These are my airbnb digs in Stockholm. I’m staying on the east side of Södermalm, right off the water. It’s nice although a pretty quiet part of town. If I had to recommend an area I’d probably stay closer to the center of this island or maybe look to one of the other areas, it seems like most of the stuff one might be interested in seeing is north in Gamla Stan or Norrmalm. One may end up walking less or using less public transport that way, and depending on the approach used the transport could actually end up being pretty pricey. By some metrics Stockholm has the most expensive public transportation in the world! They do have a pretty fantastic doge ad for their transit system though.
As I’m traveling alone, I was considering a hostel just to meet people – although perhaps I benefit from not having all the available reviews the last time I was hopping through them in 2003 – I just had a hard time finding one online that sounded like I actually would want to stay at. On top of that Stockholm is not inexpensive and even hostels cost some cash, and there seemed to be less airbnb places than I was initially expecting in my price range. This is the most I’ve paid per night for somewhere on airbnb but it is definitely cheaper than hotels – it wasn’t the lowest on airbnb but for the value it can’t be beat, it’s really very nice. My host Hannes is really cool. He’s a doctor and has a young daughter and puts the spare room I’m in out on airbnb. Since I’m an economics and politics nerd it is interesting hearing how things work here and discussing how things work a bit back home.
View out the window:
I climb the stairs the 5 flights up because it gives my lazy arse some exercise, look how tight this spiral is though! FYI the reason the spiral goes this direction instead of the other is so defenders (who would be defending from the high position) have use of their good/sword hand while right handed attackers ascending the stairs would have much more difficulty fighting. Well I mean traditionally, that probably didn’t exactly go into an architecture planning session.
Some other shots from poking about town:
I didn’t go there but one could visit the Stockholm archipelago and see/stay some cool places. Including Sandhamn, from the Millenium Trilogy with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and all. I didn’t see the reason for them to remake that movie in the US, the whole Swedish trilogy was really good and the US version seemed to practically be scene by scene the same thing. Plus the Swedish Lisbeth had badass street cred from real life as I recall.
Let’s get to some tips:
- If you want to use a public bathroom, around the streets various places, you’ll need a 5 or 10 crown coin. 5 is the most common.
- Most everyone speaks English
- 100 SEK (Swedish Krona) right now is $15.37. Big numbers and unfamiliar money – it’s easy to lose track of how much one is spending. This is not the cheapest place. Although locals may remind you that hey, it’s not like it’s Norway…
- I think the only place where a tip is expected is a sit down restaurant, 5-10%, “if they have good service” which I don’t really know how to interpret. So I pretty much always gave 5%.
- They’ll pretty much leave you alone until you ask for the check.
- In 2012 I had no problem sans Chip and PIN, here, it would be nice to have. I believe the new versions of the Chase Sapphire Preferred do indeed have it, but my old version does not. I used a SPG Amex at a museum since they took Amex, although probably not a smart move as I bet that one has a foreign transaction fee. I’ve been using the Sapphire for most things and just telling people I have no PIN. You have to put in the total before hitting OK if you want to put the tip on the card. The Sapphire worked most places but I used my debit card in a couple, including the airport bus to the central station downtown.
- Everything costs monaaaay. My museum entry and transit was not done the cheapest way. The Stockholm Card is worth considering – although make sure you cram in your museum visits and transportation because it’s still pricey per day.
- Take a fika – Sweden does love their coffee. My host said on a US road trip he found that in diners completely undrinkable.
- He also noted that an American beer I’ve probably never heard of is extremely popular here – from Brooklyn Brewery.
- I ended up working at il Caffé in Nytorget.
Some things I may/may not have captured correctly from our chat and poking around online a bit, in regards to policies for those with any curiosity or interest:
- Sweden is on the short list of countries with no government set minimum wage. A different minimum wage is set in different sectors of the economy based on collective bargaining and various unions.
- They have a voucher system for basic education and are required to go to school until ~15. If enough people didn’t go to a school the government would apparently allow it to fail and go bankrupt.
- You’re not required to go to high school after that (3 years) but pretty much everyone does.
- College is generally 3 years but lots of people don’t go. However plenty do go to a more vocational type thing for 2 years. As a doc he went to college for 5 and there is another 2 as an intern after then until achieving residency after 7 years.
- College costs a symbolic amount of money, very little in reality for tuition. Books must still be purchased and the government provides a base welfare amount of money plus another chunk of money as a loan which need not be paid off until graduation. Apparently some people were basically living as professional students and this was allowed to go on for 16 years until being cut off, although now the limit is 6. Grades must be maintained to keep going, although they just need be passing. Most people work while going to school.
- I mentioned how student loans were not discharged in bankruptcy in the US, and he didn’t think any were in Sweden (surprising) and he also thought in the US if we didn’t pay our debts we’d end up in jail (zing!) – in reality debt can follow you a bit more here as an individual it seems. Bankruptcy in Sweden. He mentioned this guy in that context but also as an interesting story around Sweden, Scientology and their public record. I noted that the largest infiltration of the US government in history was in fact done by Scientologists, Operation Snow White.
- He has an association fee for his condo/block, but wasn’t too aware of how property tax was rolled in to anything or if he had it. I googled this and it looks to exist but be maxed out at around $1100/yr. Makes me jealous as a resident of Lake County, IL. There’s no big hubbub and tax complexity like we have in filing for them, work takes care of it here and it’s just simply done each paycheck with no fuss about a date or anything.
- He can work anywhere although they will pay more for places that fewer people want to work, like northern Sweden.
- Some complex private/public board comes up with rules and there’s a windowed range for a salary at his level and specialty; same with medical procedures.
- Medical coding sounds like its own industry as well here, with some administrative person being responsible for capturing and submitting all coded activities for compensation.
- There’s not much of an anti-vaccine movement here. Alternative medicines and homeopathy do exist (although government money won’t go to them.)
- The way he progresses ranks is essentially building a large resume of cases worked on and getting referrals and advisories to submit to a board that will then stamp him as achieving the next level.
- He’s been to the US and spoken to colleagues there and his biggest concern in coming to the US would be the economic liability doctors are under. Here it is very rare for a doctor to get sued and the worst that could personally happen is they lose their license. Noted one of the malpractice numbers he heard in the US one time was larger than his salary.
- He noted becoming a doc in the US now would be very challenging, as he would be required to pass tests on things like cellular biology which he took long ago and did not impact how he actually does his job. He had worked with a US doctor who moved here and said he was impressed at his depth of knowledge, but also thought he would prescribe some more things than might be needed – like a let’s do this test, just in case kind of thing – he thought this was coming from a habit of doing so to make sure he wouldn’t get sued.
- IIRC continued medical education wasn’t required but that was being discussed.
- People can even own full autos over here, although long guns were more popular and outside of a shooting club few people were likely to own handguns and there are strict requirements around ownership. Occasionally cops have had some reckless shootouts so there are discussions as to whether they should have guns or adopt a policy where the guns are locked up in their cars while they instead carry tasers, which is the policy in neighboring Norway.
- He seemed unaware of Switzerland’s policies which I’ve always found quite interesting.
- Sweden has an interesting history with alcohol rationing, and I’ll post a blog with the Spirit Museum and some other museums later as well. To this day the anything outside a limited selection of light beers can only be purchased at a government run store (closed on Sundays) – note several states still have government monopoly distribution of alcohol. Resulting in some awfully bad ads…
- Smoking has been on the decline (not legal in public places indoors) and vaping has not caught on here, while it seems to be getting pretty big in the states.
- I asked about minorities since I mostly see white guys around. By language he said it was Finns. I have seen a chunk of Thai places, he said the big vacation spot for Swedes used to be Spain/Mallarco but now Thailand is the big thing. I also asked about some of the beggars I saw and he noted more recently there are Romanian gypsies that have come over seeking something better, although they don’t have any way to really work and are occasionally sent on a trip back home. It’s a point of contention between the governments now as Sweden has apparently sent money to Romania but they don’t seem to have done anything to get it towards their people or improving their conditions.
If you made it through all of that, hopefully it is reasonably accurate and somewhat interesting.