How expats can achieve a better work/life balance in Sweden?

Whether it’s due to the country’s promising career opportunities, or down to its generous approach to paid parental leave, it’s easy to see why Sweden is known for offering a great work/life balance and a high quality of life. This is further reflected in HSBC’s most recent Expat Explorer Survey which ranks Sweden first place for work/life balance.

Stockholm on the waterfront
Stockholm, Sweden

To help expats discover how living and working in Sweden can improve their work/life balance, this article takes a deep dive into what the country has to offer in terms of career opportunities, lifestyle and more.

Career opportunities

Home to a diverse range of industries, from telecommunications and automotive to agriculture and pharmaceuticals, Sweden has a lot to offer expats in terms of career opportunities.

To help expats find a job more easily, the Swedish Migration Agency and the Public Employment Agency regularly put together a list of occupations that are in high demand. Known as the labour shortage list, expats are able to sift through the list to see if there are any jobs available which require a particular set of skills. One thing to note though is that this list is only available in Swedish. If you’re already fluent in Swedish then great, if not, you may have to use some translation tools to decode it.

If you do happen to be skilled in any of the areas listed, you’ll have a better chance of being accepted for the job role. Plus, if you are offered a job that is in high demand, you can apply for a work permit from Sweden instead of having to return to your home country to apply.

English is the language of business and commerce in Sweden and even though many companies use English as their corporate language, it is ideal to learn Swedish too. Being able to speak conversational Swedish will help you better communicate with the local population and may even help you to secure a job, even if the job role requires you to be fluent in English.

With an abundance of career paths for expats to pursue and a clear way of finding out which jobs are in high demand, finding work as an expat is made simple.

Paid parental leave

If you’re relocating to Sweden with your family, then you’re in luck. As a very family-oriented country, parents living in Sweden are entitled to a generous 480 days of paid parental leave once a child is born or adopted. Of this, parents should expect to receive around 80% of their salary for 390 days, and a standard rate of SEK 180 per day for the remaining 90 days.

Bear in mind that parents are only eligible for this if they have been working legally in Sweden for at least 240 days and have contributed to the country’s tax system. Adding to this, employees in Sweden have the right to take at least 25 days of paid holiday each year.

With an emphasis on family time and free time, finding a good work/life balance is not just important in Sweden, but actively promoted through benefits such as these.

Employee health benefits

Workers rights are one of the cornerstones of the Swedish labour market, and as such, an environment where the health and safety of employees come first is essential. In addition to support from Labour unions, the Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) – a government agency, ensures employees’ wellbeing at work.

The Arbetsmiljöverket also emphasise that employees’ mental health is just as important as their physical health, which is why strong measures are put in place to ensure healthy working environments. This is another example of how Sweden support its people, and encourages a good work/life balance.

As well as ensuring employees are well looked after when it comes to their physical and mental health, the wider Swedish healthcare system is generally considered to be of a very high-quality too. Patients reflect on the high standard of care received, with 90% of people using primary care saying they were treated with respect and consideration by staff.

Even though the Swedish healthcare system is universal, there are some costs patients will incur, which is why expats working here sometimes opt for a private health insurance plan to ensure they don’t have to pay any out of pocket fees. Having the peace of mind that you would be covered if anything were to happen to you health-wise can make all the difference.

Space to breathe

Having space to breathe is an important part of finding a good balance between your work life and your everyday life. Thankfully, Sweden is known for its luscious green spaces and for promoting an outdoor lifestyle.

For example, Stockholm, Sweden’s blossoming capital, is packed with parks, forests, small islands and coastal walks, all minutes from the city centre. Surrounded by water and greenery, Stockholm offers expats a unique opportunity to live and work amid a mix of natural and urban landscapes.

Even though Sweden experiences long and dark winters, this doesn’t stop people from engaging in exciting outdoor activities – whether it’s skating, sledding or skiing. People in Sweden know how to work hard, but they also know how to enjoy their natural surroundings.

With an array of green spaces, plentiful career opportunities, and an emphasis on good health and wellbeing in the workplace, Sweden offers expats many ways to achieve a healthier balance between their work life and free time.