Aussies in Sweden

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WORKING HOLIDAY

The information here is based on a lot of hard work and research put in by Aussies who have been in as part of the working holiday program, particularly Sara Stace. If you have anything to add or perhaps a different experience, please feel very free to write in and share it with others who are contemplating the same thing. There seems very little 'real life' stories of working holidays in out on the net and any useful information is very welcome.

BEFORE YOU GO

Applying for a Working Details about the application procedure are available online at:

Swedish Embassy in Australia
Swedish Consulate General in most capital cities.

You can also read general information about visa and work permits at:

Any work any where
Southern Cross Group

Pre-departure research

Books

'Live and Work in : Scandinavia', aimed at UK/EU Nationals, but still a useful guide. Available at Abbeys Books, York St., Sydney. Or you can order direct from the publisher at Vacation Work.

'The Newcomer's practical handbook for Stockholm' purchase at Newcomers (though some information is out of date)

'Sweden Career Guide' is aimed at EU nationals but could be useful. Available in pdf format at Going Global.

Websites

Aussies Abroad in Sweden - many links for jobs, accommodation, other Aussies.

Gateway to Sweden - companies, authorities.

The Local - Stockholm newspaper in English, with a weekly email service.

Eniro - detailed maps of Sweden. Select 'kartor' and enter address.

Currency converter

Tourist Information

Gateway to Sweden

GoTo Scandinavia

Hostel Guide

Stockholm a la carte

Stockholm Visitors Guide

Other websites that might be useful:

Swedish Institute

Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce

Swedish Migration Board

Expatriates

GETTING THERE AND AWAY

Cheap travel options are:

Ryanair This no-frills airline flies to ' Stockholm Skavsta Airport (near Nörrköping, south-west of Stockholm ) from several European destinations, including London Stansted. Also flies Stockholm Västeras to London Luton. Not a nice airline but cheap.

Flygbussarna has regular buses to T-Centralen in the centre of Stockholm. Skavsta is 90 minutes and Västerås 75 minutes travel time. Both airport destinations cost 130kr one way. The website includes timetables in pdf format.

Snowflake is a subsidiary of SAS Airlines. It flies to several European destinations, including Helsinki and London Heathrow. It's a much nicer way to fly, as you're on standard SAS planes. Flies into ' Stockholm Arlanda Airport.

Ferry  Ferries around the Baltic Sea can be booked on the aferryto website. Viking Line and Silja Line sail daily to/from Helsinki overnight. The price does not include food on the ferry. Sometimes they have cheap deals - check under 'special offers'. Avoid staying in the lower decks under the car deck. Note that it can be cheaper to fly.

Other guides

This website has guides to travelling to, from and within Sweden.

ARRIVING IN SWEDEN

Coordination number vs. Person Number Australians with a working holiday visa are entitled to a 'Coordination Number' (samordningsnummer). The Coordination number has 10 digits based on your date of birth (YYMMxD-xxxx). It is similar to the all-important Person Number (YYMMDD-xxxx) which is available to Swedish nationals and anyone residing for more than 365 days in Sweden. As you can see, there is one digit different and this can cause some confusion, sometimes more than it's worth.

The Person number is NOT available to working holiday visa holders - it is entered into population records, and entitles the holder to free Swedish language classes, medical services (see Medicare section). It is also used as the ubiquitous identification number from hiring videos, cars and books, to opening bank accounts.

The good news is, you can almost always get away without the Person Number. In fact, even if you don't have a Coordination number yet, you can still borrow library books, join a gym, get internet access, hire videos, and hire cars, without it. They always have a loophole. The only exception is the bank - which will usually require a coordination number to open an account.

Skatteverket - the Tax Office Upon arrival in Sweden, you need to head straight to the Skatteverket to apply for the Coordination number (samordningsnummer). Fill out a form, wait a few days (3 to 5 weeks) and it will be posted to you.

Sometimes workers at Skatteverket think you can apply for a Person number, but your application will be rejected by someone higher up the food chain.

SETTING UP A HOME

Finding Sublet Accommodation Accommodation is highly controlled by the government and is a complex affair. Your best option is to sublet from a 'first tenant'. You can look up flats through two very good websites -   these allow you to look up ads for free but you then have to pay to 'contact' someone directly, and make all the arrangements yourself:

Bostad Direct(795kr for 45 days- generally apartments are advertise at least 1 month in advance of rent starting). Bostadsförmedling (500kr for 45 days - often advertise flats available immediately. There are share flats advertised as well - search under 'rum').

You can view a locations map for each apartment by clicking the 'visa på karta' button. I suggest that you arrive in Stockholm first and allow 1-2 weeks to get a flat. Anything without a date listed on the top-right hand corner of the ad (or that says 'omg' or 'omgående') is available immediately. They usually list a start and end date for tenancy. Avoid webpages /information relating to 'bytes' as this mean 'exchange' of first-tenancy flats. Easy room-mate also lists places that are seeking a person to share, if you want to reduce expenses.

Utilities (phone, internet)

Landline phone It is probably much cheaper to use a phone card to call home. Local phone calls are charged by time, but are not itemised. If you use a phone card select the 'free' option, as this will prevent you being billed twice.

Mobile phones: Just pick up a sim card from any newsagent. Ask the salesperson which one is the cheapest in the long term.

Internet: Because local calls are timed, dial-up internet can be breathtakingly expensive. We estimated that using the internet for job searching 8 hours a day would cost over AU$600 a month. It's much cheaper to subscribe to cable or DSL broadband. And it takes just a few minutes to set up, once you've got a modem.

The two cable suppliers are Comhem and UPS, and each household is only connected to one of them. We were able to get by without a personnumer (see below) and subscribe for just 2 months while subletting an apartment. You simply need to buy a cable modem outright (recommended model is Motorola 5100E). As at January 2005 you couldn't buy cable modems at retail outlets in Stockholm. The only option was to buy one from the provider (about 1000kr), which took up to a week in the mail. We were lucky, and bought one in Finland for half that price at a standard computer shop.

No personnummer? To get Cable or ADSL internet access without a personnummer you will probably need to buy a modem outright. The advantage is you can sign up for as little as 2 months (1 month access and 1 month notice to cancel), instead of the 12 months required for a 'free' modem.

There are several DSL broadband suppliers - just do a search on Google Sweden for the best price under 'bredband'. You might not be able to change providers if second-renting though, since it includes the standard phone.

Email address A Swedish friend recommended that we apply for jobs using a Swedish email address, as this would look more convincing than hotmail or Australian email. You can get a FREE email address at Spray, which you can get before you even arrive.

Setting up Email on Outlook If you set up email on MS Outlook or similar software on your computer, don't forget to change the SMTP settings (this sends email). The settings will need to match the SMTP of your internet service provider, not the email provider. For example, I had a Swedish spray and Australian tpg email address, and had to use the SMTP for Comhem to send emails. Took me two weeks to figure that out.

Surviving Winter It's not thaaaat bad! Stockholm gets quite a few blue sunny days in winter and, although there are only about 4 hours of sun on 23rd December (shortest day of the year), each week adds another ¾ hour of sunlight! That's 2.5 hours a month! So by equinox on 23rd March the sun is above the horizon for 12 hours a day.

Clothing: Obviously, you'll need a very good winter jacket (eg duck down), a selection of warm scarves, beanies, thick socks and thermal underwear. To save money you can buy these on sale in Australia before you go, for example at Kathmandu's regular 6-monthly sales. Lined leather gloves keep out the wind, but make sure they're long enough to cover the wrists (between the end of the sleeve and start of the glove, otherwise you'll really notice the shortfall) these cost about 250kr here. Grippy shoes are also a must, to save slipping on ice.

Vitamins: Taking multi-vitamins throughout winter is recommended, especially Vitamin D (you don't need a sunbed session if you're taking it). Try to get something combining Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and St John's Wort. You will notice a definite lift in mood, which might explain why you can't get them in most supermarkets here ...

Exercise: Exercising outdoors is highly recommended, as long as you keep warm - eg. walking, cycling or even ice skating (you can do courses in ice skating where they teach you how to 'read the ice' and go for trips into the countryside) A handy US website provides daily information for Stockholm on what to wear, what the weather 'feels' like by taking wind chill into account, and how many hours of sunlight are left in the day. Go to Weather.com Fitness and type 'Stockholm Sweden' into the search bar.

Also, consider joining a gym. Some even have saunas and solariums.

Joining a gym Friskis och Svettis (Healthy and Sweaty) has numerous locations around Stockholm and Sweden. You can join for as little as 800kr for a 6-month season (AU $25 a month). At this price you need to preselect 1 out of 3 activities - gym, aerobics/jympa or spincycling - and can't use it between 3pm and 8pm : weekdays. Enhanced options cost more.

Unfortunately for swimmers, most pools are only 25m. Even the brand new Olympic size pool at Eriksdalsbadet (south end of Södermalm) has lanes going crossways! What a travesty.

Renting a car Quickrent in Kungsholmen in Stockholm seemed to be the cheapest at the time of writing. Their comprehensive website includes full price and insurance information. And they're polite too.

No personnummer?

 Bring your Australian drivers licence with a photo, international drivers licence and a passport. If you have a coordination number (samordnings nummer) you will probably have to book without mentioning that you have one - it just causes too much confusion - but whip out your skatteverket document once you arrive to pick the car up and you might minimise their paperwork.

Medicare There is an agreement between the Swedish Försökringskassan and Medicare. You may need to get a letter from Medicare stating that you are a member, and take this with you to the doctor. Or your Medicare card may suffice (I didn't get to test this). Under this arrangement, you only have to pay about 260kr, which is what the Swedes pay.

The Australian Smarttraveller website says: Sweden's health scheme provides benefits for medical, hospital and some ancillary services during your stay. Varying charges apply for all services. Charges are reduced for children.

You will be covered for:

medical treatment by any doctor or outpatient department of a hospital

a visit to a private doctor who is affiliated with the social security scheme will cost slightly more

some travel costs incurred to get medical treatment may be refunded from the National Social Insurance Board of Sweden (Forsakringskassan). Contact an office of the insurance board for full details.

What is not covered:

a small daily fee for hospital inpatient care

there are varying charges for hospital outpatient treatment and visits to a doctor charges are reduced for children

full price is charged for prescription medicines

For full details contact an office of the National Social Insurance Board of Sweden (Forsakringskassan).

The Australian smartraveller website also suggests you register your emergency contact details at DFAT. This is forwarded to the Australian consulate of the country you're staying in.

Public libraries You can join the public library network for free, and use the internet for up to 15 minutes for free. Small libraries are located throughout the city. And the clear red 'bibliotek' card makes for a spunky souvenir. normal'>

No personnummer?

Bring proof of your address and one piece of photo ID (drivers licence or passport). They will post the card to your address to confirm its validity. You can still borrow 3 books on the spot, for a period of one month

More info The American Women's Society AWC website includes additional information such as 'fitting in and customs', using the post office, banking, using post-giro and 'Out and About in Stockholm.

       JOB HUNTING

Professional work is difficult to secure if you're on a working holiday in Sweden. The reason cited by Swedish recruitment personnel is the lack of Swedish fluency - why hire someone who can only speak English, when you can hire someone who speaks both languages fluently?

Even some of the large multinational companies, such as Deloitte, won't hire non-Swedish speakers in their local office. Others say they have limited places for non-Swedish speakers, and cite examples of internally-transferred employees from other locations who had to learn Swedish whilst working.

So finding work without Swedish fluency is likely to be harder than you think.

Job search tips Finding a job in Sweden can be difficult for foreigners, even once you have a grasp of the language. The key is to network. Regardless of your experience, education and language skills your success will be linked to how well you get out there and network. Even if a company isn't hiring, pick up the phone and call them. Try to schedule an 'informal' meeting where you can introduce yourself and learn more about the company. Other tips are:

Network, network, network. This applies no matter what type of work you're looking for

Search and apply for jobs through a recruiting company. Unlike Australia you might not get an interview with a recruiting firm, even over the phone. Most suggest you send in your CV and they'll contact you if and when something came up. Several websites such as Expats in Sweden and Aussies Abroad list job search websites. Also check out Craig's List in Stockholm.

Log with the government employment service, AMS. According to their website, you can get a 'case worker' assigned to help you, although I've not heard of anyone actually doing this. You can also search for jobs online without subscribing. Try entering a keyword such as 'English' or 'Engelska' in your search.

Bring official copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation, or any certifications and awards. Several people have suggested that employers prefer letters of reference from an applicant's previous employers

One suggestion is to spend time at the Australian or English pubs in town, so you can meet expats and network for jobs. Some excuse, huh?

Start a job application by phoning first, and follow up with another phone call to see how you went. Preferably arrange a meeting face to face.

Example: Mel is on a working holiday visa from Australia, living with her Swedish boyfriend. She managed to secure a job within one month of arriving. She had a CV ready, and went in person to all the international schools and pre-schools to meet the principals face to face. She also interviewed for several au pair jobs, before landing a job as a 'teaching assistant' at an international school. It pays about 8000kr per month (AU $1,550) before tax, and is based on a 25 to 30 hour week.

What you're likely to get

Childcare jobs

If you love children, and want to work with them, you'll probably find a job fairly easily.

Au-Pair websites are listed in Employment under "Working Holidays". Apparently US and UK expats prefer English speaking nannies. The pay is about 60kr an hour or 3500kr a month (less than AU$700 cash in hand) and usually includes accommodation, travel with the family and use of a car. Try Parentnet to read or post ads.

Child Care Centres Sometimes there are openings for English speakers at International child care centres, for example: Mother Goose, the International Pre-school in Solna, Filius & Filia in Huddinge and the Humpty Dumpty Nursery School in Karlaplan

International Schools If you have teaching experience, you can apply to teach at an International School, or without experience you can apply to be an assistant teacher or 'vicarier' (relief teacher). Schools include: Katrinebergs Förskola, British International Primary School, Engelska Skolan Norr, Engelska Skolan Söder, International School in Nacka, Kungsholms Gymnasium, Tanto, Planet Kids Bellmanskällan and Montessori Nursery School

Other jobs:

Pubs: : In general, basic Swedish is required to work at pubs and bars, although the Dancin' Dingo in Göteborg will sometimes employ Aussies with experience if they have an opening.

Catering: try Mässrestauranger and Casino Cosmopol.

Conferences and Telesales

Marcus Evans - look for Jobs, then : Stockholm :) is a conference company that recruits English speakers.

IFS at hires English speakers

Global Asset Management Group info@globalnordic.com

Shop Assistant You could try Gray's American Store or The English Shop. They're also good places to network.

Teaching Business English Swedish business people sometimes take courses to brush up on their English speaking skills. Work is likely to be at an hourly rate, and may be sporadic or only available in summer. Search for English (Engelska) classes in your area, such as: Language Services and TBV

IT jobs There seem to be lots of jobs advertised for IT in Sweden, many of which ask for English-speaking skills and don't mention Swedish. There are also quite a few recruiting companies dedicated to IT. You might have more success in this professional field than others.

Professional work Recruiting companies with English sections include: Mercury Urval Sweden Supreme Recruit

What you're not likely to get It's very difficult to find professional work here as a foreigner. As a comparison, we met more Australians in permanent professional positions in Switzerland than we did in Sweden. It's probably because multinational companies with local offices in Sweden service the Nordic market only, and hence a Nordic language is required by clients.

Some Swedes have complained there isn't much work for Swedish professionals either. However, Sweden's unemployment rate is amongst the lowest in the world at 4.9% (The Economist, figures for Nov 2004). According to a recent article, foreigners fare much worse than locals when it comes to securing those jobs:

LANGUAGE

I have a very comprehensive section on Swedish language here and here. Working holiday-ers may also want to know about Classes Expatriates with an official personnummer are entitled to extensive, free language classes provided by the government. On a working holiday, with just a samordningsnummer, you won't be entitled to such luxuries. Several companies offer Swedish classes at a price - see Aussies Abroad links for info.

Translating pages on the internet

There aren't any really great tools for translating large chunks of Swedish to English in one hit. Inter Tran is okay for getting a very generalised idea of what an article is about, although it is very unreliable, both in meaning and availability.

NETWORKING

Several networking groups meet on a regular basis, and are a good source of information and advice:

Aussies Abroad   has a calendar of events on the opening page. There is also a list of English speaking societies here in Sweden on the Expat page. Pop along to as many of their events as you can and meet people, ask questions and let people know who you are. There is also information at the Southern Cross Group. And there is more information under 'Working Holidays' in the Employment section, including some feedback from Aussies who have been on WHV here.


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