what you need to know before moving to denmark

Moving to Denmark – what you should know and expect

When I moved to Denmark, in the fall of 2012, I was pretty uninformed. I realize now, looking back, how little I knew about what relocating to a Nordic country actually meant. I made a lot of assumptions based on previous experiences and on general facts, which I will recap below, so you can hopefully avoid.

  1. It should be fairly easy to find a “survival” job, for … in the meantime. Well, it is not!

Coming from another European country, obtaining a work permit is no problem. On the other side, everyone speaks English, so there is no communication barrier. But still, your chances of getting a job, any job, are minimal. Why is that? Simply because there are not a lot of “basic” jobs available (cleaning, restaurants, constructions), but there are a lot of candidates, and, without being anti-immigrants, Danes prefer to hire Danes.

Therefore, please plan for living on your savings for up to 6 months- 1 year. Of course, you can get lucky, but I still think it’s wiser to know the realities.

In order to find a job in the shortest time possible, after you moved to Denmark, see my article Finding a job in Denmark – tips and tricks for foreigners

  1. I’ll somehow find a place to rent. Well…..not necessarily!

Especially if you want to live in Copenhagen area, expect the worst. The demand is so high, that they just cannot build fast enough. I’m not even talking about the crazy high prices, it’s simply really difficult to find anything. Be aware of this situation and try to have a back-up plan before you actually relocate.

  1. I’m sure I’ll learn the language. How difficult can it be? Well….really difficult!

After moving to Denmark, you’ll get all the support from the state: free language classes for 3 years, flexibility in schedule and location, different programs to choose from, on-line courses…..and still everybody struggles.

I gave up after 2 modules (out of five), and I can’t say I was not determined. I probably didn’t have the highest level of motivation, I was maybe a 6-7 out of 10, but still, I’m a smart girl (educated in Law), so I should have made it.

Grammar and vocabulary are not that difficult, the real challenge is pronunciation; the sounds they  make are almost impossible to reproduce and even when you think you got it right and you proudly say something in Danish to a Dane, they will simply just stare at you like you’re some kind of alien talking in a language they never-ever heard.

  1. I’m such a nice person, for sure I’ll make friends among Danes. Well……!

My feeling, after almost 4 years of living in Denmark, is that of a girl picking inside a beautiful house through some big, wide windows: me outside, them inside. I highly admire the Danish society, their lifestyle, their values, their beauty, but I never felt part of it. It’s like you simply can’t get in touch with their soul.

  1. I’ll adjust to the weather. Well….maybe!

I personally think that the weather is not as bad. It doesn’t rain that much, you can sometimes get snow in winter and summers can get pretty hot. Indeed, I got to experience a January, when in the whole month, there were only 9 hours of sunlight…that was tough. But what I couldn’t adjust to was the wind. Whenever and wherever you go, there is going to be wind, blowing, of course, in your face – especially when you’re on the bike.

For great information on Danish lifestyle and society, I highly recommend you the book The little book of Hygge. The Danish way to live well

Photo credit by Mantas Hesthaven https://unsplash.com/@mantashesthaven

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