It doesn’t take long to realize there’s something in the Swedish water, and everybody’s going to want a drink. The people are beautiful and healthy, the streets are clean and organized, and the food just tasted better. It’s like walking into a dream. After spending some time there and learning about the culture from local friends, I came to realize that the Swedes have an active, well-balanced, and more sustainable way of life. As a country, they look out for the wellbeing of their citizens, which results in a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Here are ten reasons why Swedes live a good life:
Around 11a.m. every day, offices around Sweden come to a halt as locals partake in the tradition of fika, a twice-daily social coffee break. Functioning as both a noun and a verb, fika is the moment you take a break with friends over a cup of coffee (or tea) and baked goods. But the most important thing is that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.
2. Generous Maternity & Paternity Leave
Both parents are given up to 16 months maternal/paternal leave when a child is born or adopted, which they have to split and can use until the child is 8 years old. However, 90 of those days are allocated specifically to the father. Countless studies have shown that the early years of a child’s adolescence are the most crucial in their development, thus the government encourages parents of young ones to spend time in the home. Parents are entitled to 80 percent of their wages during their leave.
3. Free Health Care
Healthcare (including dental) is essentially free in Sweden through the age of 20. After that, a doctor’s visit can cost between 100-300 SEK depending on the county. The responsibility of providing healthcare service is shared between the central government, county councils, and municipalities. Sweden’s municipals are also responsible for the accommodations of the elderly as well as those with physical disabilities and psychological disorders. About 70 percent of all healthcare services are funded by government taxes.
4. Free Higher Education
As a resident, attending college is completely free, which isn’t even all that common in Europe anymore. However, this does not cover room and board, meal plans, or textbooks. Because let’s be real, it can’t ALL be free. But not having to worry about accumulating outrageous student loan debt is a huge weight lifted off those pursuing a higher education.
5. Not Rushing Kids into College
Just because education is free doesn’t mean students are pressured into choosing a university right away. In fact, children in Sweden typically start pre-school between the ages of 6 and 7, attend primary school between ages 7- 16, and secondary school between ages 16 – 19. Secondary school, however, is optional. Each student has 18 national programs to choose from: 6 of which lead to higher education such as college, and 12 of which are vocational. Even so, students are encouraged to take a break after graduation before deciding on a major. It also helps that there is a youthful independence embedded in the Swedish culture.
6. Fashion Trendsetters
Every year, Stockholm rolls out the runway to host Fashion Week, showing the rest of the world that they’ve got impeccable style. In fact, Sweden is home of top brands like Acne, & Other Stories, and Filippa K. All of which are killing the chic minimalistic fashion game for their chunky sweaters, geometric jewelry, and elegant designs. And in keeping with Sweden’s sustainability of using recycled goods, vintage fashion of second-hand goods has become a hot commodity across the nation.
7. Strict Health Code Regulations
When it comes to offering quality public food, Sweden takes the cake! From school lunches to hospital cafeterias, Sweden offers its residents a variety of well-cooked meals that meet all food safety standards. Under the European Food Law, meals must not only be safe and nutritious but must also be prepared with fresh ingredients,and served in a pleasant environment. In addition, Sweden’s local grocery stores offer fresh produce at much more affordable prices compared to the States and restaurants follow strict regulation when it comes to food prep, quality ingredients, and proportion size.
8. Eco-Friendly Environment
Sweden is basically the poster child for all thing eco-friendly and have been named one the most sustainable countries in the world due to how well they preserve the environment. Sweden ranks in at number one in the European Union for green shoppers, recycling, and getting most of its energy from renewable sources. There are more bikes on the road than drivers and it’s no coincidence that the cost of fruits and veggies is so affordable while the cost of gas is quite pricey.
9. Clean Cosmetics
Sweden’s green-living isn’t just about recycling and eating clean, they also produce some of the best natural beauty products and organic skincare. Specifically, Byredo and Kerstin Florian, which have won fans far beyond their borders. They follow a long list of cosmetic regulations from safe chemicals to natural ingredients to clear labelling. Basically, if they won’t put it in their body, they won’t put it on their skin.
10. Gender Equality
According to a study done by the World Economic Forum, Sweden has been named the fourth most gender equal country in the world, coming in just behind Iceland, Finland, and Norway. As of fall 2016, the overall gender gap between men and women has closed by 81 percent in Sweden. This includes the four main areas of health, education, economy, and politics.