I poke. I push. I prod. I try to get people out of their cubicles and traveling the world… I show others that traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, that anyone can do it, and that your fears are unfounded… Judging by the emails I get from people, I think I’m successful at getting people onto airplanes and out into the world.
That’s how Matt Kepnes, better known online as “Nomadic Matt,” describes his day-to-day work. For the last six years, Matt has been a full-time traveler and travel blogger, roaming the globe in search of new adventures and experiences.
In that time, Matt has supported himself through his website, which has allowed him to travel around the world 3 times, create destination guides for other intrepid explorers for more than 200 destinations, and spend his winters on the beach of his choice (extremely appealing to me).
All good things must come to an end, though.
Matt has decided to give “semi-nomadic” life a try for the first time, and of all the places in the world to take the leap into being an expat, he’s chosen Sweden as his first destination.
I was a little surprised. When you think of dream destinations for a first-time expat, Scandinavia is not the first that would come to mind for me. (Hello, Italy! TAKE ME TO YOUR PASTA.)
There are plenty of reasons to live in Sweden either as an immigrant or an expat, though, so I got in touch with Matt, and he agreed to talk with me about his plans for the next six months and what he’s looking forward to as an expat in Stockholm.
Why Sweden? 10 Questions for Nomadic Matt
1. What was your first experience with Sweden? What were your impressions then?
I first came to Sweden 2009 and I absolutely loved it. Stockholm, while expensive, was a beautiful city, the locals were really friendly, and there was a nice atmosphere to the place. It seemed like a place with a high quality of life. Plus, everyone here is attractive so that’s an added bonus.
2. What are you most looking forward to in your time in Sweden? What, if anything, are you dreading?
I’m most looking forward to learning Swedish, getting to the gym, and exploring the far northern part of the country. I’m dreading winter as I’m cold blooded but I’ll be gone by the end of November so I’ll miss most of the harsh weather.
3. A lot of Swedes consider Stockholm a truly Scandinavian city – something that has a very different feeling from other major cities in Europe, even those as close as Copenhagen. As a seasoned world traveler, when you think about Stockholm, does it feel different from other major European cities? If so, in what ways?
To me, it’s just a beautiful, historic city. I’m not sure about it being “truly Scandinavian.” I’ve never really thought about that aspect of the city or along those lines.
4. What’s on your to-do list for the six months you plan to spend living in Stockholm?
Learn Swedish, hit the gym, get a lot of work done, visit the northern part of the country, explore all the good restaurants, and overall, just immerse myself in the culture.
5. What’s been your favorite Swedish food that you’ve tried so far? Least favorite?
To be honest, I don’t think Swedes have good food. I mean the fish is nice and who can forget their famous meatballs but I’ve never been blown away by food in Sweden.
6. Swedes tend get a bad rap among expats for being shy and reserved. You speak glowingly about the Swedes you’ve met in Stockholm, though. What has been your strategy for meeting locals as a foreigner abroad?
I don’t really have a strategy. I plan on going to a few Couchsurfing events but overall, I’ll just meet people as I go. I have a few friends in the city already and haven’t ever really had a problem meeting people. I actually find Swedes very open and inviting.
7. Finding an apartment in Stockholm is notoriously difficult. Have you had trouble finding a place to live?
It’s hell. I don’t get why they can’t build more apartments here. Every Swede I’ve met complains about the housing situation here. I’m having a real hard time here and if I don’t find anything before the end of the month, I’m most likely going to leave. I can’t pay for a hostel room forever! So, if anyone knows of anything, let me know!
8. I read on your website that you’re studying Swedish. Do you have any favorite words or phrases yet?
I have a few but none that are appropriate in a public forum!
9. In your 2009 blog post, “Everyone Says I’m Running Away,” you addressed the common misperception that all perpetual travelers are running away from their problems. You wrote:
And to all those people who say that [I’m running away], I say to you – you’re right. Completely right. […] I’m running away from your idea of the “real” world. Because, really, I am running toward everything – toward the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom.
It’s been a few years since you wrote that post, and now you’re facing a radical lifestyle change. When you think about your move to Sweden, what is it that you feel like you’re running towards?
Same thing I was running towards back then – new people, culture, and exotic places. I’m running towards a new part of my life that lets me explore a different place in the world. To me, that article is more about breaking the mold and doing what you want than being boxed into one ideal. Instead of traveling, not that new life for me is settling down in one place for awhile.
10. What’s your position on snus?
Thank you so much to Matt for sharing his thoughts about his imminent move to Sweden!
If you’re interested in learning more about expat life in Sweden, you might want to check out some of these blog posts: