For members


How good is Sweden for digital nomads?

High taxes, a high cost of living and a tricky accounting system make Sweden less ideal for 'digital nomads' than a tropical getaway like Bali, but there are some definite perks to making Sweden your next digital home. Here’s our list of the pros and cons.

How good is Sweden for digital nomads?
A person surrounded by their devices at a pavement café in Stockholm. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

In the wake of the Covid pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal, but the concept of flexible, remote working is really nothing new. Long before the pandemic, legions of freelancers and remote workers had cottoned on to the fact that all they really needed to carry out their jobs was an internet connection and a laptop – and that travelling the world wasn’t something that needed to be reserved for holidays.

More and more countries in Europe are now trying to woo these ‘digital nomads’. Estonia and Spain both have special ‘nomad visas’, and Italy voted one into law last March (although it has yet to be implemented, and may end up being shelved). 

So how does Sweden stack up? 


The new ‘talent visa’

As of last June, Sweden has made it easier for non-EU citizens with an advanced level degree to move to the country for up to nine months while they look for work or start their own business. It’s not exactly a ‘nomad visa’, but it does make make getting a visa relatively painless if you are sufficiently highly educated, especially if you work as a freelancer and can set up your own company in Sweden. 

To qualify for the “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness”, you need to have an advanced degree, and prove that you have enough funds or income to support yourself during the period for which you are applying for a permit and have money to cover the cost of your journey home. You also need comprehensive health insurance valid for healthcare in Sweden. 

READ ALSO: How do you apply for Sweden’s new talent visa? 

Obviously, if you’re lucky enough to have citizenship in another EU country, you’ll automatically have the right to live and work in Sweden without applying for any sort of residence permit first. 

Many other nations like Australia, Canada, Japan – and now the UK after Brexit – have agreements with the EU that allow their citizens to spend up to 90 days in the Schengen Area without needing a visa. However, this visa waiver programme does not apply to those planning on undertaking paid work in the Schengen Area, so you will still need a work permit to work in Sweden, even if you’re not planning on staying longer than 90 days.

You will also have to register with the Swedish Tax Agency if you’re an EU citizen planning to stay for longer than three months.

Fast internet

Sweden has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world (although if you’re looking to move to a Scandinavian country, Norway and Denmark rank higher) and internet is relatively cheap, costing an average of less than €30 a month. Around 90 percent of the population enjoy a stable internet connection and you can find 4G in most of the country. A shack in the Swedish woods is often more likely to have a blazing fast fibre optic internet connection than a toilet with running water.

Everyone speaks English

When you’re setting up an internet service provider, chances are you’ll be able to talk to them in English. Sweden ranks second on the list of countries with the most non-native English speakers in the world. The working language is English for many locals, and Swedish children start learning English at a young age. You won’t have trouble ordering an oat milk latte with extra foam or finding your way around.

Lots of co-working spaces

There are 175 co-working spaces across the country, with many companies opting to rent office space collectively since the pandemic. In Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö it is easy to find shared office space, either through freelance collectives, or through more corporate providers.

Here’s The Local’s list of ten co-working spaces in Stockholm.

Thriving tech scene 

Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley in terms of the number of so-called unicorns (startup companies valued at more than $1bn) per capita, while Stockholm and Malmö are also among the leading cities it the world for game development. 

The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm draws in young tech talent from all over the world and has a well-established incubator programme to encourage students and alumni to start spin-off tech companies. 

Malmö, Stockholm, and Gothenburg also have a well-established informal tech scene, where web developers, programmers, and other tech professionals can share new ideas. You can find a lot of them on the Meetup app. 


It’s quite expensive

With one of the highest rates of income tax and a high tax rate on goods and services, stuff in Sweden just costs more. This is balanced by a relatively high average income, but if you’re getting paid a salary by a non-Swedish company, it might not stretch as far in kronor.

As a freelancer, once you’re making good profit, you could be paying nearly 50 percent in total taxes to operate a business. You also don’t get all the same benefits as employed people in Sweden do, such as 25 days holiday, sick leave, and the right to get paid leave to look after a sick child, and you may also be paying for private health insurance on top of that. In this respect, you’re paying for a system which you can’t use.

Having said this, with the krona now historically weak against the euro, dollar and pound, Sweden is cheaper than it has been for decades, so if you’re a true nomad and have been planning on checking out Sweden for a while, this is not a bad time to do it.


A complex accounting system

Invoicing in Sweden can be tricky, even though the information provided by the Tax Agency is available in English as well as Swedish. 

If you’re employed full-time by a company abroad, you will have to show the Swedish Tax Agency a copy of your contract upon arrival, including some mention of the fact that you’ll be working in Sweden.

If this doesn’t apply to you, you’ll need to either register to pay F-skatt as a self-employed person (which usually means you need at least two ‘clients’, so you can’t just register as self-employed and continue working for the same company you did before,) or set up your own company (read our guide here).

Swedish freelancers tend to keep meticulous records of each tiny item they purchase and have a detailed knowledge of every possible tax rebate they can claim, all in the hope of bringing their effective tax rate closer to that of someone employed on a salary. 

It might make sense to use an umbrella company like Cool Company or Frilans Finans which puts you in the position of an employee in return for a fee, so that you don’t have to deal with the tax system yourself.

You won’t meet anyone

While working from anywhere is relatively easy in Sweden, it does significantly reduce your chances of meeting people and forging relationships. Swedes are a reserved bunch and they tend not to speak to people outside their friendship group (unless quite drunk). Finding a full-time job in the digital sector might be your best bet for settling in and finding community.

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For members


READER QUESTION: How can I move to Sweden as a self-employed person?

Are you self-employed and thinking about moving to Sweden? Not sure what to do, or what rules apply to you? Here's our guide.

READER QUESTION: How can I move to Sweden as a self-employed person?

The process for moving to Sweden as a self-employed person varies depending on where you come from. Your citizenship will determine whether you apply to the Tax Agency or the Migration Agency, as well as whether you need to apply for a permit (uppehållstillstånd) or whether you have the right of residence under EU law.

Here’s a rundown of the rules for each different group.

Nordic citizens (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland)

As a Nordic citizen, you don’t need a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) or right of residence (uppehållsrätt) to live in Sweden. All you need to do is go to the Tax Agency upon arrival in Sweden and register yourself and any family members as resident in Sweden.

You may need to prove that you are planning on living in Sweden for at least a year in order to be registered in the population register and given a personnummer.

EU/EEA citizens

As an EU/EEA citizen, you have the right to work, study or live in Sweden without a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd), and that this includes starting and running your own company.

You do, however, still need to meet certain criteria in order to fulfil the requirements for right of residence under EU rules (uppehållsrätt).

There are different options for fulfilling the right of residence requirement as a self-employed EU/EEA citizen, and both require registering at the Tax Agency rather than the Migration Agency.

The first is as a self-employed person, which means you’ll have to prove that you have a business which either is currently running in Sweden, or is in the planning stages.

You’ll need to provide documents to back this up, which could include things like proof that you have F-tax (the tax status for self-employed people and freelancers), a marketing plan, a registration certificate for your company, and a copy of the lease for any premises you will be using.

You may also need to prove that you have previous experience and skills relevant to your company or the work you’re planning on doing in Sweden, receipts and invoices for any material you’ve purchased, as well as accounting documents showing how much VAT you have paid or are expecting to pay.

You’ll need to take these to the Tax Agency along with your passport and any documents proving your relationship to any family members you’ll be registering at the same time, such as your marriage certificate or registered partnership certificate for your spouse or partner, and a birth certificate for any children.

The second route is as someone “providing or performing services“, which is the route you should use if you’re self-employed abroad but will be providing a service to a recipient in Sweden, such as as a consultant or freelancer, for a limited time.

Under this route, you’ll need to take your passport and any family documents along to the Tax Agency, as well as a certificate describing the service you’ll be providing in Sweden, where you will be working or carrying out the service, and how long for. This needs to be signed by whoever you’ll be carrying out the service for in Sweden.

Note that you can only be registered in the Swedish population register and given a personal number if you can prove that you’ll be in Sweden for more than a year, but you still need to register your stay in Sweden as an EU citizen if you’re planning on being in Sweden for more than three months.

Non-EU or ‘third country’ citizens

If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen and you want to be self-employed in Sweden you need to apply for a residence permit at the Migration Agency before you come to Sweden, with a few exceptions.

“You can ‘swap’ from studying to work permit and self-employed under certain conditions. And you can swap between work permit to self-employed and self-employed to work permit,” Robert Haecks, press spokesperson at the Migration Agency, told The Local.

So if you’re already in Sweden as an employee or student you don’t need to leave Sweden to apply for a permit to become self-employed.

For students, your permit to be in Sweden as a student must still be valid, and you must have completed at least 30 credits of your studies or a whole term as a research student.

If you’re planning on working in Sweden for less than three months, you do not need a residence permit, but you may need to apply for a visa depending on your citizenship.

Non-EU citizen working in Sweden longer than three months

If you’re planning on working in Sweden for longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a “residence permit for people who have their own business”, as there is no specific residence permit for self-employed non-EU citizens.

There are quite a few conditions that need to be met in order for the Migration Agency to be satisfied that you can really run a business in Sweden.

First off, you need a valid passport, and it’s a good idea to make sure this has at least a few years of validity left as you can’t get a permit for longer than your passport is valid.

Applicants will need to prove that they have experience in the industry and previous experience of running their own business, as well as relevant knowledge of Swedish or English (if most of their suppliers or customers will be Swedish, the Migration Agency will expect applicants to speak good Swedish).

You’ll need to prove you run the company and have responsibility for it, provide a budget with plausible supporting documentation and show that you have customer contacts or a network which you can use in your business via contracts or similar.

You will also need to provide a slew of financial and legal documents, such as a registration certificate for your company in Sweden, copies of contracts with customers, suppliers and premises, your two most recent financial statements if your company has already been in operation, and a balance sheet for the current financial year up until the month you apply. See a full list of the required documents here.

Finally, you’ll need to prove that you have enough money to provide for yourself and any family members who will be joining you. The Migration Agency states that this corresponds to “the equivalent of SEK 200,000 for you, SEK 100,000 for your accompanying wife/husband and SEK 50,000 for each accompanying child for a permit period of two years”. So, an applicant moving to Sweden with their spouse and two children will need at least 400,000 kronor in savings in order to qualify.

You will also have to pay a fee of 2,000 kronor in most cases.

The Migration Agency will then carry out an analysis of your plans for a business and decide whether it is good enough to grant you a residence permit.

If you get a permit to stay for six months or longer then your spouse and children may also live in Sweden. They can apply for a residence permit at the same time as you, or afterwards.

If you have a permit to be in Sweden as a self-employed person, your family members moving with you also have the right to work (as long as they are aged 16 or older). However you still must show that you can support them.

If you get a residence permit for Sweden as self-employed you will only be allowed to work in your own business.

Talent visa for non-EU citizens

There is another option for highly-qualified applicants who want to move to Sweden to research setting up a new business, which you may also qualify for if you’re interested in moving to Sweden as a self-employed person.

This is the “talent visa”, more specifically referred to as a “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness”.

This permit allows non-EU citizens with a higher-level degree to apply for a visa of between three to nine months, which they can then use to stay in Sweden while they look for work or research setting up a new business.  

You can read more on how to apply for the talent visa here.

By Loukas Christodoulou and Becky Waterton