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Moving to Denmark > Tips for Moving to Denmark

Moving to Denmark

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: If you're moving to Denmark, gain insight from expats living in Denmark about making the move. Topics covered include what they wish they had brought (and left behind), visas, culture shock, cost of living and more. It's a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Denmark.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark

If you're thinking about moving to Denmark, read these tips from expats living Denmark. From what to bring (and leave behind) to culture shock, visas and more, their insight is invaluable.

What to Bring When Moving to Denmark (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in Denmark what they wish they had brought when moving to Denmark and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"I wish I had brought 1. Over the counter medicines; 2. Purchased more all weather shoes and boots before moving; 3. Hair cutting supplies for humans and canines. I wish I had left home several electronic devices that I thought would work on plug converters but didn't (hand blender; hair dryer); 2. high heel shoes -- very hard to walk on cobbled streets in and got ruined in all the rain; 3. summer clothes -- only used for about 3 weeks tops and took up too much storage space," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Nothing comes to mind ... don't both bringing electronics from NA due to different electrical system," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"1. Lots of thermal wear: Unless you are from a polar like region of the States its can be extremely cold in Denmark. The natives may look at you and say, "hey its not cold" I just put my frosty hand on them and they quiet up. 2. Clothes in my (plus) size: This is a major problem is Denmark. I'm not sure if it's movement to keep people thin by not having real plus size clothes available or if it's just that Danes are not often BBWs or BHMs. I'd like to believe its just a untapped market that someone really needs to work on. So if you are a size US size 26 and up bring as much as you can in clothing or be ready to learn how to sew/crochet/knit (something a lot of ladies in Denmark do anyway). 3. Mental compacity to say no to pasteries! I know it sounds like i am making fun but in Copenhagen alone i have noticed there seems to be at least one bakery in every city block (if not on every corner). I often wondered how the population here stays so fit and the answer seems to be the natural tendency of most to bike around. At least thats my logic," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

"Should have left behind my food Processor (We found out that with the electrical conversion from the U.S., some appliances like food processors need more than just a standard converter. We would need to get a converter that is about $100 to use this appliance) Should have brought Cold/flu medicines, cough drops and cough syrup -- these are not available except by prescription in Denmark. (Editor's Note: Always make sure you research the legal implications of bringing ANY medications into a foreign country)," remarked another expat in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Deciding Where to Live in Denmark

When we asked expats living in Denmark to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"We needed to rent a furnished apartment or home. That narrowed down our search to only one decently sized townhouse (rakehaus). In hindsight I wished that we had just sucked it up and purchased Ikea furniture to open up our choices. The townhouse was ok but I kicked myself for not listening to my gut instinct that one main bathroom for a family of four just wouldn't work for us. It didn't. And it was a supreme source of frustration because that one bathroom had a shower leak that the owner refused to fix until we moved out and charged us for the repair and cleaning of all the lime buildup. That's common in Denmark -- the owners of rentals will charge you for fixing things they should have fixed while you lived there," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Typical Housing for Expats

When we asked expats in Denmark about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:

"We lived in a townhouse in the outskirts of Copenhagen in a small town -- Horsholm. We had to move to the suburbs to find a decent sized home for our family of four. It was small but ok. The car park was a long walk to our townhouse which was difficult when grocery shopping American style for a family of four. We had a much lower idea on our housing budget than what reality is there. In hindsight we should have rented closer into Copenhagen in an apartment. Most expats have a large rental cost covered by their employer that allows for more decent living style. We were on a contract and not as an employee so our budget came out of my husband's contract fee," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Apartment, I bought it and this is only since the rental market is very limited. Most people "own" some form of apartment here or houses in suburbs. The housing market has crashed and so things have loosened up quite a bit but it is still very expensive," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"My boyfriend who i stay with lives in a share-housing building. Seems it is very rare these days in Denmark/Copenhagen. I guess in the states it would be cooperative living as best translated. People in the building own the building and put in for the up keep of the building. They have a committee that meets about building issues and also meetings where all people of the building come. Here they pay for their shard in the building and from that have a right to live in the building. But they have the flexiblity to change their own living space as if they owned their apartment solely but at a lesser cost as if renting. I dont know why its rare but i would guess it has something to do with the ability to cooperate with others. I think for a lot of people it would just be easier to own it alone and deal with all the issues solely or rent and let someone else deal with the issues," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

Housing Costs in Denmark

"Our housing costs were double what we had thought we could live with in Denmark. We had minimal time to agree to move there and with minimal research we thought we could manage living outside of Copenhagen on a lower rental amount. That was our first mistake. The time it takes to get into Copenhagen either by car or train takes its toll and increases costs. We paid about $8000 a month in rent for a three bedroom townhouse," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Much higher. The low end of rented apartments is around 1000 USD per month and you do not get much for your money. Most rented apartments, if you can find them, go for between 1500-2000 USD per month," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"It's really hard to say. I honestly find it hard to compare prices here and back in the states because you have the exchange rate which makes things seem a lot more here then there when at times its not. But I have heard people say 5k-6k for a rented apartment is on average in Copenhagen. Back home in DC depending where you live that could be cheap or expensive. My area in DC is poorer so we might pay 600 for an apartment. At times we have rented for as little as 475 so Copenhagen is expensive but on averaged compared to Washington, DC its probably cheaper," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

Advice for People Moving to Denmark

"Plan first where you need to be -- work and schools -- and chose someplace that is very close to that area. Expect to live in an apartment and not a home unless you have a very large budget for housing expenses. CIS and Rygaards are the only international schools I would recommend in any way. When setting a budget, double or triple it. And, lastly, rent through a rent manager and NOT directly with a home owner. You will have major problems when moving out. I've heard many nightmare stories and ours was bad but not as bad as others," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Check out this web-site about moving to Denmark ... especially if you are a member of a "visible minority" (I hate the terminology but you know what I mean). http://somethingmanky.blogspot.com/," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"I have to agree with the advice given by someone else in that you really want to learn the language. They will say it a million times "oh everyone in Copenhagen speaks English" but they dont. They say well everyone under 50 speaks it. Again wrong. The other matter is Danes are very touchy about foreigners not speaking Danish because of all the refugees/immigrants who live here and who dont know Danish after several years of being here. So it is best to try to learn what you can at least some of the basic phrases. Berlitz has a great phrase book that is really helpful (and i only say that cause even my Danish teacher here thought it was great for english speakers when i showed it to her), but also try getting a self-learner tape or two (which is hard to find cause Danish is not a widely spoken language). But most of all get a phrasebook, sign up for some danish classes here in Copenhagen (can get some cheap classes if you look around) but mainly use the language. It's the hardest part to do because when you try to say things in Danish the Danes won't understand you (because they slur their pronouciations so that even they dont speak correct Danish) and they might not make an effort to understand but for your own good in the long run, keep at it," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

"No matter how much people told us that we didn't need to know Danish, we did. Everyone speaks English, but without knowing the native language, we have felt on the outside of many social occasions," remarked another expat in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Banking in Denmark

We asked expats which banks in Denmark they use and their experiences. They said:

"There are no expat focused banks in DK. I have switched banks several times for better service and lower fees. I particularly was looking for Banks in which I could maintain a dollar account and could move money between banks around the world at low cost. It may be hard to do both at the same time (low cost and easy movement of money). I have banked at Danske, Nordea, Fionia. Fees can be high here. Find out what they are," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Yes. Den Danske Bank offers statements and documentation in English and the staff can usually communicate well in English," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"No. Went entirely local (Nordea) for primary accounts. Keep separate Citibank account, as well as separate Lloyds TSB account in the UK, from whence we moved. Move money around between these accounts and a SunTrust account in the US," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

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Finding a Job in Denmark

If you're searching for a job in Denmark, expats talk about popular industries and how expats find employment.

"Not really educated a ton on this- but I know from within the expat community a large portion work in the shipping, oil and gas, renewable energy, and health and medicine industries, with some also working as diplomats for their home country. Many expats come to Denmark with a job contract and an accepted offer, but if you are looking for a job in Denmark, as often quite a few accompanying spouses do, beware - the job market is VERY difficult, at least from my experience as an accompanying spouse. Many jobs are Danish speaking or require some level of proficiency, and string adjusted to the CV/resume/interview process can be frustrating and confusing," said one expat who moved to Copenhagen , Denmark.

"There are a lot of industries in Aarhus, but as it is Denmark's second biggest city, there is a lot of businesses based in or around the city. Danes tend to find new jobs through networking, so jobseekers need to make sure that they are on LinkedIn and/or attending career networking events, of which there are plenty, in the city," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

"It has been very hard for foreign professionals to get jobs in Denmark for a variety of reasons I don't need to go into. The government is slowly streamlining things and relaxing the requirements for professionals, but there is still a lot of resistence. Chemical, pharmeceutical and biotech companies seem to have a big need for well-educated (Ph.D.) scientists. I am talking about places like Novo Nordisk. I don't really know the trends. The professionals I know who came from America all have a different story: this isn't Ireland," commented one expat who made the move to Denmark.

Work Permits

"Because of EU rules I didn't need to have a work permit to work in Denmark but I did need to register as a citizen here. My advice for EU residents would be to register to get a CPR number (citizen registration number) as soon as possible as the process can take a couple of months and you won't be able to get a job until you have one," said one expat who moved to Aarhus, Denmark.

"I networked in Denmark for about 3 years prior to being offered a position. I came into Denmark as a researcher for a 2-3 year stint. Only I never left. Work permits to Denmark - the law has gotten so complicated; the process appears to be so discouraging these days. Be an American! Stay focused. Try everything. Be Flexible," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Denmark.

Expat Health Insurance in Denmark

Expats living in Denmark interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Join our Denmark Expat Forum

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

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