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Our move back to Sweden

Our move back to Sweden

Gabrielle Spang
8 minute read

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Hello!! Here is an update from me and our move back to Sweden, after staying pretty much silent for the past 18 months or so (apart from a few blog posts, see below). 

Gosh, our move back to Sweden wasHARD!I am sure it’s a pretty different experience for every single person who decides to move somewhere else, noone’s circumstances are exactly the same, and we each have our own personal situations that make it easier or harder to move.

After having identified as an ‘utlandssvensk’ (a Swede living outside of Sweden) for 25 years, it is not easy to move back to Sweden, especially like we did, to a place where we knew no one. 

I’ve spent a huge part of the past 18 months planning our exit from this place, ha ha, but I’ve also tried my best to savour what I’ve gained by this move back to Sweden.

For example, the realisation that you can start over pretty much from anywhere. If you can move to a place with 16,000 inhabitants with no easy access to a community, or any easy to way to make friends, than I guess I can move ANYWHERE! 

That loneliness, as hard as it is, is something you gain strength from. I’ve always had large networks, big friendship groups and a tight knit family. Ending up in a place where very few people are interested in getting to know you (or any new people for that matter) is humbling, to say the least. What I’ve learnt is that, as much as I have disliked not having close friends or family in the area, I have survived, and I am slowly building a community. It just takes time.

AndI have made many friends and new networks. Very few people are as extroverted as I am (from a Swedish point of view ;) and I don’t shy away from talking to anyone, but I wouldn’t say it’s been easy. Swedes are hard to get to know, and aren’t naturally curious about getting to know new people. Asking someone to go out for a coffee is a big step for a Swede, as an example. When we move away from here, as we will at some point, I will really cherish the happy memories, and the people who let me into their lives. 

Getting involved in the charity ‘Drivkraft Malmö’. To be a mentor to a group of teenage girls in a network academy for Malmö City, really suits me and my strengths. I’ve always enjoyed talking to people, old as well as young, and from any background, and I love learning new things.  

I’ve really cherished being these girls’ mentor, our always very interesting discussions, the people and companies we’ve met with the Drivkraft Academy, and getting to know the city of Malmö in the meantime. 

And by the way, they are always on the lookout for mentors, so have a look at their website if this sounds interesting to you too (and you live in Skåne or Stockholm). Here is an information page, where you can find out more.

Daily walks and Outdoor training.The first winter here, I barely survived the dark months of winter. I had not realised how grey it gets (and this is me moving from London, which is pretty much always grey too), how few hours of sunlight there are but maybe worst of all, how people stop socialising in winter (and that’s not the case at all in London).

I had to make a change, the second time around. I started walking every morning, something that is never thrilling when you leave your house and it’s dark, raining outside and +2C, BUT I invested in proper cold weather outdoor clothing and I now love it, come rain or sunshine (it’s mainly rain ;).  I also started training outside twice a week with a group of people. I had never seen myself as someone who would do push ups in the mud, but I can now say that I love that too (you just need insulated exercise gloves, that’s all, something my very fashionable son teases me about). The boost you get from exercise alone is also exacerbated by being outside (here is a study which lists the benefits of outdoor exercise), so it’s a double whammy.  

My daughter’s friends and football 

My daughter has made lots of friends. It’s not like my son hasn’t, he has too, but he spent his first 14 years in a big city, and moving to a smaller place (like this is) was very difficult for him, as there isn’t really that much to do in comparison to London. But my daughter on the other hand, was at a perfect age to move (she was 10). She had very little freedom in London but here she has tonnes. She’s got a big circle of friends, she bikes everywhere on her own and not only that, she also has her football team in Malmö which she loves. 

As you can see, moving back to your home country after 25 years can be an exciting and daunting experience all rolled into one. For us, it’s definitely been both, and it’s also made me realise how much I’ve changed during these years away. I don’t quite feel Swedish (nor do I feel English), and I don't feel like really fit in - I am much keener to hang out with a wide variety of people now, and I am noticing where Sweden lacks (at least for me). 

But for now, here are some things to consider that might help you navigate this transition, in case you, like us, want to move back to Sweden, just to try it out again:

Find your Reasons for Moving Back to Sweden:

Family and Friends: Reconnecting with loved ones you haven't seen in a long time can be a major motivator for returning home

Culture: Missing your roots and desiring to immerse yourself in your native culture again can be a strong pull.

Lifestyle: Perhaps you're looking for a slower pace of life or a change in scenery that your home country offers.

Career: New job opportunities or a desire to switch careers might be a factor.

Challenges of Reintegration:

  • Reverse Culture Shock: After living abroad for so long, you might experience culture shock in reverse. The familiar might now seem strange, and you might need to adjust to changes in your home country.
  • Social Network: Your social circles might have shifted significantly in 25 years. Reconnecting with old friends and building new relationships might take time and effort.
  • Practicalities: Administrative tasks like finding a place to live, and navigating bureaucracies can be complex. Getting back into the system at Försäkringskassan took 5 months alone, as the queues are huge. 
  • Finances: The cost of living might be different from what you're accustomed to. Factor in potential job opportunities and how your finances might translate back home.

Tips for a Smooth Transition:

  • Connect with People Back Home: Reach out to family and friends before you move back to Sweden. Gauge their enthusiasm for your return and reconnect virtually if possible.
  • Research Your Home Country: Stay updated on current events, cultural shifts, and the cost of living.
  • Plan the Logistics: Research housing options, and consider temporary housing while you settle in.
  • Manage Expectations: Be prepared for an adjustment period. It might take time to reintegrate and feel comfortable in your surroundings again.
  • Embrace New and Old: Moving back offers a chance to reconnect with your roots while also experiencing your home country with fresh eyes.

Additional Resources:

  • Websites or forums for expatriates returning to their home country can offer valuable insights and support. We recommend these websites and alsoSWEA (for women only. They also have networks of returning Swedes in Sweden).
  • There might be community organizations or relocation services in your home country that can assist with the transition.

Overall, a move back to Sweden after a long period abroad can be a rewarding experience. By considering the challenges and taking steps to prepare yourself, you can increase your chances of a smooth transition and reconnection with your roots.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions about specific aspects of moving back home.

Gabrielle, Scandi Minimal xx

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