When James asked his previous boss, who has professional ties in Sweden, what Stockholm was like, he expected some comments about the weather, the food, and some of the glowing remarks about life in Sweden (and across Scandinavia) that we've all been hearing recently. What he got, several weeks later, was a job offer.
We'd both always imagined living abroad even before we were together, and after we had a kid we thought it would be a great experience as a family. In all fairness, living in the US was living abroad for James, who's British. But since we mostly share a language (there are times when I question whether we really do), he still wanted to go somewhere that felt more foreign. Especially because we had a family, the decision to move to Stockholm was fairly easy. We'd read all the articles and statistics about parental leave, health care, gender equality, subsidized daycare, and midsommar. Our biggest concerns were the high cost of living and the likelihood that I wouldn't find work - but we also knew that healthcare was nearly free, I'd be able to take parental leave benefits from the first day we arrived, and we'd have excellent, cheap daycare when the time came. Well, we were also deeply concerned about the winter.
Our move was a drawn-out process: we visited Stockholm for six weeks one summer when our oldest was a baby, the following winter we came back for just three months, and then at the end of the next summer we moved here for real. In the midst of all the back-and-forth I got pregnant with our second child, so that when we made the big move, I was seven months pregnant. A little piece of life advice: don't move internationally when you're seven months pregnant!
Our first year was rough, I'll admit. We were living in the heart of the city with virtually no natural light reaching our apartment, we had a newborn who didn't like going to sleep, and we had virtually no friends. But when spring came, we bought our own apartment outside of the city with sweeping views of the sea and we started making friends with other families at dagis and with our neighbors (and the baby started sleeping!).
Almost overnight our whole outlook changed and we became enchanted with our new Swedish country life. We still love going into Stockholm and exploring the city, but we're quite happy out here. We don't think we will live in Sweden forever, but we're so happy to be here now.