Summer, Travelling

Where to live? – The Stockholm edition

Stockholm changing of the guards

Being a foreigner in Britain, the idea of leaving the country and returning to one of our many homelands isn’t one that is up for constant discussion, but it’s not completely out of question either. There is my husband’s native Sweden, my own birthplace Austria, Germany (the country we both grew up in) and Switzerland (the place we have both chosen to call home in the past on several occasions and independently from each other).

Big M and I both suffer from a condition that is known as Bumblebees up the Bum*. Although we are happy in London, a short trip to Stockholm is usually all it takes to trigger a lengthy discussion in which we weigh the pros against the cons of living in the respective city.

One big disadvantage would certainly be that telling little L apart from other children could get a tad bit difficult. All the kids are so blonde; one might suspect the parents to use a little peroxide here and there.

On the upside, little L wouldn’t only grow up with our friends’ kids, she would also enjoy much more freedom than she will ever be enjoying in London. Also, did you know that Swedish schools are excellent and completely free for everybody?

Space is not much of a problem in Stockholm. As soon as you leave the city, there are islands and water and beaches galore.

A small downside: Once the kids have grown up and grown into men, the urge to resemble doesn’t stop. They all look the same to me. Seriously! How would I ever be supposed to make friends if I weren’t able to tell them apart?

Apart from freedom, little L would also be able to enjoy much more of her dad (or so I’d hope). Sweden is very much pro family. A country where it isn’t only accepted that fathers are leaving the office early for the school run – it is very much a prerequisite to comply with the common understanding of equality. And flexible working hours, long holidays and shared ma/paternity leave help to involve both parents into the upbringing of their children.

In general, life in Stockholm is much cleaner, healthier and a lot airier than in London. Less people, better quality of living and great state schools all aid to keep stress levels down. Would I allow little L to touch anything on the tube in London? Certainly not. (Coming to think of it, so far I haven’t dared to take her on the mucky trains.)

One thing not to overlook when daydreaming about a calmer, more family oriented life in Sweden is the weather factor: it’s pretty cold up North. When the rest of Europe was baring skin in the gorgeous sunshine, we found ourselves wearing all the clothes we brought with us layered on top of each other. Pouring rain and 12 degrees C in August is not unheard of in Stockholm. Plus, it’s very dark most of the year, too.

Little L and my friend Julia

Finally, Stockholm holds one thing that is irreplaceable in life. A rare and precious good that is getting increasingly hard to find the older one gets: friends. Most of Big M’s best friends live in Stockholm. And although I have never lived in this city, my best friend does so, too.

Who knows, maybe one day we will pack up and move. Save that spot in the window for me, Julia!

*Bumblebees up your Bum is a German catch phrase that indicates an increased restlessness when it comes to settling down and relaxing into a current situation


  1. simone says

    Can I move to Stockholm please??!! Sounds wonderful 🙂

    Shame I missed you at the PB event…one day! xx

  2. Daniela says

    Wow! The last paragraph really touches me.
    To be honest: Who cares about the weather as long as you can share your secret hopes and thoughts, your deeply buried fears and laugh away all obscure feelings with your best friends?
    Go to where the laughter comes from!
    BTW: You can always catch a plane to a sunnier place and take your friends with you on holiday 🙂
    Take care, DC.

  3. For me, it would be about quality of life and how my children would fare in the chosen city. From the sounds of it Stockholm seems very suitable, although the weather could be a problem. My grandfather was Swedish, but I’ve never visited his home country – something I need to rectify one day.

    Difficult decision, I wish you luck.

  4. omg, what are you still doing in london – GO GO GO! I love stockholm and sweden -it’s so civilised and beautiful – with beautiful people…

  5. Now I have a diagnosis for my husband! Bumblebees up the bum!! We have lived in the US for 2 years and are now uprooting again to move back to the UK…but for how long I cannot say, restless is his middle name.

    Tough decisions to move around the world, Stockholm certainly sounds enchanting with a higher ‘standard’ of living than London, but there are pros and cons to everywhere aren’t there? I’ve never lived in London and can imagine it is a fantastic place to live, for a little while!

  6. Hannah says

    Ich komme auch nach Stockholm um euch zu besuchen!!! <3

  7. Yeah you almost sold me on Sweden until you mentioned the weather. England was depressing enough and now I am so spoilt in USA with at least seven months of glorious weather and usually only 2 months of bad weather that I would find it hard to go back to all that gloom. You need to find a Sweden located in hotter climes!

  8. Love your bumblebees up the bum. must start using that one. And I definitely have it! We have been in Oakland CA for eight years now and its the longest I’ve lived anywhere, except for 25 years growing up in New Zealand. And almost the most time I’ve spent in any one house. All your options sounds wonderful. We had the same dilema in London as we both have three passports and can practically live anywhere. For two years we researched so many countries. (at which point people say: and you chose Oakland?) Yes the fourth ranked murder capital of the US has so many attractions, near the sea, near three cities, and near the snow. But generally does not have good schools. Your friends’ house looks fabulous, I’m heading over to her blog right now…

  9. it looks amazing. I’ve never been there but am now tempted to visit. And I love that last photo. How lovely!

  10. A hard decision to be sure, but I know you will do what you feel is best for Miss L. Yes you are that wise!

  11. As I’m just about to move back to Vancouver, I keep thinking of all the things I will miss here in London! Elliot adores the mucky trains, I feel guilty that there won’t be many to speak of when we move back to Canada.

  12. Wow it looks fantastic and you have me convinced! I think for all the plus points the weather I could put up with as you could at least go on hols for heat. Now all I need is a hubby with ‘bumblebees up the bum’ 🙂

  13. Oh blimey. Decisions, decisions. And now you’ve extended your search area somewhat. Stockholme sounds lovely. I love their pro family outlook. Let us know what you decide. It was Stevenage last time, I seem to remember (and we’re still searching too!).

  14. I visited Stockholm for the first time this year. In February. It was bloody cold! Not that I am not used to it, after 10 years in Chicago, but having enjoyed a relatively balmy few weeks in London the freezing weather still came as a shock. Having said that, I LOVED the city. I am going back with my boys in the summer for a week and am hoping we will spend the majority of the time outside sailing / swimming / hiking. I can’t wait. This time I will be able to properly enjoy exploring the city – I can definitely see its allure.

  15. I’ve never been to Sweden, and now I really want to go. Sounds amazing. Think you would love it. Especially if you have friends there, because when you move around it is ultimately friends that you miss.

    Love the bumblebees up your bum phrase. I shall use it often in the future as it is a syndrome we often suffer from. x

  16. I would love to live in Scandinavia. Never been to Stockholm, but to Norway on several occasions. The only thing putting me off would be the cold – but with all that holiday and maternity/paternity leaves, it would leave a lot of opportunity for travel to foreign climes!

  17. I haven’t visited Stockholm, but have been to other parts of Sweden and loved it. So true about the open spaces, clean air, big skies and family life. Cute saying ‘ bumblebees up your bum’ and definitely one I can relate to.

    I’m reading a book called ‘The Third Culture Kid’ – a non-fiction book discussing children / adults who have parents from one or more countries, born in another, living somewhere else etc. An interesting read and so like many families I know these days. You might find it interesting too.

  18. If you can’t bring yourself to allow little L to touch anything on the Tube (or even go on a train) then it’s obvious you need to leave London. It may as well be Stockholm and environs. Good luck in your decision.

  19. Oh do I ever know bumble bees up the bum- Dr. J and I have a serious case of it- we moved seven times in our first seven years of marriage- to three different countries too-
    As life would have it we’ve been in one place for four years now and it doesn’t look like we’ll be moving cities anytime soon- Dr. J’s practice is busy and it would be silly to move-
    Sometimes I/we dream of if he took a medical contract to Dubai or the wilderness of Alaska- but really our monkeys are happy and we love our home- so shall it be.
    I didn’t realize you are from Austria- we had such a lovely time- Really Vienna is beautiful- and going to Baden was so nice. I am still going to do a few more post about our trip-

  20. The only thing that keeps us from uprooting is my husbands job. However, that doesn’t stop me from planning the next vacation. Sweden is really beautiful, but I don’t think I could handle the weather. I like it warm.

  21. My Irish cousin used to tell me that I had a bee up my bum. Nice to know I’m not the only one 🙂

  22. Swedish men DO all look the same, we were just discussing this at the weekend!! (in Sweden) they have either dark hair or light hair but otherwise- who knows! I genuinely thought the guy who served drinks on the train was the guy who was waiting at the bar the night before.

    I imagine the quality of life is amazing in Stockholm, it must be very hard having so many options where you could live, I guess you have to go with your heart really in the end

  23. Love this post MM – especially the Bumblebees Up The Bum which I am adopting forthwith! the phrase not the actual concept I would hasten to add! Wonderful photos and I can understand your dilemma. We have wonderful friends who are living in Norway (she is from there and he is British). They have lived in both Oslo and London but now that they have two kids I think they’ll be staying in Norway because of the lifestyle for a while…even though its very expensive. It’s beautiful there and you just feel healthy and wholesome! xxx

  24. Do you prefer bumblebees up your bum, or ants in your pants?

    I think the darkness and short summers would get to me in Sweden. But there are lots of pros to consider too, from what you say.

  25. I fully agree with @michellui: “Why are you still in London?” I assume so I can visit you there.
    Miss you much. Come back!

  26. It’s tricky when you have more than one home….I know that….just go with your heart and what will make you and the family most happy. And that may continue to change over time!

  27. Don’t leave us! *sob* No really, I do love Islington but Stockholm sounds like it’s the ultimate in family coolness. Children are adaptable, especially at this age. So go wherever your heart and (apparently very buzzy) behind take you.

  28. I’ve loved working in Stockholm, but then I have a teeny crush on Sweden and all things Swedish (blame a surrogate Swedish Granny) – its just so much well ordered over there

    And that last picture, that is my living in Sweden fantasy in one little rectangle

    Don’t get me started on summers by the sea and crayfish…

  29. T and I came back from Paris agreeing that we live in HK in order to pay for taxis in Paris. However, I don’t think that applies to London and Stockholm!! See you in 2 months!!! xx

  30. I think we are long lost sisters, or twins, or something… My boy and I are constantly struggling with bumblebees too! Granted we do not have off-spring yet, but hopefully will soon and we can’t help but wonder if New York City – for all of it’s uniqueness and adventure – isn’t the place we want to raise a family. With friends scattered throughout the world, and family several thousand miles away… wouldn’t a move make sense?

    Right there with you. 😉


  31. so cute children and hot mum….Im from Germany and went to Stockholm once. Hope have chance to go there again!!cheers…

Comments are closed.