10 little things that are better in Sweden

We’ve been living in Sweden for just over two years now and we’re starting to notice a few things about life here compared to life in the UK. These are in no particular order of importance.

  1. Money back on your bottles. I seem to remember this in the UK in the dim and distant past but it lives on here in Sweden. Recycle your plastic, can or glass bottle and get a little bit of money back. Nice.
  2. Parks and playgrounds. There are swings, climbing frames and playgrounds everywhere. Each one is different and within a few minutes walk of our house we can go to several different playgrounds, several of them have paddling pools which are happily unattended. They’re safe, not vandalised, little or no broken glass. As parents to two small children, this makes us very happy.
  3. Phone signal on the underground. Yes, you read that right, you can make a call and check your email on the underground when you’re actually, you know, underground.
  4. Fast wi-fi. 100Mbs is standard and cheap. Nuff said.
  5. Outdoor swimming. There are lakes everywhere and you’re actually encouraged to go swimming in them. Emphasis here is more on the health and then it’s up to you to worry about your safety. Coming from England this is very refreshing.
  6. No cctv cameras or barbed wire. We take our kids to play in the local school playgrounds after school hours, teenagers sit there and hang out, I can’t remember the last time I saw something fenced in and fenced off. Funnily enough, nothing really happens.
  7. Unbelievably affordable daycare. They really subsidise this. I can’t tell you how much because, well, jealousy isn’t good. But honestly, it’s peanuts for looking after our monkeys.
  8. The weather. Bet you weren’t expecting that. But we’ve had nearly 5 months of sun and then in the winter we’ll get snow and can go skiing and sledging. What’s there to complain about?
  9. Low skilled jobs are well paid. I stack shelves at a supermarket but I’m more than reasonably compensated for that and if I did it full-time it would be enough for our whole family to live on. That’s a good thing for a society that those at the low-end can not just survive but participate.
  10. Libraries. Actually it’s not just libraries but Sweden does quite well in investing in public events, public places. Even small villages still have libraries, they’re used, well stocked. Instead of the endless cuts on a communities cultural life, there is still the belief that life is about something more than the nations GDP.

Have you lived in another country? What differences did you appreciate?

Photo by Airflore


Sounds wonderful! The unfenced schools is something that particularly resonates with me, as that drives me to distraction in the UK. But are you going to do us a corresponding list of things that are worse in Sweden?! Taxes? Family breakdown? My wife did a teaching exchange in Sweden earlier this year and thought the general standards & energy & engagement of the students was low compared with the UK. Be interesting to hear if there is anything that riles you!

Those are all those little things that does make life better (except for the subsides child-care one. I am not sure about the state’s role in that). What would be interesting is a list of little things that you miss about Britain.

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