Sweden sits at the top of many lists ranking worldwide living standards, work-life balance and sustainability. But what is it like to actually move to Sweden? Mitch Downey, newly appointed associate professor in International Economic Studies at Stockholm University, shares his first-hand experiences about his new home. To see Mitch's comments on YouTube, see Stockholm – "I am amazed to live in such an amazing place!"

Mitch moved to Stockholm from San Diego in 2018, and the city still inspires wonder. "Every day I walk out of my door and my jaw drops and I’m amazed to live in such an amazing place,” he says. "To move to a city where you can walk down the street and see buildings that are 500 years old—that just doesn’t happen in the United States.”
When Mitch was offered the position at SU, he and his wife discussed it at length. They wondered how it would affect them as a family as well as whether it was a good career move.
"We both decided that professionally this was a great opportunity,” he says. "Living in Sweden had a great deal of appeal for us. We love public transit, we love biking, and we love the emphasis on work-life balance, both culturally and from a policy perspective.”
Mitch usually bikes to the university, and he is not alone. Many people in Stockholm and throughout Sweden cycle for their daily commute. This trend might have played a role in Sweden’s second-place ranking in the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index.
Mitch is also impressed with the Swedish model of lengthy parental leave, with 480 days of paid leave for the parents—especially relevant for him and his wife since they are expecting a baby soon. “That fits really well into the ideal life that we’d have.”
He reflects on how the workplace and the culture surrounding it is different from his experiences in the United States: “In the middle of my floor is a kitchen, and there is always someone there. There is free coffee and fruit and it becomes a gathering place for all of the colleagues throughout the Institute.”
Around the coffee machine, they talk about their work, the news, their families, anything. “All these things just sort of create a really dynamic, friendly and collegial environment. It is very different from where I went for graduate school, where the professors often stayed in their offices, doors where often closed and there was no real sense of community. Here there is much more a sense of that.”

Standard of research and work/life balance
When choosing Sweden and Stockholm University as their new home, Mitch says the standard of research at Stockholm University and the Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) played a large part in their decision. "The IIES is particularly good at what I do. So I was very excited to apply there”.
Now that he lives in Stockholm among Swedes, Mitch points out a key misconception about the people. “I think there is a tendency in the U.S. in the way that we talk about Sweden to ignore the fact that within the country people are super different from each other.”
Mitch and his wife are looking forward to a future living in Sweden. “My wife and I are expecting our first child, and that’s going to be very exciting. In my department, most people have kids and there is a lot of respect for the balance between work and family. That makes me really excited about the future. I think this city is beautiful and I’m really looking forward to raising a family here.”

For more information about moving to Sweden and working at Stockholm University, see www.su.se/relocation