Readers reveal: The best and worst things about life in Malmö, Lund and Skåne in general

None of Skåne's cities can compete alone with fast-growing, dynamic Stockholm. But taken together, the twin cities of Malmö and Lund offer just about everything the capital can in terms of jobs and cultural fizz, plus some extra benefits. We asked our readers for the best - and worst - things about living and working in the region.

Readers reveal: The best and worst things about life in Malmö, Lund and Skåne in general
Malmö's Western harbour development gives residents seaside living in apartments designed by top architects. Photo: Justin Brown/Imagebank Sweden
Ever the plucky underdog, Sweden's third biggest city can make a pretty good case for itself as an expat destination in its own right. The past 30 years have seen it rise from the wreckage of its ship-building industry and become a hub for creative industries such as game design, advertising, and tech start-ups. 
The Öresund train links the city to the research-driven industries of Lund on one side and to the Copenhagen on the other and many international people living in the city commute to work in one of those two places. 
The local government, meanwhile, has been working hard to bring culture to the city, with a packed schedule of events at the state-of-the-art new Malmö Live concert venue, and free activities for children and adults throughout the year. 
The nearness to the continent makes Malmö Sweden's most European city — at times it can feel like a mini version of Berlin. 
And the relatively lower cost of living compared to Stockholm and Gothenburg makes the city more relaxed, attracting Swedes from elsewhere who are a little less career-driven. 
Malmö often feels like Sweden's most European city. Photo: Karolina Friberg/ImageBank Sweden
But what do local residents think? 
When we spoke to our readers living in Malmö, the draw most commonly cited was that it is small enough for everything to be in reach by bus or bicycle, but still big enough to feel like a proper city. 
“Malmö is extremely well organized,” says Carys Egan-Wyer. “Large parts of the city centre are more or less car-free and walking, biking and public transport are prioritized, making it a pleasant place to be.” 
“There is always something going on,” she adds. “Especially in the summer, when there are tons of free events for kids and adults alike” 
“Malmö is a “small big city”, so you get the perks of city life without feeling too overwhelmed by it,” agrees Priscilla Silva. 
None of our readers felt Malmö was too small, quiet or parochial. Indeed, Ian Wilson said one of the things he liked most was “living in a cultural city, with many restaurants, concerts, and exhibitions”. 
Other readers felt that the city's surroundings were an attraction, with Paul Rhys pointing out that it was “close to the sea on one side and to tons of woods and lakes on the other”. 
The countryside inland from Malmö is full of luxuriant beech woods perfect for foraging. Photo: Miriam Preis/
Others thought the good transport links to Copenhagen and Lund were a key benefit. 
But experienced commuters complained of the high prices of rail tickets, and also the transport's unreliability, with Ian Mark Wilson citing “stressful commutes because of the unreliable train service” as the chief downside of Malmö life. 
Residents said it was important that you try to arrange accommodation before you arrive in Malmö as it can be hard to find rentals, especially in popular areas. Once you arrive, you should quickly put yourself down on the rental waiting lists. 
Others recommended solving the housing problem by looking for places to live in nearby cities and villages. 
Finally, residents recommended meeting other international residents, possibly by joining groups aimed at expats, to make friends and avoid getting lonely. 
Lund Cathedral, opened in 1145, is one of Sweden's oldest medieval cathedrals. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/ImageBank Sweden
Malmö's sister city is growing visibly as new office areas and industry clusters sprout to its north, a new tram network is built, and the Max IV and the ESS particle accelerators put it on the map for international Big Science, drawing expertise from across the world. 
But it is still at heart a university town, much calmer than Malmö. And despite the international talent drawn to its high-tech industries and research centres, it often feels like there's not a lot going on. 
The chief advantages of Lund life cited by readers were the beautiful historic city centre, with its medieval houses and cathedral, the lively student life, and the highly educated and international non-student population. 
According to Shubhranshu Daebnath, it's an “intellectual town where almost half of the people have higher education degrees”. 
On the downside, residents complained that when the students went home, the city could become too quiet. 
“Lund is a university town and unfortunately, the city does not offer much if you're not a student,” said Charlton Leny. “Life is rather quiet and can be pretty boring.” 
The stretch of countryside between Malmö and Lund was also flat and relatively unattractive, people complained. 
The other defect was the difficulty securing housing in the city. 
“If you want to be in Lund, be prepared to have to buy a house because of the lack of family-sized rental apartments,” says Bill Boyer. “Be prepared to pay a lot for housing if you want to be able to cycle to work, school, or Lund centre.” 
Several residents were also tired of engineering works to build the city's new tram system. 
“This fancy project has made people living in Lund really mad, causing so many problems to make their way around town,” grumbled Eva Hagen. “No one but them, the politicians, wants [the updates]. Very, very expensive as well.” 
Bright yellow fields of rapeseed can be seen across Skåne in the early summer. Photo: Jerker Andersson/Imagebank Sweden. 
The rest of Skåne
A third of our respondents lived in neither Malmö or Lund, and even some residents of Skåne's two main cities recommended looking further afield. 
One resident of Helsingborg recommended the city, describing it as “beautiful and close to the sea” and, like Malmö, “is a city but feels like a town”. 
Rachel Irwin, who lives in Dalby, a commuter village for both Malmö and Lund, said that she valued the sense of community. 
“I actually know my neighbours. It's beautiful and very close to nature,” she said. 
And Irwin, who moved down from Stockholm, said she felt the attraction of the Skåne countryside was often underrated. 
“Skåne is fantastic. I lived in Stockholm before and I find Skåne much more relaxed,” she aid. “There are so many things to see and so in Skåne; so many castles, farm shops, beaches, hiking, museums and more.” 
Several residents of Malmö and Lund also recommended that newcomers instead look outside the big cities to the villages and towns of Skåne. 
Silva, who lives in Malmö, recommended that anyone considering a move should look at the smaller seaside towns on the West coast. “Don’t limit yourself to the big cities like Malmö or Helsingborg. There is charm in the small-to-medium sized towns like Ystad and Simrishamn,” she said. 
Lund resident Eva Hagen recommended the south coast. “Find a home in a peaceful village or small town along the southern coast. The West coast is heavily populated,” she said. 
Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey. All your comments contributed to this article, even though we weren't able to include each one.

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Sweden’s foreign residents report confusion over booking Covid-19 vaccine without a personnummer

UPDATED: Some foreign residents without a Swedish personnummer have told The Local they are unable to book a Covid-19 vaccine, despite being eligible and despite assurances from authorities that this would not be a barrier.

Sweden's foreign residents report confusion over booking Covid-19 vaccine without a personnummer
Access to the Covid-19 vaccine should not require a personnummer, but some foreign residents have been told they can't book a slot without one. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Everyone who is living or temporarily staying in Sweden is supposed to be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, including for example students, new arrivals, and others without a personnummer, Sweden’s ten-digit social security code which is a prerequisite for access to many public services.

This has been made clear both by the authority representing Sweden’s regions (SKR) and the Public Health Agency, but when The Local asked regions in February how they were ensuring these people were reached, most said plans had not been finalised.

The experiences of The Local’s foreign readers show that vaccine access for people without the number varies across the country.

The numbers are only available to people who can prove they will be in Sweden for at least a year, so as well as new arrivals and people who run into bureaucratic difficulties, many students or people on shorter term work contacts are without the number.

Ryan, originally from the UK, does not have a personnummer, despite moving to Sweden in December 2019. He belongs to a Covid-19 risk group and although he had been anxious about accessing the vaccine, he says the process was easy and he has now been vaccinated in the Uppsala region.

“I rang the number as I don’t have a personnummer, told that I’m at risk; they said OK and booked both my jabs there and then,” he said. Ryan added that the process at the centre was relatively simple, with staff giving the vaccine able to speak to him in English.

Another reader in a Covid-19 risk group told The Local she booked her vaccine in Stockholm despite lacking a personnummer by calling her doctor’s office directly.

But others had been less lucky.

One 52-year-old British reader told The Local she has lived in Sweden since early 2020 and has ties to the country from several years previously, but only has a samordningsnummer (coordination number) and no personnummer.

She described how she had been sent round in circles by different health authorities while trying to book her vaccine, with her local doctor’s office saying she could not register without a personnummer and  referring her to online healthcare portal, who sent her back to the doctor’s office.

“I went back to the vårdcentral and they say that they can not register me or give me a vaccination without a personnummer and the number allocated to me by Skatteverket [the Swedish Tax Agency, which issued the coordination number] isn’t acceptable,” she said.

“They state that it is that must do the vaccinations for anyone who is in phase 4 and does not have any underlying health conditions. Although the information provided by states that you can get vaccinated without a personnummer, there is no way to be able to book a slot to get the vaccination. Am I the only person in this position?”

Her experience is not unique.

A researcher at Stockholm University contacted The Local to say she and her husband are both eligible for the vaccine, but were told when they called the phone booking line that they could not get an appointment without a personnummer

In Gothenburg, a pregnant woman who is eligible for the vaccinations due to risk of severe Covid-19, told The Local: “I don’t have a personnummer, so can’t use 1177 or register with a medical centre. Instead, my midwife sent me a letter that invites me to be vaccinated and provides a phone number to call at the local hospital. But it seems the phone is understaffed and after waiting over an hour on three occasions, I’ve given up for now.”

Another reader, Raphael, checked options for booking in three regions of northern Sweden: Jämtland, Dalarna, Västernorrland.

“At some point in the booking process it always required the personnummer that I don’t have. Calling the booking hotline provided on in Västernorrland I was told they can not do a booking for people without a personnummer. Nobody seems to be able to do anything. I gave up and will take a time off in my home country to get vaccinated, since Sweden clearly is not interested in making it possible,” he told The Local.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency, as well as the umbrella organisation for Sweden’s regions and municipalities (SKR) have recommended that the vaccine be offered for free to everyone in Sweden, including people such as students and new arrivals lacking a personnummer.

In February, The Local contacted each of Sweden’s 21 regions to ask how people without a personnummer could book the vaccine. Ten did not respond, and of the 11 that did, many could not offer details on the booking process for people without a personnummer at the time. 

The Local is in the process of contacting the regions where readers have reported problems to find out what people without a personnummer can do to receive their vaccine.

One reader, 54-year-old Anne in Stockholm, contacted The Local to say she was initially unable to book a vaccine but eventually had success. 

“It took numerous calls to different organisations,” she said. “I had already been to this centre [the doctor’s office where she eventually got her appointment] and they couldn’t tell me then what to do. I called them again and again and finally someone said they look into it and get back to me. The process seems chaotic and nobody knows, especially 1177 who were very nice and explained that they were as frustrated with the process as I was. Perseverance pays off so let every know that they should just keep on calling you will eventually find someone to help. It shouldn’t be so difficult and stressful.”

Another problem is that many of the booking systems — though it depends on your region — rely on access to a digital ID. This requires a personnummer, and even some people who have the social security code do not have the digital ID.

In most regions, it should be possible to book over the phone, but several readers reported busy phone lines and limited language options.

The difficulties booking vaccines without a personnummer or BankID follow similar issues with the Covid-19 test booking system.

In Sweden, the most common way to book a coronavirus test is using a healthcare app or website which requires a BankID, while people without one are expected to phone a doctor’s office directly. As with the vaccines, the experience varied between regions and individuals, with some readers of The Local saying they were easily able to book a test without a personnummer and others reporting struggles.

Outside the healthcare system, a personnummer is often required for access to services ranging from Swedish lessons to library membership to supermarket loyalty cards.

As The Local has reported previously, there is often confusion about what people without the ten-digit code are entitled to, and it’s common to be told different things by different staff members.

For example, EU nationals have a right to access state-subsidised Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) lessons even if they don’t have a personnummer, but many people in this group report being wrongly told they are ineligible. Similar confusion exists within bank branches, for example, where EU citizenship or a coordination number should legally be enough to open an account, but foreigners may still find they are told they need a personnummer.

Have you had problems accessing the Covid-19 vaccine without a personnummer? You can get in touch with us at [email protected], or fill out our vaccine survey. The survey is open to anyone who has received the vaccine in Sweden, who lives in Sweden but travelled overseas to get vaccinated, or who is eligible for the vaccine but has been unable to book.