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Life in Scandinavia: How to Live and do well in the North

Picture of a scenery in Scandinavia.

Life in Scandinavia is a unique experience of natural beauty and rich culture. As a foreigner, adjusting to life in the Nordic countries can be both existential and difficult. 

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the differences in culture between the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe. We’ll also give you tips and advice that will help you get used to your new home. Let’s get started!

Taking on the Nordic way of life

People in the Nordic countries put a lot of value on balancing work and life, being fair to everyone, and taking care of the environment. Here are a few important parts of the Nordic way of life that you should try to adopt: 

Hygge is a Danish word that roughly means “coziness.” It’s about making your home, workplace, or social gatherings warm and welcoming. Think about dinners with candles, warm blankets, and good friends. Making your life more romantic will help you get through the cold winters and enjoy the summers even more.

Friluftsliv is a Norwegian way of life that is all about connecting with nature and doing things outside, no matter the weather. It’s important to take care of your mental and physical health. You should enjoy nature and get ready to hike, ski, or ride your bike through the beautiful Nordic landscapes. You can read more about friluftsliv here.

Fika is a popular Swedish tradition that is more than just a coffee break. It is a chance to stop, talk, and relax with friends, family, or coworkers. Fika is usually coffee (or tea) and something sweet, like a cinnamon bun or a slice of cake. Taking time out of your day for fika is a great way to connect with people, give yourself a break, and enjoy the Swedish love of simple pleasures.

Sisu is a Finnish idea about being strong, determined, and able to keep going even when things are hard. Sisu tells you to face challenges and keep going, even when things look bad. By embracing sisu, you can build mental toughness and a mindset of courage and persistence that will help you personally and professionally.

By incorporating hygge, friluftsliv, fika, and sisu into your daily life, you’ll not only make the most of your time in Scandinavia, but you’ll also learn more about the values and habits that make the Nordic way of life so unique and satisfying. 

Cultural differences and tips for adapting to life in Scandinavia

Even though there are many great things about living in Scandinavia, a few things may take a lot of work for people from other places to get used to. Here are some tips for adjusting to life in the Nordics: 


Even though most people in Scandinavia speak English, learning the local language can help you in your work and personal life in a big way. You can learn Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, or Finnish with the help of free language courses, apps, or language exchange programs.

Personal Space

People in the Nordic countries value their space, so be careful when talking to them. When greeting or talking with other people, don’t stand too close or touch them too much. This will be clear if you sit next to a stranger on an empty bus or try to talk to a stranger at a bus stop. 


In the Nordic countries, keeping track of time is very important. Always attend meetings, social events, and appointments on time or a few minutes early. This may seem odd at first, but watch out because soon you’ll be 15 minutes early for everything.


The winters are long and dark, and the summers are short and bright. Invest in good-quality clothes to keep warm and dry, and consider using a light therapy lamp to compensate for the lack of sunlight in the winter.

Here, hygge, friluftsliv, fika, nskopun, and sisu will help you enjoy every season to the fullest. 

Social life

It can take time to make friends in the Nordics, where people may seem shy at first. But you’ll find them friendly and real once you break the ice. Join local clubs, organizations, Facebook groups, or groups for people living abroad to meet people with similar interests and expand your social circle. Find other foreigners, make friends with them, and learn from them. This is an easy way to start meeting new people here. 

Sustainable, balanced, and well-rounded societies

There are some big differences between living in Scandinavia and living anywhere else in Europe or the world: 

High taxes

The Nordic countries have some of the world’s highest tax rates, which pay for large welfare systems, free education, healthcare, and many other things. But many people who live outside of their home country find that the benefits and general quality of life make up for the higher taxes. 

Check out this blog post to learn how much it costs to live in Finland

Work-life balance

Compared to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world, the Nordic countries put more emphasis on work-life balance. For example, they have shorter working hours and more time off for parents. 

Illustration photo of the aurora borealis in Norway.

Working in the Nordics

From flat hierarchy to work-life balance, working in the Nordics might be just the thing for you!


The Nordic countries are the best in the world at caring for the environment by emphasizing clean energy, public transportation, and recycling. This concern for the environment shows up every day, like when they use reusable grocery bags or ride their bikes to work. Getting money from recycling plastic, soda, and wine bottles is something that many people find very rewarding. This is a common thing to do in places like Sweden and Finland. 

While tough at first, totally worth it

Getting used to life in the Nordic countries can be a truly enriching experience, allowing foreigners to see a unique mix of cultures, landscapes, and ways of life. This way, you will soon be doing well in your new home if you accept the local customs and values, learn the language, meet new people, and learn how to deal with cultural differences.

Living in Scandinavia gives you a chance to balance work and life, explore beautiful natural landscapes, and join a society that cares about equality, sustainability, and well-being. As you get used to living in the Nordics, you’ll discover all the wonderful things about this area and learn more about yourself and the world around you. 

So, whether you want to try something new, find a better job, or improve your quality of life, living in Scandinavia could be the perfect way to start a new chapter and make memories that will last a lifetime. 

Take the next step – live in Scandinavia

Doesn’t living in the Nordics sound like a unique and valuable experience? From the beautiful nature to the friendly and forward-thinking culture, there are many reasons to consider making this area your home. Feel free to contact Barona if you want to take the next step and look into living and working in the Nordics.

As a trusted partner with a lot of experience in the job markets of the Nordic countries, we can give you valuable advice and help you find your way through this exciting new part of your life.

What can we offer?

Check out our open jobs and take the next step on your journey to Scandinavia!

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