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Old 04-08-2010, 01:12 PM
1 posts, read 28,282 times
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Hello folks,

I am not a Swede but an Indian pursuing PhD in Sweden. I have travelled to quite many countries and I must say, I am yet to find a country that is as good as Sweden, exception being quality of social life and language (even though Swedes speak English quite fluently)

Here, I am hearing over and over that Canada is very similar to Sweden but what I am reading on the web is not what I hear. Hence, my curiosity led me to this forum.

So far what I have figured about Sweden (in my 6 years of stay)
- Healthcare - absolutely brilliant but once you are IN the system. To get into the system is difficult. It took one year for me to get a prescription for migraine or my gastrointestinal disorder diagnosed. But once I was with the specialist, I am taken care of very well. Absolutely no complaint at all.
What do you pay for this? Modest amount of approx. USD25. You pay for medicines only upto USD250. Anything above that is free. If you need to be hospitalized, the cost of hospitalization is very little
- Infrastructure - Again absolutely brilliant. Haven't seen as better as this one. Germany could stand close but no other countries.
- Bringing up a child - I doubt if there is any other country on the top of this planet that is as good as Sweden. Daycare is damn cheap (yet many Swedes crib about it), schooling and college is of good quality and essentially free.
- Crime rate - Very low. You are perfectly safe is majority of Sweden. There are shady areas but shady areas in the US or UK are so freaking scary that you will run away from a mile. I am yet to find such shady area in Sweden.
- Swedish attitude - Very assimilating. If you manage to speak Swedish fluently and make some friends (which is very hard), you can have a very good social life. Otherwise, it sucks a big time. Things are changing quite rapidly due to significant immigration taking place from war-ridden countries. Swedes are extremely polite, even when talking to a homeless (as opposed to say, Indians.)
- Jobs - Getting a news that if you have a non-Swedish name, its getting tougher to get the jobs. The attitude here is, if you can be a part of the flock, no matter how good or bad you are at your job. (Pls. ignore exaggeration in this statement) If you are a foreign-trained professional (like a doctor/nurse etc) you have a very long time (3-4 years) before you can get a certification and then a job (if at all).
- Overall quality of life - Nothing to seriously complain about but if you don't have Swedish speaking friends to hang out with, you are all by yourself and it can be tough in dark and cold weather. If you don't mind living in your ghettos, it could still be very good. I have seen a lot of middle eastern folks who have been living years for decades and can't speak Swedish, yet they have a rather good life. Racism, its creeping in slowly. Even though I have personally experienced 3-4 times, I am hesitant to blame the Swedes. I can see so many Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (along with others) abusing the system, and all look the same (to the Swedes). If I would be a native Swede, probably my reaction would be the same.
- Freedon of Speech - I don't have to say too much, everyone know piratebay.

This is just a tip of the iceberg. Could you please elaborate taking idea from these points, how Canada stands in front of it?

Many thanks for taking time to answer.
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:28 PM
Location: Vancouver, BC
1,048 posts, read 6,443,483 times
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I've never been to Sweden, so I can't compare. And for what it's worth, this forum mostly targets Americans, so you probably won't get many Canadian perspectives as you may anticipate, but to be brutally honest, the answers to your questions will really vary depending on where Canada you're talking about. Canada as a country functions more like a continent, and each Canadian province really functions like its own separate country. There are differences in the way that each province handles its health care, its infrastructure, etc. Quality of life varies depending on where you are in Canada, etc.

This is all because of Canada's various regions, climates, histories, and its 3 levels of government: federal, provincial, and municipal. Immigration is handled at the federal level, but health care, education, transportation, infrastructure, etc. is handled at the provincial level - so this extremely varies depending on which province you're in. As a result, the quality of health care and the expenses you pay for a hospital visit in Toronto may be very different from what you pay/experience in Montreal and again, it can be extremely different than what you may experience in Vancouver. And this all varies from what you'd experience in the more remote parts of Canada. Essentially, there is no "Canadian universal" as I like to call it. You can't really generalize about Canada unless you're really specific to a particular region. The same can be said for Europe... Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are all a part of Europe, but infrastructure, health care, quality of life, really vary.

Roads are maintained and financed by the province, and even licencing is done at the provincial level, so the quality of roads and the way they're designed, and the rules of the road depend on which province you're in. Again, it's like separate countries.

Ditto for infrastructure. Infrastructure is financed/managed at the provincial and municipal level. There are some places in Canada where infrastructure is definitely not its strength... and other areas which blow the rest out of the water.

Jobs? Depends on the industry, your experience, and where you are in the country.

And for example, Quebec is the most highly taxed province in Canada, and the infrastructure there isn't known to be the best, and yet, its social programs are perhaps the most developed with education and child care being heavily subsidized. Housing is also affordable. Quebec is also unique in the way that it's the only province in Canada where the French language dominates, and French is considered the official language of the province. As a result, you better know French if you wish to immerse yourself in Quebecois society!

And yet you have a province like Alberta, which has the least taxes in all of Canada so it's affordable, but it's based on a boom and bust oil economy. Or coastal BC, which is the most expensive place to live in Canada, the quality of life is fantastic, everything's modern, climate is fantastic, but the province's government has cut funding for education, health care, child care, the arts, etc. and is increasing taxes. It's unaffordable. The average price for a single house in Vancouver has risen over a million dollars.

The issue with Canada is that, unlike Sweden, Canada is continental in size with a tiny population strewn across... so it's expensive to travel as there's no demand or population for mass public transit infrastructure between those huge distances. Plane travel between different parts of Canada is as expensive as flying overseas. As a result, most Canadians are really only familiar with their immediate region of Canada, and Canada is not at all like a European country in that regard and can never compete with its infrastructure. Canada's only slightly smaller than *all* of Europe, but it only has a population of 33 million.

Last edited by Robynator; 04-08-2010 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:44 PM
Location: Gatineau, Québec
26,873 posts, read 37,997,315 times
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Canada is a very large country compared to Sweden and many of its provinces are larger than all of Sweden. It is also a federation which means many things can vary from one province to another, as opposed to Sweden which is more of a centralized unitary state with a greater "sameness" of services across the country.

However, here are some general comments:

- Healthcare - access is universal (ie covered by regular taxes) and you can get the right to access it fairly quickly after moving here; the system is generally overcrowded and wait times can be long for certain things but generally speaking the care is pretty good; no one will ever let you die or not be treated, though you may have to be patient.

- Infrastructure - not bad but slightly deficient compared to most northern and western European countries and the U.S.; Canada's federal government generally invests less in infrastructure than in many other countries, so the provinces and municipalities are left with a lot of the bill; cold winters also take a toll on infra in much of country.

- Bringing up a child - programs vary tremendously from province to province; Quebec has virtually free child care and relatively inexpensive post-secondary education, whereas many other provinces child care is private and can cost up to 50 Canadian dollars per day; university tuition can vary from roughly 2000 dollars per year in Quebec to more than 6000 in a province like Nova Scotia.

- Crime rate - Quite low and similar to Sweden.

- Canadian attitude - Generally quite accepting of newcomers, and very accepting of immigrants in the larger cities in particular; Some parts of the country are more outgoing with strangers than others - generally people get less talkative as you move west from the Atlantic coast; no one would dream of not learning English to live in the English-speaking parts of Canada, so there is no language integration issue there as everyone speaks English; language can be an issue in mainly French Quebec, where some people do attempt to live without learning French, and where it is important for the locals for newcomers to be seen as making an effort to speak French

- Jobs - the unemployment rate is not bad, but there are complaints of immigrants having more difficulty getting jobs than native-born Canadians; foreign credentials for professionals such as doctors are often difficult to get recognized; but many, many immigrants do have successful careers here, and any workplace in any large city usually has workers from diverse origins.

- Overall quality of life - pretty good I would say; winters in most of Canada would be a bit colder than in Sweden, but not as dark because most of Canada is at the latitude of central France; summers in most of Canada are quite a bit warmer than is Sweden, with temperatures between 25 and 35 C quite common.

- Freedom of Speech - no worries on this front in Canada.
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:36 AM
166 posts, read 369,930 times
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Thank you folks for your descriptive replies. It definitely helped me understand a bit more.
(P.S.- Forgot the password, hence signed up with a new ID)
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Old 05-24-2011, 01:44 AM
1 posts, read 26,316 times
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Hi there, being a Swede living in Canada I thought I'd share some thoughts with you. I came to Canada to do a PhD as well.

I agree that it takes time to make new friends in Sweden (even for Swedes moving to a new place in Sweden it takes a long time - for me it took 1 year in Stockholm until new acquaintances asked me to join them for a beer!). Canadians are initially much more accomodating than Swedes ("small talk" is a skill Swedes don't master very well). However, to develop a deeper friendship takes about the same time in both countries.

One thing that I really appreciate in Canada is the attitude that people can learn new skills (employer vs. employee). In Sweden, it is really hard to get a job, as you are supposed to master all the skills and be a specialist before you even start. Not "learn as you go". As a fresh graduate, how do you acquire those skills if nobody wants to hire you as you are a "beginner"? How do you develop that expertise? In Canada, employers are more willing to give you a chance to show that you are capable.

In Canada, if you have an idea about a project in a specific field, it is much easier to get funding to do a MSc or PhD than in Sweden (in Sweden there is no tuition, and therefore no grants you can apply for to get started). In Sweden, you have to wait for a professor to apply for funding and hope that he will have you in mind when looking for students. That is why I went to Canada. (My supervisor invited me to be his PhD student without having met me.)

Have a nice day!
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:44 PM
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I am probably one of a very small number of people who has moved from Canada to Sweden, so I have a lot to say about this topic. I generally agree with comments above. I should point out that I am from Etobicoke (Toronto) Ontario.

Healthcare in Ontario: Free Free Free. Unfortunately, the doctors are arrogant and jump to conclusions without bothering to really do any research "try this pill, see if it helps, if not, call me". I have heard that doctors make more money if they perscribe something. In Ontario, you need to find yourself a "family doctor" which doesn't mean that you mentally choose that you will call a certain doctor your family doctor, but rather you must actually ask them to "take you on as your family doctor". There are lists online of doctors who are accepting patients. Very odd system now that I have moved to Sweden.
Healthcare in Sweden: $30 to see the doctor unless you are under 18. Similar for dentits - kids are free, I believe that includes orthodontists. If you go back to the doctor within X days about the same alement, I believe they waive the fee 2nd time around. Drugs are similar price to Canada, but become half price after a few hundred dollars per year, then they become free after about $400 per year. Not sure of the exact amount. Doctors and nurses in Sweden act like they actually want to help you, and I believe they do that because they do actually want to help you

Attitude: Swedes will let you finish your sentance when your talking. They may actually let you say an entire paragraph without interrupting. If you manage to spit out 3 or 4 paragraphs, you should consider stopping, asking the Swede a question, then perhaps drink a full glass of water to ensure you don't finish their sentance, to see if the Swede has anything to add. If they don't say anything other than a one-word answer while you are slowly drinking, then you must assume that the conversation is over, and stop babbling the poor guys ears off. Swedes are notoriously quiet and listen almost too well, bordering on being rude because they dont "give" to the conversation, but rather, like a child, will answer yes-no questions and offer very little additional information, for fear that they might be boring/offending you. Canadians, on the other hand, are only slightly better than Americans in the sence that they never shut up. They won't let you finish a sentance, and they only time they are listening is if you are shouting at them. Canadians are fun-loving and want to eat at restaurants for dinner at least 2 times per month, which would nearly bankrupt you if you tried to do that in Sweden. There isn't much nightlife in sweden, mostly because there isn't much night, unless you count the perpetual darkness from Nov. to Feb. where nobody leaves the house except to go cross country skiing (insanely outdoorsy people when it comes to sports, actually). Swedes can be quite fun when they have been drinking, but then they tend to speak&sing in Swedish which makes foreigners feel quite excluded and wish they never came to the party in the firstplace.

Education. My son in 9 years old, and in grade 2. Figure that one out please. They start school extremely late. Feels like my kids are in perpetual daycare. When I was 9 I was in grade 5 and doing long division in my sleep, knew my multiplication tables and was curious about algebra and calculus. Here, I think they are still doing single-digit multiplication. School is free here, but if you want a real education stay in Canada.

Vacation: Canada - 2 weeks, maybe 3 if you're lucky, or worked for the company for 3-5 years. Sweden 5 weeks, sometimes 6, and you can usually bank more hours and take it off later.

Parental leave: Canada - 1 year I believe, quite inflexible. Sweden: 2 years and 3 months. Take it out as you like, for example work 50% of the time for 4 years. Or work 75% for 8 years. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD WAS CONCEIVED in Sweden (Assumed to be a 9 month period before the childs birthday) otherwise you loose a year of this benefit. (last I checked at least. rules change all the time). parental leave in sweden can be divided any way you like between the parents. Parental leave in sweden is 80% of your salary.

Unemployment insurance: not sure how it works in Canada, but I think you have a 4 month qualification period, membership is automatic through the fed. government, then you get a pretty low compensation if you loose your job. In sweden its a 6 month qualification but you need to have actively joined a union, called an A-kassa, otherwise you are basically out of luck. Coverage is 80% of your salary, unless you are a high-income earner, in which case its capped off at a pretty low salary. If you earn 80,000$ per year I think your coverage would be roughly half. You can top this up with "inkomst försäkring" which gives you 80% for 6 months, or pay into even more insurance which covers you to 90% even for those making over 100k$

Crime: In Sweden, you can walk down the street at night without fear of getting mugged, perhaps even a pair of girls may find it safe to be out on the subway past 10.00pm.. I don't think the same is true for Toronto anymore. In toronto, there are over 80 murders per year. In all of sweden there are usually under 70 murders per year. this makes Sweden about 2-3 times safer.

Taxes: Taxes are about equal all things considered. Lower income swedes pay actually more tax than canadians due to the rather large "base amount" deduction in Canada where no tax is paid until a certain level, last I checked it was over $8000.. In sweden the base amount is more like $1000, which is useless.

Prices:Taxes are included in the price of things in sweden which makes canadians feel things are expensive. Things are expensive in sweden, especially small things. Try to buy something small like a loaf of bread, or sewing needles, or a chocolate bar. Good luck paying less than 2$ (10kr) its just not possible.

Gas and hotels are expensive, so travelling around Sweden is not really economical, which is why so many swedes leave the country on vacation. Usually to Thailand, Greece or Spain. While Swedes are in these countries, they tend to dress and act completely differently than back home, giving the girls the repulationo of being easy, and they like to sunbathe topless. Very seldom see this behavior in Sweden, unfortunately.

The nice thing about Sweden is that people are generally not being paid on commission except for a small handful of sales people. That means that if the waitress comes to clean off your table while your eating, you should be impressed, because she's not expecting a tip.

Getting a job: If you are non-white I feel sorry for you. Swedes are quite racist, not because they are mean people, but because they have been "too friendly" in recent years and allowed huge numbers of assylum seekers from war-torn countries, which strains the system and people's tolerance. And the more north you go the worse it gets. The racism is quite silent. They will never say anything to your face, but getting a job and making friends seems almost impossible for foreigners. If you are white and/or english speaking (i.e. native english speaking) then the tables are turned. Swedes feel rather humbled that an American/Canadian/Brit would be seeking work in unimportant Sweden and feel ashamed of their poor english skills enough to put you at a slight advantage during an interview, especially if you can speak SOME swedish. English is the international language, the language Swedes use to communicate to their former empire of Finland, Poland, Latvia, Estland, Russia, Denmark, etc. etc. So if you speak English, you might get buy in a larger company like Volvo, or Eriksson, etc. If you are planning to flip burgers however, it might not get you far.
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:41 PM
Location: Toronto
15,102 posts, read 15,862,695 times
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Originally Posted by jacobs_ladder View Post

Crime: In Sweden, you can walk down the street at night without fear of getting mugged, perhaps even a pair of girls may find it safe to be out on the subway past 10.00pm.. I don't think the same is true for Toronto anymore. In toronto, there are over 80 murders per year. In all of sweden there are usually under 70 murders per year. this makes Sweden about 2-3 times safer.

I live in DT Toronto and NEVER fear walking late at night! While sure something 'could' happen to me, given the number of times I and most Torontonians walk the streets of the city (or even pairs of girls or girls solo on the Subway after 10pm), it is remarkably safe for its size, particularly in the North American context. There were 50 murders in Toronto in 2011 and 54 in 2012 in a city with 2.8 million people. The Greater Toronto area with more than 6 million people has no more than 80 murders per year.

In broader terms, I think it is rather disingenuous to conclude that Sweden is 2-3 times safer than Canada. It would be like saying two countries with say 100000 people have the following: country A has 1 murder per year and country B has 2 or 3 murders per year so therefore country A is 2-3 times safer.. In actuality both countries are still remarkably safe for the other 99,997 - 99,999 residents and the rate of random incidents of violence or harm to any individual is very very low in either place. You're verging on splitting hairs here..

Since you singled out Toronto in the Canadian context - the following should be a sobering reality check for you! Toronto has a VERY low crime rate within the country as the article details below (the lowest of any census metropolitan area in Canada) so there is Minimal rational fear for one's safety in the city of Toronto lol. Relatively speaking, i'd have a greater statistical chance of being a victim of crime in such dangerous places as Quebec City, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa and Montreal (total sarcasm there). You'd have to be paranoid to be fearful for your general safety in any Canadian city akin to being afraid of your own shadow! Having said that, even in a safe nation like Sweden with 70 people murders per year - crime will find some anywhere unfortunately.. that is just reality. No place is going to be able to statistically do away with all crime...

Toronto has lowest crime rate of Canada’s census metropolitan areas | CityNews

Last edited by fusion2; 04-12-2014 at 11:40 PM..
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Old 04-13-2014, 03:07 AM
Location: Sweden
23,857 posts, read 71,318,110 times
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Jacobs-ladder is generalizing quite a bit.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:03 PM
Location: M I N N E S O T A
14,773 posts, read 21,486,569 times
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Originally Posted by BocoRoco View Post
Don't both countries rank top 5 int he world overall in terms of quality of life?
Sweden show up alot in top 5 and top 10 quality of life studies


United States
Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

United States
New Zealand
Countries by Standard of Living (Highest Quality of Life) - World Top Ten

Last edited by Yac; 04-16-2014 at 05:53 AM..
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:56 PM
Location: Toronto
15,102 posts, read 15,862,695 times
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Originally Posted by iNviNciBL3 View Post
Sweden show up alot in top 5 and top 10 quality of life studies
Both countries show up in top 10 lists quite a bit (there are a billion of those lists other than the 3 you posted). Sweden typically would rank a bit higher but if you look at the variance within any top 10 or even top 15 list the differences are minimal. Additionally, its probably a bit easier for a country with less than 10 million people to make its citizenry content than a country with tens of millions or hundreds of millions.

Overall QOL between Canada and Sweden wouldn't exactly be extraordinarily different I would bet.
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