Just what is it about Scandinavia that makes us dream wistfully of picturesque fjords, cosy evenings around the fire, or perhaps lying beneath the midnight sun? Famed for their social coherence, their generous Nordic welfare provisions and high standards of living, there’s plenty to be envious about when it comes to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Furthermore, with modern and dynamic economies in which English is the lingua franca, there are plenty of employment prospects for Brits. Below, we present a brief snapshot of each country and give you some key facts so you can decide if you want to do further research.
One thing to note, as it currently stands, nobody knows what the rules will be for emigrating to EU countries Denmark, Sweden or Finland after the Brexit transition has been completed at the end of 2020, so it pays to keep a close eye on developments.
Population: 5.8 million Government: Constitutional monarchy within the EU Currency: Danish Krone DKK (pegged to the Euro) Language: Danish but with other minority languages including German, Faroese and Greenlandic
Denmark is famous for a lot of things, from baked goods to bacon, furniture to fairy tales, Lego to little mermaids … this small country would seem to have it all. Its capital, Copenhagen, is a modern, vibrant city of just over 600,000 people that is just as ‘wonderful’ as the song says. Here you’ll find some of the world’s best restaurants and get to indulge in the national pastime of ‘hygge’ which roughly translates as ‘chilling out in a cosy setting’. But what about finding work there?
Copenhagen, and indeed Denmark as a whole, has positioned itself as a hub for IT and high-tech industries. Aiming to cast itself as ‘Europe’s Silicon Valley’, the Danish government is building nine artificial islands near the capital which it hopes will become a magnet for global biotech, AI and software corporations. What this translates to for the prospective emigree is plenty of job opportunities and the chance to live and work in Denmark.
Interesting to note: The Kingdom of Denmark includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, making Denmark one of the largest countries in the world. US President Donald Trump recently inquired about the US buying Greenland from Denmark, to which the Danish government replied ‘no’.
Population: 10.2 million
Government: Constitutional monarchy within the EU
Currency: Swedish Krona SEK
Language: Swedish but with other official languages including Sami, Finnish and Yiddish
Everybody thinks they know something about Sweden, but the true Sweden likes to keep quiet about itself. Covering a huge geographical area and with a low population density, Sweden is a land of forests and lakes and, of course, beautiful Stockholm. The key to life in Sweden is not to be boatsful about your good fortune. Sure, it may have one of the highest living standards in the world, stunning nature and a rich cultural heritage, but the Swedes don’t like to go on about it.
If you’re hoping to find work in Sweden, there are plenty of sectors in the economy to choose from. Just like in neighbouring Denmark, there is a burgeoning tech sector, but there’s also a thriving manufacturing base as well. Sweden is, of course, famed for making cars and furniture, but the busy manufacturing sector exports everything from machinery to clothing. Given that much of the country is forest, there’s also a large timber and wood products sector.
Interesting to note: Swedish Lappland, which lies above the Arctic Circle, is home to the Sami people who retain their ancient nomadic way of life herding reindeer. On another note, the Swedes are the world’s second heaviest coffee drinkers, drinking an average of 3.2 cups a day.
Population: 5.4 million Government: Constitutional monarchy – not a member of the EU Currency: Norwegian Krone NOK Language: Two dialects of Norwegian – Bokmål and Nynorsk – as well as Sami
Norway is a vast, mountainous country sandwiched between Sweden and the North Atlantic. Relative to its size, very few people live there, and the ones who do so enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world. Norway’s fortunes are partially built on oil and gas, and the country is in possession of a vast wealth fund which amounts to just over a trillion US Dollars by some estimates. This fund is invested in the long-term sustainability of the country.
The capital, Oslo, is a pleasantly walkable city in the southwest of the country, and it’s here where most expats might end up if they aim to work an office job. However, the majority of jobs available to foreigners in Norway are in the country’s vast extractive industries, and all the service companies that go with them. Oil and gas production is by far the biggest sector, with numerous offshore oil rigs and production platforms needing personnel. The second largest sector is the fishing industry, although jobs here will tend to be seasonal and spread out in small coastal communities.
Interesting to note: The bleak and inhospitable Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, lying deep in the frozen Barents Sea, is home to more than just polar bears. Improbably, the main town of Longyearbyen, which features the world’s most northerly church, is said to be the most cosmopolitan place on earth, with over 40 different nationalities among its population of about 2000.
Population: 5.5 million Government: Parliamentary republic – member of the EU Currency: Euro EUR Language: Finnish, Swedish, Sami
Although a part of Scandinavia, Finland can feel a little different from the others due to its Russian influence. The Finnish language bears little relation to Danish, Swedish and Norwegian (which all sound similar), and it is the most sparsely populated country in the EU.
Finland is famed for its lakes, its saunas and its vodka. The country always scores very highly on standard of living metrics, and its educational model is the envy of the world. What’s more, Finland ranks highest in terms of World Human Capital, has the second-smallest gender pay gap (pipped at the finish line by Belgium) and has come first on the World’s Happiest Country Report for the last three years running.
If you’d like to share the joy and get to live and work in Finland, you’ll have to prove your worth by matching your skills with openings in the main sectors of employment. In Finland’s case, the biggest sector by far is services, which produces over 70 percent of the country’s GDP. The most prominent industries in this sector are in the area of electronics, mobile communications and software development, including computer games, with most jobs being based in the capital, Helsinki.
Interesting to note: Mirroring the country’s move away from forestry and woodchip products towards high tech consumables, the toilet paper manufacturer Nokia reinvented itself as a mobile phone company back in the 1980s – a move that was considered crazy at the time! Also interesting – the Finns are the world’s greatest consumers of coffee, with the average Finn consuming 10kg of beans per year, which is even more than the Swedes.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this brief overview of Scandinavian countries (sorry Iceland, there just wasn’t enough space). If you are considering making a move abroad make sure you get the best for your money when you transfer currency and always use a reputable provider such as Currency Solutions. This makes perfect sense if you need to complete a big purchase, such as for a house or car, or even if you just want to send wages back home or transfer a monthly pension to your new country. Get in touch with us today and we’ll tell you how we can help.
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