Working in Copenhagen, Living in Malmö: Is It Possible?

Drone photo of Västra Hamnen in Malmö

Any true fan of Nordic Noir will know about the close proximity of Copenhagen and Malmö. The two cities, and thus Denmark and Sweden, are separated by a bridge that you may know as ‘The Bridge’. The rest of us call it the Øresund Bridge, though. 

For those moving to Copenhagen, Malmö is an attractive place to live. After all, it’s only around 30 kilometres away from the Danish capital. And of course, there’s the adventurous idea of living in one country and working in another. 

So to answer the question to this blog post in short, yes – it is possible to live in Malmö and work in Copenhagen. However, we need to focus on the practicalities, which we’ll do in this article. 

Why Might You Want to Commute From Malmö to Copenhagen?

Perhaps the number one reason for many considering commuting from Southern Sweden to Denmark is the lower cost of living. According to Numbeo’s figures at the time of writing in August 2021, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Central Malmö costs the equivalent of just over $905 per month. The same type of accommodation would cost a little over $1,658 per month for a similar location in Copenhagen. Grocery prices are also lower in Sweden’s third-largest city. 

There is also the added fact that finding somewhere to live in the Danish capital can be difficult, especially if you neither understand the housing market nor have money to burn. 

In addition to the above, some people might not want to live in a big city. While Copenhagen is hardly comparable to Tokyo, the Capital Region of Denmark is home to over 1.8 million people; the entire county of Skåne, in which Malmö is located, only has around 1.3 million inhabitants. Thus, the small-town feel of Malmö is likely to appeal to families and introverts alike. 

How Does Tax Work if You Live in Malmö but Work in Copenhagen?

In most cases, you will pay tax in Denmark if you work in Copenhagen. 

However, there are some cases where you can choose to be taxed in accordance with cross-border rules. You can read more about those here

What About a Work Permit?

This depends on your citizenship. If you’re from another country in the EU or EEA, then you pretty much just need to show that you have a job offer from a Danish company or other means of supporting yourself.

For those with citizenship elsewhere, things are more complex. If you live in Malmö but wish to work in Copenhagen, you’ll need to meet specific criteria. These include if you specialise in a skill where there is a labour shortage or are offered a job where your annual salary is higher than a specific amount. In 2021, you would need to be earning at least 445,000 DKK per year. 

Commuting costs 

Do you qualify for living in Malmö and want to commute between Denmark and Sweden? Great. Now, however, it’s time for some bad news. 

A 30-day rail pass to and from the two cities’ main train stations costs 1,650 DKK. From Helsingborg in Sweden or Helsingør in Denmark, this price rises to 2,430 DKK. If you’re moving because of the cost of living, you need to think about whether or not this will cancel out the money you would have otherwise saved – while adding the potential stress of a longer commute. 

Pros of Living in Malmö and Working in Copenhagen

Frequent train services. On weekdays, trains between the two cities typically run every 20 minutes or so. They also operate until around midnight, meaning that you can get back the same night if you decide to have a few after-work drinks. 

The opportunity to learn two foreign languages. You’ll be living in a country where Danish is spoken while living somewhere where you’ll need to learn Swedish. And the good news is that both are closely related and not too challenging to learn for native English speakers. You could indeed get by with just English, but a) that’s boring, and b) you’ll never integrate if you don’t make an effort. 

A lower cost of living, with a high quality of life. While Sweden is hardly comparable to Thailand in terms of living costs, it is cheaper than Denmark in general; the big exception is alcohol. However, both countries have excellent services for children, good healthcare and relatively low crime rates.

Cons of Living in Malmö and Working in Copenhagen

A longer commute. When factoring in the commuting time between Malmö and Copenhagen, you need to consider more than just the actual journey time. There are often checks at the Swedish border, while you are also at the mercy of potential delays when it comes to your train just turning up. Oh, that reminds us – bring your passport or risk not getting into work. 

Having to technically settle into two countries at the same time. Two different ways of life, two languages, having to find your feet in two different cities – the list goes on. If you don’t already know anybody, you might find that you feel isolated. 

The cost of public transport. If you lived in Copenhagen, the likelihood would be that you could either walk or cycle to work. Or at the very least, pay a fraction of the price for public transport compared to commuting cross-country. Consider whether or not this will be a problem for you. 

Living in Malmö and Working in Copenhagen Is Possible, but You Need to Factor in a Few Things

Living in Malmö and working in Copenhagen is far from an alien concept; countless people do it daily. Some people simply don’t want to uproot from their Swedish home, while for others avoiding having to navigate the Danish capital’s housing market or simply preferring to live in a smaller city are appealing. 

Commuting across the country can be beneficial if you don’t have to be in the office every day or find somewhere cheap enough to legislate for the heftier train fares that you will pay. It might also be a tempting option if you are self-employed and do not need to be in Copenhagen all the time. 

However, if you don’t fall into these categories, you need to weigh up your reasons for wanting to live in Malmö while working in Copenhagen. In many cases, living in Copenhagen is your best bet.

Do you live in Malmö but work in Copenhagen? What tips would you give to anybody considering the same?

*Featured Image by Pontus Ohlsson on Unsplash*

Published by Danny Maiorca

Danny is a freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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