Q&A: Work & Life in Sweden

Working abroad is very new to me.  But, I am still excited to share with you my work experiences in Sweden. Here are the most common questions that I got.

Working abroad is very new to me. Even I still can't believe that I am now here in Sweden, working. I have only been working since 2014 with two companies in the Philippines. My experiences between those two companies are completely different. One is an experience that I love to remember, and the other one is an experience that I would love to forget. 

Nevertheless, I am still excited to share with you my work experiences in Sweden. This is a long overdue post, and I forgot about the other questions that I got. So, for now, here are the most common questions that I got.

how did you find your job? 

I used the app/website called Glassdoor. I looked for open positions in Stockholm, and I found the company where I am working at now. Before I submit my application, I researched about the company first, and see if they offer relocation packages or at least accept international applicants and they do! 

I was not expecting anything by the time I applied, but I got lucky and everything else just went right into its place. 

how did you know that the position & company is legit?

I get this question a lot. It might be too good to be true, I guess! Well, the only answer is research, research, research & trust your instincts. During the hiring process, I've been reading a lot about the company and looked for more information about it. I was also given the opportunity to visit the office (yup, from Manila to Stockholm) and meet the people I will work with if the position will be offered to me. 

In that way, I would see how it is like to work and live in Stockholm. 

how's work in sweden?

So far so good! It reminds me of the first company that I worked at in the Philippines but better. Fast-paced environment but it isn't toxic. Everyone is not only concerned about your work, but they are also concerned about you. I'd love to get to know more about my coworkers, but I'm really not good at small talk. 

  • 6 weeks of vacation per year. It amazes me that people usually go on vacation for a month especially during summer.

  • All are equal & no discrimination. Regardless of your gender and race, everyone is treated as equal. I remember my dad was telling me he hopes that my salary is not lower than usual because of my race (because it was like that in his workplace before he retired).

  • Innovation is important. This is what reminds me of the first company. Innovation is really important, and everyone is open to new ideas.

  • No hierarchy. Same as above, everyone at work is equal regardless of your position in the company.

  • Family-first. 480 days of parental leave. How cool is that?

  • Work-life balance. Everyone deserves a break. It is not unusual for people to leave early at work. The office feels almost empty at 18:00 especially on Fridays.

  • Free coffee, tea and fruits. Do you know that Swedes love coffee? I love coffee too, and my day is not complete if I don't drink coffee (I know I'm not allowed to drink coffee, but who would say no to that?).

  • Lots of perks and benefits.

  • Lagom. This concept means "not too much nor not too little".

  • And lastly, fika!

why was your move to sweden got delayed? 

I was supposed to start working in January this year. One cause of delay is my work permit. I got the decision at the end of December, but I still have to visit Bangkok for my biometrics for work & residence permit card. The issuance of the card usually takes up to 4 weeks. Then, the main reason of my delay is our Philippine government. 

I couldn't leave the country without this piece of paper, Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), as an exit clearance. There was a ban of direct-hires during that time, and I didn't have an agency. I was directly employed by the company. We all know that in the Philippines, more nonsense processes and more delays, the better. :)

POEA and DOLE have this brilliant idea on how to process the OEC of direct-hires.

Here's a quick overview of the process:

  1. Submit a letter of appeal to DOLE. The employment contract and work permit should be attached.

  2. Once the appeal was approved, they will send the documents to POEA and they will evaluate your appeal. It took them 2 weeks to do this.

  3. Once done, go to POEA for evaluation of documents (employment contract & additional documents).

  4. These documents will be submitted for DOLE clearance. It took them 3 weeks to do this.

    1. POEA should sign it.

    2. DOLE should sign it. DOLE secretary will give you clearance.

  5. Go to POEA again so they could send a request to the embassy to have your contract authenticated.

  6. PDOS and medical.

  7. The embassy took almost a month to authenticate the contract.

You see, a lot of unnecessary steps. They already reviewed the contract in the first place, so why do they have to do it again? I was asking for a concrete explanation of the ban, but they couldn't give me a straight answer. What I got was, "we were just told by our boss." 

How expensive is life in Sweden? 

Coming from the Philippines, Sweden is much, much, much more expensive.

Food is definitely expensive! One decent meal for lunch would cost around 100 SEK (or PHP 600), but you can also get a decent meal at 50 SEK (salad) or around 75 SEK. I usually spend 300-500 SEK for groceries weekly, but I'm not much of an eater so I am saving so much on my groceries as well. I would say 2000 SEK per month is enough for groceries for one person.  

As for clothes, I usually buy at H&M since it's cheap, almost the same in the Philippines. I personally think that clothes are expensive because I like buying in Taytay Tiangge!  

Transportation. It depends on the validity of your travel card, but 30-days validity costs 860 SEK only. You can have unlimited ride to trains, buses and boats within Stockholm. I would say that there wasn't much of a difference when I used to commute to work in the Philippines but cheaper. I wouldn't complain though, since the public transportation here is really reliable and trains are working most of the time, no traffic as well.

Phone and mobile data. I don't have expenses on this one since it is provided by the company. 

Home internet, electricity, utilities, etc. It is covered in my rent already. 

Apartment. I may have saved so much from food and other expenses, but most of my salary goes to my apartment! 

Salon. Haircut costs around 400-500 SEK. I haven't tried getting a haircut here, though, since I am planning to grow my hair.  

why sweden?

Moving to Sweden is Miguel's idea. I originally wanted to move to Australia, New Zealand or Canada. But, as I move on to the next process in my application, I read more about Sweden and see myself settling here for good. There's so much to love about Sweden: the people, work-life balance, benefits, public transportation, long days during summer, environment and many more.

do they speak english? 

Yes! English is their second language, so I didn't have any problems communicating with them in English. The language barrier is still a problem for me, especially when I buy groceries. Everything is in Swedish, so I sometimes check the translations first before I buy. Or, I order it online and just pick it up at the grocery store. 

are your parents okay with your decision to move to sweden?

When I first applied for a job here, my parents have no idea at all. I just informed my mom that I have an ongoing application when I was invited for an interview. It wasn't like we all planned for this to happen this soon, but we already have a talk before that I really want to move and work abroad. They are very supportive of my decision and they are happy for me. 

My dad's first reaction was, "Sweden? It's too cold there. Can you handle it?" Haha. I'm not sure, actually! But, he gave me tips about layering and told me that it all comes down to the right outfit. Then he started telling me stories about snow and the weather when he stayed in Norway. 

Being away from my family and friends is difficult, but it's easy to communicate now, thanks to social media. Also, the time difference is only 6 hours. It's easy to adjust and find time to communicate with each other.

Do you cook? 

I do now! I seriously hate cooking, but I have no choice now. It's not the same in the Philippines wherein I could just buy my lunch or dinner most of the time. That's not sustainable here and impractical as well. I feel like I still haven't been cooking healthy food because cooking is not really my thing. I wish Miguel goes here already so I won't have to cook anymore. Haha. 

There are weekly meal delivery services here, but I couldn't sign up yet because I still don't have my personummer. 

do you know anyone in sweden before you move?

I don't know why I get this question a lot too. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone here prior to my move. I haven't seen any Filipino communities here also, but my coworker told me she knows lots of Filipinos in church. 

I only listed 10 questions that was frequently asked because that's all I can remember. But if you have more questions, feel free to send me a message or comment down below! 

Working and living in Sweden is one of the best thing that ever happened to me. I do not want to waste it, so I have to work harder. I miss home, but there are several things that I do not miss about the Philippines. I'm excited for Miguel to visit me, and my sister is planning to as well if everything goes well. 

I try to update my blog as much as I can, but now I have more free time so hopefully I get this going! 

How about you?
  • Have you experienced working or living abroad? What was it like? I'd love to hear them!
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