Monday, May 19, 2014

The biggest differences I've noticed in Sweden: Vol. 2

Norrmalmstorg |  The biggest differences I've noticed in Sweden: Vol. 2 on afeathery*nest  |
Click here for the first volume of things I've noticed as an expat.

Recycling for cash works:
I remember seeing a redemption figure on plastic bottles in the US but no one ever redeemed them for cash because you had to go to some central sorting facility. Not so here. When you buy bottled water/soda/wine/etc. or canned goods, a fee is added to your receipt (same as in the US, here about 30 cents), but it's very easy to get that money back. Most grocery stores here have kiosks right at the entrance, so you bring your bottles back and get a receipt before you even enter, then you just scan it at the register and you're refunded. Serious incentive to not toss your recyclables! In fact, when we saw a bottle discarded on the street outside the apartment I swooped down to grab it and added it to our bag so I could get money back for something we didn't buy. The system works!

Everything is child-proofed:
You can't push open your apartment/terrace doors with one hand, you need to use both (you twist something while you pull something). And for a full day we couldn’t figure out how to turn on the dishwasher in our sublet. The soap was in, the dial was turned to “eco”, we’d hit Start 50 times and nothing seemed to happen. Then I noticed a little knob under the kitchen faucet that didn’t do anything when turned. I thought, maybe this redirects the water to the dishwasher? Yep. In order to run it you have to turn it on in two places.

It's expensive...even compared to NYC:
People warned me how expensive Stockholm is, but I brushed it off. NYC is expensive too, right? I thought I was prepared, but whoa, it really is a lot more expensive. A cappuccino costs almost $5 (in NYC, between $3.50 and $4.50 is normal), a ride on public transit is almost $4 for one “swipe” to NYC’s $2.50 (granted, the system here is so much cleaner and nicer and I don’t fear sitting on the seats, but still). And the big one, the reason department stores, sporting good stores and electronics stores in NYC are full of Scandinavians: the 25% sales tax. T-W-E-N-T-Y F-I-V-E. I knew that before coming, so we did a big shopping spree for clothing basics, but it hit home when we went to IKEA for a few things for the apartment that not only cost a smidgen more than in NYC, we also paid almost 15% more in tax (NYC’s sales tax is 8.875%). Then again, should something happen to me and I need to go to the hospital, I’m completely covered and I don’t even have a job!

Apartment building laundry rooms are communal and free:
Some apartments have a washer and dryer built in, or tenants add them via a hookup, but it's most common for people to use the communal laundry area in their buildings. Actually, I don't remember even seeing a laundromat yet. But unlike NYC where you just pop down to the machines whenever you feel like it (and have to pay!), here you must book ahead of time (and it's free!). I’ve seen other expats write about the experience and show hand-written sign-up sheets, but our building has a little electronic screen thingy, which makes it a little more fancy’ish. You book 4 hour slots to do your laundry and you don't pay a dime for it. Plus, not only are there two normal-sized washing machines, one larger one for comforters and a dryer, there's also a drying cabinet and a wringer/mangle (have never seen those before!).

Boxed wine is good:
At the Systembolaget I was looking at different bottles of wine and realized they were similar in price to NYC (and in Sweden the tax is included in the price on the shelves, so that makes it easier to shop). But then I realized a few of the bottles I was considering were available in box form, too (which holds the equivalent of 4 bottles). I did the math and realized the boxed version was a very good deal. I will always and forever be enamored with the romance of uncorking a bottle of wine (I hate screw tops), so the fact that I'm now a proponent of box wines (with nary a thought of those horrid Franzia ones from the 80's), is saying something. Currently on our counter is a box of Sicilian Syrah and Puglian Negromaro. Each very good and purchased for the equivalent of $30. So for $60, 8 bottles of wine that we are very much enjoying.

One year ago: Long weekend

1 comment :

  1. Youŕe totally reminding me of things that are different and noteworthy that I've forgotten about :)))


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