Most of this blog is about how to retire early in Sweden from a work-life in Sweden. But what if you are living somewhere else and planning to retire to Sweden?
Right of Residence
If you are a citizen of an EU country, things are easy: you have the right of residence. That means you can work, study, or just live in Sweden under quite relaxed conditions. If you do not work or study, you will have to prove that you have sufficient means to cover your expenses for at least one year. You also need to show that you have comprehensive health insurance, public or private. This should not be an issue for most EU citizens since they are covered by the public health insurance of their home country. There are some general rules on health insurance for pensioners, which also apply to Sweden.
The process of immigration is very simple. After arrival in Sweden, register at the Swedish tax agency (skatteverket). Here you obtain your person number, which is essential for almost everything you do in Sweden, from opening a bank account to getting a mobile phone subscription.
For non-EU citizens, it is much more difficult to retire in Sweden. To stay in Sweden for a longer time, you need a residence permit. The two main reasons why Sweden would grant you a residence permit are for work or to live with a partner who lives in Sweden.
Sweden has a quite relaxed definition of partnership. You do not have to be married, or even get registered; it is enough to live together in a “marriage-like” relationship. Obviously, the Swedish state makes sure that this way of moving to Sweden is not abused. You will be interviewed in person and you will be asked questions about your relationship. Furthermore, there are specific requirements for your home and income:
- For a couple, you need at least a 1-room-flat, containing one room, a kitchen or kitchenette, and a bathroom. Kids require additional rooms, but two kids may share one room.
- The monthly family income after deducting all housing costs must be above the standard amount. That income can come from sufficiently large net wealth. For 2019 the standard amount is:
- 8133 SEK for a couple
- 2612 SEK for children aged 6 years or younger
- 3007 SEK for children aged 7 years or older
So one option for retiring in Sweden as a non-EU citizen is spending a lot of vacation in Sweden and finding the love of your life.
If you prefer a bit more of a reliable plan, consider option two: working. You can be employed or self-employed. For employees, there are lose requirements to be offered a proper job with a decent salary. My understanding is that the employer is not required to prove that there are no Swedish or EU applicants for the position. Nor is there a limitation to certain job types. So while it is certainly a challenge to land a job in any foreign country, Sweden might be one of the easier ones. An important benefit is that many jobs do not require any knowledge of Swedish.
Self-employment is the other working option. There are quite a few requirements for you and your company to make sure your business is for real. The most important ones are:
- You must have considerable experience in the industry and previous experience in running your own business.
- Show that you have created customer contacts in Sweden.
- After two years, your company must be profitable and support you and your family.
Now, your goal is to keep a residence permit for at least five years. After that, you are eligible for a long-term residence permit. This gives you similar rights as those of an EU citizen. Furthermore, you can now apply for Swedish citizenship, which puts you on a safe track towards retirement.
To summarize, if you do not belong to the lucky group of EU citizens, you will have to plan your retirement in Sweden a bit in advance. You should start working in Sweden at least five years before you plan to retire. This is probably a good idea anyway, to get to know the country, the people and the language. The other option is to bet on your romantic luck and find a partner in Sweden.