Starting a new life in Scandinavia

Having to relocate to Scandinavia is likely to cause someone worries, questions and uncertainties. The emotional rush and the sheer fear of unknowns can be even more mind boggling. People try different ways to access the information about what to expect once there beforehand.

For instance, an internet search about culture, language, social systems, political economy and others. Nonetheless, such searches may fail to give clear information.

On the other hand, expatriates may simply overlook the need to search critical information regarding how to get part time jobs, who to consult when in need of anything, how to organize documentation and get economical housing, when and how to apply for special residence considerations such as extension of stay or establishment card.

Some of these realities may seem bureaucratic and difficult especially when the expatriate does not have a clue about the available service centers and the timelines to get help. Remember, most of the documentations have strict timelines that must be adhered to at any given time. Based on this understanding “Scandinavia.Life” provides critical information about most, if not all, of the things someone can expect when moving to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It covers areas that are considerably key to any expatriate moving to the Scandinavia. These include work, housing, legal papers, social security, cuisine, where to shop, how, commuting services, commodity pricing, global money transfer  options, banking, typical ways of paying of bills, driving regulations and so much more.

Uniqueness of the Scandinavian Countries

It is important to know that the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. This means that their systems and ways of life are largely similar with only minor variations due to the attempts by each of the countries to get more efficient and deliver tailored services to the people. It is noteworthy that Scandinavia historically covered the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. At that time, what is currently called Finland was part of Sweden, and Iceland was part of Denmark and Norway. Therefore, Nordic and Scandinavia are distinct regions which share heritage reflected in their political, and socio-economic systems.

Arriving and getting housing in the Scandinavia

The first important thing for anyone upon arriving in the Scandinavia is an apartment with good facilities that support habitation. While there are various companies in Sweden, Denmark and Norway that offer housing in the Scandinavia, one must take certain preliminary steps to access such accommodation. A resident of the Scandinavia who does not have a prior organized accommodation must present to the housing company the residence permit and ask for available ones. Thereafter he needs to get civil registration to be able to access any form of public service. The procedures for getting registered varies depending on one’s citizenship. Merely having a written document to show that one is allowed to stay in the Scandinavia is not adequate for someone to start benefiting from the social system. It is only after getting the registered and getting the civil identification number, a physical address which is the house address that a residence permit card and health insurance card is mailed to such address. In Denmark, the personal registration number is called Civil Personal Registration (CPR), Swedish personal identity number (Sweden) and Norwegian identification number (Norway). It is the residence permit card that one has to present whenever the authorities need so. The personal registration number allows the expatriate access to not only public service but also the many social services that are afforded to both citizens and non-citizens. Nonetheless, each of the countries in Scandinavia have their own limitations and eligibility criteria for different social services such as healthcare, childcare, tax obligations etc. while each of the countries in the Scandinavia share various ideals, it is important to consider each of them separately to extensively capture the most critical aspects.

Entering, Living and Working in Denmark

Life in Denmark can be very exiting when one knows what to do when, available safety nets and social support systems.  That is why we try to give expatriates a step-by-step guide on how to move to Denmark The most basic information one needs to know as soon as he or she enters Denmark is how mobility operates since after landing at the Airport. Apart from the mobility, one needs to know about how to get the Civil Personal Registration (CPR),

housing, cuisine, healthcare, job, tax obligations, education system, political system, and how to transfer money from and to Denmark, banking family unification, and renewal of residence documents.

Once at the port of entry in Denmark, you can be sure to catch the most immediate means of public transport to any destination within Denmark. The train and bus systems are digitalized and well scheduled to attain efficiency. One can use either a prepaid card or pay as they use the chosen means of transport. The bus, railway stations and any other physical location are marked with explicit names which make it easy to know when at the destination. Upon arrival, one can contact the housing company to get the vacant housing and pay required tenancy dues. Based on the location of the house, one needs to go to the preferred Kommune (municipality) offices and register to get the CPR number. The CPR number is given immediately upon registration but it takes up to 4 days to get the residence permit card posted to thee expatriate’s address. Before getting civil registration number, one must have already made arrangements on the address where the residence card and health insurance card also known as yellow card will be sent. The address where one gives for the documents to be sent can be that of a friend, pre-arranged housing, already rented house, relatives residence or any other which is secure and convent for them. The CPR comes with a Nem ID which is akin to password required to use a service. Whenever one has to use the CPR, he or she must also have the Nem ID. The Nem ID given by the Kommune in collaboration with SIRI is a document with codes. However, one can also download the Nem ID App from google play store. However, it is always important to properly keep the hard copy Nem ID even if using the downloaded version. With the residence permit, one can contact the housing companies, apply for tenancy and wait for a response. This means one may need a temporary accommodation from a friend, relative or guest houses awaiting processing of housing application. The alternative short term accommodation may be a hotel which is putting up in hotel rooms which may be very expensive. It is important that one acquaints himself with the typical tenancy terms and conditions to make informed choices on how to proceed with the residence.  Some existing tenants may decide to sub-let their apartments if they are spacious enough. Such houses often tend to be cheaper but the facilities such as kitchen, laundry and toilet are shared. The cost of residential housing varies from city to city and type of apartment that one decides to rent. Some houses are always fully furnished while others one needs to buy all the household items. If the expat does not have a pre-arranged employment, the job center can help in getting some work to do. However, it is critical  that people with limited residence permit work only the hours that the permit allows them to work per week. Going against the terms and conditions of the permit may result in its cancellation which may necessitate that the person is asked to leave. Any person earning rom any kind of work must document it with the Danish Tax Authority. Furthermore, there are various institutions within Denmark that provide expatriates with seamless relocation services, information relevant to their stay and even employment search.

Despite the fact that Denmark is a multiethnic society with many languages spoken there, an expatriate requires to register in a language (sprong) school. Having a level of proficiency in Danish makes it easy for an expatriate to get better employment opportunities,  easily make friends and even take other courses taught in Denmark. Having the ability to speak Danish makes life very comfortable because it the primary language of communication in virtually every public space. Learning Danish as an expert may be free or paid depending on the prevailing government policy.

For an expatriate with children, another important thing is getting them into the Danish Education System which is so robust and aimed at ensuring that the children attain holistic development. In fact, the rights of children are highly regarded in Denmark and various state agencies therein have the window to take away a child from a parent if it is realized that the parent does not give the required care. Conceivably, children who study in the Danish education institutions get the correct knowledge that they can apply in different parts of the world and they can rise through various ranks in the work environment. Making an application for study in Denmark can seem so laborious with various documentation required to support eligibility. However, if one keenly follows every detail provided in the Danish University Admission Portal, he can be sure of finding it very easy to access everything in good time. Notably, the Scandinavian countries of which Denmark is part, introduced a non-refundable fee for application to study there. This application fees varies across universities. For instance, as of October 2017 the University of Copenhagen charges an application fees of DKK 750 (app. EUR 100), when applying for one or more master’s degree programmes in the same application round to citizens from outside EU/EEA or Switzerland.

Interestingly, unlike other countries such as the United States that require expatriates to show that they can support themselves when studying there, Denmark only requires students to pay the first semester fees which is an adequate evidence that one can support himself as a student in the country. Alternatively, an expatriate intending to come to Denmark can apply for scholarships offered by various institutions in the country including the Danish ministry of higher education through the respective university and others. The scholarship offers can either be partial or comprehensive ones. In case of partial scholarship offer, the student has to meet part of the tuition fees as well as meet living and travel costs. With a comprehensive scholarship however, the student is exempt from paying tuition fees and is given a monthly stipend of 6,500 DKK to meet other costs including paying rent, food and domestic travel.

Despite the fact that the Danish legal system is designed to protect the rights of everyone including expatriates, it is likely that one may have run ins with the government authorities such as failure to renew resident documents, child confiscation, delayed remittance of bills such as house rent, unpaid debts and many more. Some of these cases may even escalate to the point that deportation is recommended.  Understandably, the intricate legal issues are often beyond an individual’s ability hence the need to get a good lawyer to help argue out the case. One must be sure to get the best lawyer with the best credential for the particular issue.

Entering, Living and Working in Sweden

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a Prime minister and a Monarch. The system has ensured political stability which allows the citizens as well as expatriates to thrive in various fields. According to the 2019 World Happiness  Report, Sweden is among the top ten happiest countries in the world which means that the social welfare of everyone is adequately met. Just like in any other Scandinavian country, getting Swedish personal identity number also called personnummer once in Sweden is a critical step and a gateway to a full experience of the public services that the country has in store. It basically allows an individual to transact everyday businesses including opening a bank account or any form of subscriptions such as telephone or mobility.

Another basic step is to get proper housing which guarantees safety and privacy. So many companies in Sweden have perfected in providing great value for inhabitants, while at the same time serving the respective municipalities, and offering good housing for everyone. Typically, the housing  companies offer a wide range of housing that meets the needs of everyone without any forms of discrimination on income, background, age and family situation. Nonetheless, getting a house in Sweden is very competitive and the rent prices are relatively higher than most of the European countries. On average, a monthly rent in Sweden for a one bedroom rented apartment can be up to SEK 12,000. This means that one needs to be extra vigilant to get a place that is more affordable as the average cost of rent can take up to 30% of every resident’s salary. For an expatriate without a ready employment, it is necessary to seek some form of work which is the only way to meet the cost of living in the country. One cannot afford to idle without work in Sweden since the cost of living is comparatively higher than the other Scandinavian countries. There are various Swedish job sites that one can check to get employment provided they can present the required documents showing they are allowed to work. Subsequently, one needs to Sign up for benefits at the Swedish Social insurance Agency which helps with benefits including basic healthcare, parental benefits, child allowances, disability coverage and other insurance payments. Again living in Sweden and earning any form of income comes with tax obligations which one must declare through registering with Skatteverket. The Skatterverket is the Swedish tax authority which issues a registered person with an ID-card required to open a Swedish bank account. Notably, without a bank account, one cannot do most if not all transactions involving money.

Just like in all Scandinavian countries, Sweden is multiethnic with various languages being spoken but at the top of most interaction is the Swedish language. Therefore, one needs to learn Swedish as a means of gaining a successful integration and ease in everyday life. For an individual who has competency in English, it is possible to live comfortably with the Swedes since they are ranked the second best in speaking English as a second language. Nonetheless, the competency in Swedish knowledge of swedish is important indication of full integration and a possible consideration when making determination for special stay such as permanent residence applications for Non-European Union expats.

Apart from the procedures that one needs to follow and to have a successful integration, those seeking to study in the Swedish universities need comprehensive information about the higher education system. Sweden has some of the best universities worldwide which offer leading courses such as computer science, engineering, economic, medicine, sociology, business and international relations among others. One can just log in to the

Interestingly, foreign students can easily access information across faculties since so many a large number of university degree programmes and courses are taught in English.

Entering, Living and Working in Norway

Norway has a rick history which can be traced back to the era of the Vikings. As a matter of fact, Norway is also popularly referred to as the land of the Vikings which is a history worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the country. Apart from its unique and fascinating landscape dominated by hills, rivers and magnificent seaports, Norway is welcoming to expatriates from all parts of the world. Despite the hospitality of the Norwegians, it is important that an expatriate know what is expected of them once in the expansive country of Norway. The expectations from expatriates moving into Norway fall into three categories including Nordic citizens, EU/EEA citizens and the rest of the world. It is important to know each of these categories and their respective requirements as a key to ensure a relaxed and fulfilling residence in Norway.

As an immigrant to Norway, one necessity is to get a proper housing once in the country. The accommodation in Norway varies and one can chose to rent detached houses, semi-detached homes, apartments and many more. Due to the basic need of housing, it is important to put it as the first in the to-do list once in Norway. As a result, the knowledge of Rental process and rules is necessary.  Basically, one needs to have the house rent and deposit and the valid documents showing that they are allowed to reside in Norway. With a well selected residence, one can be sure to get various services such as house heating system, water supply and well-designed floor space to meet individual needs. Being in the artic zone, Norway is  colder than most of the Scandinavian countries hence functional heating systems and wel insulated buildings is a key priority when renting a house.

Norway is very expansive from Rossøya ( Ross Island) in the northern most point to Pysen in Manda to the south. This distance and the relatively cold climate in the country necessitates a well-functioning mobility system. Notably, sometimes the temperature over Norway fall to the lowest measurement of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the winter. Nonetheless, people have gotten used to this situation and often say that in Norway, “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes.” The public transport is well established with a network of buses, ferries, trains and planes. Different transport companies operate in various routes in Norway. Some of these mobility firms specialize in local transportation while others ply the long distances. If not interested in using the public means of transport, it is also possible to buy a car, get the correct driver instructions and certification to enjoy smooth rides on the almost traffic free road networks in Norway. As expected, an individual may prefer private car rides private transport to public means.

The Norwegian job market is liberal to expatriates, especially those who are skilled in various industries. Recent surveys showed that most of the Norwegian companies experience skill shortages hence providing an importance chance for anyone interested in exploring the job market there. The salaries in Norway is satisfactory with everyone earning at least a living wage. As a result of this favourable working environment, the Land of the Vikings, as Norway is often referred is an attractive destination for an expatriate. It has systems that ensure a healthy balance between life and work, childcare, education, equal rights and social justice. The normal working days un Norway is forty hours per week and nine hours daily. As an expatriate with foreign qualifications but intending to get work in Norway, it is important to contact If you need your qualifications recognized in Norway, such as foreign vocational education and training certificates and diplomas, contact the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education that recognizes or approves such certifications. With a properly formatted curriculum vitae that meets the Norwegian layout, ne can make applications to any relevant institution and expect to get feedback without any forms of discrimination whatsoever. Demonstrated competence and skill base is key in the recruitment processes in Norway.

Just like any other country, applying to study in Norway can be bureaucratic due to the intricate details required from students, especially those coming from outside the EEA and EU. Nonetheless, one can be sure to get quality education from these universities that may boost their competency and profile in their careers thereafter. Completing a university education and getting the critical certificate is often an expensive endeavour but in Norway, education is completely free for everyone including the international students. As a rule, Norwegian universities and state university colleges as a rule do not charge tuition fees  for international students. This peculiar move by the Norwegian government is aimed at ensuring that everyone accesses quality education. Nonetheless, an international student intending to study in Norway must be very sensitive to the fact that nothing is always exclusively free. While does not pay tuition fees in Norway, the cost of upkeep is high in Norway is high hence proper funding to meet other expenses such as housing, food, travel and clothing are critical.

The Municipalities (Kommuner) in Norway are the lowest levels of governance which does all forms of grassroot services provision. Some of these services include childcare, primary education, unemployment and other social services, waste management, and economic development among others. Due to the criticality of the municipalities in the social system of Norway, anyone moving into the country should register within eight days and get a D-number. It is only when registered that the municipalities gets obligated to provide an expatriate with the necessary social services like any other resident. The D-Number is also called Personal Number (Personnummer) which compares to the personal identification number or Social Security number. I Norway, the number is obtained through a formal registration by the local tax office.  Actually, one would say that the personal number gives an expatriate an actual entry to the Norwegian society. An individual must present himself personally at the local tax office and register you as a resident in Norway. Upon registration, the office then issues the resident with a personal number  which may take between ten days and four weeks to arrive at the person’s registered address. The personal number is required in virtually every place including opening a bank account, tax remittances, accessing public health services and purchasing of internet and many more.

It’s not as complicated as it seems …

Living in Scandinavia may seem complicated but as soon as one has all the basic information about what is expected of him as well as necessary arrangements to make, it is very possible to relocate in search of job, education or some other reasons. However, it is important to ensure that the reasons for relocation meet the provided eligibility criteria as well as valid documents are obtained prior to the relocation. After entry into the Scandinavian countries, as a rule of the thumb, one has to get a registration and a personal identification number which act as a gateway to fully experiencing the social system. It is not easy to live in Scandinavia without following the due process since services are offered based on documentation and registration. Doing first things first and following the correct challenges is a necessity in Scandinavia. It saves one the stress of difficulties in accessing  services as well as possible threat of deportation.


Get to know Scandinavia …

Stockholm Expat Quick Guide

Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden and lies on the Baltic Sea Archipelago. There are a lot of fun facts about Stockholm city. It does not only draw its attractiveness from its rich diversity of cultures but also the topographical nature. It has 14 islands and 50 bridges that are skillfully constructed to enable…


More Articles …