How do expats live in Denmark

Emigration: What does it cost to live in Denmark?

1. Why did you go to Denmark and what keeps you there?

As a half-Dane, I always felt that I belonged to Denmark, but I wasn't sure whether my character, my traits, i.e. myself as a person, would work the same way in Denmark as in Germany. From the age of 18 or 19 I wanted to find out and the plan has existed ever since. When I finished my studies and gained my first work experience, I thought to myself: If not now, then when? And a big city would be nice again ... At the time I had a Danish girlfriend - she's still keeping me here in Copenhagen today, now my wife, 5 years later. But life itself and my work won't let me run away either.

2. What can Germans learn from the Danes? And possibly the other way around?

One can say that there are peoples who are more different than Danes and Germans. When it comes to questions like this in relation to these two countries, it can often drift into cliché, also because it pretty much depends on what area you are talking about - culture, politics, and so on.

Because from my Copenhagen bubble I could of course quickly say that Germans in general could learn a bit of style awareness and taste, but if you've ever been to a small Danish town, it doesn't look exactly like in Vogue or in the BoConcept catalog. People in Germany often look jealously at Denmark because they are good at implementing new developments and ideas, and being unbureaucratic and digital. So, courage to try something new, Germans could perhaps learn.

On the other hand, Danes could perhaps learn a little more openness and flexibility from Germans, which I believe for us Germans comes from the fact that we come from a large country. Many Danes could never imagine moving somewhere else to study, for example. In addition, they are not very good at approaching strangers who do not speak Danish, since of course they always have friends everywhere. I had foreign friends here, 95% of whom were expats.

3. What 3 tips would you give a German who also wants to emigrate to Denmark?

Even if Danes are always so proud of their English, getting a job without knowing Danish is not so easy in many areas, as is establishing contacts. If you have a job, just do it - people with jobs or money are very open-minded here. So that's pretty straightforward. Get a good bike if you don't have one - and rain pants with it.

4. How expensive is life in Denmark compared to Germany?

Of course, Copenhagen is regularly at the top of these rankings for the most expensive cities. But other parts of the country are cheaper and if you have lived in Munich or Hamburg, the difference is no longer that big and can mainly be explained by higher VAT (and high rents). The people here are generally fine. Things like the minimum wage are higher and everything makes life on average more expensive than in Germany. But you also get a better quality of life. If you value it, you drive well here.

5. Health insurance, taxes, pension insurance? How is this handled in Denmark?

You get simple health insurance automatically with the residence permit, so it doesn't cost extra. You only have to pay the dentist yourself and of course you can get additional insurance for glasses and that sort of thing. For the most part, pension insurance is also very well regulated, as the employer has to pay in part of it. You can then think about how much you add to it. Taxes are higher, as already mentioned, but what is much easier is the tax return - usually regulated with a few clicks, like everything here. For someone like me, who never knows where he has which documents, it is a dream that everything from the bank to the certificate of good conduct is controlled with the person ID.

6. Which secret savings tip did you discover for living in Denmark?

What works well here are apps like To Good to Go, where you can save groceries from the garbage can cheaply, or EarlyBird, where various restaurants offer menus for less - now not the NOMA, but quite good stores.

If you really want to save money and accept queuing for it, you should look out for release parties for all kinds of things (music, clothes, shops). There are always free drinks and snacks - as a student I often came to visit Fashion Week and spent almost no money for several days. And all the bigger brands do stock sales and sales once or twice a year, where you can buy cool clothes from the last collection for less. Since the “last” collection is often only a few months old, you don't chase any trend.

7. Which product is particularly expensive in Denmark and which product is very cheap?

The classic is probably alcohol. Avocados, for example, are very cheap, but you shouldn't eat them that much anyway. If you like to smoke sports cigarettes, you can also get away with it - a friend told me haha. And “normal” parties rarely cost admission and if so, less than in major German cities.

8. Do you have any advice on finding a job for immigrants in Denmark?

As I said, knowing Danish is (unfortunately) an advantage, otherwise the game is not much different from Germany. The economy is doing well, jobs are definitely available.

9. What is your new everyday life in Denmark like? What has changed here most from the old life?

I don't think the biggest change has so much to do with Denmark itself. But it was the first time I lived with my girlfriend, had a 9 to 5 job, regular income #Adult. But the job situation in particular took a while, from working in bars / restaurants again to boredom to now, when - if it weren't for Corona - things are going very well. Regular income also means that it is easier to go to all the great restaurants here in Copenhagen. That wasn't everyday life in the past.

10. What role does money play in society in Denmark? What would you say?

I would say a big role. But you deal more relaxed with your wages. People consume a lot and like to spend money on expensive things, at least in Copenhagen. But it is also quite normal for a normal wage earner to borrow money from the bank to buy an apartment or house. Nevertheless, I think people here pay more attention to their work-life balance than in Germany.

A downside, however, are the so-called quick loans, where you can borrow € 200, € 300, or € 400 with just one SMS - of course at high interest rates, which then often drive people into personal ruin. You can tell that some things are more liberal here than in Germany, where nothing works without an advisor and huge piles of signed papers.