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Stockholm Sucks

A beautiful city, just be sure to avoid the Swedes


Swedes are Cold, Sir Richard Branson Agrees

Even Sir Richard Branson, the knighted billionaire entrepreneur responsible for the Virgin Group of companies, agrees that the Swedes are cold.

In his excellent book, Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way, Branson recounts his launch of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and several other businesses. He also describes his adventures hot-air ballooning with Swedish hot-air ballooning expert Per Lindstrand.

Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand

Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand

Branson and Lindstrand achieved impressive hot-air ballooning world records, such as flying the “Virgin Atlantic Flyer” across the Atlantic ocean. The Virgin Atlantic Flyer was the first, and largest hot-air balloon, at 2.3 million cubic feet (65,000 m³), ever to cross the Atlantic ocean. In January 1991, Branson and Lindstrand crossed the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles (10,800 km), in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet (74,000 m3). This broke the world record, with a speed of 245 miles per hour (394 km/h). The journeys were harrowing and dangerous – almost as if they were scripted from a cliff hanger movie.

In the end though, Branson is disappointed with his Swedish partner Per Lindstrand. After a dramatic flight, Branson says, “I wondered whether I was mad to consider ever going with him again.” He goes on to say of Lindstrand, “Certainly, we have been though more together than most people experience in a lifetime.” But finally concludes, “But it was sad that we hadn’t developed a stronger bond with each other. I get close to most of the people with whom I spend a long time. But Per is not a team player. He’s a loner. He’s often difficult to read. He’s quick to criticize. I’d always been brought up to look for the best in people. Per somehow always seemed to find the worst.”

That about sums up the Swedish personality folks: cold, distant, critical, and withdrawn.

There is nothing wrong with distant, cold, critical, and withdrawn… if that’s what you’re looking for. But the purpose of this site is to warn prospective expats that this is what they should expect if they move to Stockholm. Unless a cold welcome is what you’re looking for, I advise you to stay clear away. As an aside, Branson’s book is excellent reading and highly recommended for budding entrepreneurs.

Read on for Swedish Women


21 Responses to “Swedes are Cold, Sir Richard Branson Agrees”

  1. July 30th, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Matthew says:

    Dear foreigner. Hello and welcome to SWEDEN.

    To help you survive (at best, that’s about all you’II be doing), here’s a few things you should know about Sweden:

    As humans evolved, something went awfully wrong in northern Europe. To be specific, the gene which regulates normal social functioning and emotional expression underwent a dramatic mutation in Sweden. Consequently you will be in breech of a fundamental societal rule if you acknowledge the existence of another human in any context. Facial non-expression is especially important in Sweden. Your mouth should be in a permanent inverted U position (particularly if you are a female over 35). Learn to walk around with a blank look on your face – to achieve this, try to really believe that you will live forever and that each day is a total drag.

    Now, all this can take a while to get used to. Some people crack and leave, others enter a long term dysthymia; but the good new is, the choice is yours! You may consider consulting a doctor, but you will need a person number and appointments can only be made between 7:15 and 7:30am. Outside this 15 minute window, there’s always the Solna freeway if you’re looking for a quick exit. Nobody will notice or react.

    Adequate housing is a fundamental human right, and Sweden acknowledges this with affirmative social policies. In practice, however, if you need accommodation, there are queues. Take a ticket, stand in line for 5 years, and if you’re lucky you will be invited to rent a 20 square meter shoebox. In the meantime, there’s always BLOCKED (also known as BLOCKET), where you can plead with an Iranian to rent a 20 square meter apartment on a 4th hand contract in Upplands Väsby for two months at a time.

    Finally, you might be considering a relationship here. Sweden is full of young hot women! You can see them swanning about on trains and busses, or in bars and trendy Stockholm clubs. Sadly, they aren’t real. Even see the film Blade Runner? Remember the replicants? Well, they mutated here in Sweden. Beautiful but soulless robots. If you do start a relationship with one, be warned: their DNA self-implodes around 30 and they metamorphosise into wrinkled spectacle-wearing prunes with short haircuts.

    Good luck and welcome to Sweden!

  2. August 12th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    agreed says:

    What sets humans apart from animals is the ‘soul’ or human expression/emotions. In that regard the Swedes are almost like a sub-human or lower life-form.

    BTW I am one of those people who couldn’t take it and left…

  3. August 26th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    agree2 says:

    So funny! So true! Matthew nailed it in his comments above. I’m American, but was raised the Swedish way. You’ll find this same mutant gene that decimates all normal human emotions and supplants them with chronic dysthymia has wormed its way into the Swedish-American population.

  4. September 13th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Michael says:

    Dude, you need to calm down and just accept it. I’m an Aussie that’s lived in Sweden for long enough now (over 10 years!) to realise there’s no point bitching and whining, that’s just the way it is. I too agree with many of your sentiments (my pet hate is the shoving past in the tunnelbana without so much as a ‘ursäkta mig’ still drives me nuts after all theses years!) , but there really are wonderful things about Sweden – It’s culture and society. I have in total about 5 close Swedish friends, the rest are all ex-pats; English, Australian, Irish, German, Spanish, Mexican but name a few. I guess that the common bond of being alone in a cold country (both the climate and the people) makes you stronger. I’ve found that buy just accepting their rudeness and other irritating foibles makes life a lit easier. Life could be worse, and when you’ve got your friends around (albiet foreign ones), the place becomes a lot better to. Also, once you become more accustomed to the language, the more you get to understand a Swede. And lo and behold, I’ve actually found that there are some Swedes out there that are very warm, funny and hospitable people! trust me! They are usually to be found in the ex-pat circles. Also, there’s a saying ‘Once you make a Swedish freind, you’re friends for life’. I agree in essence about what you’re saying, but i just found that I became depressed and despondent by focussing on the negative. Like my good mate Julian says ‘ You can’t hate a Swede…You can’t like them either’ how true.

  5. September 14th, 2010 at 12:00 am

    John Winston says:

    ‘Finally, you might be considering a relationship here. Sweden is full of young hot women! You can see them swanning about on trains and busses, or in bars and trendy Stockholm clubs. Sadly, they aren’t real. Even see the film Blade Runner? Remember the replicants? Well, they mutated here in Sweden. Beautiful but soulless robots. If you do start a relationship with one, be warned: their DNA self-implodes around 30 and they metamorphosise into wrinkled spectacle-wearing prunes with short haircuts.’

    what a pisser Matthew!! how true! that’s why i’m with a Pole. She’s beautiful now at 30, and so is her mother at 55. Isn’t that always the best indicator?

  6. September 24th, 2010 at 10:02 am

    clara says:

    I agree so much, Swedes are totally empty of any serious human feeling, beautiful but empty. that is why I am struggling hard to leave sweden.
    here girls are like barby dolls and boys are so handsome…but what is the use of that? when they are more like plastic dolls covered with expenses cloth.
    only people from Norway and germany and similar places can feel here happy.
    It really sucks.

  7. October 23rd, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Elis says:

    It is not only Stockholm. I have lived in Sweden for twenty years and am married to a Swede. There are people who we know and visit, but no real friends who…Are there when you need them and true real friends. Not even my husbands family. It is not to get used to or to compare Sweden with —say the rest of the world. They are just this way. A social defect or whatever, it is not even to put them down, but if you want loving, loyal long meaningful, warm caring relationships with open, honest and genuine people go to Latin America, Italy or anywhere else because here in Sweden you won’t find it!

  8. March 26th, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Pavel Klimkowsky says:

    To all you Swedish haters out there. I can calm you all . All these terrible monsters like the Swedes are. I will tell youa great surprise . In a couple of years maybe five .ten years we will have a new Sweden. A sweden without an stupid blond swedes, a new Sweden with a total new population. The name Sven will disappear and you will hear the name Muhammed instead. Ingrid is gone and replaced by Raka . Its soo great isnt

  9. April 25th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I love Sweden says:

    To all you social whores: this is exactly the reason i love the nordic countries and my only purpose in life is to move there.

    It’s called introversion, you mindless social zombies with your boring , empty,superficial, endless fucking small talk.

    Us introverts love alone time, unlike you weak ass mofos we actually enjoy it and don’t feel lonely when alone, we have rich inner worlds, we spend our time reading , thinking , analyzing, playing video games and other such things that are hell for you.

    We are also, on average more intelligent, but alas we are few.

    I am stuck in a fucking latin europe society in which your chances of making it in life depend 99% of how much of a social whore you all. You can be a stupid , useless, empty shell of a subhuman — but if you smile and talk alot you will make it in life. No matter how smart or competent you are you will end up in poverty here.

    Go back to your shitty plastic soul sucking countries.

    You can’t stand to be alone because you don’t have a personality and the slightest attempt at introspection will reveal just how empty you are inside.

    The only things you are good at are fake fucking smiles and bland fucking mindless small talk.

  10. April 25th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I love Sweden says:

    Forgot to add— i have nordic heritage and i’m very proud of that.

  11. September 24th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Joshua says:

    I find it funny how negative people are about the Swedish culture. I live in Skåne in southern Sweden and I have to say that I totally disagree with most of the comments about Swedes being cold. I consider most of them shy. Sure they sit by themselves when they don’t know anyone but I think they are a very individualistic people that don’t need to socialize all the time.

    They tend to have only a few very close friendships that are often formed in elementary school and then last for life. The good thing is that if you befriend them they are very sunny, supportive and nice.

    I also noticed that they do not react well if you try to force them into conversations when you do not know them. I don’t know why they do this but I noticed that most of them are friendly if you start of by just greeting them when you see them and then gradually increase from this simple “Hej” to having a short conversation with them. If you give them time to get to know you they might become friends with you.

    My swedish friend told me that most Swedes consider it rude to become overly familiar and chatty with people they just met.

  12. November 22nd, 2011 at 12:21 am

    IagreeWithJoshua says:

    I defo afree with Joshua… I think we are more talking here about people being shy. Many people are overall nice, but very shy and somehow submitted to the law. I have rarely seen someone contesting a law in Sweden that was unfair. This is really a pity I find.

  13. January 12th, 2012 at 11:28 am

    KindofAgree says:

    As a swede, I realize swedes can come off as quite “cold”. It is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I know what you mean. I am kind of an introvert person, and quite shy too. I’ve always turned to arts to cover this up, but have gone all the way through college making a few friends on the way.

    One thing I did notice though was how challenging it could be for my swedish friends to make new friends when we had a course in intercultural communications. Most of the exchange students were from north/south america, southeast asia or western europe. While I for one found it suprisingly easy to talk and befriend most of them (the language barrier was tough with the french though), many of my fellow swedish classmates were quite the opposite. When the exchange students threw parties, only me and a friend would attend. I eventually ended up getting really close to one of them (who I still talk to today, she’s from Colombia) and went out for a coffee with a few others every now and then too. I even held “private” DJ classes at my apartment with some of them who wanted to learn.

    Granted, some of them I haven’t heard from for some time, as life after college seems to throw people everywhere and everyone starts their own life elsewhere. Point is though, I can see what foreign people mean by swedes being “cold”. To my fellow citizens, you don’t have to necesserily make lifelong friends, but you can atleast make an effort. They don’t bite.

    Today, I spend a few hours a week conversing with people from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and the americas. All good friends to me. And I’m very thankful for counting them as my friends.

  14. February 9th, 2012 at 5:57 am

    AnotherSwedeThatKindofAgreesToo says:

    As a swede I really have to point out that the mentality differs bigtime from city to city here.

    Stockholm (and especially in the inner city) where foreigners get their first impression is extreme. There, yes many people are individualistic, rude and cold and afraid but I shouldn’t say swedish people in general. As someone pointed out earlier, swedish people in general are shy and untrained when it comes to things like small talk. But, it differs and you only have to go a few kilometres south of stockholm where I live to see that people are really nice, polite, eager to small talk etc. Another example is Gothenburg, where you have a completely different mentality than stockholm. So it feels a little bit unfair to judge swedes after Stockholm citizenz.

    By the way, to bring some nuance to the article above I’ve heard from a very very very related source many years ago that the only thing Branson cared about during the whole pacific flight was tracking the stock prices. Other superficial things that I heard is that he could be mad a whole day but as soon as it poped up a tv camera he’d put a smile on his face and pretended to be happy.

  15. March 11th, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Dani says:

    I’ve always thought of the Swedes (well, all Scandinavians really) as beautiful, but cold as ice. Still waiting to meet a Swede who will prove me wrong.

  16. June 25th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    VP says:

    Been in Stockholm for 3 weeks and haven’t socialized with a single person. Its not me, I am a very peoples person. No one says hi or good morning. I feel stupid sitting alone in a bar, contrary to other countries – when I travel I love to go out on my own and meet people.
    But as stated in the other comments, these people have their own “thing” going and we should not judge. Simply, as I will do in a few days, leave and hope to never come back.
    Unfortunately I will probably have to be here for a year from September and the only thing that will keep me happy are the snowboarding resorts. Having a small resort with 4 trails next to the tunelbana, 5mins from home, indeed is a luxury.

  17. June 26th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Robin says:

    You seems to forgot that Swedes do carry a heavy baggage, a historical one. Our nation, I’m a Swede, has been warring for over 1000 years, as a people but later as a nation. We where a extremely strict and totalitarian religious society where one would be killed if one spoke Jesus name in vain. After battles we fell to our knees and praised the good lord for sparing us. We did build a society around a continuous war, or preparing for the next, we used trade heavily and religion were our soul. This transformed later on to a more lenient religious monarchy but still peoples didn’t have ANY right to speak against their masters. It’s actually the last 120 years, probably much close to 80 years, we can speak of a people truly speaking against the authorities. Have you heard of the “striden om almarna” or “almstriden”? Yeah, that little event took place after decades of reconstructions of Stockholm… decades it took for the people to say “no” even if peoples where angry and upset!

    This will leave scars in our psyche, like: Shyness, zealous lawfulness, timidness, cowardice, lack of smiles, mistrust in strangers, coldness, forced uniformity and that damnable über-individuality etc. etc.

    BUT… Swedes are actually very kind, helpful, forgiving, funny, empathic, sociable, straight forward etc.

    I’ve been travelling around Europe since I have been 2 years old up to now and soon I will travel to New York ( 27 aug 2012). And despite that I as a Swede has always tried to be truthful when actually giving my opinion on such subjective opinions as “what people do you like or not like the most” without being biased? So the peoples I likes are the Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Canadians – all nations are very similar in culture and mentality. The reasons behind that opinion is because the lack of superficial activities like small talk, unsupported bragging, nationalism, stupid individualism and egotism etc. Something I find very valuable, much so then entrepreneurial drive in finance and/or war, that and being masters at socializing. I do not like empty socializing with the sole purpose of bullshitting about with empty words and promises. This is the reason why, Swedes as an example, are loved as employees, soldiers or teachers because we do what we’re supposed to do and also we do not talking about our families; oh… yeah, I love the Japanese too because of this. Add Japan to the records.

    On another hand I do understand what some mean when they complain about Swedes being cold but this is deep within our psyche and we don’t mean anything with it. We wish to be welcoming to you but often we’re afraid of making a fool of ourself for whatever reason – something that is to be avoided.

  18. September 20th, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Evelyn says:

    I think you should cool it with all the swede-bashing. I have lived in Stockholm all my life (ok, that’s just 13 years but WHATEVER) and I find that most swedes (yes, even strangers) are nice people. I have “social anxiety”, so I prefer not talking to people, but since I am trying to get over this I often chat with the shop assistants, the people working the booth at the subway, etc, and they are ALWAYS nice to me! Just have a friendly attitud towards them instead of judging every native swede you see.
    Ps, my dad works at Handelshögsskolan, and he’s a nice person, as is every other person that I’ve met so far at his job (and that’s A LOT). If you just take the time to get to know the Swedes you will realise we are actually very friendly, we just don’t want complete strangers to know everything about our life.
    As they say, Swedes are like coconuts and Americans are like peaches.
    (Pardon my bad English, as I said I am only 13)

  19. November 24th, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Adamo says:

    I am Italian man who used to visit Sweden for work reasons a couple of years ago, never had any problems with swedish people, men are intelligent and friendly, women stunning hot and very intresting also, great sex partners too.

    I believe is up to you when you meet new cultures to abide and follow their home rules as a guest rather than an entitled person who deserve everythings..

    I usually deal with people with respect since i want it in return, humility and being smart also helps a lot when you go abroad for any reasons..

    I never get married but not for swedish reasons, but for italian laws that are unfair to men, and Sweden also is a femminist state so i don’t care to find a long lasting relationship in sweden for such reasons and that’s fine for me..

  20. December 6th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Rick says:


  21. January 12th, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    d111 says:

    You shouldn’t judge ALL of us judging by city slum rats in Stockholm! Thats very narrow minded of you. Im proud to have been raised in the southern countryside by my grandma from 1910(I’m now 20) & Im probably as well mannered as you can get today.

    Look.. Sweden is not the same as it once was, Its Americanized & its the way of the immigrants these days. Bet you didn’t know 25% of the population are immigrants, mainly in the big cities. & They bring their culture & manners with them. Of course kids are being influenced.

    & Everyone should know that Stureplan is infamous for fake fuckers and brats, Why even bother going there?

    Swedes love their privacy, It makes us uncomfortable if someone sits next to us when there are lots of empty sessions available close by. We enjoy not having to waste our time small talking with someone who doesn’t matter nor generate any interest. If small talk pursued anyways, you bet theres gonna be an awkward silence sooner or later. I love to know that no one will bother me on trains etc, So i can read a book or listen to music alone.

    However i too, Find it extremely rude to bump into another and not say “ursäkta” (i always do) or when you let someone pass by and they don’t say thanks.. I could KILL those bitches. But these people are city rats, what do you expect?

    But i can only agree with Richard Branson on Sweden. I really hate the negativity myself, But its just the way it IS. I truly hate some fucking swedes who only complain for a living sometimes. But i smile and try to make them laugh anyway. Maybe hard to believe here on my little rant.

    You should visit the countryside, or any smaller city, such as Åhus, or Båstad(not during båstadsveckan), Or if you want people that could start talking to you, you should go to Skövde. These are true swedish cities with people that enjoys life!

    Now stop bitching and moaning and start looking for the positive aspects ffs!!!!

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