Expats love Sweden for many reasons. It is a land of great natural beauty with its beautiful coastline, forests and lakes. Famously, the country also hasn’t been at war since 1814. On a more mundane but nonetheless important level, expats can receive quality universal healthcare during their stay here. There’s also the advantage of free education; even university education in Sweden is subsidized. The country is also characterized by the least amount of religious interference in government and policy matters.Even the weather in Sweden is great – the mild climate comprises distinct seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, each with its own unique character. Here is an overview of why Sweden is often considered the best place to be an expat.
Healthcare is part of the Swedish welfare system, which is an extensive system that offers many benefits. To receive social benefits, a Swedish personal identity number is a must. All residents with this number are eligible to receive comprehensive healthcare at very low costs. This also includes specialist medical care and dental care, including orthodontics. Dental care is free for individuals up to age 20, while adults are eligible for yearly subsidies. Those who do not have a Swedish personal number need to have health coverage from their home country so that their expenses can be taken care of until the time they receive their number.
Parents in Sweden can avail themselves of föräldraledighet or parental leave, a generous benefit that allows for up to 480 days of payment per child. Parents who are able to divide this time evenly even receive a bonus. Children receive barnbidrag or child allowance, which is a tax-free amount accorded to parents every month until the child turns 16. After the age of 16, children receiving full-time education also get a study allowance or studiebidrag. Families with two or more children receive a special supplement from the government and those families with a household salary below a certain limit are also eligible for a housing allowance or bostadsbidrag. There are also welfare benefits for parents of children with illnesses or disabilities. To receive these benefits, one must register with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency upon arrival in Sweden.
Sick leave benefit
Employees that stay absent from work due to illness are eligible to receive sick leave pay for those days of missed work. This amount is usually 80 percent of the normal salary. An employee who has missed work on account of illness will start receiving pay after the first day of absence, as this is taken as the ‘waiting period’. For 13 days after the first day, the employer will contribute to the sickness pay. After this, the employee will continue to receive the amount from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Absence longer than a week requires a note from a doctor.
Employees that are part of an unemployment insurance fund for a year can continue to stay in Sweden if they become unemployed. The unemployment benefit depends on the previous income level. This amount is meant to provide support to the unemployed individual for a limited period of time during which he or she can look for a new job. It’s a good idea to check if your union has an unemployment insurance fund once you start working in Sweden.
Sweden keeps the standard age of retirement at 65 years. Retired individuals are entitled to an employment-based pension and also a guaranteed state pension. The Swedish pension system is created like a pyramid, with the base being the guaranteed income pension. Pension contributions made by employers comprise the middle of the system and personal pension savings make up the top. If you opt for early retirement, the monthly payments will reduce accordingly. Many also choose to keep working beyond the standard age of retirement so that they can receive larger monthly payments.
Care for the elderly
Since the elderly in Sweden form a large and important part of the population, the state has a number of welfare systems in place to enable them to live independently. They can receive support in the form of cleaning help, shopping assistance, transport services and meal delivery. Interpreters are also provided for elderly individuals who do not speak Swedish.
All of these aspects make Sweden an attractive destination for expats! Do you live in Sweden? Share your experiences in the comments.