After 26+ years of experience welcoming ex-pats to Sweden we have many, many success stories.
Moving is hard and Global Mobility Teams can attest to that. A great deal of preparation goes into a seamless relocation and a lot of work happens behind the scenes to alleviate administrative burdens for the assignee.
To smoothen the arrival, years, months and days go into preparing and having workarounds to make life easier. In 2020 and 2021 the biggest hurdle is the extreme waiting times to get a Swedish Personal Number for instance, however this is the issue today, there have been others in the past and there will be new ones in the future. That is the role of the Relocation company to navigate around.
The role of the expat is to make the best of the relocation, the job and to create a nice life in Sweden. Also, when a family joins, even more is needed to make sure that they have a smooth landing and that each family member has a possibility to thrive.
Over the years we have gotten to know many successful expats and they have some things in common.
Several spouses have set up their own businesses. Starting a company in Sweden is fairly straightforward although it may take some time. We have cheered on Weddingplanners, photographers, artists, specialty cake bakers as well as neuroscientists setting up a Swedish company.
Finding a job!
To find a job in a country where you don’t have a network, don’t know the language, are unaware of hiring practices, and perhaps even have a trade license that needs to be converted is not for the lazy.
What works in the whole world though is gumption and perseverance. The most amazing spouse had a job within three days of arrival. In that time she had also walked all over Stockholm and had found good dry cleaners, cheese shops, a favorite café, and knew her way around the inner city.
Many feel lonely in the beginning, especially spouses that arrive without kids or a job. Having lunch with a crying newcomer we had some ideas. We helped with introductions to others in the same situation, notice in our newsletter about a lunch club, and the woman that was new in town got to know many people and became a pillar in the Expat Community in Stockholm.
To conquer a new location a love for exploring is helpful. Being open to new experiences and a willingness to discover new things and locations is a great way of enjoying life in a new location. There are clubs for winter swimming, skiing, ceramics, and anything else under the sun along with Meetup and Internations.
Learning the language & cultural savviness!
Being curious about the new location is essential and to fairly quickly get a grasp of the language. We see the best outcomes with people that are willing to put in the effort to get at least a basic understanding of Swedish.
Picking up a book or two about Swedes and joining in the seasonal celebrations is also a good way to cultivate an understanding of the here and now. Instead of feeling frustrated and angry, seeing how things work can be seen as part of learning.
Asking questions is good. I remember having a surprise visit by a client that needed some help to understand the way things worked in his Swedish office. He felt the meetings were long, nothing got done and there were too many generalists and no specialists in his workplace. We had to go all the way back to the large shift inland to see the beginnings of a Swedish workplace today. (Stora jordbruksskiftet) where self-reliance became a more important trait. This can be seen even today in expressions like “A good man takes care of himself”.
An openness and preparedness are both important traits and strategies for successful integration. The relocation company can remove a lot of pains along the way, and the happiness in a move is up to the individual.
Many companies have mentorship programs, point to ex-pat groups, while schools have a parents association and many have sports and interests as their way to find connections.
For all cumbersome and frustrating administrative matters or dealing with the Swedish housing market, companies typically choose to engage companies like Nimmersion to avoid problems and to give their assignees a reasonable start in Sweden.
However, the heavy lifting is on the Talent Acquisition team to find people that not only have the skills needed for work but also to sniff out how they react to change and whether the family is on board too. Working together with a relocation company, one great way to do this is to have a half-day area orientation with a relocation company where all questions are answered for a better decision before signing on. Given what an amazing location Sweden is, it’s not hard to get excited about living here.
In addition to that, Nimmersion offers a complimentary online course to all our clients called Expat Success to prepare for a wonderful move.
If you are thinking about what components can collaborate to make it a smooth transition for your employees, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a discussion.