For many people around the world Sweden is an ideal country to relocate to due to its stunning scenery and relatively high quality of life. For the Irish, this dream is a little easier to achieve because the two countries are linked through the European Union.
This article will cover some aspects of moving to Sweden from Ireland and what you can expect once you arrive, including the cost of living, finding a job, healthcare, and whether you need to learn the language.
We’ll also take a look at how Wise can help with the move, since Sweden uses the Swedish Krona instead of the Euro.
- Total population: 10,462,498¹
- Capital: Stockholm
- Currency: Swedish Krona (also written as SEK or kr)
- Official language: Swedish
- Number of Irish expats: Approximately 2,500³
- Biggest cities: Stockholm, Gothenborg, Malmo²
Irish citizens are allowed to move to Sweden and the process is made simpler by the fact that both countries are members of the European Union.⁴
EU citizens, including Irish citizens, who work, study or have the means to support themselves in Sweden are automatically granted the right of residence. This means you don’t have to apply for a residence permit and after 5 years you’re eligible to be granted permanent right of residence.
If you’re an Irish citizen who doesn’t have automatic right of residence you can still apply for it if you’re moving to Sweden to be with one of the following family members:
- Spouse or future spouse
- Cohabiting partner or future cohabiting partner
- Registered partner
- Child under 18⁴
Once you’ve established yourself in Sweden under right of residence you should go ahead and register with the Swedish Tax Agency. This enables you to get a Swedish personal identity number⁴ and Swedish identity card (identitetskort)⁵.
Finances tend to play a huge part in the decision to move to another country and there are some things in Sweden that are more expensive than Ireland, such as food.
According to Numbeo data, grocery prices in Sweden are 3.65% higher than in Ireland.⁶
The good news is that a few of the big ticket expenses such as rent and childcare can be significantly less expensive in Sweden.
Here’s a comparison of the average cost of some common expenses in Ireland as opposed to Sweden.⁶
|Cost in Ireland⁶
|Cost in Sweden⁶
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant
|9.68€ (100 kr)
|Pint of local beer
|6.29€ (70 kr)
|Loaf of bread
|2.24€ (23.16 kr)
|Monthly transport pass
|87.13€ (900 kr)
|29.23 € (301.94 kr)
|Monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre
|855.64 € (8838.41 kr)
|Annual international primary school fees
|1374.50 € (14,197.46 kr)
💡 Keep in mind: This table reflects the average prices - the cost of living in Sweden can vary greatly depending on where you choose to live.
For example, on average the cost of monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the centre of Stockholm is almost twice the price of a similar apartment in Malmo.⁷
|Read more: Moving from Ireland to the UK
As we mentioned earlier, Irish citizens are also citizens of the EU and therefore have the right to work in Sweden without having to apply for a permit. This makes applying for jobs a little easier as you don’t have to go through the process of getting a working visa.
To help secure a job in Sweden there are a couple government resources you can take advantage of:
You can also go online and check to see what jobs are being advertised on public job boards. Here are some websites that could help you get started:
If you don’t speak Swedish you may find that some jobs aren’t available to you. The good news is that there are a few online sites which are dedicated to helping English speakers find a job in Sweden. Here’s a small selection:
If you’re curious about what the average pays are for certain jobs in Sweden you can take a look at the Salary Search on the Statistics Sweden website.
The website shows monthly salaries for different occupations before tax, and allows you to compare salaries by gender, age group, education level and between the public and private sectors.
As an example, here’s some of the data they have for the pay rates you’d expect as a male or female nurse.⁸
|Monthly nursing salary in Sweden
|Type of Nursing
|Intensive Care Nurse
To open a Swedish bank account you’ll generally need a Swedish ID card or Swedish personal identity number, as well as a valid passport.⁵ The bank may also ask for proof of address and your contact details.
Here are some of the banks that operate in Sweden:
- Nordea Bank
- Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB Bank)
- Svenska Handelsbanken
- SBAB Bank
Once you’ve opened a Swedish bank account you can ask the bank to set up your personal BankID. BankID is often used in Sweden for online identification.⁵
Coming from Ireland it’s likely that most of your money is in Euros meaning you’ll need to convert some or all of it to Swedish Krona.
You'll also be able to start spending in the local currency as soon as you arrive in the country. You can open a Balance in Swedish Krona and use your Wise debit card to pay for your daily expenses.
Healthcare in Sweden is decentralised with control over local public health matters being given to regional, local or municipal authorities. This means that the healthcare services and applicable fees may vary in different regions.⁹
You can access the Swedish healthcare system in the same way as a Swedish citizen if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).¹⁰
If you don’t have the card you can contact the Irish Department of Health and they should be able to issue you with one.
If you have a question about the Swedish health care system you can reach out to Social Styrelsen in their national contact point:
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: +46 (0)75 247 30 00
Finding an apartment in Sweden can be a little tricky especially if you want to live in a desirable location in one of the country’s bigger cities. As such, it’s a good idea to start looking as soon as possible.
In Sweden there are two types of rental apartments, first-hand rentals and second-hand rentals.⁵
First-hand rentals mean you have signed an agreement directly with the building owner. This type of rental is quite sought after and it can take several years of waiting in a queue system to be able to obtain this type of lease.
Second-hand rentals are more readily available so are more likely to be the route you’ll go down. With a second-hand rental you’re leasing from the apartment owner or someone who has a first-hand rental agreement with the building owner.
Here’s some websites that might help in your search for a rental in Sweden:
Here’s the average rent prices for a 1 bedroom apartment in four different Swedish cities.
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre
|Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre
The short answer is not really. As an expat, if your job or studies don't require Swedish proficiency, it's entirely possible to live in Sweden only speaking English, as approximately 95% of the population can speak the language.¹²
That being said, it may limit your work opportunities and if you plan on living in Sweden for an extended period of time it is a good idea to try and learn some Swedish.
To support new arrivals the Swedish government offers free “Swedish for Immigrants” lessons.⁵ You can access the lessons once you have a Swedish personal identity number.
|Read more: Moving from Ireland to Australia
If you decide to go ahead and move to Sweden you may want to look into Wise as a viable way to save money on international transfers.
With Wise you can make international money transfers or go further by opening a multi-currency account.
The multi-currency account allows you to convert and hold more than 40 currencies including the Euro, Swedish Krona and British Pound. There’s no monthly account fees and your money is exchanged at the mid-market rate, like you see on Google.
Once you have a Wise account you can order a debit card. This card works in over 150 countries and territories globally, making spending money in foreign currency simple.
To see how Wise compares to the traditional banks, check out Wise pricing calculator for yourself - you may be pleasantly surprised by the difference.
- Statistics Sweden - Population statistics
- Sweden - Key facts about Sweden
- Irish Post - The similarities between Sweden and Ireland
- Migrationsverket - Residence permit for EU/EEA citizens who wish to move to a family member in Sweden
- Sweden - Moving to Sweden in 10 steps
- Numbeo - Cost of Living Comparison Between Ireland and Sweden
- Numbeo - Cost of Living Comparison Between Malmo and Stockholm
- Statistics Sweden - Salary Search
- Socialstyrelsen - About the Swedish healthcare system
- Socialstyrelsen - Healthcare for visitors to Sweden
- Numbeo - Cost of Living Comparison Between Uppsala and Gothenborg
- Nordic Perspective - Can You Get By With English Only in Nordic Countries?
Sources last checked on date: 26 April 2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.