by Andre Bothma
For countless people, the pandemic has been the kick up the rear they needed to move abroad or start developing a robust Plan B. And one of the biggest questions playing in their minds is:
What are the freest places in the world…?
What emerged as THE biggest threat to people’s freedoms during 2020 and 2021 was government responses to Covid-19. Practically everywhere.
During this uncertain time, Team Sovereign Man found freedom, both in some predictable and surprising places.
Below we take a look at one of the surprising countries where our Sovereign Woman, Viktorija, was able to find relative levels of freedom, especially during the height of the pandemic…
Let’s get into it below…
Covid-relaxed destination: Sweden
You may be surprised to find Sovereign Man heaping any praise on a country with a tax rate of over 50% and a VAT rate of 25%. But when it comes to their government’s response to Covid-19, Sweden has proven to be one of the freest countries in the world.
Halfway through the pandemic, Viktorija visited Sweden to gauge the atmosphere. She reports being struck by how relaxed and happy the Swedes seemed, and how masks and mandates didn’t seem to be such wedge issues driving people apart.
She saw kids going to school, running around and just being carefree. She could get into restaurants without vaccine passport demands and terse standoffs with their managers and/or other patrons. Vaccine passports weren’t required to enter Swedish restaurants, bars and businesses.
And most gratifyingly, almost no one was wearing masks; neither outside, nor outside.
Living in Sweden: Pros and cons…
- COST OF LIVING: Sweden is one of the safest, most advanced countries in the world… But it’s not cheap. According to the Sovereign Man Cost of Living Index, the capital of Stockholm scored “5/7 — Expensive” in terms of its living costs.
To give you a better perspective, the cost of living in Stockholm is higher than in Dallas, but lower than in New York and London. Stockholm is pretty much in line with Miami and Toronto. Outside of the capital, however, costs tend to be lower.
- WEATHER: (And apart from their brief summer season, the weather tends to be bad almost all year round.)
- COVID FREEDOM: Sweden’s contrarian approach to managing the pandemic has elicited criticism from many woke critics across the globe — yet the country’s hospitalization and death rates compared very favorably to many countries that introduced draconian regulations, petrified their citizens, and decimated their economies.
So as a place to ride out any future “waves”, strains and pandemics, Sweden definitely gets the Sovereign Man vote.
How can you obtain Swedish residency in 2022?
Given that Sweden is one of the most affluent countries in the world, there is no real need for them to offer any easy residency programs such as the rentista programs of Latin America or Portugal’s D7 program.
The country doesn’t offer any generous provisions for getting Citizenship By Ancestry either; you can only apply if one of your parents is Swedish.
Sure, you could marry a Swedish citizen, enrol in a Swedish university, or get a job in the country… But if none of those options suit your situation, there is another residency option to consider.
Introducing the Swedish Residence Permit for Self-Employed Individuals (Entrepreneurs)
If you plan on running a business in Sweden, you can get a special permit for self-employed people, which allows you to bring your family to Sweden, too.
To qualify, you’ll need to develop a viable business idea, along with a solid business plan.
You’ll have to convince the Swedish authorities that your business can succeed in Sweden.
And unlike in many other countries offering business immigration, there is no requirement to hire locals in Sweden. Which is a good thing, as salaries and social security payments there are high.
Within two years, however, the business should be able to sustain you and your family.
Hence, you will really need to actively develop and run your business there.
There are various ways to approach this:
- Relocate your existing, successful business to Sweden, OR;
- Come up with a brand new idea for a business in Sweden; OR;
- Purchase an existing, already functioning business in Sweden.
In all these cases, your past business experience will be a plus. Sweden values innovation highly, so, if you have a cutting-edge idea, you will likely be approved, and fast.
But many other traditional business types should also work for this residency program, including starting a restaurant or a store.
(Buying rental real estate, however, will NOT qualify you for this residency; the Swedish authorities expect you to run an actual, active business.)
Purchasing an existing business in Sweden (AKA the fast-track residency option)
This route is usually much faster than starting a business from scratch.
It currently takes up to 18 months to be approved for residency if you start a new business. But if you buy an existing business, you can cut the application timeline down to just four months or so.
Sovereign Man: Confidential members, feel free to reach out to us if you’d like the contact details of our vetted legal provider in Sweden.
Going this route can really strengthen your case: You would already have a trademark, with established supply chains and customers, and you could hopefully start getting sales from day one.
On the downside, you will likely have to spend significantly more money compared to starting a business from scratch. And you must complete thorough due diligence before purchasing a Swedish business. You don’t want to inherit a heap of debt or some lingering lawsuit along with the business.
You can find out more about Sweden’s self-employment residency program requirements here, or join Sovereign Man: Confidential to gain access to our latest in-depth SMC Alert on this topic.
Key requirements for Swedish self-employment residency:
- Considerable industry experience, and/or previous experience running your own business.
- Proficiency in Swedish OR English.
- If you are purchasing an existing business in Sweden, it must be at least two years old, and it should ideally be profitable. (Fortunately, there is no minimum valuation requirement for the business).
- Proof that you will be the person running your Swedish company. You can have partners or investors, but you have to own more than 50% of the company.
- Proof that your company’s services or goods will be produced or sold in Sweden.
- Proof of a local customer base and/or a business network in Sweden.
- Proof of sufficient financial resources to:
- Develop your own or purchase an existing business. The required sum will entirely depend on the business plan that you present.
- Sustain yourself and your family in Sweden for the first two years. The minimum amount of savings required is:
- SEK 200,000 (~$23,246) for you
- SEK 100,000 (~$11,623) for your spouse
- SEK 50,000 (~$5,811) for each dependent child.
After two years, in order to renew your Swedish residency permit, you’ll have to show that your company’s finances are in balance, and that you can still support yourself and any accompanying family members.
As we’re fond of saying, there’s no “perfect” place; every country has its own pros and cons.
But in short, Sweden never bought into the mandates and hysteria we saw practically all around the world…
Again, the situation on the ground can and may change in future… But compared to the stifling atmosphere that existed in many western countries during the pandemic, the experience of staying in Sweden was a breath of fresh air.
Yours in freedom,
Team Sovereign Man
PS: Contemplating a move overseas? Discover all your best residency and citizenship options — with step-by-step guidance on how to apply — join Sovereign Man: Confidential today.