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Family moving to Sonderborg, DK

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Earthling
5/7/2014 21:46 EST

We are about to move to th Sonderborg area from Massachusetts...my husband has a job already and I hope to get a job teaching. We are also hoping to rent a house with a yard. We have two boys 7 and 5.... Any suggestions? Advice?

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GeorgiaPeach
5/8/2014 11:41 EST

I am an American who married a Dane, lived in Viborg for over a year then my husband got a job opportunity in the States, so we now live in Ohio.

I will tell you to not set your sites to high on finding employment for yourself. The Danish system is set up to support mostly Danes. You will more than likely be overlooked for a position if you are competing with a Dane. This is there way of ensuring that "their people" do not live off of the social system. So maybe be preparred to be a stay at home mom who home schools her children.

The children will have issues with socializing as at their age Danish children do not speak english and are just learning. I would suggest looking for an Expat society within your area that focuses on getting children together to play and keep their social activities as normal as possible.

International schools can be dicy at best and from what I understand the really good ones are VERY expensive, so if your husbands company has offered this as a relocation package for your family this is great, if not, I would suggest Home School.

Rent will be high and finding a house with a yard for a decent price that will not make you go broke may be difficult. Apartments tend to be small, but some tend to offer a community garden that you can enjoy. You will find the weather is much like Mass., but it never gets as warm as it does in Mass. I grew up going to Cape Code in the summers, so I am very familer with the climate there at that time of year.

A lot of Danish companys do a pretty good job at having an Expat service set up for their employees. LEGO is one of the best, as they want their employees and family to be happy. I HIGHLY suggest getting to know your Expat liason and using them to assist you as much as possible. A well balanced sense of work and family is very important to the Danes and the USA could take a lesson or two on some of these practices.

Be courageous and go out there and explore. Danes do not socialize as we do in the States and it will take a while to find a group of friends but be persistent, have dinner parties, don't be afraid to be yourself.

All in all your family should walk away with a life experience that will enrich your lives forever.

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aero01
5/8/2014 23:44 EST

I am sure many of us from the U.S. wish you had done more research before agreeing to move to Denmark. But since the decision has already been made, let me share a little about S√łnderborg and what you can expect of your experience in Denmark. I agree mostly with the earlier poster - and I do not know any Americans who have left and moved to Denmark, but I do know many, including myself, who have left with or without husbands and with or without children after experiencing what I call the "Danish welcome."

First issue is what status you will be seeking residency under. You are by far better off coming as the spouse of an expat who has a contract to work in DK. The laws differ for spouses depending on the situation. Yes, it is wrong and it is also counter intuitive. But it is a fact and you won't benefit from fighting it.

If you come as the spouse of an expat, meaning a foreigner (sorry, I cannot see your post while I am writing this - you probably mentioned which there), then you will not have the same burdens in terms of taking language courses and oaths and making promises. You will have some "rights" to take Danish language classes, but you will not have the same obligations. Unless you are living in CPH, which you are not, you will really need to learn the language. S√łnderborg does have somewhat of an international community, but it is small. I don't know if there is an international school available there for your kids. The town is on an island called Als, which is attached by a bridge (so not really an island) to the main peninsula that reaches upward from Germany toward Norway. That body of land has some of the most backward Danes in the country. Even the Danes make fun of them. That said, you can easily get on and off the island if you seek out an international school. I will ask a teacher I know (New Yorker) who is in Ribe, to seek out this thread. Don't know if he will - most of us avoid it. We being a bunch of Americans who find solice in each other's online and sometimes in person association.

I did not have children in Denmark, my older child was not permitted to stay which is part of why I left.

If you come over as a spouse, your husband (a Dane therefore) will have to post about $10,000 for you as security against you needing certain public support. If he should end up needing public support of this kind, he would be given it, but you would be forced to leave the country. yes. This has happened to Americans as well as others, more often if dark-skinned. As a spouse, you will be required to take an initial Danish course which is now very easy. Then you will have the "right" to a total of three years Danish language education at no cost. There are restrictions. When I landed, I was required to achieve a high level of Danish language because of my educational background and my coming as a spouse of a Dane.

It is definitely good that you will rent versus buy. We have lost a lot of money having bought our home (which was my husband's decision over my objection - as I suggested renting too). The housing market is very poor in Denmark. More so the farther away from major cities that you are.

I assume your husband got a job either with the university or with the large company that is headquartered there - does a lot of thermostat sales in Europe - can't remember the name. You will probably find yourself depending more on your husband than you want to in terms of culture and language (if he is Danish). He will have to make it easy for you, and for your children, as they may be white, but they are not warm people in Denmark by and large.

So yes, I hope your plan is not long term but if it is, I hope you have a lot of independent wealth that is secure from your husband as once you are on danish soil, you are subject to Danish law. And Danish law is not based on fairness and you will never be equal to a Dane according to Danish authorities. So please please please, protect yourself.

That said, you are in a great spot to take advantage of the proximity to Europe for purposes of travel. A great jumping off point. You will have lots of island around you, and the area westward, including Svendborg which is a bit north, and Aeroe, are beautiful. You will undoubtedly meet some nice people along the way, knowing Danish will help you with this. Even if you have to feel like a fool, they will appreciate it , be ready to take the risk of feeling foolish.

Very best of luck!

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