Known for looking after its residents, this Nordic country values equality, offers excellent and affordable services, and is blessed with gorgeous landscapes in which to spend free time. Although the quality of life in Denmark is extremely high, there are downsides that expats should be aware of before making the move.

We’ve therefore put together a list of some of the main pros and cons of moving to Denmark.

Cost of living in Denmark

- CON: High cost of living

Everything in Denmark is expensive, from accommodation and utilities to fuel and eating out. In fact, Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, is one of the most expensive cities in the world, ranking ninth out of 227 cities in Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey. Luckily, salaries in Denmark tend to be high and, in most cases, can cover an expat’s costs while also providing them with a good quality of life.

+ PRO: High taxes cover essential services and subsidise others

Workers in Denmark pay extraordinarily high taxes. This tax money is put to good use, though, and the population enjoys good social services and free access to education and healthcare. Even higher education is free for students from the EU and EEA. These services are of high quality and therefore worth the high tax rates.

Accommodation in Denmark

Housing in Copenhagen by Otra Ruta

- CON: Unfurnished in Denmark means completely bare

Expats should be aware that 'unfurnished' in Denmark does not mean the same as unfurnished in the majority of destinations around the world. If a home in Denmark is unfurnished, it will most likely be completely bare – without even kitchen cabinets or appliances. It may be best for expats to find furnished accommodation in Denmark, as this will save them the costs involved in kitting out their new home.

Healthcare in Denmark

+ PRO: Healthcare is world-class, affordable and accessible

Healthcare in Denmark is equally accessible for everyone and is funded by taxes taken from residents’ salaries. This means that expats will not be charged for healthcare at the point of service. A yellow card that they will be issued upon arrival in Denmark is all they need to receive treatment. Public healthcare is also of such a high standard that it is used by the majority of the population, although there are private facilities available.

Getting around in Denmark

Copenhagen central station by Gije Cho

+ PRO: Public transport is efficient and extensive

Denmark is well-connected with public transport networks, including buses, trains and ferries. The majority of big cities in Denmark are also serviced by metro systems. This makes getting around the country quick and easy, and owning a car unnecessary. Many locals choose to use public transport over driving, as the systems are easy to use, efficient and well maintained.

+ PRO: Many people get around via bicycles

Denmark truly gives the Netherlands a run for their money when it comes to cycling culture. If people think Amsterdam has a lot of bicycles, Copenhagen is just as packed with them. In fact, there are more bicycles in Copenhagen than people. 

The city also has well-segregated bike infrastructure alongside roads, as well as in green spaces such as parks and along canals. Many other cities in Denmark are also following suit and building bike lanes. In the country as a whole, the current network of bicycle routes extends over 7,000 miles (over 12,000 km).

Lifestyle in Denmark

+ PRO: It is extremely safe

Denmark is a safe country, with incredibly low crime levels. Criminal activity that does occur is usually in the form of petty offences, and these occasions are few and far between. Expats going about their normal lives in the country will not have to worry about their safety.

+ PRO: Many gorgeous natural spaces to explore and enjoy

Regardless of where in Denmark expats move, they'll never be more than 30 minutes away from the sea. Beach opportunities are endless, and there are more than 100 islands in the archipelago to explore. Along with seaside adventures, inland escapades can include camping and hiking trips in beautiful landscapes throughout the country.

- CON: It can be difficult to make lasting friendships

It is not always easy for expats in Denmark to make friends among the local population, especially in the working world. Most people in Denmark make their friends during their childhood and are not always enthusiastic about forming new relationships later in life. That’s not to say people won’t be friendly and courteous, but that expats may not be invited to join social events or be welcomed into anyone’s inner circle initially. There are several expat groups in Denmark, however, which is a good place to start.

- CON: The weather is challenging

Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries, is cold and dark for a significant portion of the year. Even during the summer months, hot and sunny weather is not guaranteed. The sky is often cloudy and grey, and rain is common. Sunlight is also weak due to the northern location of the country. This can be especially challenging for people used to large amounts of sunlight each year.

Working in Denmark

+ PRO: Good work-life balance

The official work week in Denmark is 37.5 hours. Most offices are empty by 5pm, and parents with small children often leave work at 3.30pm to pick their kids up from daycare. This does not mean that people in Denmark are less productive than people from countries with longer work hours. In fact, they work just as hard. Denmark just has a culture of separating professional and personal lives, and spending time doing what they love or with family and friends is seen as important.

+ PRO: The income inequality rate is low

Denmark has created a society that strives for equality, and salaries tend to be fairly equal across the board. This means that locals and expats working in Denmark can afford a decent lifestyle, and have access to great services. 

- CON: Getting a visa is difficult

Although EU and EEA citizens can live and work in Denmark without a visa, expats from elsewhere will need a visa and a work permit to live and work in the country. Expats who apply are not guaranteed a visa for Denmark and should start the process well in advance, as there are many steps involved.

Kids and families in Denmark

+ PRO: There is subsidised professional childcare

Families with children will discover that the Danish government offers highly subsidised childcare for both local and expat children, as they assume both parents will be working full-time. At these facilities, children will be cared for by professional teachers who will help them learn Danish and general social behaviours and rules. The amount expats will pay for these services depends on where they live in the country.

Culture shock in Denmark

- CON: Language barrier

A large portion of the Danish population doesn’t speak English, and learning Danish should therefore be a priority for those planning to spend a decent amount of time in the country, or for those living and working outside of Copenhagen. Danish is also the language of choice in most companies in Denmark, and it is often a prerequisite to finding a job.

+ PRO: Denmark has a human-oriented culture

The Danish government has the best interests of its residents at heart and therefore looks after them with plenty of subsidised services and well-maintained infrastructure. The greatest result of this is that people are happy in Denmark. In fact, the country is consistently ranked one of the happiest countries in the world.

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