Moving to a new country can involve a lot of changes depending on where you come from. The massive amounts of planning can range from preparing mentally to physical considerations, as having to reduce the life you had to a couple of suitcases! And it is not only about the things you own, but also about things you have never needed that will now become indispensable. For me, the best example of this was clothes!
Weather is an omnipresent subject in Sweden, and if you come from a warmer country you will be amazed at the difference between seasons. Nonetheless, it was intimidating to know that the temperatures I had experienced during my whole life would only exist for 3 months of the year. So before coming to Gothenburg, I embarked on a meticulous investigation about what should I wear. Some of you may be wondering the same, and if so, here is some of the best advice I received.
The season that involved the most dissection was winter, where the priority is to keep warm and dry. This requires many clothing items that I didn’t own, a galore of jackets, gloves, hats, scarves and more.
The most important item is a good quality winter coat. An aspect you should look for is a windproof and waterproof outer shell, since Gothenburg can be breezy and wet. It is also preferable that the coat has a hoodie to protect you from rain.
Shoes were one of my major worries. The advice I received was to look for shoes with a waterproof material, such as Goretex, to prevent your feet from swimming in rain, snow or sleet. Some mild insulation would be preferable so that your feet don’t overheat when the temperature rises. And finally, good traction in your soles will be handy when the ground becomes slippery, either due to snow or frozen humidity on the pavement. A shoe that combines these characteristics can be expensive but will be invaluable in your day-to-day.
The main trick to withstand the cold temperatures is to layer. This means you can wear several pieces of clothing under your coat. The air between pieces provides insulation and it will also help indoors, as you can remove some clothes depending on how warm is the heating.
Bottoms are an easy choice; generally heavy fabric pants or thick tights will be enough. As for socks, you can follow the same concept of layering or get your hands on some thick wool socks. Hats, scarves and gloves don’t involve as much analysis but it is good to try different options to see what suits you best. I preferred all of mine to be extra warm, as I discovered that my head and hands were the most sensitive to cold.
Realizing all of these details, it becomes a dilemma whether to bring clothes or to buy them here. Some factors to take into account are:
- Bulkiness: Winter clothes take a lot of space and it is good to ponder if it will get in the way of bringing important things while keeping within the luggage space limit.
- Cost: It is probable that most items are more expensive in Sweden, but you can also expect very good quality. Luckily, there are sales once in a while and second hand shops open all year round. It may be difficult to find a good coat with the proper size in a second hand shop, but it is possible. For the rest of items there will be plenty of variety in a very good state. Online shopping can also be a great tool and, most importantly, cheap.
In autumn and spring clothes become easier to choose. As a funny fact, I didn’t know that fall/spring jackets existed until I came here! These are lighter but still keep you protected. A waterproof material continues to be a must, while layering prevails. I should say that I managed for a long time without a fall coat, just by using my winter coat with less layering underneath. But of course, the feasibility of this will depend on your preferences.
And finally, I forgot that summer would exist in Gothenburg when packing… but it does! So it is important to bring some lighter clothes and sunglasses. You will also have plenty of chances to wear a bathing suit, so don’t leave it behind.
All the changes in temperature and the clothing that they require may sound mind whirling, especially if you come from Summerland as me. But as long as you follow some general guidelines, you will not freeze or melt to death! And remember the Swedish saying “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”.