Screaming in Sweden

Just a different way of life
January 24, 2007, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Life, Sweden | Tags: ,

Did you know that when I rang the dentist the other day to book an appointment, I was told to ring another one, who’s most likely a competitor, because they already have an adequate number of patients (so they couldn’t take in any new patient at all)? And that if you’re under 21 years old, you’ll receive contraceptive pills for free in Sweden?

A couple of things which I’ve observed these few days is enough for me to realise that I’m living on a foreign land. Not in a bad way, of course. Just different. It strikes me that money isn’t really a thing that people have in their mind all the time, money is just something you need to be able to live, comfortably. Most people have enough to live comfortably, i.e. owning a house, a car, a family with 2 or 3 kids, and perhaps some money to travel maybe once a year, or if you’re a patriot, a summer cabin or a camper so you can be close to the wonderful Swedish nature all year long. :)

There are of course homeless people, too. Many of them are drug or alcohol abusers or both, or once committed a crime and imprisoned, so they are literally locked out from what goes on in the society, and so that they become malfunctioned in this nanny state. One good example is that you have to queue up in the system in order to be offered a place to rent. Most of the time you’ll have to pay a small fee per year to do that. People are queing up for years. And every city has its own system so everytime you move or are inactive or don’t pay your fee, you will lose your queue-years. That is to say that it is important to keep in touch with what actually goes on in this society. You must know who to turn to when you need help from the State or in trouble.

So anyway, back to my first point. Money ain’t a big thing here (free time is). Because everyone is happy with what they have. And because they have no worries, really. While my family has been struggling and saving a fortune for all their lives for just in case someone in the family becomes sick or for university tuition fees, the tax-paying happy campers get free education and healthcare. Well, I do not mean literally free. Indirectly free. Top that with children and school allowances, and near zero interest loan if you decide to study overseas where education costs money.

Extra money means more consumption. But with almost everything for free, where do you spend your money on? Books, traveling, clothes, new kitchen, furniture, gadgets, tvs, computers, etc. The recent deduction in tax here means people with jobs are getting an extra thousand kronor or so a month. When asked what they would spend the extra money on, most people said – consume, consume, consume. A new carpet from IKEA, a trip to Bangkok, or a new tv.

But we’re not alone. It doesn’t mean that we don’t splurge in KL. In fact, it’s a paradise for consumers. New shopping centers are built every time I go back for holidays. While I can understand why the Swedes consume, I sometimes wonder, where do we get the money to splurge on shopping (or food) ;) from? At the same time, we’re saving money for our kids and hospitals and repaying car or house loan. Superconsumer.


4 Comments so far
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I don´t get the part about the queue … I mean, sure, in some places here in SWE, it is just like that. But not everywhere, not by a long shot. Especially when it comes to renting a home, money can be a huge issue.
As an example: I earn approx. 130.000 sek per year. I called my current landlord and wanted to apply for renting a place. They turned me down, as soon as they got a hold of my income facts, and told me I had to “get in line” … and a very long line it was …! My husband called the next day; said he wanted a place to rent, his income was about 4 times my income, and he had “a wife and kid to support”. Guess what; two days later, we went to go look at the place we now rent. Yepp – a looong line.
Regarding the other things you mention; education, health care, you´re right on the money *s*. We are amazingly spoiled.

Comment by helena

You’ve got a point there, helena. I read in the Helsingborgshem brochure that the ones who have moved to Helsingborg because of jobs/investments will get the first priority.

You know I’ve always thought: Swedes travel so much maybe because traveling reminds them of how good a country Sweden is…

Thanx for reading ;)

Comment by lingon

Isn’t life in EU fantastic sometimes? No pressure to be work 24/7 – instead enjoy your life and your family – the gov’s social benefits step in to ‘take care’of things when it gets tough.

It seems scary doesn’t it? Your country is able to take care of you….:)

Comment by cwebber

Bush is forever saying that democracies do not invade other countries and start wars. Well, he did just that. He invaded Iraq, started a war, and killed people. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
If ever there was ever a time in our nation’s history that called for a change, this is it!
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

Comment by Antibush

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