Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Going to Work in Sweden

Because of its reputation as an extremely high taxation nation, Sweden is not usually the first choice of nation for would-be-expatriates looking for an overseas location in which they can live, work, explore and enjoy life in a different land with a different language and culture. But having said that, taking tax out of the equation and because there are actually many reasons why Sweden is an attractive nation to reside in and seek employment in, an increasing number of international citizens are taking up residence in Sweden, with the nation home to around 11,000 British expats already for example.

If you’re thinking of going to work in Sweden this article covers everything from labour laws and visas to finding accommodation and just how much tax you really do have to pay on your hard earned income!

The quality of life that you can enjoy in Sweden is very high – education, healthcare, housing and social welfare for example are all exceptionally well funded by the government and mean that each and every citizen of the nation stands a good chance of a decent quality of life. As an expatriate working abroad you might think that you will not be entitled to the same standards of living or the same levels of access to healthcare and education for your children for example – but you’d be wrong.

Depending on the nation you herald from, if you have the right to live and work in Sweden you have the right to free or heavily subsidised healthcare, you have the right to have your children educated for free up to the age of at least 16 and you have the same rights as Swedish citizens when it comes to pay and working conditions too…in fact, Sweden is an exceptionally fair country.

If you’re British you can live in Sweden for three months without needing any sort of visa…if on the other hand you know you want to move permanently and get work in Sweden then you can either apply for a residence visa before you go from the Swedish Embassy in the UK, or you can apply for residency after you’ve moved to the nation. If on the other hand an employer offers you a job and relocation to Sweden you’ll automatically get a residence permit for five years unless the position offered is temporary, at which point you’ll be given permission to reside and work in Sweden for the duration of your contract.

If you come from anywhere else in the world other than the UK you’ll need to check with your nearest Swedish embassy to determine your rights to reside and take up employment in Sweden before you make a commitment to move there.

In terms of the main employment centres they are Stockholm and Gothenburg with Malmo another popular spot for some expatriates. Naturally the very fact that there are plenty of job vacancies in these cities means that the demand for accommodation is high and therefore housing costs are higher than elsewhere in Sweden too. Many Swedish citizens rent their properties with a lot of subsidised municipal housing available – this means that rental law is well developed and tenants’ rights are well looked after.

And finally – yes tax in Sweden is high…how else can the nation afford free healthcare, education and an abundance of municipal housing not to mention numerous other social welfare type initiatives and benefits? So while you pay top dollar out of your wages to live in Sweden, you do actually have something to show for it other than a massive, well equipped army! Income is taxed upwards of 35% depending on how much you earn and the municipality in which you live, and then there is another national income tax on top of this which can go up to 25% of you annual salary.

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