Relocation to Europe: My Scandinavian Experience

Name: Anna Rebutnikov
Age: 30
Place of residence: Gothenburg, Sweden
Most misses: friends

Finland – Love at First Sight

My Scandinavian experience started back in 2011. At that time, my future husband and I were looking for a special place for our honeymoon trip and making a civil marriage registration (because as we know in Israel it is impossible).

Today there is a fairly well-known option offered by the various tourist companies that amounts to a package (which I think is quite expensive) of several days in the Czech Republic or Cyprus that includes civil registration, translation of documents, a multi-day stay in a 4- or 5-star hotel, plane tickets and various paid extras.

We are not one of those who go with the current so, after in-depth examinations, we found that one of the Scandinavian countries can certainly provide us with everything that is required. I will go on to say that in Israel there is a tendency to think that scandinavian countries are very expensive, and they do not fit the pocket of the average Israeli.

To our surprise, we discovered a country with expansive wild spaces of nature, plenty of shopping options at affordable prices for every pocket, kind people willing to help you with any question, an amazing combination of new and old in the tiny cities. From that time on, our affair with the Scandinavian countries began and continued to this day.

Planning the Finnish Wedding

Before the summer of 2011, finland’s beauty was revealed to me, and not only in the capital Helsinki, I was exposed to a lot of interesting information throughout the network even in the planning stage, regarding Hawaii State and local history.

So what did the planning phase mean to me? Of course, in many questions, when the main question was regarding the admissibility of marriage in Israel. In addition, after inquiries with Israeli and Finnish authorities, it became clear after the fact that dealing with the Finnish authorities was much simpler, the information was more readily available and detailed, the officials were much nicer. Notarized organization and translation of the documents, and most importantly not to forget an apostille stamp, after all, marriage is no laughing matter and it is necessary to make sure that they are indeed valid in every way.

החוויה הסקנדינבית שלי
12.07.2011 Our anniversary – The marriage was held in a simple ceremony in the municipality of the city of Helsinki

Besides that, planning a honeymoon it is also a difficult process that requires quite a bit of creative thinking and the preparation of an appropriate budget.

– It is necessary to develop an orderly and compliant schedule, especially in a country like Finland that advocates strict adherence to times.

– Planning a itinerary, preferably circular because landing in Finland and taking off back to Israel are from the same airport. Of course you can stay in one place and do star trips, but with distances like this it doesn’t make that much sense to me.

– Car rental, because despite the small number of citizens in the country, the distances between the different cities are enormous. And Finland, like most of Europe, is known for excellent public transport, but unfortunately it is only good within the big cities and not so convenient in long-distance travel.

– Booking accommodation is a very important stage in planning, and even more so in Finland where you like to work a few hours, which causes a lot of hotels, accommodations or hostels to limit the time of arrival to the reception station.

And that’s how we found ourselves in Sweden.

This infatuation with Scandinavia has left us with a desire of more and a great desire to move to one of these countries, in order to experience all the hawaiian life that these countries can offer. Since then we have had time to visit all the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).

קתדרלת הלסינקי
Helsinki Cathedral - A unique landmark in the cityscape of Helsinki, with its high green dome surrounded by four smaller domes, the building was built in a neoclassical style

In 2015, we purchased a house in the Norrbotten region, northern Sweden, about 40 km from the Finnish border. This was the first time we came across the Swedish legal system, which seemed quite simple to us because the purchase process was really quick and easy.

Six months after purchasing, we decided to furnish the house. In addition, it was necessary to open a local bank account, which was necessary in order to pay accounts related to the property. We fell on exactly the time when millions of refugees arrived in Europe, which caused a constitutional change in European banks, making it difficult to open a local bank account.

After all, in terms of dry local law, the reference at that time to foreign residents, especially non-eurozone citizens, was very suspicious. For example, it was necessary to clarify where the money was coming from for fear of money laundering. However, the clerk at the bank, in terms of the human aspect, felt really uncomfortable questioning us and filling out a large amount of forms and verifying our passports. For her, opening an account is a simple process that should not require such in-depth examinations.

After opening the account, we had difficulties connecting to the account remotely, so I had to call the branch. This is where I actually encountered language difficulty. No clerk on the phone was reluctant to talk to me as soon as he heard I was speaking English for fear that I was interested in selling something. And unfortunately it didn’t just end at the bank, in most cases when I had to communicate by phone with service providers and not from an answering machine, where there is always an option for English or transfer to an English speaking professional, usually it would have ended in disconnecting the conversation even before it even began. People in Sweden, when it comes to phone conversation, are usually just sure that if you don’t speak the local language you’re some shrewd salesman.

Starting with acclimatization

In November 2016, my husband underwent several online job interviews, and in December he was invited to a physical job interview in the city of Gothenburg. After being hired by a local employer, an application for a work permit was submitted by the employer in Sweden. The process is carried out through the Swedish Immigration Ministry and is quite simple, the explanations are very detailed and they make it easier for you to fulfill the request and provide the required documents, usually without errors which definitely shortens the waiting time.

To our surprise, we received a really quick response – within two weeks of submitting the request. The continuation of the process took place at the Swedish Embassy where it was explained to us that we had to take a photo and make an electronic signature, all of which was sent to Sweden in order to obtain a visa to enter the country (the visa looks like a work card with your data and signature), which must be presented at the Swedish border post.

The employer was very caring and suggested that my husband start looking for rental housing already, because finding rental housing in Sweden is a really difficult process, since the country has much more demand than supply. This causes great difficulty in finding a long-term place to live, and even more difficulty in finding a direct rental from the landlord. Besides, not everyone wants to rent, even if it’s sabalt, housing for immigrants, which makes the search even more difficult.

After all the preparations and overcoming mainly the difficulty of the language, in February 2017 we carried out a successful relocation to Sweden, to the city of Gothenburg.

READ MORE: Relocation to Europe

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