Wanderlust is a spectacular thing. It can make you go on new adventures that will open up your view of the world, and it might take you places you never thought you would go. Many of the internationals I have met have several relocation experiences behind them. The one thing they all have in common is they had an clear reason why they wanted to relocate to that specific country, and the decision to move to Denmark is no exception to this.
A couple of months ago Oxford Research published ‘The Expat Study’, a survey of internationals in Denmark’s reason for uprooting their life and moving to Denmark. It turned out that the respondents in the report had very similar stories to the ones I’ve been told by internationals in Denmark, and I too find them some of the reasons why I think more people should relocate to Denmark.
I hope all internationals in Denmark will share their experiences and help us invite more people here. We love having you, you open our minds, and as we would say: Velkommen.
Here are 7 reasons why you should relocate to Denmark:
- Work life balance
The first thing I want to mention is also perhaps the most important one for people coming to Denmark for work, with or without bringing the family. Our work-life balance is something many people envy us for; we work app. 37 hours a week, and beyond that we spend time with our families. Because our working hours are typically from 8 AM to 4 PM we have time to pick up our kids from day care, and maybe even take them to the playground before we start dinner – which we actually have the time to cook ourselves. We have time to play with the kids, we have time to chat with them about their day, and we have time to go on weekends and holidays with them. This should really be a given, but through the years I have heard many stories about this not being the case across the world – at all.
It is however important to note that the working hours differ according to what position you hold. I.e. A nurse has to work nights and weekends, a CEO needs to put in more hours than just 37, and it is a common unwritten rule that if you are straight out of university and have finally landed your first job, you don’t really count the hours, but rather your accomplishments. But again, this differs quite a lot according to your position, and if the company you’re working for is in the public- or the private sector.
Denmark is a great place to become parents. We support new parents as much as possible, and we appreciate that becoming a parent is something that takes time and a lot of energy. To help the family get a good start, we have one year of parent leave. The partner has two weeks emidiatly after the birth, and the mother typically has 4 weeks prior to the birth and 14 weeks after the birth. The parents then have 32 weeks that they can divide as they please. This makes a huge difference in the bond created between child and parents, and ensures a certain amount of peace and quiet when you’re starting your own family.
As parents we are also being given a payment from the state four times a year, which we can use for whatever we want. Usually parents use it for new clothes for the kids or the like. The amount of money differs in relation to have many kids you have, how old they are, and if you’re a single parent.
Our day care in Denmark is also much cheaper than many other places in the world, and the child can begin when they are only 26 weeks old – depending on what the parents prefer. Having the option of signing your child up for day care means that more women can return to their workplace earlier than in many other places, creating a more even gender balance in the employment sector.
These are just a few of the perks for parents in Denmark.
- Social security
When we get sick we don’t get financially ruined. That’s quite the selling point, I would argue. Going to the doctor is free. Going to the hospital is free. Getting a surgery done is free. This is one of the things that I love most about our country: we look out for each other. Medical care is free in Denmark, because we pay (high) taxes. The taxes make it possible for every Dane, no matter economical- or social situation, to get medical treatment when needed. This again ensures a somewhat low level of inequality between social groups. However it is not free of charge to go to the dentist, the psychologist, the fysiotherapist or to get medicine. Some of the costs are covered by our medical care, but we still need to pay something, which then conflicts with my previous statement, since it can create inequality.
In Denmark it is mandatory to receive teaching for 10 years. I’m saying teaching and not school, because it is the parent’s decision what kind of school their children should attend. After we finish Folkeskole (from app. 6 years – 16 years) we have the choice to continue with school, for instance Gymnasie, Teknisk Skole or the like. This is the so-called ‘youth education’. This is typically 3 years, and afterwards you graduate and can continue with school or start working. If you decide to continue with school you might choose university. University is typically 3 years bachelor and 2 years master – maybe a bit longer if that is what you decide, and if it is possible according to the rules of the school. All of these years of schooling are free. One hundred percent free. We may have to pay for trips and books, but not for the schooling itself. After we turn 18 we are even subsidized by the state and receive SU, a monthly payment for every student in Denmark above the age of 18. The amount of money you get depends on a couple of factors: Do you live at home? Are you a parent? Do you work on the side? You do not become rich by receiving SU, but it covers the basic expenses a student living in Denmark would have. So yet again this is an area where we avoid inequality – everyone can study whatever they wish for disregarding their economical- and social situation.
- Low corruption
According to Transparency International Denmark is one of the countries with the least amount of corruption in the world, with Danes unwilling to pay bribe, and politicians and state officials unwilling to accept it. This is something we are very proud of, and something we protect with all we have, so when we occasionally do have a case of corruption, we condemn it, we prosecute it, and we shame it. We do not tolerate corruption and we do not trust the people who do. If someone is convicted of being corrupt he/she will have that as a trademark forever. It can seem a bit harsh, but the trust we have for the system, the people in power, and the community in general is something we never want to give up, and something we protect with all it takes. So when someone steps out of that ‘circle of trust’ we make it clear that it is unacceptable. Did you notice how all Danes did exactly what was asked of us after the various press conferences in the beginning of the Corona crisis? We did not ask why, we did not object. We respected our authorities, and when our Queen Margrethe II spoke to the nation on live transmitted television, we listened and we followed her example. Low corruption in a Danish contexts means trust. And who doesn’t wanna live in a country where trust is the most important value?
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll do it again: the Danish nature is like nothing else. Our country is a coastal country, and no matter where you live in Denmark, it will not take you much longer than an hour to go to the seaside. Water is all around us, and we know how to utilize it through fishing, green energy, and water sports – maybe you’ve already windsurfed at Klitmøller or tried SUP boarding in Vejle Fjord? If not, take advantage of our waters, and our wind.
Water is one thing, but the forests – don’t even get me started. I myself live in Grejsdalen in Vejle, the most amazingly beautiful valley surrounded by forests, making the air somewhat fresher. Forests are a big part of the Danish natural scene and the perfect place to go if you are in need of some tranquility – ever heard of forest bathing? Denmark is the perfect place to do just that, and because of our work-life balance you actually have time to do so.
The last point I wanna make, and maybe what is most iconic about Denmark, is our very own word HYGGE. Hygge is a feeling you cannot describe, translate, or explain. You have to feel it, and you have to make it your own. For some it’s candlelights in the wintertime, for others it’s heavy drinking with friends – to each their own. The hygge concept covers a lot of different situations for me as well: hanging out with my daughter, drinking coffee, Christmas, teaching my students Danish, watching a good show on Netflix, because it’s a feeling, a state of mind, rather than an actual ‘event’. It’s something we are known for and something we are proud of, very proud of. Hygge can turn even the worst of days into a great one. Hygge can be enjoyed at all ages. Hygge knows no gender, no status, no ethnicity. Hygge includes all that want to be included. Hygge is free and can be called upon in even the weirdest of situations. Hygge can be on the first date, and on the deathbed. So if you want to really experience that feeling that many countries are envious of: Come to Denmark for a visit or a stay, we welcome you and we love to have you here.