The simple pleasures of the cross-border commuter

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So I come from Britain, live in Sweden, and work in Denmark. Confused? Imagine how a new employee at the tax office feels.

But yes, that’s how my life works right now; I travel to another country every single day, without a passport too. I am part of a minority: the cross-border commuter.

On the face of it, you’d guess it is pretty tiresome, and sometimes you’d be right. But most days, it’s a pretty stress-free, easy experience, and it’s one that naturally expands your travel portfolio.

How does being a cross-border commuter work?

In Europe, particularly between the Nordic countries, cross-border commuting is simple due to the close proximity of neighbouring countries.

The famous Öresund bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen, pictured here from Copenhagen.
The famous Öresund bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen, pictured here from Copenhagen.

In my case, which is commuting from Sweden to Denmark, there are specific arrangements in place to bridge the countries. Long story short, you are taxed where you earn money, and exempt from ‘double tax’ in the country you live in. (This is true in most cases. However, with different streams of income in both countries, this arrangement can differ. You can find out more by clicking this link.)

For me, it’s easy: I cycle to the train station in Sweden; I take the train to Copenhagen; and I walk to my office.

Total time? Just under an hour.  Yup, just under 60 minutes – for going to another country. It’s not very often I will be able to say that in my lifetime.

The benefits of the daily commute

Aside from a rebate system to fund part of your train expenses, the biggest benefit is the ease of visiting another country – specifically one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities – with absolute ease.

Beautiful, beautiful Copenhagen, pictured here from the top of the Church of Our Saviour.
Beautiful, beautiful Copenhagen, pictured here from the top of the Church of Our Saviour.

My monthly train pass means I can travel to Copenhagen as much as I like with the Öresundståg month pass. So if there’s an art exhibition, no problem. A gig? No problem. Fancy a night out? No problem. It is all included in the 1,900kr ticket, which also covers local Metro and bus travel on BOTH sides of the bridge (so Malmö and Copenhagen).

And that, for the flexibility on offer, is amazingly cheap travel. I have been able to explore a large portion of Copenhagen, and find some really cool places, all thanks to the daily commute.

But it’s more than that. Even the daily commute itself is enlightening.

The beautiful island of Ven, visible from the bridge on clear days.
The beautiful island of Ven, visible from the bridge on clear days.

Every single day, I cross the wonderful Öresund. On clear days, views as far as Landskrona (slightly north of Malmö along the coast) and even the island of Ven (a small island lying between Denmark and Sweden) are guaranteed. On rainy days, you just admire the swirling sea below you, soaking up the sometimes scary storms that hit the region in the autumn (which sometimes cancel trains, unfortunately).

Commuting creates curiosity

With all of this, I am constantly curious. I’m always catching the train from a different place, after seeing something different in the evening, and oftentimes I enjoy the commute in different ways too. In fact, I wrote all of this during my commute.

So don’t despair at your daily commute. Think of the possibilities, whether you’re travelling to another country, or just to a nearby town. There’s a lot to see and do out there. (Perhaps not in Slough, England. I don’t think much happens there.)

And, of course, I have a lot of stories to share about travelling to Copenhagen. Here’s the first:

The top 5 things for a Copenhagen day trip

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