonfire roasting Valborg
stockholm on valborg night

Men in suits need ice cream. Because that’s how awesome Swedish men are.
men in suits need ice cream

…to be concluded by a lovely fika.
fika time!

29 Tips Before Moving to Stockholm

You moved to Stockholm, Sweden, the most populated city at the highest lattitude in the world.

You unpacked the two tiny bags the airlines allow for you to carry and now sitting in a tiny apartment wondering will happen next.

There were a lot of things I wish I knew about Sweden before coming here. Just to make life a little easier in understanding day to day adventures. Take this with a pinch of salt, or a bucket, if I am caustic. I’ve been around too many years already.

  1. Beer is to Swedes as … – It’s quantity over quality.
  2. Systembolaget is the bane of your existence –  Come to terms with being stripped the rights to buy alcohol at any time for a reasonable price.  If you do not, you just may go insane.
  3. “$10 for a piss beer, why yes please” – Swedish beer is disgusting, it is also expensive.  Want the good beer, pony up even more kronor.  The secret to not going broke on two beers?  Pre-party at home with friends.
  4. Laundry dates – The laundry room has a sign up board or even a complicated electronic system to choose a date and time to wash the undies. The benefit is that you no longer need a roll of quarters or wait for the annoying neighbor to finish laundry before you snipe it.
  5. The inside of windows need washing – Because Sweden is smart and understands cold winters, the windows are double, triple, or quadruple pane. In certain styles, the windows separates into each pane. This ends up gathering a lot of dust and crap so be sure to do a spring and fall cleaning.
  6. Queue up – Grab your ticket and wait till you are called. At the doctor. At the alcohol monopoly. At the hospital. At the bakery. At the charcuterie. Except the grocery stores, you line up in the lanes. If there is no queuing, there is a high chance for total chaos.
  7. Help is offered only if asked – Duh, just ask. Don’t ask and no one will help.
  8. Don’t hold doors opens, no one cares – Perhaps this is a jaded biased statement, but holding doors open for someone is great because it’s the one time you will hear “tack” but no one will hold for you. Just ask my husband, he occasionally allows a 75kg door to slam into my face.
  9. Door open outward – I still do not understand why.
  10. Escalators maybe up-down in the British style – Not all stations but some. Because SL (tunnelbana – metro) wants to confuse you.
  11. Holidays exist solely for sweet treats – When life is in the Arctic, create days for yummy goodies. Waffles, semlor, and cinnamon buns all their own worshiped day. And you thought the Pasta religion was weird.
  12. Fires at Easter is meant to scare the witches – The witches had a meeting at Blåkulla and now they are flying home. Lighting a fire will scare them off and keep them from playing tricks on you. No Easter bunnies or Peeps either.
  13. Fires at Valborg is meant to scare more witches – Now that it is springtime, the witches may cause mischief and prevent spring from blossoming.
  14. Don’t talk to strangers – Remember what your parents told you as a child? Don’t talk to strangers and don’t eat candy, unless it is Saturday.
  15. Candy is to be consumed on Saturdays – Yes, lördagsgodis is for Saturdays and Saturdays only.
  16. Christmas is celebrated on December 24th – All holidays in Sweden are celebrated on the eves. That includes Christmas.
  17. Everyone watches Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) and Disney excerpts at 15hr on December 24th – A tradition for thirty years, the Disney special appears on Christmas Eve just as the sun sets and families gather to drink glögg (mulled wine) and enjoy some pre-dinner snacks. Every year is essentially the same show but it is the security blanket of the dark winter nights.
  18. Learning Swedish at SFI maybe a waste of your time – If you have to take a Swedish class at SFI, try to pass out to the highest level that you can. If not, supplement your time with Swedish language resources such as reading the papers online, watching the subtitles on American tv shows, and buying a couple good language books.
  19. Everything is built for giants – Okay not everything, but I’ve learned that shelving, coat hooks, and buttons can up far up if you’re a lowly 155cm or less in height.
  20. Compliments are for crazy people – Girls, the days when men give you compliments for your pretty hair or eyes is over. Other girls giving you compliments on your shirt or dress or hairstyle is also over. A few may do it because they are crazy, but by and large, Swedes are uncomfortable with compliments. Do not attempt to give one, it may up with a terrorized Swede.
  21. Swedish girls are not all blond or beautiful – They can in fact, come in ugly, brunette, and flat chested varietals. Complimenting the entire population of females in Sweden as beautiful, blond, busty is surefire way to get disenfranchised by the feminists. As mentioned before, Swedes do not take compliments well, this is one of those times. Perhaps, calling Swedish women “average and dull” is more suitable?
  22. Traffic lights and road signs are for sissies – Drivers of Stockholm have yet to understand the fine art of driving a vehicle in a city without disobeying all sense of logic. You know when you’re in trouble when the Vägverket (DMV equivalent) has commercials to teach drivers to “think about pedestrians.” They’re people too you know!
  23. ID cards at found at Skatteverket – And at Skatteverket only now. Fill the paperwork, drag a Swede (or hopefully, not, and just wait a few extra weeks), pay the dues and get a lovely card that proves you exist in Sweden.
  24. Passports may not be legal ID – Some post offices are so anal that unless you have a Swedish ID card (or EU), you cannot pick up a package. That’s the moment to go into bitch mode.
  25. Service and Swedes are an oxymoron – Stockholm is a rude city. It is unlike New York City in that unless you pay absolute top dollar you will have zero service. In Stockholm, it is perfectly acceptable to pay $30 for a drink and be treated like shit and served in a plastic cup.
  26. Fika is a daily ritual of drinking coffee with friends – You can call it the water cooler break, the coffee date, or black death, but coffee and Swedes are married with alcohol playing a sneaky mistress. Fika occurs around 10am and 3pm at the office and anytime in the afternoon at home or with friends.
  27. Pies in Sweden are delicious – Take advantage of summer pies like raspberry, strawberry, and rhubard. They are must haves for a fika.
  28. Apartments are an endangered species –  Finding a first-hand contract sucks.  Finding a second-hand contract sucks.  Buying an apartment is a proctology exam.  Have a shot of Svedka.
  29. Stockholm and Sweden are a love-hate relationship –  You can feel that way, it’s okay.  If people judge you on your worst days, they are not your friends anyway.

If you have more, “I wish I knew about Stockholm…” post in the comments. I’ll incorporate them.

Moving to Sweden: Making Friends

Moving to a new country and then making new friends is hard. Moving to Sweden and making friends is like waiting for hell to freeze over. A friend over on Twitter ask me to write a bit about what’s it like to make new friends here.

First, the collection of articles on living in Sweden.

For me, I was lucky; I knew people who knew people. Still, it took a lot of random conversations with a lot of people to determine if I wanted to be friends with them.

Swedes for one, can take awhile to become friendly and become friends. Making friends with Swedes who have lived in the same city all their life is the hardest, probably the worst thing you can do. These Swedes have always had the same pillar of friends from grade school to gymnasium to university, plus or minus a few friends. As a result, they are stable, don’t need new friends, and don’t need more things to do. Skip making friends with these Swedes until you are settled down and comfortable with life.

I made the easiest friends with the Swedes who have lived abroad. They have more of open mind and can relate to nomads. You can meet these Swedes at pub quiz nights, international companies, meetup clubs, and even blogs (hi Hairy Swede!).

And it’s okay if you don’t have many friends; your possy in Sweden maybe smaller than what you had at home. But make friends with people you enjoy being with.

Here are some places, online and offline to meet more people in Sweden, not just Stockholm.

Meetup.com – Meetup has meeting all over the world. Find local meetings in the city you live. Stockholm and Gothenburg has regular meetings and outings and the people there are really friendly.

Couchsurfing – Surf on someone’s couch for the night and make a new friend. Great if you’re about to move to the city. You can also go to the couchsurfing meetups to meet people who host surfers or just want to hang out.

Working or attending university – Try not to work at an über Swedish company. You know which companies those; they’re large, impersonal, and no one cares about anyone else. University is great to meet other foreigners but difficult to dig up the Swedes. Work hard at initiating conversations with them.

Embassy or native culture events – If you are in Stockholm or Göteborg, you are lucky. There are always embassy/consulate events going on for citizens to feel back at home. In some of the smaller cities there maybe joint groups not run by the embassy but maybe a business or cultural group.

Yoga Lessons – A long shot but at least you get in shape and get out of the house.

Tech groups – There are tons of them here! Check out Geek Girls, Episerver, Robert Nyman’s Geek Meet.

Belly, Bollywood, African dancing – It’s unusual but again at worst case you get out of house and do something fun! Also check out Indian Dance Studio and Dans Dojon and Layali Dance Studio.

Swedish classes – A total hit or miss. You will meet foreigners, not Swedes so this should not be a priority on the list of making Swedish friends.

Cost of Living in Stockholm

It’s pretty obvious that Stockholm is an expensive city. It’s the capital, the largest city in the country and the nordic region, and the “capital of Scandinavia.”

View over Slussen

But if you, like 24% of Swedes live in Stockholm county, you’re in for some serious spending and judicious savings.

I thought I would break down my cost per month, which maybe helpful for those moving to the city for their Swedish dream. Even moving from Göteborg or a small town would mean a big sticker shock. Since I live with someone (thus saving on the fixed costs), I marked our joint total expenses with an **.

  • Apartment rental per month: 9500** (YMWV from 7000-15000 a month on Stockholm rentals)
  • Gas, & electricity per month: 300-600**
  • Cable internet: 300**
  • SL monthly ticket: 690
  • Food: 4000**
  • Total – 15000 for two people, 7500SEK for one person, per month

Variable costs:

  • After work (AW) Beer: 60 kronor per beer; 80-120 kronor for a 4cl mixed drink
  • Outside lunch: 70-130 kronor per lunch
  • Health: 0-200 depending on the need for doctor’s visitors, medicine, etc
  • Clubbing: 120-150SEK entrance fee plus drinks which can vary from 60 kronor for a beer to 150 kronor for a mixed drink
  • Dinner: 250 kronor for entrée and one drink
  • SATS gym membership: 550 includes gym and unlimited entry to classes
  • Shopping: 0-?
  • System Bolaget: 700** for booze shopping of beer and wine; spirits will add 200SEK per 70ml bottle (at minimum)

Even though I can be a cheap bastard, I eat out one or two times a week just because cooking every night of the week is impossible. I do not club anymore since I hate going out in Stockholm so I ‘save’ a lot there. SATS gym club is a whooping 550SEK a month but the gyms tend to be really nice and not as crowded as Friskis & Svettis, which is cheaper.  If you’re working, you should be getting a health reimbursement of 2000-4000SEK annually. This can help offset gym memberships, massages (for real!), swimming hall, and sports/yoga classes.

Last, I eat dinner out two to three times a month with friends and spend at least 400 kronor for myself.   If I buy anything like socks and underwear or a book, that adds another 500-1000 kronor.   Sadly, there’s no bunny to shop for.

And the dreaded loans.  I have student loans that amount to 2000 kronor per month. Your mileage may vary on this greatly.

With the variable costs, I spend 4910 (160+550+1200+1000+ 2000) on the mid-high end.   At lowest amount, I spend 4000SEK and adding in shoes or gift shopping, the cost per month jumps to 6000 kronor.

In all, my costs are:
7500 on fixed costs
+ 4910 on variable costs
= 12410 Total kronor per month

Now, let’s factor in that you make 20000SEK after taxes in Stockholm, a solid, average salary. At a savings rate of 12% of your disposable income, at minimum you should save 2400 SEK a month. In reality, it’s good to prepare for a rainy day or a trip you have planned; save more.

Accounting for post tax salary and costs per month, I’m left with 7590 kronor, more than enough to save and take an awesome trip later on.

Yes, it costs a lot of month to live in Stockholm, but there’s no reason for you to be one of the broke-on-the-24th-of-the-month people.

Lönedag- Payday in Sweden!

Today is the 25th. Before Sunday, the day of rest, and Saturday, the day of Sabbath, the 25th in Sweden is the most important day. It is payday for the month for everyone across Sweden. You get paid on the 25th or no day.

Because this payday occurs on a Friday, you can be sure across Sweden that people will be partying and bar hopping a little extra harder. And shopping more this weekend. Lots of spending.

The splurging over the payday weekend, lönehelg, always made me wonder about the household savings rate in Sweden. Turns out it isn’t so bad, around 12% household net savings in Sweden. In comparison, savings in Japan dropped from double digits in the 1980s-2000 (not shown) to just 3.78% the past year. Surprisingly, American households hold a positive net savings, even if just barely. And well, the Brits really need a class or two on savings and income.

What does this mean for us in Sweden? Not much except that in the cities people do like to spend money, some are so poor at financing they barely make it month to month. And with the Swedish government enjoying our hard earned tax salary, save an extra krona or two. Besides, we can make fun of the Norwegians with their negative savings.

Household savings from the major OCED countries (United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden)

But for all of you who don’t have a job and a lovely paycheck to look forward to, don’t fret. The unemployment rate for young people (under 25) is 25% in Sweden, one of the highest of the developed world. The only countries with higher unemployment are Arab nations, (p)IGS, and extreme poverty nations.

Guesses to why Sweden has such high unemployment stems from: 1) lack of interest by young people to find jobs; 2) inability to find jobs because employers do not want inexperienced people; 3) the skills possessed by new generation is not enough to be competitive in the work force.

As a +25 oldie, I’ll be doing the right thing in Sweden by celebrating my lönehelg at the Stureplan bars.

The Unassuming House in the Suburbs

The Swedish suburbs have a bad rap. They’re outdated, lonely, ugly, dangerous, isolated, ugly, cold, shabby, and far away from civilization. The houses totally isolated from civilization tend to be the pretty Swedish summer houses. The rest are not so lucky.

But we found one house that beats the odds.

It is by far average on the outside.

…decent but below level patio…

…with an ugly basement area…

…but somehow this Swedish winterwonder house becomes…
baroque house sweden

…a baroque masterpiece in decoration…
baroque interior design

…to amazing curtains…
swedish baroque house

…and a bathroom for a queen…
baroque bathroom

…to the Italian countryside…

…Chinese influenced rococo bedroom…
rococo bedroom

…black and white baroque design…
black and white bedroom rococo

…the staircase of heaven…
beautiful baroque banister
 
All for just 3.5 million kronor. A fantasy house in the ‘burbs.

Job Opening in Sweden: Social Media Butterfly

I don’t post much if anything about my day job online. But I do want offer a great gem that we are interested in a freelance writer. Specifically a freelance writer that rocks at writing (common sense I know), social media, and is located anywhere on planet Earth.

That’s right, you do not need to be in Sweden for this job. Or you can be, doesn’t matter. You need to be a native English writer but with American writing style. Sorry colour is not going to work for us. You should be a Twitter bird (see that, my great use of pun) and well versed in digg, reddit, slashdot, delicious or one of the major bookmarking sites. Well versed meaning you are addicted to contributing to one of these networks, not lurking.

Please email me via the contact form with why you’re just an awesome person. From there, you’ll be requested to submit a CV and links to your publications and proof of reddit obsessing.

More Things to Hate about Sweden

I know I ruffled feathers with my 10 things I hate about Sweden. People thought I was/am a real a’hole. To prove them wrong, I made a list about why I love Sweden.

But let’s get real. The I love Sweden post received 15 comments. The I hate Sweden post received 255 comments. The people who told me to “get the F out of Sweden” were no where to be found when I made positive comments about their country. Do they love Sweden then if all they can do is hate me for pointing out the poorer aspects of the nation?

This compiled list is not just me. I asked several expats what they hate about Sweden and these are the top answers.

Let the games begins:

Sweden is…

  • Dark six months of the year
  • Cold
  • snowy; goddamn you snow!
  • Seriously f’ing cold
  • full of feminists
  • IKEAland
  • Grey
  • Black
  • full of hot swedish men and swedish women (okay big plus)

I hate how…

  • Tvattstuga bookings ranges from psycho 8AM-5PM and 5PM-midnight or from 7AM-9AM. And if you really want to start a fight in Sweden, steal someone’s clothes and hold it ransom.
  • You have to pay 10kr for a bathroom that has sticky toilet paper on the floor. Ummm…I like non pissy bathrooms.
  • People hit you in the head with bags on the metro and don’t apologize
  • Some people block the entrance walking on/off the train.
  • Without immigrants cleaning the streets, the city would be a dump.
  • No one holds doors open.
  • Those damn heaters in doorways of malls (think Gallerian) are completely uncool for the “enviromental capital of europe.”
  • XL is more like M in clothing.
  • People snus and throw the used packet on the streets; same with cigarette butt litter.
  • With gym etiquette, no one has sweat towels!
  • People wear flip flops or walk barefoot in the gym – I’d love to drop a 10kg dumbbell on an exposed toe
  • Drivers think you’re a pylon when crossing the street.
  • Bus drivers think they are in the indy or rally!
  • The black market rental sucks.
  • The housing market sucks.
  • Buying gorgeous shoes in Stockholm is impossible
  • Cyclists are training for the Tour de France in the summer, ergo you get run down like obstacle flags.
  • Fitted bedsheets don’t exist.
  • Bedsheets other than white don’t exist.
  • Foreigners are suffering from Stockholm syndrome.
  • Designer crap Swedish fashion falls apart after 3 months of use.
  • Shopping is limited. I want soy candles and toe socks, where the hell can I find them!
  • No one smiles.
  • Banks close at 15hr on most days.
  • People whine about the weather. I already know the weather sucks, thanks for pointing out the obvious.
  • People don’t make small talk.
  • Stores close at 18hr (19hr if you’re lucky).
  • Swedish banks change rules as often as people screaming skål at the company julbord dinner party
  • Swedish banks don’t let you see details of transactions…my last paycheck came from a company/person/object called “0”
  • Housewives are condescended upon by Swedes.
  • The queue system only works when there is a queue number. Otherwise people fail to understand forming a line.
  • Queues during Christmastime fail miserably.
  • If Disneyworld is the best place on earth, then System Bolaget must be the antichrist.
  • Lagom everything is at work. Why can’t people work to do their best?
  • Everything is so expensive.
  • Customer service doesn’t exist.
  • Wedding gift registries do not exist.
  • Shopping online is still in the stone age.