Moving to Denmark

An archipelago of more than 400 islands, much of Denmark is surrounded by water – with the notable exception of the Jutland Peninsula, which shares a land border with Germany. The majority of residents live on one of Denmark's various islands, the largest of which is Zealand. Here, the thriving capital city of Copenhagen can be found. A densely populated yet charming city, Copenhagen is home to almost 10 percent of the country's population.

Denmark is rapidly increasing in popularity among expats as the Danish government, industry and higher education institutions are all keen on greater internationalisation.

Generally, Denmark is a high wage-, tax- and welfare economy. The labour market is governed by the concept of 'flexicurity', which means that government policy and labour market legislation are guided by a high degree of market flexibility while providing substantial security through the welfare system. As a result, there is a relatively low rate of income inequality in Denmark – that is, the gap between senior executives and factory floor workers is smaller than most other places. It must be said, however, that the cost of living in Denmark is high.

The Danish language is closely related to Swedish and Norwegian. It is not unusual to find a Dane and a Swede conversing together quite happily, each in their own language and each understanding the other. English is compulsory in secondary schools and most Danes, particularly in urban areas, can speak it well. This makes it is quite easy for expats to be lazy about learning Danish, even though local authorities provide free or subsidised language courses to a high level. Danish hosts will nevertheless appreciate at least some effort being made to get to grips with their language. Furthermore, despite many larger companies adopting English as their company language, expats working in the country may find it difficult to progress as well career-wise without at least some Danish.

Despite its small size, Denmark has much to offer expats in terms of culture, sport and outdoor life. Visitors are often surprised at how unpopulated some parts of the country are. Being a peninsula and a series of islands, there is no shortage of coastline, and water-based activities are very popular. Denmark is also in a fantastic position for regional travel, with land and sea links to countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Poland and the UK.

Expats that manage to secure a good job in Denmark's competitive job market often find their stay in Denmark to be extremely comfortable. It's all to easy to fall in love with this Scandanavian country, and many expats find themselves wanting to stay on past the end of their assignment. Denmark's beauty and high quality of life certainly offer good motivation to do so.


Fast facts

Population: About 5.7 million

Capital city: Copenhagen

Neighbouring countries: Most of the country is bordered by the North Sea. Denmark's only land border is Germany in the south.

Geography: Denmark is made up of a large landmass surrounded by around 400 islands. The geography of Denmark is primarily made up of flat plains and sandy coastline.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: Danish, but most of the population can also speak English.

Money: The Danish krone (DKK) is divided into 100 øre. The banking system is efficient and easy to use. ATMs are widely available.

Tipping: By law, all service charges (including gratuity) are included in the price billed, but additional tips can be given for good service.

Time: GMT+2 (+1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs have two round pins and some have an additional grounding pin.

Internet domain: .dk

International dialling code: +45

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Denmark is well served by public transport systems including trains, buses and ferries.

Tom Griffiths Our Expat Expert

Tom first visited Denmark more than thirty years ago and settled here permanently in 2008. During that time he has taken advantage of the excellent Danish higher education system by spending two years undertaking an MA, worked with some really interesting Danish companies, both large and small, and now runs his own coaching and change management company specialising in supporting expats and trailing expats. Website: www.changecoachdk.com

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