Stockholm Tech Protest was for all of us not just the tech community
Today was the hyped #sthlmtech protest at Risksdag. The protest was put together by the monthly #sthlmtech meetup to bring together the local, growing tech community around a single goal: spark a conversation with our government around two key issues.
Today I didn’t care about taxes. Personally I like paying my taxes. But I realize for internationally growing companies it becomes a necessary burden until a breaking point: your birth city where you headquartered becomes too costly for value creation. What do I mean?
The tech community putting on this protest is easy to push aside and mock as entitled. It’s, however, a shallow, shortsighted viewpoint. This growing, diverse community is the social petri dish of Stockholm innovation. This hot, technology boom is bringing together immigrants from all around the world, just like myself.
A lot of us moving here won our dream job and since pay can be relatively lower than similar tech-booming cities, like New York, stock options on top of salary is a major, winning factor bringing critical talent in to fulfill Stockholm’s increasing, booming success. The sticker shock on taxing stock options must be painful, but I'm not playing that game. Still—there must be legitimate, supported wiggle room?
But I don’t care about taxes as much as housing. Stockholm’s success, regardless of its ongoing, continued success in the global newscycle as a Nordic powerhouse and unicorn factory, has a serious housing problem that has gone on for decades. This boom has put new stress on an old, ailing issue. Can we—together—erase this stalemate?
I know what you’re thinking. The solution isn’t just to move further outside the city. The main issue about the housing market—to me—starts with the first contract system. It has, over time, eroded the rental market into an asinine, complicated system of musical chairs. Subletting 3 or 6 months here and there is life for many. It can get a lot worse: renting just a couch while you search for those take-it-or-leave-it black market sublets.
The queue for a first hand rental contract in Stockholm is now so long that a Swedish politician is trying to get the city into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016
A lot of us are living in Stockholm like permanent tourists until we're lucky enough to afford the perceived privilege of owning an apartment. Imagine the culture shock many of us, as newly hired immigrants, must go through to work out a livelihood in this upside-down reality for housing.
Yeah, sorry you’ll need 4 million kroner to buy an apartment because our economical, supportive renting market doesn't exist. Hah—you have that much money? Did you forget about the mobile phone wars we call the bidding process? Lycka till! 4 turns into 5.
The system is inadvertedly designed to support buyers who’ve been saving since birth when their competitive parents created a savings account called: first apartment. A lot of diverse, talented people being added to this economy aren’t that lucky. Good luck qualifying for the best, reasonable loans designed to support the normalcy of the buying market with new bank accounts and zero credit history.
I was lucky because of my Swedish wife's history. A lot of my friends and colleagues aren’t as lucky as me. This conversation has to move forward not just for the tech community. It’s our artists, baristas, barbers, cashiers, waiters and students who are worse off than tech. The tech community is simply leading the way for all of us.