3 February 2017

Tracy Morgan - Expat in Sweden

Tracy Morgan - Expat in Sweden

We’ve had the chance to talk to Tracy Morgan, an English expat who has moved to Sweden with her partner and two kids. Ms. Morgan who has been living there for nearly four years, now works as a Hemspråk (home language) teacher. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: England.


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: My partner is Swedish and we'd lived in Sweden previously but we became very disillusioned with the British schooling systems and thought our kids would do better here.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Sweden.


Q: How long have you been living in Sweden?

A: Nearly four years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Partner and two kids. The kids have adapted incredibly well. They were always bilingual but have had to learn how to read and write in Swedish, but they have coped tremendously. They've always loved being in Sweden.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: No, not really. The only thing I really miss on a regular basis is food. I have VPN so watch all my English shows which really helps to feel connected to home.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I think that Swedish people, generally, are good guys. However, they are very different to English people – they are less approachable and welcoming. They also have terrible customer services and less flexibility.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Sweden? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: This time around, very easy. I have my own Expats Facebook page and have made good friends.


Q: How does the cost of living in Sweden compare to your home?


  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 25kr.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 200kr.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 400kr.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine 70kr  - Cigarettes 60kr (this is a guess – we don't smoke).


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Sweden?

A: All banks work pretty much the same; I don’t think there is a world of difference. Most banking is done online, so you very rarely go into a branch


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Bureaucracy in Sweden is one of my biggest bug-bears. Everything has to be done to the letter and there is total inflexibility. For example, I needed to apply for a driving license, however, had serious problems due to the fact that my passport had only 90 days left on it. The same passport that allowed me to enter the country just two months previously. They do not offer information, only letting you know when you ask a direct question!


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Sweden is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Very reliable. You pay for adults to go see any kind of medical practitioner (including a dentist), but kids are free. The main issue is getting an appointment at a regular health centre/clinic, and can wait several weeks for an appointment.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the UK or in Sweden?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: We have health insurance as part of a general insurance package. You don't need health insurance in the same way as you do in America, for example.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Sweden? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: We moved the large items over ourselves in a hired van and sold the other things we could get in Sweden. For me, it is just so long-winded – you acquire a lot of stuff over the years and deciding what should go with you, and finding the time packing it, was the worst.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: The language. Swedes are very open to speaking English, but I personally felt that if I was going to fully integrate, I would need to learn the language. I also found it quite hard to work out costs of things and for a long time, I used to convert it back to English pounds to get a true understanding of how much it was.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Sweden?

A: Nature – it is a stunning country and being outside is something Swedes take very seriously. I think the schools are great, if not a little too keen to keep all students on an even level and not let them progress, and everything is well run. The public transport is second to none and the childcare is subsidised so much cheaper than other countries. Negative aspects would be getting to know how the natives do things and understanding their personalities. I am a loud Brit so being around very quiet Swedes is a definite culture clash.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: I live between Malmo and Lund in a very quiet residential area. However, we are on a train line and it is so easy to get to both.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No. We are here until we die! :)


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Learn the language as, without it, you will find getting a job very difficult. Try to reach out to other Swedes in a friendly way but don't be put off when they pull back. Accept that Swedes do not reveal a lot about themselves until they really know you, or feel comfortable with you. Accept that it isn't your home country and that there will be inevitable differences. Watch the locals and see how they approach a situation. But at the end of the day, be yourself. Take on parts of the land you live in, but don’t lose your identity!


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Sweden?

A: I like The Local, which is an online newspaper, although they are very negative and condescending about Swedes at times (not okay in my book). I also like the website called Sweden which gives you very clear information about the country.