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Living in Sweden

Free speech, free press and transparency. Welcome to Sweden.


Sweden is known for its social equity and economic success, and has one of the lowest levels of poverty in the world. It’s also one of the world’s most progressive countries for LGBTQ+ rights. This is true of our culture and society and is supported by law.

Our democratic society is protected by four fundamental laws that make up the Swedish constitution and they take precedence over all other laws. The constitution states that all citizens have the right to freely seek information, organise demonstrations, form political parties and practice their religion.

The Swedes enjoy an advanced welfare system, a low ratio of unemployment and a strong economy. For Swedish citizens, education is free, healthcare is cheap, and childcare is available to everyone. While people pay high taxes to maintain the sophisticated social system, the Swedish standard of living and life expectancy are amongst the highest in the world.


The Swedish lifestyle combines a love of nature, environmental awareness and culture. Deep-rooted traditions are mixed with tolerance and openness for other societies, as almost 20 per cent of the population was born outside of Sweden or has one or both parents born abroad.

Cultural celebrations such as Midsummer and Lucia are celebrated as enthusiastically today as in previous generations.

As a student in Sweden, you will soon learn the word fika. Swedes love their coffee and will enjoy at least one fika a day. But fika is much more than coffee and cinnamon buns. It’s a social institution and an important part of Swedish culture. So if someone says "let’s do fika" – just say yes and enjoy the very best of Sweden.

People eating cinnamon buns. Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se


Do you think of winter when you hear of Sweden? Many people do. But because of the warm Gulf Stream, the Swedish climate is generally temperate and varies greatly between north and south.

In the south, where you’ll find Campus Alnarp, winters are shorter and milder and snow is rare. Mid-Sweden, where you’ll find Campus Uppsala, has a climate that is normally a few degrees colder than the southern parts of the country. And finally, we have the northern parts of the country. This is where you will find the climate many people associate with Sweden – and this is also where you will find Campus Umeå. Winters here are long and cold and there is also much more snow. On the other hand, summer is very bright and it’s in the north you will find the midnight sun.

The right of public access

One of the unique things about Sweden is allemansrätten, or the right of public access. This is something that we are very proud of and it is a part of the national identity of Sweden. The right to public access allows anyone to roam freely in the countryside, swim and travel by boat in some else’s waters and pick berries and mushrooms in the forest. As long as the land isn’t cultivated, and as long as no damage is caused, this means that most of our wonderful nature is yours to explore.


Person jumping into the water. Photo: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se


With a government that invests heavily in research and development, Sweden has become one of the world’s most innovative nation. Our capital Stockholm produces the most million-dollar companies per capita in the world, after Silicon Valley. But do you know what? We don’t have to sleep at the office to achieve it. Work-life balance actually means something here. You will have time to enjoy your life in Sweden and still have a successful career.

Considering that Swedes represent just 0.13 per cent of the global population, it has a disproportionate amount of influence on global innovation. Sweden tops the European Innovation Scoreboard, an index published by the European Commission. The index assesses the strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they should address. Sweden also usually achieves high rankings in innovation surveys such as the Global Innovation Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index.

Innovation at SLU

New knowledge from SLU is sought after by companies and organisations both in Sweden and internationally. Many companies have been created on the basis of ideas and research from SLU.

You can read more about some of these ideas and research projects – and the researchers behind them – at SLU Holding.


Although Swedish is the official national language, Swedish people are in general very good at speaking English, making it very easy for tourists and international students to get around. At SLU, one Bachelor’s programmes and almost all Master’s programmes are taught in English. This enables students to study in Sweden, but learn in English!


Budget for at least SEK 8 568 a month; this is the minimum amount stated by the Swedish Migration Agency. This sum is also slightly less than what Swedish students live on. Therefore, before you leave home, make sure, that you will be able to finance your stay. It will save you a great deal of unnecessary stress and contribute to a much more enjoyable study experience in Sweden.

For more information on living costs, visit Study in Sweden.

Published: 15 December 2022 - Page editor: study@slu.se