Stories about life in Denmark

Moving to Denmark, a Guide for Americans fleeing President Trump

Moving to Denmark as an American has become a hot topic since Donald Trump began his run for President. Now that he is in office, I hear even more from Americans interested in immigration to Denmark.

Since I’m selling books called How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark, you’d think I would encourage as many Americans as possible to look into Denmark immigration.

But moving to Denmark with a U.S. passport isn’t as easy as just buying a plane ticket and a lot of sweaters.

No visa-free resettlement
While being an American citizen offers a remarkable right to visa-free travel, it doesn’t provide for visa-free resettlement. As citizens of a non-EU country, Americans are legally on the same footing as someone from China, India, or the Ivory Coast when it comes to moving to Denmark.

(If you do have an EU passport, or can get one through a job or a relative, much of what I’m about to say does not apply to you.)

There are basically three ways for Americans to move to Denmark: as a student, as a worker, or as the partner of a Dane. Seeking asylum as a refugee, the other way non-EU citizens resettle in Denmark, is not available to Americans – no matter what you think of Mr. Trump.

Moving to Denmark as a student
Moving to Denmark as a student is my usual recommendation for Americans of any age. Student visas are easier to get than any other kind of visa, and living for a semester or two in Denmark gives you the opportunity to see if you like the lifestyle and can handle the ugly winter weather and long hours of darkness.

It’s also a good way to build up the kind of network you’ll need for jobhunting, and provides time to wrestle with the challenges of the Danish language.

That said, the ‘free’ college promised in Bernie Sanders speeches is not ‘free’ for you as a non-EU citizen – you’ll have to pay tuition of around USD2000 per course, plus your living expenses, which are substantial in Denmark.

Actually, university in Denmark is not ‘free’ for anyone – it’s financed by punishing taxes, and not just taxes on rich people.

A person making $30,000 a year has an income tax rate of about 32% in Denmark, compared to about 15% in the US. There is also a 25% sales tax on almost everything you buy, plus an 85% tax on new cars. (Until a couple of years ago, it was 150%, and still is on high-end vehicles.)

The good news is that with a student visa, you’ll have the right to work a certain number of hours to help support yourself in Denmark – and start paying Danish taxes right away.

Heads up: you’ll also have to file American taxes as long as you retain your American citizenship.

Moving to Denmark as a worker
Moving to Denmark with the plan of getting a job is a little trickier.

Any company that hires a non-EU citizen has to go through a long song and dance with Denmark’s notoriously Byzantine Udlændingstyrelsen, or “Foreigners Directorate.”

Companies are sometimes willing to do this for people who have skills that are in high demand in Denmark, usually in the technology, engineering, or medical fields. And very large companies like Maersk and Novo have HR departments that can handle visa applications with ease.

Smaller companies, however, will probably flinch at hiring someone who needs help getting a working visa, particularly since the rules for doing so seem to change constantly.

In fact, they’re getting tighter all the time, largely because Denmark has its own version of Donald Trump, the Danske Folkeparti, or Danish People’s Party. It’s the second largest party in Denmark and hostility to most forms of immigration is a cornerstone of their platform.

(The DF has had some internal challenges recently, but an even more right-wing party, the New Conservatives, has risen up with even more draconian positon on immigration. Interestingly, both the DF in its prime and the New Conservatives are lead by women. Denmark’s largest party, the Social Democrats, is also increasingly opposed to immigration – and it also has a woman in charge.)

Not speaking Danish limits your job possiblities
Not speaking Danish is a major handicap to employment in Denmark. It pretty much counts you out for any kind of government job, which account 40% of all full-time jobs in Denmark.

The government recently stopped supplying free Danish courses to anyone with an approved residence visa, but courses are still widely available. Even with full-time study it will take you at least a couple of years to feel comfortable speaking Danish.

Although English is Denmark’s de facto second language, just speaking English is not enough to get you a job. Danes speak excellent English.

Perhaps if you are an expert in linguistics there might be a role for you at a Danish university, or a job for you in advertising if you can demonstrate a long career as a copywriter. Even then, you’ll have to face competition from EU residents who don’t have visa hassles.

Bottom line: Moving to Denmark by finding a job in Denmark will be tricky, although it helps if you have special skills that EU passport holders don’t.

Engineers and IT wizards have the best chance for Danish working visas.

Moving to Denmark by marrying a Dane
“Did you move to Denmark because you fell in love with a Dane?” I still get asked that question.

It seems many foreigners are in Denmark because they met an attractive Dane on vacation somewhere in the world and decided to start a family and raise children in Denmark. Denmark is a child-friendly society that is a great place for kids to grow up.

The good news is that when it comes to bringing a partner to Denmark, Danish rules are color-blind and gender-blind. No matter what type of person you fall in love with, the rules are the same.

The bad news is, the rules are strict and getting stricter. At the moment, both you and your partner must be at least 24 years old. Your partner must have his or her own home large enough for both of you to live in. He or she must also be able to put down a deposit of about US$8000 with the government to prove that she or he is able to support you.

You’ll also need to pass a Danish language test within 6 months of arriving in Denmark.

Custody laws in Denmark are tough
If you are considering moving to Denmark to start a family, keep in mind that local custody laws make it virtually impossible to take your children out of Denmark without your spouse’s permission.

(I meet a lot of broken-hearted divorced Dads sentenced to 18 or more years of career-on-ice in Denmark because their kids are here.)

Plus, simply having Danish children doesn’t guarantee you the right to live and work here – so could quite possibly find yourself thrown out of Denmark while your children remain with their other parent.

Moving to Denmark can be a difficult transition
Even when the official permissions fall into place, moving to Denmark as an American is not always an easy transition.

Your dollar-based savings will not go as far as they might other places in the world, and while you’ll be eligible for tax-financed Danish government services such as ‘free’ health care and ‘free’ university, you may have to accept a slightly less fancy standard of living.

People generally have less space here than in a spread-out country like the USA. Depending on where you settle in Denmark, you may have to downsize from a house to an apartment, or from an apartment to a room in an apartment.

A family that might have 2 or 3 cars in the U.S. will probably have one or none in Denmark. In Copenhagen, many families rely on bicycles and buses. Many locals don’t bother to get drivers’ licenses.

Fewer restaurant meals
Stay-at-home parents are unusual in Denmark, where the idea is that everyone who can work outside the home should do so, and children usually begin government-run day care when they are about a year old. Besides, the high income tax rates (up to 52% for earned income; the top rate starts at around USD$75,000 per year) make it difficult for one person to support a family.

Family meals at restaurants are unusual and are mostly saved for special occasions like birthdays, particularly outside of Copenhagen. Single people and couples do hit the dining scene more often, but usually no more than once a week, since high Danish wages make eating out expensive. In general, people cook for themselves at home, particularly in the winter.

(A personal note: I live in Denmark and make what would be considered a high-end income in the USA, but I share a one-bedroom apartment with my daughter, we have no car, and we rarely dine out or eat takeout food. My tax burden is around 45% of my income, not counting the 25% sales taxes on most things that I purchase.)

Good things about moving to Denmark
Still, Denmark has a lot to recommend it.

The pace of life is slower and less intense here, and people in general have a better work-life balance. Work begins at 8 and ends at 4 sharp, with no long lunches – Danes are focused.

Most jobs provide for six weeks of vacation per year, and you are not expected to be on call or answer emails during that time off.

And the Danish social safety net provides some relief when you are pregnant, sick, or unemployed.

The idea behind the safety net, however, is that people should pay into it before they begin taking out of it. The sense among Danes that some immigrants were not doing so is the reason Denmark immigration laws have become so harsh.

John F. Kennedy, generally a hero to the kind of Americans who detest Donald Trump, said it this way: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

If you’re thinking of making Denmark your country, what can you do for Denmark?

 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2018

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  • Reply Lars Kjaergaard November 9, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    But do not forget: we have a big ethnocentric right wing party and our gowerment is based on their mandates. So if you want to leave Trump you will come to a whole party of Trumps. Nothing to burst about. Maybe also Sanders forgot that..

  • Reply Christa November 10, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post, it was just what I needed. As an American I’m making plans to move out of the country to find a better place to raise our daughter. I have a question: when you mention “government-run daycare” is this a free service or paid by the parents? The reason I chose to be a stay-at-home mother in the US was because paying $800 per month in daycare was just not worth it for us

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish November 10, 2016 at 5:43 am

      The cost of under-3 daycare in Denmark depends on the municipality – in Copenhagen, it is DK3483 per month with hot lunch and DK2868 without lunch. It might be cheaper in some of the countryside municipalities – look up the name of the town and then “vuggestue pris.” Reduced prices are available based on family income.

      • Reply Leif Arildsen November 10, 2016 at 3:46 pm

        Outside Copenhagen you do not necessarily have to send you child to “vuggestue”.
        There are several options to have your child in daycare in a private home, cheaper than “vuggestue” but still controlled by the government.

        • Reply Kay Xander Mellish November 11, 2016 at 6:19 am

          Leif is right, and actually this “dagpleje” system is also available within Copenhagen. But in many countries, it is common for one parent (not always the woman) to stay home with the children until they are school age. This is difficult in Denmark due to the tax system. Full-time nannies are also uncommon, although wealthy families sometimes hire an au pair.

    • Reply Magnus Ø Heinesen November 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      If you need help finding the price, I’d gladly help you out.

  • Reply Steven November 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I lived there 5 years. I’m glad I left. Oppressive State, asocial people with no empathy, low salaries, insane prices. The worst mistake of my career.

    • Reply Anders Wenzel Kyhl November 11, 2016 at 9:22 am

      I guess you hooked up with the wrong crowd! What you are decribing, does not sound like the Denmark I know and love!

    • Reply Autum Bredmose November 30, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      You are absolutely correct. If you come to Denmark as an outsider and don’t have an “in” with someone, you will be scrutinized and shunned. Danes do NOT like new people coming into their midst unless you are introduced by someone they know. I am married to a Dane, I have been to Denmark at least 6 times for extended periods of time. Danes in their homes are wonderful and warm people. Danes in public however, are rude and VERY judging. As an overweight female American, I was looked at like a I was a monster. If you don’t dress in clothes that are stylish (in Denmark) for the moment, don’t go out, for real. You will get looks like you wouldn’t believe, and people blatantly talking about you. Danes in stores don’t say excuse me (undskyld mig) and will cut in front of you in the store. They will forcibly push you out of the way. My husband is the ONLY person in Denmark I witnessed holding a door for someone. You hear about Denmark being this wonderful place, and it is, if you live there and were born there. Danish society as a whole are like sheep, and one out of the flock is not welcome. The Danish person is nice, but Danish people, in groups, left a very very bad taste in my mouth.

      • Reply Emilie December 13, 2017 at 9:30 am

        Makes me a little sad to read your comment, because I really can’t see that that’s how we are. In Copenhagen, we have A LOT of tourists, and I only experience everyone being super nice and smiling to each other.
        I’m 14, and as a Dane i know that Danes in general, are raised to be sympathetic and caring people, and to embrace all our differences. that’s why i get shocked when i hear, or watch movies about American high schools and how people SO easily get excluded. that simply don’t happen in Denmark because schools crack strongly down on things as bullying. Teachers and schools in Denmark are generally really loose when we talk Fx clothing (we have no uniforms and there’s at most schools no dress codes or limits at all) and i don’t think there’s anyone in Denmark that call their teachers by their last names haha
        my point is just that Danes are not like sheep xD. Come to a danish shcool or workplace and you’ll see that everyone is so different and we love it, and treat each other equally.

        • Reply Cirrs Blaafjell January 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm

          I agree, I am married to a Norwegian and we spend a lot of time in Copenhagen. TRUELY MY FAVORITE CITY. We live in SF with our son and find it very hard here. Everyone is stressed and overworked. I also find Danes to be very welcoming. They will leave you alone if you put out the energy that you do not want to be included, or do not want to talk. But I find everyone I talk to or make an effort with to be truly nice people with no agenda. People are of normal healthy size and are not caught up in the American size 2 body type. I love that there is all walks of life with no hate toward one another like the US. You also are in a foreign country and it is important to intergrade and learn the luggage of any country you are living in. This is a huge problem for most Americans with Latin countries living in US and speaking only Spanish. We could learn a lot from Scandinavia. They are the happiest people in world for a reason. They have health care, family time, time 1 year off with their babies. free childcare. They truly happy being they realize stuff and does not make you happy. I could go on and on……..

  • Reply Kasper Hermansen November 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    An advice i would give is to live in a smaller city or area. Areas like Copenhagen are extremely expensive, for danish standards that is. If you choose to move to a less central and populated area, you can get fairly cheap housing and as Denmark is really small it is easy to drive to the locations you want. It is common for students to get an apartment in the big cities (Again, danish standards). However it is really common for parents to move to a suburb of either Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense or Aalborg. Housing pricing are reasonable and the options for daycare are excellent, many excellent schools also exist in these small cities and it’s easy to take the bus to the city. Nearly every suburb has fairly decent day to day shopping options, while you normally have to go to the bigger cities to find a butcher or a decent restaurant. It’s kind of hard to find good and cheap restaurant in Denmark, however there are many excellent finds in the cities, most of them aren’t that expensive either, A good advice for a cheap but decent meal is to go to the outer parts of the central cities and find restaurant with a nice ambiance. The danish cuisine isn’t that excellent i Denmark (for foreigners), however we have a lot of options for Italian, Chinese, American etc. It’s all about knowing where to go. If you are an american wanting to go to Denmark, if you will find a severe lack of fast food chains, in Denmark we mostly eat McDonald’s and they are everywhere in the cities. However, we really lack diversity, there are a few dominoes, and burger kings. But, they are really scarce, instead we have something like sunset boulevard which makes fantastic sandwiches and burgers =D.

    And remember as long as you can speak english, most Danes will show great hospitality to you. Although, most will get offended if haven’t even tried to learn the language when you’ve lived here a few years.

    Sincerely, Kasper

    I apologise for any grammar mistakes.

    • Reply Helle Jonssen January 27, 2017 at 10:35 am

      I agree. As a Dane, have moved from the mainland to Copenhagen I feel it’s harder to meet new people here compared to Northern Jutland/Aalborg, and most things, especially rent is much more expensive. SO if you want to make friends and have an affordable life here then settle down away from Copenhagen. It’s not far by car or train to go there now and then.

  • Reply Mike November 13, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    What about people born in Canada who are of Danish descent? My parents are from Denmark and I live close to the US. A nuclear fallout would take longer to reach Denmark than Canada 🙂

    • Reply Kevin November 17, 2016 at 8:24 am

      Mike, what exactly do you mean with the nuclear fallout? – Canada is met with the same immigration rules as the US of A.

      Only citizens of EU countries have benefits in our immigration system. 🙂

      • Reply Kay Xander Mellish November 17, 2016 at 8:27 am

        He seems to believe there will be a nuclear attack on the US and that he would be safer in Denmark. Clearly he doesn’t know how close Barsebäcksverket is to Denmark.

  • Reply Michelle Lassen November 21, 2016 at 12:27 am

    I hope someone can help enlighten me a little more since I’m having some trouble finding information. I’m looking into living abroad and Denmark really interests me. Is it difficult to find a job in the medical field over there? I’m a x-ray tech here in the states, but I have no clue what the job market is like and if I would be able to support myself. Thank you!

    P.S. While I strongly dislike Trump, he’s not the motivator for me wanting to move. I would like to see more of the world and experience life outside of the US. Any suggestions/tips you have for me would be great!

    • Reply Erling Lorentsen November 22, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Well – I do know that there is a shortage of doctors in the more scarcely populated parts of the country. It’s been discussed in the media. On the other hand the city hospitals have been laying off support staff as a result of budget cuts. Mainly on the low education jobs such as cleaning. I don’t have any personal knowledge though.
      Greenland is always short on well educated medical staff so that might be an option. BUT – you’ll have to learn the local lingo. Danish – that is. Adding a lot of medical/technical terms won’t make it any easier.
      Best of luck.
      Erling

    • Reply Helle Jonssen January 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Yes, you would have to learn Danish. How about coming over to study part time and work part time? Many unskilled jobs can be done with no or little Danish, also some customer service jobs, jobs with international companies.
      Working in a hospital is different. You can’t expect all the patients to speak English, some are children or older people, as well the work language is mainly Danish.
      Look for some international companies here. Also try and look for medical companies maybe.

  • Reply Susie December 11, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    My husband and young son are Danish citizens and I am an American. We three live in the US but we would like to try a year in Denmark to see how we all like it. Would I need to apply for a residence visa before we go, even if our intention is just to try living in Denmark, not the intention of definitely moving to Denmark. Or, would I go on a tourist visa, then apply for residency once we are in Denmark. My son is 10 and though we spend every summer in Denmark, and he speaks fluent Danish, we want to try enrolling him in school in Denmark for one year, with my husband working, and me studying Danish. Thanks in advance for the help…

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish December 12, 2016 at 6:41 am

      I’m not an official source – check the official government site https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/frontpage.htm – but keep in mind that the Danish government has some onerous requirements for spouses of Danes if they hope to live in Denmark legally. The rules were originally designed to reduce forced marriages among “nydansker” – Turkish, Arabic and Somali immigrants whose Danish-raised daughters and sons were under severe family pressure to marry a cousin imported from the old country – but in practice, it means that just being married to a Dane (or having a child with a Danish passport) does not allow you to reside in Denmark. You will have to “earn” it with language classes and a long list of other requirements. Also, keep in mind that if your husband and child decide they want to stay in Denmark and you cannot, you will be powerless in custody terms when it comes to the Danish legal system.

  • Reply Jim Garner January 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Can you address what the opportunities would be for high net wealth individuals over age 60, those not needing or looking for employment and would be willing to significantly invest in DK.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish January 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Jim. You can find information at this address http://www.startupdenmark.info/ about the “entrepreneur visa.” Keep in mind when you make your business plan that both salaries and costs are high in Denmark, although there is an excellent pool of skilled labor.

      • Reply Rain February 8, 2017 at 4:56 pm

        Hi Kay,

        Like Mr. Garner, I am wondering what hoops a retired American HNWI might find if they should consider immigrating to Denmark please? Not interested in starting a business, but simply retiring, becoming a part of the community and self-supporting.

        Thanks so much.

        • Reply Kay Xander Mellish February 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

          Rain, I wouldn’t recommend moving to Denmark as a retiree if you don’t already have a circle of friends here. It can be tough to make Danish friends even as younger person or someone with a team of colleagues; as an old person, surrounded by people who already have lifelong friends and are unlikely to be comfortable speaking anything but Danish, it would be even more difficult.

  • Reply Jeff Doll February 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Kay,

    Thank you for your blog. I’ve been reading it off and on for the last couple of months and have found it informative and insightful. While I detest Trump, I have been actually researching a move to Scandinavia (Denmark in particular appeals to me) for a couple of years already. The reason is because I want to give my children a better future and I don’t see that happening here. College costs in the US are skyrocketing, government assistance for college has become anemic, requirements for grants and scholarships are tightening, and California’s ScholarShare Program is projecting that, by the time my kids are college age, it will cost me over half a million USD to send them to college (and that’s probably assuming they only go for four years instead of the more realistic five years). This on top of the fact that violence in this country is escalating, and the already loose gun control laws will be slashed even further under the Trump regime and I am deeply concerned about my daughter being exposed to sexual violence (1 in 4 women in this country have experienced it at least once). All of this makes me think that, despite the challenges you’ve outlined, Denmark (or at least Europe) is a better option for my kids (even with the growing right-wing parties).

    I do think that I won’t have as large a challenge as most Americans finding a job in Denmark because I am a Mechanical Engineer and I’ve seen that profession listed on the Danish list of professions with favorable immigration status (correct me if I’m wrong though). Also, since my kids are relatively young, they ought to be able to pick up Danish pretty quickly even if my wife and I struggle learning it.

    So, given what I’ve outlined above, would you say it’s worth the risks or should I look elsewhere?

    Thanks.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish February 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Hi Jeff! I think if you’re coming from California, you’ll need to do some serious thinking about weather. Scandinavia doesn’t just have cold winters; it also frequently has cold and rainy summers. Some summers have as few as a week or two of swimming-quality sunny weather. (Denmark also doesn’t have the hiking or skiing opportunities California does, although Norway is close by.) Is everyone in your family able to handle months on end of grey, chilly weather punctuated by occasional weak sunlight? I would suggest visiting Denmark during some of the less exciting times of year, like February-March. A sunny day in May or September is the exception, not the rule.

      • Reply Jeff Doll February 7, 2017 at 8:59 pm

        Hi Kay,

        Thanks for the quick reply! I don’t mean any offense by what I’m about to say, but I often find it amusing that folks outside of California have this image of a warm, sunny, palm tree infused environment. California actually has a large number of climates. In the northern half of the state, which is part of the Pacific Northwest, there are many temperate rain forests (this is where many of the oldest trees in the world live, one of my favorite spots in California), the north cost is frequently cold and rainy, even in summer (my Dad and I got rained on once while camping in August). Then you have the Sierra Nevada mountains, which has mild and somewhat humid summers (with occasional T-storms) and cold and snowy winters (for now – see comment on climate below). Then you have where I live, in Sacramento, in the northern part of what we refer to as “The Central Valley” (which consists of two main valleys, the Sacramento Valley in the north and the San Joaquin Valley from just south of Sacramento all the way down between Bakersfield and LA). We are close to another area known as “The Delta” which has an extensive wetland system connecting to the San Francisco Bay (I’ll explain why I’m mentioning this in a moment).

        Sacramento’s weather tends to be hot and dry in summer and cold and wet in winter. We do often have “months on end” of nothing but “grey” (particularly this year where we’ve had rainstorm after rainstorm since around November). We can also have cold and sunny winters (cold to us being between -2 to 0 degrees C). Our hot and dry summers are usually on the order of about 40 degrees C during the day but we do often get cooling breezes from the The Delta (the connection I referred to above).

        In short, both my wife and I like cooler weather (she once opened our apartment up on a 0 degree C morning) and are not opposed to living in a cooler location, especially as climate warming will likely make our summers even more brutal than they already are (another option we’ve considered is Canada). My wife loves skiing but I’ve never been a big fan (Swiss alps an option?). I’ll miss being able to do hiking, but I also love gardens and from what I’ve seen and read, it seems like there are quite a few of those over there.

        I’m also of predominately Swedish and German heritage as you might have gathered from my last name. I’m one of the few people I know wearing shorts and a t-shirt (and sometimes flip-flops/sandals) when it’s between 14 to 18 degrees C out (even on cloudy days).

        Well, apologies for being long winded. 🙂

      • Reply Jeff Doll February 7, 2017 at 9:01 pm

        Btw,

        Switching topics away from weather and climate…

        I’m a licensed professional engineer here in California. Do you know if Denmark has professional licensing for engineers and, if so, if my license is transferable? If not, can you point me somewhere that might?

        Thanks.

        • Reply Kay Xander Mellish February 23, 2017 at 8:10 am

          Check with IDA, the engineers’ union, for information about the engineering field.

  • Reply Zenon B. Diaz February 21, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Your article has really opened my eyes about moving to Denmark. But as outsider I hear how it’s the most happiest place in the world and I want to be happy. I’m not happy over here in the US, I have a family of three kids. Two of them being twin toddlers, and one teenager. I feel that I work just to pay the bills and I have no real family time with them. With all that you have said in article I still want to part of the Danish life and be happy with my family. So what should I do first, travel over to Denmark and see what’s out there or should I just forget about Denmark and be unhappy. Please guide the way

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish February 23, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Hi Zenon! Travelling to Denmark before moving here is always a good idea, but I’m not quite clear on what would make a move to Denmark possible for you. Do you and your children have EU passports, or do you work in a highly in-demand job category?

      • Reply Mike F. September 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

        Hi. Kay…

        I’m an American citizen who also has an EU passport (acquired through Ireland’s foreign registry program; my grandparents were born there). How much easier would it be to make a move to Denmark? (For what it’s worth: I’d plan on learning Danish before leaving the USA)

        Mike

        • Reply Kay Xander Mellish September 7, 2017 at 6:32 am

          Hi Mike

          Check out the Work in Denmark website, which says: “Citizens from the Nordic countries, the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are entitled to live and work in Denmark. However, if you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen and intend to reside in Denmark for more than three months, you must apply for a registration certificate at International Citizen Service or the State Administration (Statsforvaltningen) on your arrival to Denmark.”

          Good luck learning spoken Danish before arriving. It’s difficult enough to learn when you’re here! That said, you can probably get enough written Danish to understand signs, etc., particularly if you already speak German.

    • Reply Lucia Little June 14, 2017 at 7:18 am

      The thing about the “happiest country in the world” is stupid. I think that happiness depends on yourself and even if there is a welfare state that does not mean that people are immediatly completely satisfied with their lives or that there is no poverty like everywhere else. My advice is to not let a place define your happiness. It just dosen’t work. However Denmark is definetely very child friendly and you would have more time to see your kids.

  • Reply Jeff Doll March 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Kay,

    One other wrinkle just occurred to me. I have a metabolic condition known as PKU. It’s a rather expensive condition also. When I was unemployed, my parents willingly paid the $400/month payments that maintained my health insurance (effectively) because it was less expensive than paying for my dietary supplements out of pocket. With the impending Republican proposal for “healthcare accounts” (apparently I’m one of those people who should give up my iPhone for healthcare, even though that would get me by for two weeks), which I would blow through in a matter of months, moving somewhere with a better healthcare system is an attractive option.

    However, I don’t know how the Danes might feel about someone with a rather expensive condition coming into their country and utilizing their healthcare system. Particularly since many of them (the Danish People’s Party comes to mind) already feel immigrants are a drain on the system. Any thoughts on this?

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish March 12, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Hi Jeff. While there is a state-financed healthcare system in Denmark, there is a strictly limited access to expensive drugs. In general, the system tries to avoid giving out pharmaceuticals at all if possible (there are strict limits on antibiotics and sleeping pills, for example), and importing those drugs from abroad will get you a hefty fine or worse. I can’t give you specific information regarding PKU, so I suggest you find an expats in Denmark forum (there are several on Facebook) and see if you can locate someone else living with PKU for his or her input.

  • Reply Helle G April 12, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Dear Jeff and Kay

    No offence, but the last comment on healtcare and medication is not at all how we see it as danes. Jeff, you will of course get free treatment for your condition, and the reason we don’t give out antibiotics in large amounts is just the same reason as in every other country: antibiotics only keeps working if you use it Modestly. I have lived in the States and in Switzerland, and I Think Denmark is not as different from the mentality in certain areas of the US, so I guess it depends a lot on your background in the States whether you will feel at home in Denmark. If you come from the more religios rural areas in US, Denmark will probably be very different and not the best choice. I stayed in Ohio in a small community when I lived in the States, and I felt very much like an outsider and never really adapted to the mentality. Later I have been in CA for longer periods, and I felt like being right “at home”. Hope to see more americans i Scandinavia, and you have a lot to contribute to Denmark.

    • Reply Gina Igel April 16, 2018 at 12:32 am

      Interesting. I am an American who was born and spent the first 17 years of my life in Ohio. I was an exchange student in Kolding, DK for a year. I have lived the second half of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area.
      Living in Denmark changed my life. When I returned to Ohio, it never felt like home again. I had to move out to Northern California to be able to embrace what my definition of Home has become. The cost of living here is ridiculously expensive.
      BTW it was in Denmark that I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began taking medication. I love the medical treatment that I received and will always be grateful.

  • Reply Leon July 22, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Good day all
    I am in the process of moving to Copenhagen in the next few weeks. I found this link while looking for thoughts on what to bring versus buy once there. I see the discussion on medication and it concerns me as I do have a daily requirement and will get a six month supply to take with me from my doctor, along with a medical certificate explainimg the need. This is to allow me to settle in with no worry and take time to get an appointment in the medical system there.
    Being from Canada I am familiar with the climate and hopefully have enough gear of a varied nature to get me thru…even though I have lived in South East Asia the past 15 years….I keep clothes for trips to home and other winter destinations. I will bring my bicycle as well. I have cycled to work for many decades and look forward to the apparently fantastic bike infrastructure. It is my intent to try to live around Ostbero, Fredericksberg or one Of The kobenhavn (O, S, Etc)
    The websites I visit have some units available but not many that are furnished.
    Any thoughts from locals on what to bring to reduce start up costs? Ate things like bedding, footwear, power adopters, that sort of stuff…very expensive, so much so that loading up and perhaps paying for an additional suitcase makes sense? Appreciate any input and Tak på forhånd

  • Reply Kasper Pape August 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Be sure to wear very versatile clothes, as the weather in Denmark is very changing. A bike is a great idea, especially if you want to move to Copenhagen. There are great opportunities for cycling in Copenhagen. Østerbro and Frederiksberg both have good living conditions, but most of them also, so that’s why they are also some of the expensive places to live. If you want a little more nature, and still be very central in Copenhagen, Amager is also a great place to live.
    The most important thing is definitely to get as much clothes as the weather described above is very different. Remember to keep in mind that our electrical outlets may be different to those in both Asia and Canada.
    I hope this helps a little.
    Just a quick info, på forhånd tak, is the right way to say it. 🙂

  • Reply Perri August 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Wonderful Post! I have a question that I’m hoping you can answer with your experience… I have a potential job offer with a Danish company.. however to get my work Visa I need to meet certain salary requirements. Do you know what the salary requirement is in Denmark to hire a foreigner? Do you even know where I could find this? I looked on the work in Denmark website but they never say the amount.. thanks in advance.

  • Reply Ian B. October 23, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    It’s amazing how clueless most of you people are. For the greatest majority of Americans, moving to a Scandinavian country would involve taking several steps back in terms of personal freedom, standard of living, social life and, what a shock!, healthcare. I spoke to friends in Norway (supposedly the most prosperous of Nordic countries nowadays) extensively about the topic of Americans seeking to relocate there and the consensus is that they would gladly swap places with any delusional US citizen willing to trade their life for a Scandinavian’s. But alas, if you enjoy biking and public transport, not ever affording to own and insure a car (especially a new car unless you are seriously well off), living in a 500 sq.ft. apartment, eating frugally, dressing down all of the time, barely affording to go to a movie once in a blue moon, and basically watching your pennies constantly, then go for it! You folks need to grow up….

    • Reply LSL March 22, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Ian,

      You’ve got it all wrong. Most Danes likes biking, – and still owns a car – even a new car. The reason people in e.g. Copenhagen is biking and using public transportation, is that it is the fastest way of getting from A to B. It seems like you have an idea that we, here in Denmark, can’t afford anything? We DO pay a high tax rate for sure, – but we don’t spend money from our private savings on healthcare or educations – that’s already payed for by the high taxes.

      To give you an example; My wife and I both work full time (37 hours /week). Both of us as white collar employees.
      Salary: A little over medium, tax rate approx.: 50% , six weeks of paid vacation per/year – each. We have 3 children(each child gives the parents the right of 1 year paid maternity leave), a 5 bedroom house, 2 new cars, eats out when we want to, and might go to the movies when we eat out as well. We(especially my wife) buys exactly the cloth she wants, whenever she feels like it. Once ore twice a year we are travelling to warm beaches in e.g. Spain or Greece. We aren’t any richer that our next door neighbor, nor any poorer – the thing is, – if you are able to prioritize you can get what you want here as well, – even without the fear of the next hospital bill or the fear of not being able to afford your kids education.

  • Reply John (Hesi) October 24, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Hi Kay I love your blog. It is very informative and the title gave me a good chuckle. I am an American citizen that would like to move to Denmark. I have a wonderful lady here and now a son that is almost a year old in Nykøbing Sj. I am slowly learning the language but I have other hurdles to jump. We are not yet married on paper. She has had to have government assistance as I’m only allowed to be here for so long in the country I can’t contribute as I would like to but so far I think I can at least arrange to be here a month and in the US a month for a while. I’m trying to apply for a work visa or family reuinification but the rules on the nyidanmark website are so confusing to me. I just need to be pointed in the right direction. I would like to have duel citizenship eventualy I know it could take years and that is fine. My son will as soon as I schedule it with the US embassy (he already has his DK passport). Above all else I just want to be in his life as much as possible and I really do love it here in Danmark.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish October 24, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Sounds great, John – good luck to you! Not sure if you’re in the building trades, but there will be a huge tunnel being built in the next few years from your area to Germany. Lots of construction work there for somebody!

  • Reply Esther Sepeh October 26, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Kay I like your blog. I’m a Ghanaian American. I’m planning to move to Denmark. I don’t know anyone over there.
    I have a BS Degree in Health Education, I’m doing my masters but because of financial problems I stop. I have only 5 classes left to complete. I’m planning to go into Nursing while I’m Denmark. I have been in Health care over 15 years and I’m also a certified nursing assistant. Do you thinking it is easy for me to get a job quickly I’m one of their hospitals, and can the hospital help me to get admission to one of their good nursing universities. Or can I get a job in one of the nursing homes.I’m planning to live in Amager. Is that one of less expensive areas? Or can I get one a job with the private sector like living in with a family like an elderly couples and taking care of them and get paid. Please, advance me I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke. I’m hard worker with good references. I have an American citizenship.Is there anyway I can just get someone to just show me what to do. I also have certification in economics and financial accounting.I’m black do you think I would have a problem with race? I speak English, Italia and French. I also have a small business. I sale very unique basket made in Ghana. Do you think I can be allow to open a small retail business there as a foreigner? Lastly, did they tax goods coming to their country from African?

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish October 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Hi Esther. I have zero experience in the healthcare industry, so I won’t be able to advise you on job opportunities there. I recommend you join the Facebook group “Expats in Copenhagen,” which has 23,000 members. Some of them are bound to be able to help you – although I suggest asking one question at a time! 🙂

  • Reply Esther. October 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you for getting back with me.

  • Reply Mo January 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Hello all, quick questions as an american living in germany. I hear all of the hype about Denmark, Norway, Sweden. I’m imterested im visiting denmark this summer to check it out. So here are some questions i have. 1. How is the political system there? I hear its a very right wing system full of baby trumps. I dont kno, thats why iam asking someone who lives there. 2. Is it REALLY free health care and free school or does that ONLY apply to eu citizens or native danes? 3. Are the govt workers in the foriegn office actually helpful and generous, or cold, mean, and heartless like they are for the most part in germany? 4. I hear minimum wage is 22 euros n hr in Denmark? True? 5. Whats the average cost of living prices for a apartment in Copenhagen for a 1 or two bedroom? 5. I have played pro basketball here in germany, so how is the job market for ANY sports startups or anything like that? 6. Most importantly, how is the visa process in denmark if you are american or a non eu citizen? What are the requirements and would you consider it hard or somewhat easy process in comparison to other countries?

    I just wanna kno because i hear mostly good things about denmark, so i wanna see if its worth the hype before i visit. Visa requirements and job market for start ups, sports, logistics, warehouse work, customer service jobs are like… If any of u kno.

    Thank u so much!

  • Reply Monica Madsen January 23, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Kay,
    As a fellow expat living in Denmark, I enjoyed your blog post until I reached the end. This paragraph hit me and I was angered:
    John F. Kennedy, generally a hero to the kind of Americans who detest Donald Trump, said it this way: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
    Just what exactly does Kennedy’s quote have to do with Donald Trump? Seriously, WHAT? Were you just virtue signaling, as I saw “donald-trump” as an actual part of the URL, used as a sort of blog tag. I also saw the word “detest”placed cunningly next to Donald Trump. You really needed, in this blog post, to mention Trump at all or was it just for hits?
    You basically said that people who respected Kennedy must therefore hate Trump. Oh really?! Then by the transitive property, you take a swing at Trump, that being, he espouses the exact opposite of Kennedy’s quote. Not only is that false, and reeking of virtue signaling, but it made me seriously doubt your integrity.
    In fact, I would postulate that Donald Trump embraces Kennedy’s quote far more than Kennedy ever did. I’ll await a response.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish January 23, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      Monica, I rarely respond to rude comments, but in your case I’ll make an exception.

      As the proprietor of a site called “How to Live in Denmark,” I get an enormous amount of mail from people who say they want to move to Denmark because they do not like Donald Trump. That is his connection to the article.

      The Kennedy quote was to point out that Americans who want to move to Denmark need to think about what they can offer Denmark – not what Denmark can offer them.

  • Reply Monica Madsen January 24, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Hi Kay,
    There was not an modicum of rudeness in my comment! Yes, I did critique you, which, I’m assuming is allowed. I was polite but negative towards your false flagging of US politics in a blog about Denmark. Rude, I was not.
    I obviously understood what the Kennedy quote was about, I simply didn’t find “detest Donald Trump” to be appropriate in the same sentence. I detailed why quite clearly in my initial comment.
    “A humorous guide for foreigners and their Danish friends” is how you describe your blog, yet deriding your own president is not humorous to me, who shares the same president. In fact, no humor was intended by you, only animus.
    Moreover, as you stated in your reply to me, you did it to appease your readers as I’d stated, thus you admit to virtue signaling and pandering to your audience. Why would you do that? Are we to think we are not reading your thoughts but those opinions you assume most want to read? Is that not disingenuous?
    Ironically, to me, though you did a truly fine job in the majority of your post, it seems your message was lost on many who replied, who want more out of Denmark than they could offer the Danish society and coffers. We both know that most Americans would be unhappy here, Denmark is for those rare Americans who do not have the sense of entitlement that is rampant in the US.
    You seem to be very successful here and I commend you!!! If you are ever in mid/north Jutland, email me if you’d like to visit (very beautiful area).
    Respectfully, Monica

  • Reply Libby February 3, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I am considering a potential PhD opportunity with Aarhus University – it is salaried, there seem to be ways around tuition, and I could probably get extra funding in the form of grants/scholarships from the US, but that doesn’t do much for my husband. He is a master cabinetmaker with his own business/shop here in the US, but I suspect it would be nearly impossible for him to have his own business in Denmark – do you have any information on doing something like that?

    Alternately, he would actually be very interested in apprenticing with a Danish furniture-maker, as long as it paid something. Do you have any ideas for resources that could help him do that? He does a fair amount of design in his work and I think something like this would actually be good for his career, and with the 10 years of experience he already has, he should be a good student.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish February 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Hi Libby

      I don’t know much about the cabinetmaking field, but it’s fairly easy to start your own business in Denmark, and the Danes appreciate good furniture. Your husband might want to get in touch with the Danish Cabinetmakers Association, http://www.moebelsnedkerforeningen.dk/. They have a fun exhibit at the Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen at the moment.

      • Reply Libby February 4, 2018 at 3:11 pm

        Thank you for the link, their work looks exactly like what my husband would like to be doing more of!

  • Reply Gary March 25, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    My wife and I are retired. I’m 57 and she 59. We have a pension from the state of New Jersey. I’m trying to find information on moving to Denmark as a retired American. Can anyone point me in the proper direction? I’ve found plenty on working or as a student, however nothing as a retired person. Thanks
    Gary

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish March 26, 2018 at 12:26 am

      Hi Gary. I’ve never heard of anyone moving to Denmark as a retired person. It would be very difficult to make friend networks, and since you haven’t spent your working years paying into the tax base that supports the extensive network of social services for older people, it wouldn’t be something that Denmark would ordinarily encourage. Costs here are also much higher than you are likely to be familiar with in the US – depending, of course, on what area in Denmark you are looking at.

  • Reply CR April 24, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    We’re thinking of moving to Denmark. (Job offer) with an energy company. My question is, where is the best place to live if you have 2 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats? The job would be in Århus. I guess I’m trying to find out where the suburbs are.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish April 25, 2018 at 6:13 am

      I would suggest that you join one of the local Facebook groups – Expats in Aarhus. There is also an Americans in Denmark group, and perhaps an Americans in Aarhus group.

      • Reply CR May 7, 2018 at 3:35 am

        Thank you!

  • Reply Christopher Martinez May 16, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful article. I am debating on moving to Denmark, or trying to anyway, within the next year. Currently I am a relatively high skilled IT person making 135k in the states. I’ve read countless stories about lack of high end IT workers in many EU countries and the jobs I see on expat sites show equivalencies to about 90k Euro for these same jobs I would qualify for. As a single man with no family, would this afford me a equitable lifestyle from the states? Having no real long term experience living in Europe, I’m having a hard time making comparisons.

    • Reply Kay Xander Mellish May 16, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Christopher! Europe is a great place to live, but you should count on punishing taxes, particularly as a single man with no children. On that salary in Denmark, you are looking at around 48% of your income in taxes, plus 25% sales tax on everything you buy, plus additional hefty taxes (up to 150% of the sales price) if you decide to own a car. Health care is covered, although retirement may not be depending on the number of years you work. Quality of life is good and so are working hours, however. You should be the type of person who is willing to go out and find friends – Europeans have long-term friendships and aren’t always as open to new buddies as Americans are.

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