More and more Swedes are emigrating, though most don’t stay away for good, they move back or move on. The new trend is that Swedes like to live in several different countries, not just one.

According to Föreningen Svenskar i världen (Sviv – an organization for Swedes living aborad), there are 540 000 so-called “utlandssvenskar” or Swedes living abroad, in the world today, that’s 40 000 more than in 2007.


The country most Swedes migrate to is the US, followed by the country with the greatest Swedish colony Spain, then England and Norway, but Asia is getting popular. “Thailand wasn’t even mentioned in 2007,” says Ewa Hedling, who has worked through Sviv’s material, “and now there are some 10 000 Swedes living there. And China is getting hotter thanks to the booming economy.”

What is it that makes Swedes leave? Certainly not poverty, which was the reason people emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Rather it is the chance of getting to know new and different cultures and nabbing an exciting job.

“What’s characteristic among the Swedes who emigrate is that they in general have a great education. But apart from that, they are like anybody else. It’s a misconception that they are after low taxes and living a life in luxury,” Hedling continues. The latest trend is a kind of “circular migration”, with one period spent abroad, followed by another. Unlike the people who stepped on the boat to America a hundred years ago, 75% of the Swedes migrating today eventually return to Sweden.

Read more about Swedish emigration, old and new, under Nordstjernan - Swedish emigration