For a while now, I’ve been living in Sweden’s capital. A planned visit of three months enticed me to stay for longer. So why sacrifice ramen at Ganso, tropical temperatures, or good and affordable German beer – for messmör, cold dark winters, and Systembolaget?
Well… thing is, it’s amazing! Besides all the water and the fantastic cityscapes it affords, the mix of old and new buildings, and the general prettyness of people and things, here are some other things I like about this city.
Bustling innovation community
The innovation and tech community is super-active, with a meetup relevant to my field pretty much every day. In the past weeks I’ve gone to a TEDx event, Ruby meetup, CocoaHeads (often 100 attendees!), interaction design meetup, UX Marshals meetup, Micropreneurs meetup, Lean Startup panel discussion, Lean UX user testing, as well as regular coworking breakfasts.
At the same time, it’s personal and you get to know the community and feel part of it after a short while. You feel like you already know (and you do) the people when you bump into them again and again at different meetups.
In the last year a number of forward-thinking collaborative spaces have sprouted in the city. For budding and early-stage startups, there is SUP46, with a huge space right in the city center and a long waiting list. For freelancers and micropreneurs, We Have Co is a fantastic intimate coworking space on Södermalm. This complements other existing spaces like recently rebranded ImpactHub and Coffice in what seems to be a former butchery.
And anyway you can work out of cafés. Like Greenpoint’s Café Grumpy or Berlin’s Sankt Oberholz, most cafés have free wireless internet, electricity outlets, and a high tolerance for latte-and-laptop nomad workers.
So many interesting startups are based here, in all kinds of industries: e-commerce (Wrapp, Tictail, iZettle), personal finance (Tink), publishing (Bloglovin), communication (Rebtel, Truecaller), games (King – Candy Crush Saga, Nuday – Rock Science), and just countless people working hard on new products and business models.
Fringe benefits of hipsterdom
While the fashion of mustaches, wide-rimmed glasses, and the whole kale thing just amuses me, hipster-heavy places like Brooklyn, Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel, Berlin, and Södermalm tend to also have things I value rather more: There’s delicious coffee, authentic world food, craft beer, inspiring shops, and most importantly, shitloads of twenty/thirty-somethings eager to try new things.
Fun fact: Stockholm is Brooklyn Brewery’s second biggest market – right after New York. And there’s a Brew Dog pub here. And if you can’t find your specialty IPA anywhere – well, just brew your own with equipment and supplies from PGW near Slussen.1
People and society
The Swedes have a deep-rooted self-confidence and strive above all to be independent from other people. (Paradoxically, this is why so much power is devolved to the state – it means less reliance on spouse, parents, church, unions, employer.2
This self-assuredness gives them both an inner calm, the patience to listen, and the confidence to try out new things. I see this admirable mix with so many Swedes I meet, and I’m intent on learning to tread this fine balance.
In short, it’s a great place to be. Come visit and check it out.
I just bottled my first brew a few days ago… exciting!! ↩
Read ”Är svensken människa” for more – or the NY Times’ review of the book. ↩