Relocating to Sweden as a developer

Photo of Daria Kurilina
Daria Kurilina
March 17, 2021
Photo on theme 'Relocating to Sweden as a developer'

Sweden constantly takes leading positions in various quality of living and economic reports. While two-thirds of the land is covered with trees, Sweden is a very developed country with one of the most stable economies in Europe. Quite a few world-famous companies were founded there, for example, IKEA, Skype, Spotify and Volvo, to name a few. Besides that, this is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world where 99% of garbage is recycled and buses are fueled by gas produced from food waste. These and other factors make Sweden a very attractive country for relocation.


Taxes depend on a number of factors: your age, the municipality where you are registered, total earnings, type of employment and others. Taxes consist of two parts: a local (community) tax and a state tax. The local tax rate ranges on average from 29% to 35%, depending on the commune. Those who earn less than 509,300 SEK a year only have to pay community tax. If your annual earnings are higher, a state tax of 20% will be levied in addition to a council tax. You can use this calculator to calculate your taxes in different Swedish communes.

Cost of living

Sweden is quite an expensive place to live and most probably you will find it to be more expensive than your home country, but at the same time salaries are proportionally high. For example, a dinner for two will on average cost 600 SEK (60 euro), cinema tickets - 150 SEK (15 euros) and a mobile phone contract - 300 SEK (30 euro).

There is a stereotype that renting an apartment in Sweden is expensive, while in fact, it depends on the location. Let’s take Stockholm for example, while in the very city centre you’ll pay from 20,000 SEK (1,950 euros), outside of the city you’ll pay from 6,000 SEK (600 euros). Given that Sweden has a very developed public transportation system (consists of the metro, bus, tram, regional rail, light rail and archipelago boats), there is no point in wasting money on centrally located apartments - you can get to work easily from any location. By the way, the transportation card in Stockholm costs 860 SEK (86 euros).

When it comes to healthcare, the Swedish government invests almost a tenth of its GDP in it every year, providing excellent medical care for all citizens, including expats who have a residence visa. This means that everyone who is a resident in Sweden, no matter their nationality, is entitled to the same medical care that Swedish nationals receive. Fees for adults are nominal – among the most affordable in Europe – and medical care is entirely free for those under 20 years of age.

Work permit

The main rule is that you should apply for and have been granted a work permit before entering Sweden. When applying online you are given clear instructions about how to fill in your application and what you should send with the application. This makes it easier for you to apply correctly and increases your chances of a quick decision.

Your employer in Sweden initiates the work permit application by completing an offer of employment. Your employer needs information about your name, date of birth, citizenship, education and your email address. It is important that you have access to the email address you give your employer until you have received a decision regarding your application. The Swedish Migration Agency will use this email address to communicate with you throughout the application period. When your employer has completed an offer of employment, you will receive an email with information about how to apply for a work permit. You will also have to visit the Swedish embassy or consulate-general as soon as possible to be photographed and fingerprinted. If your family is also applying for permits, the family members must apply at the same time as you and also need to be photographed and fingerprinted at the embassy or consulate-general.

Before the application is submitted, you must pay a fee (2,000 SEK for an employee, 1,000 SEK for an adult family member, 500 SEK for children under 18 years old). When the fee is paid you submit your application.

The wait time for your work permit can vary greatly depending on several factors: whether you applied online or in person, whether you are self-employed or employed by a company, and the industry in which you will be working. For most expats who are employed by a Swedish company, the wait time is one to three months. If you do not qualify for an EU Blue card, which requires a monthly salary of at least 50K SEK, you should try to get fast track access, which would reduce processing time from many months to just one (extra fees will apply).

Finding a new home

Finding an apartment in Sweden is tough, especially in Stockholm. The market is crowded and competition is high. Most people rent and the lucky ones buy their own place. Costs are high and selection is often low, especially in the inner-city areas. Many landlords want to rent to someone they can trust. It’s not always about who can pay the quickest here. Take the time to make a solid, interesting, and unique application that shows you are serious and trustworthy.

Failure is very common here too. Be ready to not hear from most of the application emails you send and not take it personally when you are rejected for an apartment. Here is the list of the four most common web pages for finding an apartment: Blocket, Samtrygg, Qasa and Spot A Home.

Bringing your family with you

Your partner is also entitled to a work permit if relocating together with you. There are many different international communities in Sweden which can help to adapt to a new country and even help to find a new job for your partner.

In case you are coming with children, there are lots of public and private kindergartens/schools/pre-schools and universities in Sweden, including international ones. The education there is very good, compulsory and more importantly free or charge (some schools even cover transportation costs in case your child lives far away from the school).

If you are only planning to become parents, then you are coming to the right place. Sweden has one of the most generous parental leave systems in Europe, you are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave and both parents are allowed and encouraged to share these days between each other.

Want to work in Sweden?