Living in Malmö, Sweden

The Positives of Living in Malmö

If you’ve read my recent blog posts you may be aware of my recent relocation back to my hometown of Malmö in Sweden after living mainly in London for many years.

Malmö. It’s the place I was born and grew up. The parks, commons and beaches are just as beautiful as I recall. Everyone I’ve met so far is very friendly and courteous. The People’s Parks are hugely popular this time of year. Yet no matter how much people look forward to seeing and listening to their favourite artists, they think twice about attending what used to be the most prolific and entertaining summer months of the year in beautiful parks all over Sweden, followed by dancing and celebrating a lovely time with family and friends. When I was younger, people queued up for hours to buy tickets.

As for Malmö in general, I love the way my home town has expanded and become part
of a larger context. When I grew up here there were hardly any cuisines from around the world – the only dishes available were Swedish. Thankfully, the offerings now available are not limited to just one or two cafes and restaurants offering a variety of different foods. One particularly popular area to eat and mingle is Möllan in central Malmö. My grandmother used to do her weekly shopping here, buying fresh produce from farmers whose stands people would queue up from early morning to get the best choice of fruit and vegetables and all kinds of delicacies. Today Möllan and many places are great to socialise at and taste cuisines from all corners of the world.

It’s common to bump into old friends one rarely gets to meet, reminisce and catch up over a Fika which can be anything from a cinnamon bun to a three course menu of delicious dishes.

My Malmö – the way it used to be years ago – still maintains that special cosy ambience I recall from back then. The straight forward talking and directness that are part of who I am and my heritage. However, in London people can be more anonymous than in a small town. With an approximate population of 300000 Malmö’s a village compared to London.

The one thing I appreciate the most is how much I can fit into a day. In London I count myself lucky to get something done between work, writing and commuting from one part of the city to another. Here I get everything done in half a day or less. It leaves me room to relax and focus on my wellbeing.

Streets and pavements are as clean as the big green buses where nearly all commuters get a seat. It takes less than an hour to get home even if living in a Malmö suburb. There’s hardly any litter in the street and people are so tidy – they even return shopping trolleys where they belong before exiting the large food and grocery malls.

Unfortunately, some of my favourite places have been replaced by others that aren’t nearly as nice. A few remain, among them Cafe Hollandia in the pedestrian walk which is my own personal favourite to meet up with friends or visit on my own while contemplating my current or next novel.

Soon it will be time for the annual Malmö Festival with national and international artists signed up to perform in the parks and other venues. Outdoor living and entertaining is huge here.

I walked past my parental home the other week. It was a moment I dreaded as it nearly always makes me sad they’re no longer around. Visiting their graves was hard as well but at least I found the strength to do both and feel much better for it. Sometimes conquering our worst fears helps us to accept that the people we love and lost will remain in our hearts and thoughts until we’re gone too.

Malmö is a generally a lovely, tranquil yet also exciting place to live. When walking in The Western Harbour not far from where we live the other day it struck me yet again how fortunate I am to have the best of two cities.

The Negatives

Unfortunately, there are some negative parts of living here. Election Day is getting closer and falls on Sunday 9th of September this year. Everywhere I look politicians blow their own party’s trumpet so much so Swedes are in turmoil about who and what to vote for and support. I’ve not lived here long enough to cast my vote and decide which party would work best for my own personal beliefs. Religion and politics are touchy subjects I prefer to stay away from in any context as they tend to divide people and cause confrontation and conflict of interest.

Nowadays, the world is not the same as it used to be. When I was a child people thought
nothing of leaving their front door open while socialising with neighbours and walking in the street in the middle of the night. Very naive, you might say and I agree, but that was how it used to be not so very long ago.

Those days are gone forever unfortunately. These days everyone fear the worst and our lives are restricted in so many ways. On one hand we live in a high technology era, on the other women are now more cautious in the way they dress and look in case it brings unwanted attention.

When did Sweden turn into an unsafe place to live? It is a question I keep asking myself and other people around me and nobody seems to be able to give a definitive answer. Some may blame immigration but I’m yet to meet a single foreigner causing problems. On the contrary, most of them work really hard to adapt to a different society and their adopted country’s customs.

How about you? Have you ever wished you could live somewhere else?

If I had a choice where I like to live most, I’d not change a thing. Living in my home town where I was born and grew up is just as wonderful as I imagined.

Wishing all of you a lovely time wherever you are.
Hélene xx

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