A quick introduction to Scandinavia and the Nordics (what’s the difference?)

Scandinavia consists of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Nordics include the Scandinavian countries, plus Finland, Åbo (which is an independent part of Finland), Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Greenland (part of Denmark) plus Faroe Islands (independent part of Denmark). We could possibly include the Sápmi region as they have their own parliament (based in Norway, but include representatives from Finland and Sweden) and cross border, cultural unity even though the region is not considered independent or self governed. On our site we emphasize on Scandinavia, but as a natural extension you will find information about all the countries in The Nordics. Why? Because all the Nordic countries have a close cooperation together which mean that laws are generally synchronized and there is a free movement between the countries etc. So, to make this less complicated its natural to include them all here.

We also made a graphic you can see below to simplify (hopefully) how this all look like:

An overview over what to expect when moving here

Moving to Scandinavia can be overwhelming for many expats, especially for those that lack English skills as this is the main second language for most, together with a portion German-speakers. On the other hand the countries are heavily digitized so you can handle most of your communication with the various departments, banking etc. online via a secure ID solution and even the informational pages in English. Our site is translated to several languages (though a titbit crude sometimes) and you can find the language switcher in the bottom of this page and all other pages on the site.

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Moving to Scandinavia

Moving to Scandinavia opens up a world of opportunities, from experiencing its stunning natural landscapes to enjoying a quality of life that’s among the highest in the world. As you embark on this exciting journey, it’s important to tackle some practical matters to ensure a smooth transition. This section covers essential aspects such as housing, healthcare, employment, and education, providing you with the knowledge to get started on your Scandinavian journey.

Housing

Finding the right place to call home is your first step towards settling in Scandinavia. The region is known for its functional and minimalist design, reflecting in its housing as well. Here are some tips to navigate the housing market:

  • Finding Accommodation: Utilize online platforms, local newspapers, and networking groups to discover available listings. Consider hiring a relocation agent for a more personalized service.
  • Rental Market Insights: Be prepared for a competitive market, especially in larger cities. Having your documentation ready and offering references can make you stand out as a prospective tenant.
  • Scandinavian Design: Many homes feature elements of Scandinavian design, known for its simplicity, functionality, and connection to nature. Look for homes that offer plenty of natural light and use space efficiently.

Healthcare

Scandinavia boasts some of the best public healthcare systems in the world. As a resident, you’ll have access to high-quality medical services:

  • Public Healthcare System: Once you’re registered with the local municipality, you’ll be eligible for healthcare services. Registration also gives you a personal identification number, crucial for accessing various services.
  • Private Health Insurance: While the public system covers most needs, some opt for private insurance for quicker access to specialists and additional services.

Employment

The Scandinavian job market is diverse, with opportunities spanning various sectors. Adapting your job search strategy can significantly improve your prospects:

  • Job Market Overview: Industries such as technology, renewable energy, and healthcare are thriving. Networking and showcasing your adaptability to the Scandinavian work culture can be beneficial.
  • Crafting Your CV: Tailor your CV to highlight skills and experiences relevant to Scandinavian employers. Emphasizing teamwork, work-life balance, and cross-cultural competence can make a positive impression.
  • Work Permits and Regulations: For non-EU/EEA citizens, securing a work permit is a prerequisite. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements based on your country of origin and the type of work you’re seeking.

We have a very good article about job searching in the Nordics. Check it out.

Education

Scandinavia is renowned for its inclusive and high-quality education system, offering numerous options for families and individuals:

  • Public vs. Private Schooling: Both options provide excellent education, with public schools offering the advantage of immersion into the local language and culture.
  • International Schools: For those preferring education in English or other languages, international schools are available, especially in larger cities.
  • Language Learning: Embracing the local language will enhance your experience. Look into language courses offered by municipalities, online platforms, and community groups.

Moving to a new country is an adventure filled with challenges and opportunities. By addressing these practical matters, you’re laying a solid foundation for a successful and fulfilling life in Scandinavia.

Read one of these articles if you are looking for education.

Living in Scandinavia

Adapting to life in Scandinavia means more than just handling the logistics; it’s about weaving yourself into the fabric of local society. This section delves into essential aspects like banking, transportation, and cultural integration, offering insights to help you fully embrace your new surroundings.

Banking and Finances

Setting up your financial foundation is crucial for a hassle-free life in Scandinavia. Here’s how to navigate banking and finances:

  • Setting Up a Bank Account: To open an account, you’ll need your residency permit, passport, and proof of address. Some banks may require a Swedish personal identity number (or the local equivalent). Digital banking is widespread, offering convenient access to services.
  • Understanding Taxes: Scandinavia is known for its comprehensive welfare system, funded by relatively high taxes. Familiarize yourself with the local tax system to understand your contributions and the benefits you’re entitled to.
  • Managing Your Finances: Living in a new currency means adjusting your budgeting habits. Track your spending, consider local costs of living, and explore ways to save, such as taking advantage of student discounts or loyalty programs.

To open a bank account, get credit cards, mobile bank and all the other payment options is a a necessity. Today there is many local options and of course international options, each with its pros and cons. Check out articles on the topic here.

Transportation

Scandinavia offers efficient public transportation and is renowned for its bike-friendly cities. Here’s how to get around:

  • Public Transportation: Whether it’s buses, trains, or metros, public transport is a reliable way to travel. Invest in a travel card for cost-effective fares and convenience.
  • Cycling: Embrace the local love for cycling with extensive bike lanes and bike-sharing programs available. It’s not only eco-friendly but also a great way to explore your city.
  • Car Ownership: While many residents find public transport and biking sufficient, owning a car can be beneficial for exploring rural areas. Remember that vehicle taxes, insurance, and fuel costs can be high.

Transportation, either its a car or bus, trams, train or even bicycling (which is very popular in the whole of Nordics) there might be rules to consider and perks to benefit from. Read more about that in our in-depth articles.

Language and Culture

Integrating into Scandinavian society means engaging with its language and culture. Here are some tips to help you connect:

  • Learning the Local Language: While English is widely spoken, learning the local language will enrich your experience and facilitate deeper connections with the community. Many municipalities offer free language courses for newcomers.
  • Customs and Holidays: Scandinavians cherish their traditions and holidays. Participate in local festivals, and embrace customs like the Swedish ‘fika’ or the Danish ‘hygge’ to feel more at home.
  • Cultural Adaptation: Be open to new experiences and ways of thinking. Understanding local social norms, such as the value placed on privacy and equality, will help you navigate social interactions more smoothly.

Integrating into a new culture is an exciting journey that requires patience, openness, and a willingness to learn. By embracing the daily life and societal norms of Scandinavia, you’ll find yourself becoming an integral part of the community in no time.

Read an interesting insight here from our regular contributor Fredrick that landed in Denmark from Kenya completely unaware about what was waiting for him except an educational position.

Nick-nacks to check out

Below you will find a selection of local or useful sites that can give you added value, either you are looking for entertainment, proxy-solutions for watching your favourite show back home, or any other type of websites that can be of interest.

If you want to learn more about online casino in Norway we want to recommend the site NorgesCasino.com. We also want to mention nyecasino2022.com where you can get information about new casinos. There is several options for online casino in Norway where you can find the casino games that suits you the best.

For users in Finland a better option is Kasinohai – find online casinos. Even though Finland only has two landbased casinos, online gambling (In Finnish online gaming is called netticasino) is very popular and some of the biggest brands target players from Finland. To get started with kasinot you just need to open account and make a first deposit. There are several casinos that offer Finnish language casino, so for expats looking to try new language skills or native speakers – entertainment is accessible online.

A loan can be useful for many purposes. You have many different products in the Scandinavian market. In Norway “Forbrukslån” is the most popular product within the consumer loan market. Another fine addition is Lånepenger.no that is informative and easy to understand.

For similar sites like scandinavia.life we want to recommend ExpatEuropa.com that focus more on all of Europe as an expat.

If you want to watch your preferred streaming services, from abroad or living in Scandinavia, a VPN service can be a good solution.