Home Aging in Society Elder Care in Sweden for Expats

Elder Care in Sweden for Expats

by Derrick
elder care in sweden feature

Looking to spend retirement in Sweden? If you’re living there for the long haul, plan for what elder care in Sweden might look like.

Say hello to one of the countries with the least pollution in the world, Sweden. With a caring and loving group of communities, a language not so different from English, and beautiful backdrops to tie it all together, moving to Sweden might just be your next big long term goal.

Sweden’s Residency Requirements

One of the options for becoming a Sweden citizen is to have lived in Sweden for a long-term basis before applying. This pathway is called habitual residence. For this type of residency, you would apply for a permanent residency permit. Your residency count begins as soon as you obtain this permit. Temporary permits, including visitor or student permits, do not count towards the total time spent in residency. 

You must reside continuously for five years in Sweden. Moving to a different country, or even an extended stay of more than six weeks, during this time will interrupt the time needed for residency.

 If you have a Swedish partner that you have spent over two years living with, the time needed to qualify for citizenship is reduced to 3 years.

Cost of Living

Sweden’s currency is called SEK (£) or Krona. The average cost of living per month with rent included is less than $2,500. The utilities for a basic apartment will cost you around $90. Internet service is about $35. Keep in mind that this will vary based on which city you choose to live in. Rent is about $1500 for a mid-size apartment, which, again, will vary depending on which city you live in. However, even in downtown Stockholm, prices are reasonable. 

Healthcare in Sweden

While Swedish healthcare is available to everyone, be it resident or not, it isn’t free, but it is decently affordable. A visit to the doctor will cost between $10 and $20. Each visit to a hospital is also around the same price, while specialists are more expensive, ranging around $40 per appointment. To be eligible for Swedish healthcare, however, you must first acquire a Swedish tax identification number. Medicare for expats isn’t really an option.

The quality overall is rated high to very high. Wait times can be long, especially when it comes to seeing a specialist. Because of the increased wait times, the country enacted a healthcare guarantee in 2005. This policy states that all patients are guaranteed same-day treatment if they go to a local health center or a medical assessment within three days of their appointment. After that, no patient should have to wait more than 90 days for a specialist evaluation or operation. If the wait time is longer, patients must be offered the alternative to receive care at another facility at no extra cost and with travel expenses paid for. 

The individual municipalities are responsible for the cost of elder care in Sweden, either at home or in special facilities. Those with physical disabilities or psychological disorders receive support care through the national system as well.

Doctors in Sweden focus on preventative care. Thus a trip to the doctor may include specific physical activities and a prescription to treat a particular ailment. Even in nursing homes, the importance of activities that stimulate the mind and increase wellbeing are encouraged. Thus, daily activities might include painting, music, reading, or films.


The main transportation methods are train and metro services. Sweden’s public transport is considered to be well organized, punctual, and reliable. The national railway system is known as SJ. It runs to all large cities and across the border. There are multiple trains available every day. 

Disabled and elderly individuals may also qualify for special transportation services financed by the government. Taxis and specially adapted vehicles are available to shuttle them to and from doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, and other necessary errands. 

Language Barrier

The main primary spoken language is Swedish, a language similar to Danish or Norwegian. People who can speak either of these languages have little trouble understanding Swedish since it only differs slightly in pronunciation and orthography. If you are a native English speaker, Swedish is relatively easy to learn compared to other languages, as they both have a lot of vocabulary and grammar in common. 

Even though Swedish was registered as the country’s primary language back in 2009, there are still many different languages spoken throughout the country. A few of these minority languages are Meänkieli, Sami, Romani, and Yiddish, and Finnish. Even though you should be reasonably fluent in Swedish, a large percentage of Sweden’s population can speak some English. Remember, if you don’t have much time before moving to Sweden and don’t know any Swedish, focus on learning common words and phrases you will need to communicate basic needs first. 

Elder Care Options

Often regarded as a role model for how seniors should be treated, Sweden is among the best in life expectancy (81 years for men and 84 years for women). Approximately 1 in five residents in the country are over the age of 65, giving Sweden the honor of having one of the largest elderly populations in Europe. The national policy on aging aims to allow seniors to have the luxury of growing old securely, be treated with respect, have access to care services, and continue to live actively within society. 

Public Swedish eldercare is largely paid by taxes and free for all Swedish citizens. Private organizations exist and are affordable. However, the lower cost might mean that residents receive less attentive care. Private care comprises about 23 percent of services received by seniors in the country. 

Special housing for the elderly is used by about 20 percent of the population over 80. These facilities include group homes, nursing homes, and assisted living residences. 

About 94 percent of Swedes over the age of 65 live at home and receive assistance paid for by the government to maintain their independence. These services might include economic assistance, respite care for families, and counseling in addition to daily life activity help. 

Life Satisfaction and Personal Relationships

Sweden is considered above average in terms of population wellbeing. The citizens of Sweden state that they feel safe and always have someone to rely on in a community. Residents rate their life satisfaction, work-life balance, health, housing, personal safety, and social connections as higher than average

Climate and Pollution

Although still present, pollution in Sweden is relatively low. Sweden manages the growth of its economy and reduces the number of carbon emissions ever since by relying on renewable energy sources. Sweden was the first country to pass an environmental protection act back in 1967. According to the Environmental Performance Index, both the air and the water are ranked to be amongst the top ten cleanest in the world. 

Further Reading

Sweden really does have it all, from excellent free healthcare to lovely places to live. Sweden can be an incredible place to retire, but if you need long-term care, be sure to plan for elder care in Sweden. It’s also relatively inexpensive, especially compared to other European countries.

Further reading on life in Sweden for expats:

Further reading on elder care for expats in other European countries:

Do you have experience with expat life in Sweden? Let us know in the comments section.

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