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Moving to Sweden

Time to announce this more publicly. I am a consultant. One of my clients is AstraZeneca. More specifically, I've been visiting the R&D site in Mölndal, Sweden on and off for a bit over four years. After a few visits there I started learning some Swedish. It isn't really needed because everyone there speaks English well, but I didn't like the feeling of being illiterate. I started making friends there too, starting with the people at AstraZeneca and with Laura and Jacob at Strakt. Early last year I visited frequently and even managed to be there for a full month in summer.

My major hobby these days is dancing; I'm best at salsa and recently started learning tango and swing. Göteborg salsa style is a bit different than Santa Fe style. Both are on-1 but they are more rueda style while we are line style. Anyway, during the visits I started going out to the clubs for salsa dancing and last July I took a course. It was taught in Swedish but I could understand the basics, and the follows helped with the complicated bits. I did come out of it with a nasty habit of counting "ett, två, tre, fem, sex, sju"; without the fyra because that's a pause in salsa. :) These helped me meet some of local salseros, who are a friendly crowd.

During these visits I started putting some serious thought into the idea of living in Sweden. Santa Fe is a nice city, but it is rather small, with fewer than 70,000 people. Despite the size it has great places to eat, offices of three major chemical informatics software companies, stunning mountain views, ... okay, I'll stop with the Chamber of Commerce spiel. It's weak on (single) people my age with a technology background. Many of the salsa people I know are artists or body workers (like massage, acupucture, and skin care). And nightlife is nearly non-existent. After 10 only a few places are open.

Last fall I found someone in New Mexico who can tutor Swedish. (She's in Albuquerque, and can also tutor Spanish, German, and English.) I started taking lessons, figuring even if I didn't move it would still be useful for visiting. Last January I was in Göteborg for another month. It wasn't the first time I was there in winter, but never before for that long. I used it to get a better feel if I could live there. Turns out my lessons were helpful too. I was able to understand bits and pieces of what people said.

When I came back I gave it more thought and decided to go ahead and give it a try. But how could I do so legally? As a non-EU citizen I need to get at least a residency permit, and perhaps also a work permit. Starting an AB in Sweden isn't as easy or cheap as starting an LLC here in the US, and there's a 6 month or so backlog in processing the egen företag ("own business") permit applications. Faster and cheaper is if I could work for an existing company. Best is if I can work as a consultant with a company providing the legal support for me while getting a share of my consulting income.

I'm talking to various companies now to get that worked out.

My plan now is to be in Sweden for a week in early August to meet these possibilities face-to-face then head down to South Africa to help the NBN for six weeks then be back in Sweden until late December or so. If things work out then the work permit will be process while I'm on the other side of the world, in winter. If not, I can still legally be in Sweden for 3 months without a permit.

Around the new year I'll be back to Santa Fe for a couple months, and a couple of chemical informatics conferences here in town. Then I can decide what to do for my next step. Move permanently? Rent or sell my house here? Alternate between there and here? Too many uncertainties to know.

I still plan to consult for computational chemistry and biology, with a focus on Python. My skills are in making software work with each other and be usable by researchers. I've been a professional software developer in the computational life sciences for a decade now, and one of few people with development experience in small molecule informatics, large molecule modeling, and sequence analysis.

If you are potential European client looking for a consultant with my background, or a Sweden-based company who might be able to employ me, please contact me.


Andrew Dalke is an independent consultant focusing on software development for computational chemistry and biology. Need contract programming, help, or training? Contact me



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