Do you sometimes dream of a house in Sweden? We spoke to Ina Margret. She made this dream come true and emigrated to Sweden. In an interview, she gives us interesting insights into life in Sweden and information about what to consider when emigrating. On Ina Margret 's Instagram profile you can find more of her wonderful pictures and little stories from Sweden.
Please introduce yourself briefly. How old are you? How would friends describe you. What are your hobbies and what do you do professionally?
My name is Ina, I'm 27 years old and emigrated to Sweden 2 years ago. I grew up in Neuss am Rhein and first studied in Bochum and then in Düsseldorf, so I also lived in the Ruhr area for a while.
I actually consulted a few friends for this question, because I couldn't really assess it and didn't want to say anything wrong, and I got a lot of super nice answers. What most had in common was: courageous, empathetic and a good listener, in love with nature, reflective, funny and inquisitive/intelligent. I'm surprised that no one describes me as a bit absentminded or sometimes silly, which I fully expected. My hobbies are mainly creative. I often start a new project, but often after a short time I get ideas for or feel like doing something else and then drop everything to move on to the next thing. So far that has been: knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, bullet journalling, painting, embroidery and snail mail.
But it can definitely happen that I pick up one or the other again, for example I have been wanting to invest more time and keep a bullet journal for a long time now. The only thing I do in the long term is photography and I hope to make it my profession at least part-time at some point. I am trained as a speech therapist and have recently been working as such again in Sweden. This was not possible until now due to the language barrier and I first worked as a temporary childcare worker and then for a year as a primary school teacher in a pregnancy/parental leave substitute.
What made you want to emigrate to Sweden?
I've always been curious about moving to another country. Because I've always liked to travel, but often had the feeling that I only got to know the culture and the different attitude to life very superficially and was curious to change that. The same applied to the language. German and English weren't enough for me, but it was clear to me that I wouldn't become fluent in any other language that I wasn't surrounded by on a daily basis. In addition, there is my great love for nature and the longing for forests and lakes and silence. In NRW, the places where you can really be alone with yourself and nature are limited. When I collected various impressions of the Swedish nature via YouTube and Instagram and saw that there was exactly what I was longing for, it was all over me. A trip to northern Sweden in the winter of 2017 only fueled my cravings and made me realize that I would like to live there someday.
What is the process like when you emigrate to Sweden and what did you not expect beforehand?
I don't think there is a fixed process, everyone has to find their own way. I've heard from some who emigrated within a few weeks and others who took several years. For me, after the winter vacation, I thought back and forth about how to go about it and whether that was really what I wanted. I weighed a lot about what I would give up and how much I would miss it (more on that in the next question) and also that there is a very real possibility that I might not like it that much in Sweden after all and that I would move back to Germany. For a long time I described my emigration as a "move" to Sweden, because at first I wasn't sure what to expect and I didn't know if I could and would want to stay forever.
When the decision was made, I gave notice of my apartment and my job and moved back to my parents in Germany for the last few weeks. I am incredibly grateful, because they gave me a lot of support in the decision-making process and in everything related to emigration. At the same time, I made contacts in my new home and spoke to a speech therapist, for example, so that I could also have professional contacts. I've also been in contact with my current neighbors in advance (with a lot of help from Google Translate) and they made me feel very warm and welcome.
On the one hand, what was different from what I had expected were bureaucratic hurdles. In Sweden you need the Swedish personal number for EVERYTHING and the Skatteverket (tax office) only issues it to immigrants, even to EU citizens, if certain criteria are met, which, however, were not very transparent on the homepage at the time. It took me about two months and a lot of nerves and I felt like a criminal because the car I had bought was not registered in my name, neither was the house and all contracts (electricity, insurance, etc.) of course neither.
That made me very insecure. Then there was the second thing I wasn't expecting so much: the language barrier. I could hardly speak Swedish when I emigrated and I was absolutely aware in advance that this would entail restrictions, but I hadn't expected how it would feel. In the supermarket I often stood in front of the shelves for a very long time, because you can't just look at signs if you don't understand them, and speaking to people in English was embarrassing. At the same time, it stressed me immensely when other people said something and I didn't understand it. This frustration meant that I set the bar very high for myself and after about six months I was speaking relatively fluent Swedish, which also required a lot from me mentally. I am now fluent in Swedish and working as a speech therapist again. I would have liked to have learned more Swedish myself before I moved, but unfortunately there were no courses outside of my working hours and so I was dependent on language learning apps and Google Translate.
What do you find particularly beautiful about your new home? Is there something you miss from Germany?
I particularly like how intense the seasons are here. No two days are the same and every day you notice how the light changes. In summer the nights are never really dark and in winter the days are never really bright, I think that's really cool and you notice the transition from one to the other every day. Today we have a snow storm. When I woke up it was -20°C outside and now it's warmer (-4°C) but it's very windy and up to half a meter of snow is expected overnight. There are warnings about power cuts and tomorrow the schools will be closed here; that could never have happened to me in Neuss!
I also like the calm and relaxed nature of the people here. Many things are viewed and treated in a much more relaxed manner than in Germany, and that also makes me seem calmer, but sometimes that can also get in the way. During the pandemic, I would have wished for a stronger line from the government, like there was in Germany.
In percentage terms, there are many more cases here than in Germany and that is really frightening, especially given the low population density.
What I miss most though is the infrastructure. I love living where I can see the Milky Way at night, but popping into town for a burger or an impromptu social evening with friends isn't that easy here. There is no bus that goes to my village in the evening or at night and even in the next town there is only one small pub. That was much easier in Germany with Düsseldorf's old town "around the corner" and both train and bus connections, even late at night.
Sometimes - very rarely - I even miss all the people. That feeling when you're waiting for the bus or train and you see people hurrying by and you wonder where they're going. But that feeling quickly passed when I was in Germany in 2019. I was totally overwhelmed with the large amount of people everywhere, precisely because I wasn't used to it anymore!
I also miss drugstores. Cosmetics are only available in supermarkets and the selection is very limited. You will look in vain for natural cosmetics and for a new mascara or eyeliner you have to drive about an hour to the next larger city.
What would you recommend to others who have the dream of a house in Sweden?
Prepare yourself financially and mentally for it. Consider what you are leaving behind and have a plan B what to do if it doesn't work out (directly) in Sweden. Get in touch with people who can help you locally (there are facebook groups and blogs for example) as soon as you know that you want to move and where exactly. Join the local Swedish Facebook groups, because Facebook is still very popular in Sweden and is used in villages and towns like a bulletin board for general information or real estate brokerage. And above all: Be there with heart and soul!