Linda Löfling

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Expat Life Food & Travel Inspiration

HELLO THERE STOCKHOLM!

My birthday started in the North and ended in the most beautiful city in the world : Stockholm. This is not me being patriotic, all people I know who have been in Stockholm, say it is a MA-GI-CAL place! I can only agree, the city is spread out on 14 islands and here you are surrounded by sea breeze and chirping seagulls as you walk around discovering the different islands and trendy neighbourhoods in the city.

I have so much to say about my country, I need to make a whole book one day! I am so, so proud of it and about how my people are one of the most educated, green, connected, innovative and creative people in the world (OK, now I am being a bit patriotic)! This little country in the North of Europe, with only around 10million inhabitants, and yet we are the creators of enormous enterprises, of world known music, of the most extraordinary nature, of high class fashion designers, top chef restaurants, and my people are one of the most happy people in the world (not to forget that Sweden is the no. 1 best country for women to live in!). Scandinavia is great and Sweden is the greatest, my home <3

Ok, enough of this love rush, just wanted to say please, please make sure you once in life go to visit Stockholm, you will not regret it!

I have a lot of Stockholm to squeeze in one day, tomorrow we are continuing our travel to Paris, so we gotta get moving! Check out my stories at instagram @lindaloefling if you want to see some snapshots from Stockholm today!

Happy thursday! <3

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Expat Life Food & Travel Inspiration

WALKING ON A FROZEN SEA

Yesterday the sun was shining over a +3 degrees cold (or shall I say warm?) Luleå. We started the morning with an exhibition at Luleå library and cultural house. It was a very interesting theme about fascism and darker times, my sister in law has made one of the pieces there about the river of Luleå and the no longer existing streams in it. Beautiful! I like to bring Mini on museums and exhibitions, it is a nice way of opening up his senses and creativity about abstract as well as existential thoughts . Looking at a painture or sculpture and ask him if he think it is beautiful or not, and why, can lead to many interesting discussions about what beauty really is.

After the cultural experience, we went for a kicksledge ride ont he frozen archipelago of Luleå. A beautiful, sunny day, but very windy and hence extremely cold! The kicksledge is used as a mean of transportation during the winterperiod and is a really funny and rapid way of moving yourself around. We could not stand more than half an hour on the ice, despite our well adapted winter clothes, the wind made it impossibly cold. If you are travelling to Luleå or any other cold destination and you have a chance to try ice skating or kicksledging, on the sea, then you should! It is a powerful experience being on open water, the children loves it too! Just make sure you have many layers of wool under your coat, and some badass gloves to keep you warm while skating around! Jeans are not to recommend!

This morning we are once again lucky with the weather, and a sunshine sunday asks for more snow related activities!

 

Thanks for visiting here today! <3

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Expat Life Food & Travel

HELLO LULEÅ!

Yesterday afternoon, we finally arrived at our end destination Luleå, in the very North of Sweden, a travel of around 12 hours ( which feels like 24 when traveling with a wild six year old ). Coming from spring feelings and a never ending shiny sun, to drifts of snow, minus degrees and cars driving over the frozen sea. It is slightly (very) different, but oh so nice to be among my own language and people for once.

Look how far up in the North we are! My dear home country Sweden <3

I don’t know if other expats can relate, but I am rarely using my mother tongue in my daily life, so it takes me some time to adapt to speak good Swedish again, after being away from my country for months. I often fill in my sentences with foreign words, as my brain can’t catch up the Swedish word immediately as I speak. How weird, it is the language I’ve been using for my whole life and yet dissapearing when not used, that is why it is so important to keep up the usage of any foreign language you learn, or you may easily forget it.

No time for a long post today, I have a lot of work to do and a lot of snow to enjoy and maybe, if we are lucky, some Northern lights to admire! Hope your wednesday is as great as you! Thanks as always for reading! <3

 

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Expat Life My City Tips

IS IT EXPENSIVE LIVING IN SPAIN?

Many people dream about moving ot Spain and live a happy life in the sun, so did I! Now when I am here, I get many questions about how much it costs to live here, so I thought that we could go through the economical situation here a little:

The cost of living is relatively low here compared to other European countries, which for me means that I can enjoy a high quality of life without having to break a bank.

First of all, the cost of living dependa a lot on which city in Spain you live in. The following cities are the most expensive ones to live in Spain:

  1. San Sebastian
  2. Madrid
  3. Barcelona
  4. Tarragona
  5. Bilbao

Spain is a very popular destination for expats, it’s relaxed culture, never ending shining sun, and cheap living costs have an appeal that is difficult to resist! The country had to suffer turmoil during the financial crash, but from 2015 the economy started to show signs of recovery. Today, the standard of living is balancing out in accordance with salaries, though the average salaries as well as the minimum wage, remain low compared to the rest of Europe.

Now since I live in the capital, this blog post will be focused on Madrid. To begin with, we can have a look at Madrid’s cost of living in comparison to other main cities, taking into account the costs of food, housing, clothes, transportation, entertainment and personal care. IT is not for free to live here, but it is way cheaper than for example London (and the weather is better too).

  • 42% less expensive than New York
  • 39% less expensive than London
  • 33% less expensive than Los Angeles
  • 14% less expensive than Munich
  • 4% less expensive than Brussels

Where to live and how much to pay for it?

Finding a place to live is not that tricky, but prices of housing vary a lot and for the central areas where I looked for apartments, prices are the same as what I paid for renting in Oslo, Norway! Between 1000-1800 eur a month for an apartment suitable for a family does not seem as chocking, at least not while I was looking for a rental apartment. Of course you can always find alternatives, renting a room and share costs with flatmates, live a bit outside of the city center, there are many options if you are a bit flexible. I think that the whole central part of Madrid is a safe and nice place to live, when coming as a tourist or if you want to profit of the city life. For me who has a little one, I prefer to stay a bit more outside the center, and closer to Retiro and the more calm part of the city. Retiro/Goya/Salamanca/Pacífico are all calm areas nearby Madrid’s central park: Retiro, I love living here and I can warmly recommend the are for everybody coming to Madrid with children. However, if you are Scandinavian, maybe you want to stay around la Moraleja, also known as the Scandinavian part of Madrid. I thought that was way too far away form the city center, and despite the pretty surroundings, that area did not appeal to me much.

Many Spaniards live smaller than Scandinavians are used to, and the standard of the apartments are not at all in comparaison with what we have in the North. Large apartments are always available if you want them…but with Spain’s warm climate and outdoor lifestyle, you may find yourself spending much of your time out, sitting at cafés with friends, enjoying the beach (not in Madrid though but in other cities!), or exploring the city, so maybe not that much need for that enormous flat neither, one has to make compromises, right?

Conclusion is that housing in Madrid, is much more expensive than I thought and I honestly do not know how people do to get around here, since an average salary is around 1600eur brut per month! Maybe all Spaniards are lucky to be born with rich grandparents? 🙂

Eating outside everyday? Yep, absolutely!

For the best value, there are good deals around lunchtime, called “menú del día” (the menu of the day, or lunch special). Lunch is the big meal of the day, a sit-down affair of at least an hour, and it’s filling and well-balanced. In most places, the menú del día usually costs between 12 to 20eur. For that price, you get a first course (generally a salad, soup, paella, or vegetable dish), a main course (usually meat or fish, though vegetarian options are increasingly common), a beverage (which can be beer or wine), bread, and often either dessert or coffee.

Though individual grocery bills can be hard to estimate, 100eur per couple per week is ample. In fact, if you like to eat out (and many people do), your in-home grocery budget will likely be below this amount. We eat out often and the grocery bill has so far not gone over 100eur per week.

How about getting around the city?

Madrid is designed for walking, with most shopping centers easily accessible on foot and most attractions easily accessible by public transport. For longer distances (or bigger shopping trips), public transportation is readily available too. Excellent bus and train service gets you quickly around town or around the country. 10 metro/bus rides cost around 12eur and I do not use the public transport often at all, I feel I can get myself to wherever I need, in 20-30 minutes by foot. Madrid is not that big 🙂

Healthcare and such?

Spanish healthcare consists of both private and public healthcare, with some hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offering both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública). You don’t need to have private health insurance to get medical treatment, but it usually allows you to get faster treatment for non-emergency procedures, diagnosis tests, and specialist consultancies.

The Spanish healthcare system is ranked among the best in the world and from what I’ve seen, luckily not that much, it is fast, professional, and affordable. I have had good help from the times I have been at the doctor here, both for myself and for my son, and the prices have been as expected.

 

If I should draw a little conclusion about how I feel life is here in Madrid, then I must say that I really appreciate the possibility and habit of eating and meeting people outside instead of inside. I feel that I have a higher quality of life when I have more activities to choose from, thanks to the weather, which is also something that makes that life itself feels easier. I do not spend that much money on clothes or interior things as I did when living in Scandinavia, as I do not really care that much about my home anymore, I live most of my life outdoors – and shorts are cheaper than jackets. Briefly, less money (salary) in my pocket if I want to stay and work here, but way much more life lived!

This is not a fully accomplished list of what you need to know about the cost of life in Spain versus other places in the world, but many people have asked me questions around this topic so I thought that a small introduction could be at it’s place. If you would have any further questions about life in Madrid, then please give me a shout and I will try to answer as good as I can!

 

Besitos! <3

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Expat Life Food & Travel Inspiration My City Tips

MY MADRID : GOOD CO-WORKING AT STARBUCKS ARGÜELLES

I am not a big fan of chains, and least of all Starbucks, but this spot is actually a really nice one to sit and work so I must recommend it for that reason! Food and drinks are as expected, but the location and the ambiance is really nice. I have not seen it very crowded ever and I normally arrive around 10am or so, so it is not super early and yet many of the good spots left to choose between.

There are tables upstairs too, so you can choose a calmer place if you feel like it becomes too noisy downstairs.

Maybe not the fanciest café tips for tourists travelling to Madrid, but a good tips for the ones who seek a place to sit and work!

Today I am in Aranjuez working, one has to travel while one can! Soon enough I’ll be sitting tied to a desk somewhere, being employed and not able to enjoy my freedom as I do today! God I really love to be able to work from everywhere in the world, so much more worth than a big, fat payslip! Freedom!

Carpe Diem etc, right? <3

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