Denmark became a unified kingdom in the 8th century, but documents from the region show that there were people living there up to 300 years before that time. The geographic location of this nation has influenced its development, with the Baltic and North seas providing economic and strategic importance that has fueled the local economy – and made it a target for those who wanted control of the region.
You can find Denmark between Germany and Sweden, with long conflicts often trying to settle who had control over the area. After the cession of Norway in 1814, they were ab le to retain control of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. It would be occupied eventually by Nazi Germany during the World War II years, but then join the United Nations after liberation. They were also a founding member of NATO in 1949.
Living in Denmark has some specific pros and cons that are worth considering. You will have an impressive exposure to art and culture when living in this nation, with plenty of opportunities to travel throughout Europe to explore. There are also cost considerations to think about, especially if you are moving from a country with a lower monetary value.
List of the Pros of Living in Denmark
1. You will find yourself working less in Denmark compared to other countries in the world.
The official work week in Denmark lasts 37.5 hours. There is an expectation that you spend some time pursuing the things that you love or making time to be with your family and friends. Most offices are empty here in this country by 5 PM. It is not unusual for the parents of small children to leave their work by 3:30 to pick them up from their daycare facilities – which are subsidized by the government.
That’s not to say that the people of Denmark are unproductive. They work just as hard as the people in other countries who have longer work weeks. There is just more of an emphasis on separating your personal and professional life here, and your employer will encourage you to do so.
2. There is access to public healthcare options when living in Denmark.
It would be incorrect to say that the healthcare options you receive while living in Denmark are free, but you will not be charged anything at the point of service if you need to visit with the doctor. Your co-pays come out of your paycheck as a tax withholding, similar to the way that an employer keeps back a portion of your pay with your responsibilities to fund Medicare in the United States.
You will receive a small, yellow plastic card when you arrive in Denmark that can be used for almost everything in the public sector. It will help you to check out a library book or check into the hospital if you encounter a health problem. Your doctor will scan the card as part of your visit. There are no financial forms to fill out, bills to worry about, or hassles to manage.
3. Professional child care is available to you in Denmark.
Denmark takes it for granted that both parents are going to be working outside of the home. Because of this assumption, there is an excellent system of subsidized childcare available to you when you start to live here. It is not unusual for the country’s children to begin going to a daycare facility before their first birthday. Kids will then interact with their professional teachers to begin learning Danish and the various social rules, such as taking turns to speak or working in a group.
The amount that you paid for this advantage depends on where you decide to live in Denmark. If your home is in Copenhagen, then you might pay about 500€ per month. If you have more than one child or have a low-income household, then this expense may be lower. It’s actually considered poor parenting here if you do not use a public day care. Even the royal family takes advantage of this benefit.
4. It is a very safe place to live.
In almost every sense of the word, it is safe to live in Denmark. Even if you have extraordinarily bad luck, there is a response available for you to help you manage your circumstances. Crime levels are relatively low here, there is access to excellent healthcare, and you have access to numerous educational opportunities during your stay. Although it is helpful to learn the language after completing your move, there are still plenty of employment opportunities to pursue in your chosen career.
5. There is an emphasis on equality in Denmark.
When you start living in Denmark, then you will find that most people feel that you earn the respect that you have. There are no formalities expected if you happen to come from a specific status or view point. It doesn’t matter what your gender identity happens to be, how much money you have, or what your educational status is currently when you are here. Whether you are political or not doesn’t matter. If you stay true to who you are and contribute to society, then you matter.
6. There are plenty of amenities to enjoy when living in Denmark.
Whether you choose to live in Copenhagen, another metro area, or out in the country, you will discover that there are plenty of amenities to enjoy when you start living in Denmark. There are fantastic libraries to visit, wonderful parks to enjoy, beaches to explore, and a swimming pools that are waiting for a fun time. Despite the higher taxes which are present in the society, there is still enough money to go around to have memorable experiences.
When you combine the freedom and safety that Denmark offers, especially for children, it can be difficult to ignore all of the advantages that are possible when living here.
7. Denmark has one of the lowest income inequality rates in the world.
Denmark has created a society where everyone works to help out everyone else. Instead of creating policies where the rich can get richer at the expense of the poor, everyone tends to earn about the same amount. That means there is an excellent environment present for employees because you can earn a living wage while having many of the services you need paid for through taxation. This advantage also makes it possible to find employment opportunities more often than in other parts of the world. You can earn a livable wage doing almost anything when you start living here.
The employment rate in Denmark currently stands at 75%, which is the highest that it is in Europe. It is also a higher labor participation rate than what is currently available in the United States. Good jobs are easy to find here.
8. Everything in Denmark feels like it is close to the beach.
If you love to spend time at the beach, then you are going to appreciate what it is like to live in Denmark. Almost everything feels like it is close to the sea. There are plenty of surfing opportunities for you to enjoy during your stay, partially due to the fact that you are never more than 30 miles away from the ocean. With over 100 islands to explore with this archipelago, it is a relaxing place to be since you can always find a quiet spot to enjoy.
Although it can get pretty busy during the summer months, you can throw on a sweater and enjoy the beach experience all year long when you start living here.
9. Denmark is part of the Schengen Agreement.
One of the benefits that you have when living in Denmark is the fact that the country is part of the Schengen Agreement. That means you can become a nationalized citizen after meeting the government’s rules of residence, and then travel freely to other countries in Europe without the need for a visa or passport. It is one of the best ways to explore a significant area of space on our planet today without a lot of interference. The only other comparable option to this benefit applies to Americans who can travel to different states without any paperwork.
List of the Cons of Living in Denmark
1. You will eventually need to learn the Danish language.
If you decide to start living in Denmark, then you will eventually want to learn the Danish language. Although this may not be necessary if your stay is less than a year, anything longer will require you to make this effort so that you can effectively communicate in your community. The school system does teach English starting around the age of six, but most people prefer to use their first language when communicating with their family or friends.
If you decide not to learn this language, then you could find yourself being the odd person out at work or when attending a social event. About 50% of the open jobs at any given time are with the government here, and almost all of them require you to speak the national language in order to apply. If you know German or English as your first language, it can take more than two years to speak this one reasonably well.
2. The weather in Denmark is challenging.
If you have ever lived in or around the Seattle area in the United States, then you have an idea of what the weather is like in Denmark. You can expect the skies to be rainy, cold, and gray from about October until March. Even during the first weeks of spring, there can be blustery days that make you want to hunker indoors. There are about eight weeks of a hot summer during July and August to consider as well – or it can just stay cold and gray all year long too. If you are used to having plenty of sunlight throughout the year, then living in Denmark can be a challenging experience.
3. The winter months offer reduced sunshine levels.
Because Denmark is further north than other European nations, the winter months provide weaker sunlight that will only last for a few hours during the day when you reach the end of November and December. It can be challenging to grow custom and to the long hours of night during the winter months when you start living here, so make sure that you have a hobby that you can pursue or something planned that will help to keep you entertained during the long evenings.
4. It can be lonely to start living in Denmark.
You will find that there are plenty of opportunities to make friends when you start living in Denmark, but there is also an excellent chance that you will be moving away from your network of relationships. It is not always easy to make friends here, especially if you have already graduated from college. Most of the people in this country formed their friendships during their childhood and they are not always looking to establish new relationships as an adult.
That doesn’t mean that you will encounter unfriendly circumstances when you start living in Denmark, but it does mean that you will receive professional courtesy instead of an invitation for dinner more often than not. There is a women’s international group which is based in Copenhagen, but one out of every five members is actually local. That pretty much sums up the relationship experience you will discover here.
5. You might not be able to afford some of the things that you need.
Even though you can purchase everything that you need when you start living in Denmark, the items can be ridiculously expensive. Then there are the tax costs that you will need to pay to obtain certain items as well. That is why most people use public transportation instead of purchasing a vehicle. Not only do they have the high taxes on the initial purchase, but they also need to pay the taxes on the fuel that they use.
The country’s welfare system does do an excellent job of providing basic services, but it also takes up about 50% of the annual budget. If you are used to the system in the United States, this set up it can be a significant change to manage.
6. The legal system is not always as effective as it could be.
The crime rates in Denmark are quite low, but the legal system is not as effective as it could be. The taxation authorities recently discovered a loss of 1.6 billion€ and there is no way at this moment to recover the losses. You will find that corporate crime tends to be higher here even if personal crime levels are much lower. The people in Denmark have a reputation of self-policing themselves, so that means someone with nefarious intent could take advantage of the system and you under the right set of circumstances.
7. Drinking is a normal way of life in Denmark.
If you are not a fan of getting out of the house to have a drink, then living in Denmark is going to limit your nightlife options. It is not unusual to see people who are already drunk before 9 PM, especially during the darker winter months when there doesn’t seem to be as much to do. Drinking is a normal part of society where it seems more unusual that you’re not willing to participate than to have a beer at lunch.
That also means that you must be prepared for a lot of social conversation once the alcohol starts flowing. Even if no one will speak with you during the week, you’ll have plenty of conversation opportunities once the weekend comes around.
8. Some regions can show some passive racism in the culture.
Population changes are affecting Europe and many other parts of the world. This movement is creating some passive racism that you will experience when you start living in Denmark, especially if you come from a minority racial group. It is not unusual for people to seek out a new neighborhood in this country if there are not enough families who look and think just like they do.
Even if you move here and fall in love with someone local, there are specific requirements that you must fulfill before a marriage license is granted. You must prove that you have the capability of speaking Danish, and your spouse must pay a $10,000 bond. This approach to life can be exhausting for those who are not used to it.
9. The visa process can be challenging to navigate in Denmark.
If you have decided that living in Denmark is the best choice for your needs, then the first thing that you must do is obtain your visa. You’ll need to go through the following steps to obtain administrative approval for your stay.
- Download the application form for your visa from the government’s website, fill it out completely, and create several hardcopies.
- Attach the relevant photos according to the visa requirements.
- Add any previous visas or passports that you have to the application.
- Provide evidence that you have access to health insurance during your stay in the country.
- Provide evidence that you can meet your financial needs during your stay.
- Add anything else that may apply to your unique situation.
10. The housing situation is different here than in other countries.
If you are coming to Denmark from outside of Europe, then it is essential to know what the definition of an unfurnished apartment is before moving here. In the United States, rentals typically have all of the appliances that you need. Here the approach is a little different, sometimes not even giving you kitchen cabinets. You’ll want to look for a furnished rental when you first move unless you have the resources to purchase the items that are needed for your first few days here.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in Denmark
Living in Denmark is usually a pleasant experience. It is a peaceful and clean place to live where the government services work well, and your employers are concerned about your personal life just as much as they care about your productivity. Even though there could be moments of isolation that could be bothersome, there are also plenty of groups that you can join throughout the country that can help you to start forming new relationships.
There are still some headaches that you will need to manage if you decide to make the move. The government creates several administrative hoops to jump through if you need to acquire a visa to start living here. There is a high population density in the cities as well, making it a challenge sometimes to find a place to live. You will also discover that the higher taxes can make it difficult to save some money each month.
The pros and cons of living in Denmark are still generally seen in a positive light because of the supportive services that you receive here. You might pay a little more for what you get, but you will also find more supports in place to help you live the life that you want.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.