Lisa Ferland is a US citizen who has called Sweden home since 2012. Together with her husband, they have embraced the Swedish lifestyle and are currently raising a five-year-old Lego-lover and a two-year-old Pippi Longstocking fanatic. Lisa recently published a heartwarming anthology called Knocked Up Abroad and can be reached on Facebook and Twitter.
Why did you end up moving to Sweden?
We are four Americans—two adults and two children (one was born in the US and the other in Sweden)—and we moved to Sweden in January 2012 for my husband’s job. We have since moved around the Stockholm area and have lived in four different locations in four years. We finally have settled in a suburb outside of Stockholm and love our location nestled between horse farms and golf courses.
What do you love about living in Sweden?
We love the openness of exploring in nature. We often head out into the woods for blueberry picking, and we don’t have to worry about trespassing on someone’s property or finding a national park because of allemansrätt (outdoor rights access). We also love the close proximity we have to the sea. I love living near the water and exploring the archipelago in the summer.
Apart from friends and family, what is it that you miss most about your home country and why?
I often miss the free expression of individuality that Americans embrace but often take for granted. It’s not surprising to see street musicians or artists in the subways of major US cities, but that type of creative expression is not commonly seen in Stockholm.
What has been the most challenging thing about moving and settling in Sweden?
For us, it was figuring out all of the governmental programs and getting set up with an ID card and e-ID. For the longest time, we made do without those things because Swedes told us they weren’t necessary but life became so much easier once we had access to the government systems online.
Have there been any aspects of your move to Sweden that have been surprisingly easy?
I rarely feel homesick for our lives back in the US. We have embraced the local Swedish culture in many ways and have accepted that the Mexican food will never be as good or as plentiful as what we once had. It’s a trade we feel is worthwhile.
What is your favourite thing to do as a family in Stockholm?
We love hopping around and exploring the different playgrounds in Stockholm. We like to stop for coffee/ice cream along the way and have a really enjoyable relaxing day in the city.
Where is your favourite place to go as a family in Stockholm?
We absolutely love Skansen. It seems like our kids (ages five and three years) are always entertained and we love the cultural activities they have.
What place in Stockholm (or Sweden) are you really looking forward to explore with your family?
This past summer we spent some time on Öland, and we’d love to go back. I’d also like to head up to Kiruna in the winter months to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
What do you wish Sweden had more of?
Cheap and delicious Mexican food.
If there was one thing you and your family could bring from your home country what would it be?
Tasty tortilla chips (I miss Mexican food, can you tell?)
If you had the option, right now, would you go back to your home country or continue to live in Stockholm and raise your family here?
We have always had the option to leave whenever we’d want. We consistently choose to stay as we love the work-life balance we have created.
If you had one piece of advice for a family moving to Stockholm what would it be?
Try to learn a few words in Swedish before you arrive so that you don’t accidentally purchase sour milk and pour it into your coffee. It ruins your entire day.
Any other pearls of wisdom about life in Stockholm with kids?
Let your baby sleep in their stroller outside of the cafe. It’ll make you nervous at first but your baby/toddler/young child will sleep so well in the fresh air. It’s magical!