Good salaries alone shouldn’t attract you to work in Scandinavia

Scandinavia has a big name for its prosperity and ranking of its respective countries in the global happiness index. You realize that the Scandinavian countries have better job security and many job opportunities. With excellent labor terms and robust worker unions, almost every job is treated with high regard and with clearly set formal structures. But as you plan on your next move to work in Scandinavia, salary alone should not be what pulls you.

You may be wondering where all this is heading and why anyone may advise that salary alone should not be the magnet that attracts you to Scandinavia. Just keep along for a little while. So many people who search for and get opportunities to move to Scandinavia hope to get fat paychecks, buy dream cars, live in posh homes and just get all the good things in life. That is fine. But your salary may only do so much. 

Typical salary scales in Scandinavia

Scandinavian countries offer some of the most competitive salaries one may wish to have. Whether you’re working on an hourly basis or paid on a monthly basis, the salary is good. You’ll notice that the rates per hour will significantly be higher than what people elsewhere receive.

Although the salary one receives when working in Scandinavia depends on so many factors such as the type of job, labor agreements, municipality lived, seniority and such like, it still remains competitive.

The salary scale in Denmark (~DKK 200/hr), Sweden (~SEK 151/hr) and Norway (~NOK 200/hr). This is comparatively higher than most countries in Europe. Although most of the jobs work with collective agreements to determine minimum wage for an industry and packages, they generally allow people to live a meaningful life.

Maybe up to this point, you’re getting all the reasons to chase the jobs in Scandinavia and earn the high wages. Well, that’s just a tip of it. Have in mind that the explanations here should not serve to scare any ambitious person who wants to explore. If anything, we hope to help you make an informed decision. 

Typical job classifications in Scandinavia

In most cases, people refer to jobs in Scandinavia as if they attract the same packages, wage rates and packages. Yes, the labor agreements in operation will guarantee favorable employee treatment but then other benefits depend on what kind of job you do.

Some people move to Scandinavia on work permits for factory work, healthcare providers, practitioners in the hotel and hospitality sector, engineers, project managers and more. Also, some come on time limited schemes such as Au pair, research or Post doctoral fellows. All these jobs come with a clearly stated income package.

For a clear understanding, know that your job will fall into any of these categories.

  • Unskilled/semi-skilled jobs
  • Professional jobs
  • Skilled jobs

Just so you know, there are so many barriers to entry into jobs in Scandinavia such as workplace culture and language. So, you must be prepared to learn really quickly to ascend to a job that matches your competencies. 

The first few weeks and months of working in Scandinavia may come with its fair share of shocks. Generally the jobs are high paced and experience demands the highest level of efficiency. To an extent, you get this feeling that people  do things so fast yet effectively. Its up to you to match up. 

You may be interested to explore work related opportunities to go to Scandinavia. 

The explainer about salary and realities in Scandinavia

Now we get to the bitter part that not so many may enjoy. But as you know, immigration is an expensive affair. You will be partying with your job at home, breaking away from the long built relationships and heading to an entirely new place.

So that you make an informed decision on your choice to move to Scandinavia, you need the most practical information. A balanced look at what life in Scandinavia means will help you decide. 

An smart person would be an expat or immigrant, all you may badly need is to get as much information as possible. Loaded with enough information especially of things that defy popular perceptions, you’re better prepared to sail through the adversities if any. 

The mistake most people always make is to look at the salary scales offered in Scandinavia is what they earn at home directly. Maybe what they do is apply the prevailing currency exchange rate and feel thrilled to take up the job abroad. 

What often gets lost in the minds of many is that your income has to be largely spent within the country you live in Scandinavia. For instance, you will need to pay utility bills, rent, travels, property loans, and other expenses within the country. 

Commodity prices in Scandinavia

You soon realize that the commodity prices in Scandinavia and cost of services don’t compare to what you pay for the same in your home country. In fact a lot of people spend their initial days in Scandinavia painfully trying to reconcile what they pay for services or items in Scandinavia to the same in their home country.

The commodity and service charges in Scandinavia, just like in any balanced functional economy, responds to the income levels (disposable income). Experts will tell you that the cash flow must be kept at equilibrium to avoid runaway inflation and that’s what will take away your salary.

Be ready that rent alone in Scandinavia will take slightly more than a quarter of your income, other utilities such as internet subscription, house heating, electricity will also take a sizable chunk. If loans also need servicing then your paycheck will drastically thin down. 

What you need to do before choosing to move to work in Scandinavia

All that we all need is a good life for ourselves and loved ones. So we often tend to gravitate towards places that have a name for offering the best standards of living and higher incomes. But then, we need to selfishly mind more about the big picture and how such moves affect everything.

  • Assess what salary your new job in Scandinavia offers
  • Check on statutory deductions and taxes that will be levied on your income
  • Carefully calculate how much your typical expenses in the country will be.
  • Refocus your attention to what other non-work related benefits will accrue to you by virtue of having a residence and work permit in Scandinavia i.e see what the robust social security system has to offer.
  • Put all these together and see whether its really the salary that should be a pull aspect of something else. Follow where reason guides you to. 

Final takeaway

Scandinavia is increasingly a magnet that attracts international labor. The salaries that employers there have to offer easily entice many internationals to go work there. The idea for this is the impression that such paychecks way exceed those offered in most countries. So, there’s the tendency for people to fall “head over heels” for the salary alone.

Yes, the salary may be competitive in Scandinavia thats not it all. When the cost of living gets factored in plus other expenses, attention quickly shifts. You will realize that what really makes Scandinavia attractive ought to be in the social security that other popular immigrant destinations like the USA least not to the extent that Scandinavia does. 

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