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Höst i Stockholm. Drönarbild. En person syns promenera på Djurgården. På marken ligger gula och bruna löv.

Photo: Jeppe Wikström

Categories: Your life in Stockholm

'To be accepted within the community hasn't been hard for us at all'

Publish date: 11 September 2018

Tom O’Connor and his wife made the move from Dublin to Västerås when his company established a new business in Sweden. His job as a construction director has taken new form as he now enjoys a better work-life balance. How does he spend his time now? Let’s find out!

Q: What made you move to Västerås, Sweden?

We were lucky enough to be rewarded construction contracts in Västerås and Eskilstuna. Our bosses back in Ireland considered it might be better for us to be based closer to the project on a full-time basis, so they offered me the option of relocating. Both my wife and I thought it was a great opportunity and a chance for a new lifestyle. We took it on with both hands and moved completely to Sweden.

Q: What did you know about Västerås before this opportunity arose?

Absolutely nothing whatsoever. I obviously researched it when we were pricing the project. But, in regards to any history about Västerås, we knew nothing prior to that. So we had to do a lot of research before we came over.

Q: And what did that research tell you?

It's a very beautiful city situated 50 minutes from Stockholm, which is an ideal place to commute to and from. We had to learn basically everything about Västerås hands on. Like where to live, how to live, where the shops are, and restaurants more importantly.

Q: And when you finally got here, what was your first impression?

I was very impressed. We got here at the right time, in June of 2017. So, in the middle of the summer, and it was just nice. It was a climate similar to Ireland and there was a lot of similarities in that way. During the drive down to Västerås, we could see the fantastic scenery and the lakes you're driving alongside all the way down. We both came to the same conclusion and we thought, “yeah, we can make this work.” It's all new for us you know. But, to learn and to be accepted within the community hasn't been hard for us at all. We’ve become friendly with various people here in Sweden and found it easy to make friends.

Q: So, you were talking about the 50 minutes to Stockholm City. How often do you travel to the city center?

The transportation system is very good, so when people offer to meet, I have no problem traveling to them. The fact that you can actually work on the train or on the bus with free wifi, makes it much easier to get more productivity done as well. Connectivity is what we need around the world today, and that’s what makes our business easier to carry out. Straight after this interview, I have a meeting in Arlanda. I will carry out the meeting there for 2 hours and I'll be back here in Västerås before dinner. The proximity to Stockholm is very important.

Q: What’s your favorite way of spending leisure time in Stockholm City?

Walking down to the lake, down to the Mälaren Lake. We will regularly take a cruise out on the lake since there's a cruise that takes you around for an hour and a half, and it's just an amazing way to relax. And even just to walk around the lake is fantastic.

Q: It really sounds like you’re finding a nice private life. How would you describe your work-life balance here?

The Swedish work-life balance is a lot better than in Ireland where it tends to be bed-to-work, then work-to-bed. To come to Sweden and see that there's a much better work-life balance and that there’s an emphasis on family and an emphasis on self, and making sure that you're in good form and good health. I think it will take a long time for our company to fully appreciate it since our ethos is completely different. But, now that we’re established as a Swedish company that's the way I see it going for us.

Q: So, how do you see your future here in Västerås?

I see a very bright future for us in Västerås and in Sweden as a whole, since it's a nice place to do business and a nice place to live. If I was to worry about anything when we came here first, I was worried about the language and how we would be able to communicate or if we would be isolated because we can't speak the language. I was pleasantly surprised that nearly everybody I have spoken to speak English. It's a vibrant city that has a nice atmosphere about it. Whether it's winter or summer there's always some festival or something happening in Västerås.

Q: What would you recommend someone thinking of moving here?

To me, it's an open arms experience for anyone who wants to come to Västerås and Stockholm. Best selling point especially for my daughter who studied Equality Studies for a long time in Ireland, and as she sees Sweden as a very open society which seems to spend a lot of time in inclusivity and including everybody. That’s the way the ethos is around here, so it’s not a hard sell for me to get her to move here for example.

Find out more about Västerås.