In 2021, Jonathan Rozmarin left the United States for a new life in Sweden. He relocated together with his wife, two children, two dogs and two cats. Together, they headed to Malmö, where a job at Massive Entertainment as a Senior Project Coordinator was waiting for him.
Today, the family are living their dream life in the Swedish countryside. Their children have settled into Swedish school, and Jonathan’s wife Lisa is working as a hairdresser in central Malmö.
But what is it like for a family to leave their old life behind? How do you adapt to a completely new culture, language, and work-life balance, and how did the family experience their first months in Sweden? And why do you decide to pack up all your belongings and move to the other side of the globe?
To find out, we visited Jonathan and his family in their home, located in a small, idyllic village about an hour by train from Malmö.
Why MOVE TO Sweden?
“First and foremost, I was interested in Massive as a company,” Jonathan says about the decision to move all the way to Sweden. “But the thought of an opportunity to work overseas was enticing.”
“It really felt like Sweden would be able to provide our family with the lifestyle changes and needs we were looking for,” he says, and explains further what Sweden offered them:
“We fell in love with what the country and the studio offered regarding work-life balance, cultural exposure and the general ease of life that California was not providing.”
relocating FROM THE UNITED STATES TO SWEDEN – RELOCATION ALLOWANCE, CORPORATE HOUSING AND CHECKLISTS
Once the contract with Massive was signed, the family had six weeks to complete the move from USA to Sweden. It was a tight schedule, but the move was made possible thanks to Massive’s relocation allowance.
“Massive was very generous with their relocation allowance,” Jonathan says. “We just put our belongings on a boat, which six months later arrived in Sweden.”
That said, the family still had a lot of bags to carry with them on their journey across the globe. Luckily, while they buckled under the weight, their first meeting in Sweden turned out to be both nice and helpful, as Jonathan and Lisa tells us.
Meanwhile, the lengthy transport time had the family reconsider their need for certain items they had held on to for a long time.
“If we can live without it for six months, do we really need it?” Lisa asks.
“That really made us think, so we cleansed out, brought some of the children’s toys due to their sentimental value, but all in all, it was like starting over,” Jonathan adds.
If we can live without it for six months, do we really need it?’
Once they arrived in Sweden, the relocation team at Massive had prepared a corporate apartment in Malmö for the family to stay in during their first months in Sweden. They also received a “checklist” of things to follow up on immediately, so they could easily adapt and enjoy their new life as Swedish residents with as little confusion as possible.
“First of all, it was very helpful not having to find an apartment in Sweden,” Jonathan says. “The relocation team was very supportive in arranging where to stay and told us what we had to do upon our arrival. Go to the migration office, arrange for a digital Bank ID, etcetera. We didn’t have to think of anything other than just completing the checklist.”
making NEW SWEDISH friends – DIFFICULT?
With the practicalities in order, it was time for the family to get to know their new city, it’s culture and of course, the Swedish people. Are the Swedes as cold as they are told to be? Lisa would say “no”:
Jonathan had a warm and genuine first encounter with his neighbors and new colleagues at work.
“Everyone was very open and welcoming,” he says. “During my first day at work, everyone came right over to introduce themselves. We have fikas regularly and our kids are friends today. I have not experienced any coldness from the Swedish people. In general, I find them very welcoming and friendly.”
It feels like once you become their friend, you are friends for life”
Jonathan says he thinks the stigma comes from the idea that Swedes generally don’t care for small talk. Something which he personally dismisses as incorrect.
“Everyone I have engaged with has reciprocated small talk, so I haven’t felt that at all,” he says.
FINDING A JOB IN SWEDEN
Before the family decided to move to Sweden, Lisa was the owner of her own hair salon in California. When the opportunity to move came up, she decided to sell the studio without hesitation.
“I have been a hairdresser for 25 years and I had worked hard to start my own studio, and I loved being my own boss!” she says. “But I was excited to move to Sweden and was willing to give it all up to try something new, so I did.”
Once in her new country, she realized the process of getting a job in Sweden was quite different compared to back home. Acquiring a similar job in the states could be as easy as just walking into a salon asking if they needed a stylist or scrolling through Craigslist to find a job nearby.
“That did not work at all here, so I started looking online for eco-friendly salons and eventually found one in central Malmö,” she says. “I shared my resumé with them, they e-mailed me right back, and the next day I found myself at an interview there and got the job!”
I feel less stressed here at work.”
Her work-life balance has improved significantly since she arrived in Sweden.
“In the states, hairdressers do not enjoy a lot of benefits, but risk to burnout in order to make their ends meet. No paid vacation or paid days off. Here, in Sweden on the other hand, there is a healthy work-life balance.”
Working full time in the salon grants Lisa 28 paid days off, every year.
“Back home, owning my own place was the only way for me to balance my time, which I don’t feel to be the case at all in Sweden. Generally, I feel a lot less stressed about work here,” she says.
WORK LIFE BALANCE IN SWEDEN
Jonathan agrees. “The motto all my team members gave me when I arrived was ‘family first’. To me, this was really refreshing. Working outside of your normal workday seems like a huge ask of someone in Sweden, while in America it’s almost expected of you,” he says.
The motto all my team members gave me when I arrived was ‘family first‘”
“I’d say Jon almost never had dinner with us back in the States, he was usually working,” Lisa says.
Jonathan mentions the healthy work life balance as an important component to feeling less stressed about work in Sweden. The concern that you would be let go at any moment in the States for prioritizing your family or not working late is not something he experiences in Sweden.
“I can tell my colleagues that I need to see the doctor or visit the bank and get a ‘great, see you when you are back’ instead of a ‘can you find a way of not doing that and keep working’ sort of answer, which I would get back in the states.”
Of course, the kids’ wellbeing was of the highest priority for Jonathan and Lisa. Luckily, they have adapted quickly to life in Sweden, and the school they are attending is making sure that they are enjoying themselves and help them learn Swedish.
Malmö – a big little city
After a few months living in central Malmö, the family decided to move out of the city, to a house in the countryside, where they could nurture their dream of becoming self-sufficient.
With 28 minutes on train to Malmö, the nature around the corner and a great school for the children to attend, they had found a home providing them with everything they had been looking for.
“Out here, we can be a lot more self-sufficient and live more sustainable, while having a normal working life in the city, which feels close thanks to the extremely robust public transportation system in Sweden, and the green surroundings we enjoy now,” Lisa says. “With all the people and traffic in California, this is something we could never have dreamt of there.”
“Malmö is an amazing big little city with endless opportunities.”
Jonathan’s and lisa’s 5 tips for people who are about to make the journey of relocating to Sweden
“Have all your passports and all these things in order. Do you have animals, kids?
Make sure all your papers are up to date. Once the offer came through, we had 6 weeks to pull off the move and we didn’t almost pull it off. When Jonathan / I had the first interview we immediately started making sure that the dogs and the cats had what they need. Don’t procrastinate on finding out exactly what you need to do, because there are a lot of time specific events that need to happen before you can actually get on that plane.”
- Don’t stress about stuff
“We kind of brought things that we didn’t need to bring and now that we are here, and I look back I’m like ‘Why did I bring this thing?’. If I can live without this for 6 months, why am I bringing it? And definitely don’t bring any electronic, ditch your electronics. Because I brought a bunch. ‘I couldn’t live without my kitchen aid mixer’, I said. And then I plugged it in with a converter and it blew up. Bring very personal things but everything else you can get here. Don’t bring more than you think you need, purge as much as possible.”
- Have the mindset of “if it doesn’t work out, home is always there to return to”
“Its as simple as having a mindset that allowed a trusting approach to leaping into an international position. It gave me the comfort that if the move/position/situation was not in everyone’s best interest in the family, then we can always move back.”
- Do research!
“Research the public transportation system, to get a better idea of what you are getting yourself into in sense of transportation. We also watched a lot of tourist videos of Malmö on YouTube to get an idea of how the city was. We did a lot of reading about the different neighborhoods, go online and look up like ‘different neighborhoods in Malmö’ to read more about the different neighborhoods and what its vibe is. I was like ‘I really want to visit that neighborhood, or I really want to check that one out’!
- Reach out to potential colleagues on LinkedIn
“To actually get some insight from someone that works at the company. I worked with a guy back in California and he moved here before we did and I was able to reach out to him and kind of ask him questions. If you don’t know anyone in the country or at the company, connect with some of the potential colleagues on LinkedIn or something of that nature and ask those questions on a personal level. If that’s something they are willing to do. That gives it a bit more real aspect to it, having someone that has that experience already.”
“It’s gonna be a stressful trip, it’s gonna be a stressful move but the result on the other end is worth that stress. As much as it’s gonna be scary and a big change. All the fears I had, like worrying about where I was gonna be, what the job was gonna be like, am I gonna make friends, are we gonna like it? All those things just completely disappeared within a month or two.
And if it doesn’t work, home is always there. You can always go back.”
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