The willingness to move to northern Sweden is increasing

June 22, 2023

Nearly two-thirds of young adults are willing to consider moving to Norrbotten and Västerbotten. This is according to a new survey conducted by Novus on behalf of LKAB. "This is a significant difference from the past two years when we conducted this survey. Particularly among young people and job seekers, the interest has increased significantly, and it is very positive to see that the threshold for people to move here has been lowered," says Maria Reinholdsson, HR Director at LKAB.

More than one-third of respondents (35 percent) are open to moving north themselves, and the desire to move is most evident among younger people. While last year, 41 percent were open to considering a move, now 62 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 can envision relocating to the north of Sweden if the conditions are right. Among all respondents, the main reasons for considering a move were the proximity to nature (43 percent), job opportunities (39 percent), and less stress (21 percent).

Kiruna is the location that has increased the most in attractiveness, from 8 percent to 11 percent. In terms of preferred relocation destinations in northern Norrland, the town ranks fourth, following Umeå, Luleå, and Skellefteå. Kiruna is even more popular among those under 30, with 19 percent (a 7 percentage point increase) considering it a possible place to live.

Positive expectations for future development in the north remain strong. The survey also reveals that more than half of Swedes (54 percent) believe in stronger development in the north compared to the rest of the country, an increase of 4 percentage points from last year. Additionally, 77 percent (an increase of 4 percentage points) anticipate a population increase in the region over the next 20 years. The growing demand for skilled workers presents significant opportunities but also challenges:
“In addition to ample employment opportunities, there must also be a range of housing, recreational activities, schools, and healthcare services to encourage those who have moved north to stay. How can we collectively address this? It is a key issue to solve, urgent for Norrbotten but also important for the whole of Sweden,” says Anders Öberg, Regional Councilor at Region Norrbotten.

“The development in the north provides exciting opportunities to think innovatively. Here, Luleå University of Technology plays a key role, both through our research in close collaboration with industry and the surrounding community, and through our educational programs that contribute to securing the supply of skills. The fact that six out of ten students in the survey can consider moving north is a positive signal,” says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Principal at Luleå University of Technology.

The survey results also show that more than half of the respondents want to see an increase of mining (53 percent). The growing public support for the mining industry has been evident in several different surveys.

“The fact that more than half of Swedes want to see an expansion of the mining industry in the country, with only two percent wanting it to decrease, is evidence that the public understands the crucial role our industry plays in climate action, the supply of critical raw materials, the green transition, and Sweden’s overall competitiveness,” says Maria Reinholdsson, Senior Vice President of HR at LKAB.

About the survey:

The survey was conducted by Novus on behalf of LKAB between May 18th and 25th 2023. The results are based on 1042 responses from randomly recruited and nationally representative members of the Novus Sweden panel, aged 18 to 79. This represents a response rate of 63 percent. The results were weighted against Statistics Sweden (SCB) for gender, age, education, and geography.

Summary of results:

  1. More than half of the respondents view northern Norrland as the winner in Sweden. 54 percent (a 4 percentage point increase) of Swedes believe that northern Norrland will develop better than the rest of Sweden, while only 13 percent (a 5 percentage point decrease) think it will develop worse.
  2. Awareness of future investments in the north has significantly increased. 69 percent (a 9 percentage point increase) are aware of the major future investments, primarily in electrification and sustainable iron and steel production, taking place in northern Norrland.
  3. Nearly four out of five Swedes anticipate a population increase in the north. 77 percent (a 4 percentage point increase) believe that the population in northern Norrland will grow over the next 20 years.
  4. More than one-third of Swedes and nearly two-thirds of young adults are willing to consider moving to northern Norrland. 35 percent (a 5 percentage point increase) of Swedes and 62 percent (a 21 percentage point increase) of those aged 18 to 29 can consider moving north if they have a job they desire.
  5. Students and job seekers are the most interested in relocation. 62 percent of students and 51 percent of job seekers can consider moving to northern Norrland.
  6. Nature remains the biggest attraction, but the job market is the reason that has increased the most. 43 percent (an 8 percentage point decrease) say that nature is the main attraction. Good job opportunities are the second most cited reason, mentioned by 39 percent (a 7 percentage point increase).
    Umeå is still the most popular municipality, but Kiruna is rising. 38 percent prefer to move to Umeå (a 1 percentage point decrease). Luleå is mentioned by 24 percent (a 4 percentage point decrease). Skellefteå ranks fourth with 16 percent (a 2 percentage point decrease), and Kiruna is in fourth place with 11 percent (a 3 percentage point increase).
  7. Those under 30 are most positive about the municipalities in Norrbotten. 68 percent of those under 30 choose one of the Norrbotten municipalities as their favorite. Among them, Luleå is the most popular with 36 percent (a 5 percentage point increase), followed by Kiruna with 19 percent (a 7 percentage point increase). Boden ranks third with 9 percent (a 3 percentage point increase). However, when including Västerbotten, Umeå is the winner with 47 percent, and Skellefteå is equal with Kiruna at 19 percent.
  8. More than half of Swedes want to see an increase in the mining industry. 53 percent of Swedes believe that the mining industry in Sweden should grow. Only 2 percent think it should decrease, and 22 percent believe it should remain unchanged. Eastern Sweden residents are most positive about increased mining activity (61 percent), while people from Norrland (49 percent) and Stockholm (51 percent) are the least positive.
  9. Swedish and European self-sufficiency in critical raw materials is the most important reason for supporting an increased mining industry. Among those who want to see an expansion of the mining industry, 63 percent consider self-sufficiency as the most important reason. Growth and job opportunities rank second with 47 percent, followed by climate considerations with 43 percent.
  10. It is more important for young people than older individuals that their employers contribute to sustainable development. 70 percent of those under 30 believe it is very important or somewhat important, compared to an average of 60 percent. The percentage is lower among retirees, with only 41 percent in the over 65 age group considering it important.