Let's celebrate; 8 years in England! (TAG)


Can you believe it? 2 days ago I have officially lived in England for 8 years - since June 6th 2008.

Me in 2008, a month before I left Sweden for England.
So I found some tags (blog questions) about living abroad that I will answer to give an idea about my life here.

1. Why did you decide to move abroad?
Most young people in Sweden spend years dreaming about moving. We all complain it's boring, dead and never anything to do. There's no jobs and once you've been to the 1200 different forests/lakes/cliffs you start to wonder what else there is in the world. You always needed someone to buy you alcohol if you were under 20 and the shop closed at 5 and had limited hours during the weekend - and if you are young, you want to party all the time.

I also lived on an island, which was hopping during the summer months but stone cold and shut from September to May. No clubs, no shops and even the trees went barren. So I was complaining, Sweden was never enough. I wanted more life, more party and more work. Like most people, I moved and I decided to come to England, where I worked in two different Wetherspoons pubs, 55 hours a week for minimum wage where after paying my rent I had £50 leftover each week :\ So it really wasn't happening here either.

2. Was it hard getting a residency permit/visa?
Well, coming from a EU country I didn't need Visas or permits. However, there have been quite a few problems over the years where England wanted me to prove 'habitual residency' and this was definitely a ball ache when I went on maternity leave from my job, because if you've lived here for less than 5 years you don't have the same rights as British citizens which left me in very bad times. I did in the end, never pass habitual residency even though I had worked and was employed here - which meant there were no help for me as I couldn't go back to work being alone with a baby and child care costs etc. 

3. Do you live alone or with your family?
When I first moved here I did so to be closer to my sisters and mum who had all moved to England. Now they're back home and I live with my husband and our own family of three boys <3

4. What is the worst experience you've had there?
There's been A LOT of bad experiences here as the people are very different from me. But country specific it's probably all the Swedish Anglophiles who tell me to go back home! Because abnormally I've had more discrimination due to my heritage by my own country folks than by Brits :P

5. Do you speak the local language? Do you think it's important to learn it?
Well, yeah I do. I'm writing this in english :D I think you kind of have to learn the language of the country you live in, couldn't even begin to imagine the struggles if you didn't. When I first moved here I used to get such anxiety when I had to make phone calls because in some weird, twisted way call centre staff are either irish, indian or just really heavily accented so there were times I had to just hang up because I couldn't understand a word.

6. What do you think about the country you live in? How well do they receive foreigners?
HAHAHAHAHAHA in the times of the Brexit I would say that the general population hate foreigners. HATE them. It's not much difference on ground level either. People all over Europe are joining in on the hate and border problems. I hear so much negativity on the streets, on the school run, in the shops about these 'immigrants'. I've lucked out though. Coming from Sweden I'm not considered a threat, 'low life' or any other words used to describe other Europeans and non Europeans. Sweden has always been a quiet holy grail and someone who has nothing but trees surely can't be that bad? 

England is not a perfect country and I do miss my Sweden (even worse so because I've only been back for a total of ten days in the past 8 years) but it has always been a struggle between nature and 'happenings'. Now when I have children and no longer party I do believe life would be better for us all back home (cue angry Anglophiles), but if England do decide to leave EU in two weeks time I might not have a choice :P

7. Do you miss your family?
Sometimes :D Even though my sisters and their kids and my mum are ONE family, my own children are now the family that to me makes a home. I wish we all could live in the same place but as long as it's not possible I'm content with the ones I do have.

8. What products from your home country do you miss the most?
Most edible things. Like Swedish/Finnish chocolate. There's no brands here I like so I prefer to not eat it at all. I will however say that the grossest English chocolate Cadbury now has been bought by the same company that produce Swedish Marabou chocolate, so the new Cadbury bars taste completely different and a lot better - but still, nothing like Marabou.

9. What are your plans for the future? Do you want to live there forever?
Depends. I would say that I want to run back to Sweden and that's that, but there's bigger business ventures that make better sense here in England. So if I can make a good living doing something I love I would stay here and settle for a holiday home in Sweden for the summers. Sweden sucks when it's cold anyway (cue angry swedophiles).

My Visby, Sweden

10. What’s something you use everyday where you live that you think your home country should also have?
I'm a saddo for saying this, but - cheap shops (like Poundland, B&M, Home bargains). I get so excited going into these places to see what new cool, little things they have. And Poundland sell the only washing powders and softeners non of us are allergic to (especially the dog) - and for only a POUND! We have some cheap shops like Rusta and ÖoB but the prices are still higher and they lack the same Shabby Chic styled items. They're more angled towards food/sweets and basic home interior.

11. What suggestions or tips would you give to someone who wants to live in this country?
Do your research, for sure. Simple things like getting bank accounts, rental houses and references are harder than you think if you don't have 'sponsors' - family, friend, promised job etc. Always have savings because so many people are made redundant and there's not much help for foreigners if that happens to you. Know your rights as managers try to get around employment laws a lot, especially if you aren't British

Remember to also calculate taxes correctly. We get a lot of stick for our 'high' taxes in Sweden (between 30-35%) but with that we get free school dinners, full time nursery fees are from Free to less than £200 a month (depending on income), and no heating charges on the majority of rental properties (this isn't due to tax charges but it's a massive £150 a month saving).

In England they boast about their 20% income tax, but you also pay another 12% of your wages in National Insurance and another £100 + a month on Council charges if you live in a house (duh) so at minimum wage will add another 10% in tax to your earnings - meaning you will pay in excess of 42% tax in England. You then need to pay heating/water/electricity (£210 a month for our house) school dinners, daily snack money and uniforms if you have children (for a child in year three and above this would mean another £60 a month - not including another £200 a year in uniform fee, if you have more children you do the maths). There's also a lack of amenities the tax should pay for like play grounds and parks (obviously depend on town and area - but we have nothing within a 40 minute walk from us).

So giving a swede tips for moving here - you can not live on minimum wage, it's half of what you would get back home and cost you twice as much. Make sure your job pays well!

12. If you could describe in one word your experience in this country, what would it be?
Roller coaster (kind of one word).

There you have it, if you have any questions, ask in the comments. 

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