Year two began with many of the basics in place, which really cemented the feeling that Sweden is home. We’ve been very happy here despite all the pandemic oddities and even after two years, I sometimes look around and still can’t believe we live in Stockholm.
Life in Sweden
I’ve learnt that Swedes love to sing and they do initiate small talk despite their reputation for never doing so, multiple words are often combined into a single compound word (like rusdrycksförsäljningsförordningen), suits are uncommon, hardly anywhere accepts cash, most people cycle in ordinary clothes and outdoor hotdog grilling continues even when the temperature is sub zero.
We had lots of quality outdoor time — hiking, wild swimming, trips to the beach (hot and cold), picking wild blueberries and snow adventures. Most of our Winter clothes from the UK weren’t really up to the job here; buying some extra outdoor gear and a portable stove really helped us get more out of Winter this time around.
Brexit Residency Permits
Starting the year waiting for a decision on our residency permit applications was sweat inducing — it would give us the legal right to continue living in Sweden at the end of the Brexit transition period.
Migrationverket took four months to issue a decision once we had submitted our applications and responded to their request for additional information. Having the uncertainty hanging over us for so long was horrible. I felt sick when I logged on to see a decision had been made and had to wait for actual decision to arrive by post.
Thankfully we were both granted the residency status we needed. Words cannot describe the relief! With the applications approved, we could visit Migrationverket to have our photos and finger prints documented for the physical cards.
I still feel very angry about Brexit but it spurred us on to move somewhere we love — we already wanted to do it at some point in the future but circumstance bought the idea forward many years. It wasn’t the only reason, but one that carried quite a bit of weight.
Buying an Apartment
We arrived in Sweden having secured a one year rental agreement. I wrote my year one post on the cusp of moving so I don’t think I said a great deal about it at the time. Buying somewhere abroad felt like throwing ourselves in at the deep end but also a positive step forward. We packed up all our belongings and said goodbye to our first home in Sweden.
And said hello to our new place! This is the day we picked up the keys.
We were rattling around in here for weeks with barely any furniture, waiting for the items we ordered to arrive. But we didn’t care because we had our own space!
The speed at which everything happened was the most stressful part of the process. We signed the contracts and negotiated a move in date on the day our offer was accepted. Our Swedish friends told us this kind of speed is normal here, so perhaps the UK is just very slow in comparison! I remember us walking home with a branded bag containing our signed contracts and a pen, feeling overwhelmed, excited and terrified all at the same time.
We caught our first ticks in the forest… blargh. 2021 must have been a bumper year because we didn’t pick up any unwanted hitchhikers in 2020 (and also spent lots of time outdoors). Luckily, we had our final TBE vaccination in the Spring before they all woke up.
We became increasingly delicious to mosquitos and I ended up with a swollen eye after an aggressive face bite. They aren’t usually keen on Scott but even he got feasted on. It was an itchy year and I can’t help but feel there is a slight whiff of deception in my photos because it wasn’t possible to capture all the blood thirsty mosquitos.
Speaking is something we continued to struggle with so we started a Swedish course early this year. Hopefully it will help us become conversational speakers, correct any bad habits we’ve picked up along the way and improve our overall Swedish knowledge.
Over time, I’m really looking forward to being able to read a whole book and eavesdrop on conversations in the street. It all feels like a secret world we’re not part of at times. But as I mentioned in my year one post, Swedes speak excellent English and have been very supportive of our Swedish speaking efforts — someone recently told Scott they didn’t realise he spoke English!
The Next Year…
Now the Covid restrictions have been removed, we’ll slowly begin to experience pre-pandemic Sweden again. We already know we like it from past trips, so we’re looking forward to living a bit more. Hopefully when I write a year three post, we’ll be further ahead with language, have met more people, got even closer to finding the perfect semla and we’ll be convinced on the idea of squeezing mayonnaise from a tube (maybe).
Thank you for reading and following our adventures 🙂