Moving to Denmark – A 10-step guide
Denmark is a beautiful country that has big cities steeped in culture, rugged open spaces covered in forest and long stretches of coast line on each of the 3 main islands that make up Denmark. So, when you think about Denmark you probably think about the days of the loud, hairy, beer drinking Vikings. Although there are still some funky hair styles and a lot of beer drinking, Denmark has made an international name for itself for new and modern designers of clothing, technology and architecture. There are a lot of new ideas flowing around the country and it is a very exciting time to be in Denmark.
Step 1. Research the country and your visa options
Woah, stop right there! Before you go any further, anything and everything you could possibly need to know about working, permits, schools and your essential social security number can be found on iCitizen.
This website is the most powerful tool you have when moving to Denmark, whether it be from within the EU or from outside it. The Danish government is extremely well organised and precise on its procedures on foreigners moving to their country. I cannot stress enough how important it is to come to terms with iCitizen. Not only is their website helpful, they have 4 offices based in Denmark. One in Aarhus, one in Odense, one in Copenhagen and one in Aalborg. You can pop down to any of these offices to find very helpful, calm and friendly people that will talk you through every step. What’s more is that this service is all for free and better yet in English. There is also the new in Denmark website that can also be very helpful.
These sites outline your priorities. After successfully applying for a residency permit (and being granted it) you can begin to unlock the key elements to Danish living. Still confused? It can be very daunting to take on such huge amounts of important information, so carry on reading and find out some more details about living in Denmark. Room in the Moon puts everything on a plate for you, so all you have to do is follow expert advice on how to move to Denmark.
Denmark has some of the best universities in the world, which is good, so there are a lot of international students looking to find accommodation every year, which is bad! It is certainly worth getting organised early and looking through a few of these websites to help you find your perfect place!
Don’t be alarmed by the Danish! Every Dane speaks English fluently and all their websites can be viewed in English. Look for the little flag in the top corners of the screen. Change this flag from the Danish one to the Union Jack. Ok, so now we are all talking the same language, this website is the best palace to find accommodation all over Denmark. You can locate the exact parts of the country in which to look for accommodation as well as what type and your budget. So it is very user friendly. However, it can be very competitive and if you are finding it hard to get accommodation through these sites then there are groups on Facebook that can help you find a place to live.
It is also very helpful to look on this Facebook page for apartments and shared housing. It is a great way to meet new people, as well as share the weight of bills and rent. You can also find a huge variety of rental periods and speak directly to the people who own the flat. This can sometimes be a lot easier to get somewhere you like finalised, nice and quickly! This link is specifically for Aarhus, but there are groups for other places in Denmark on Facebook.
Again, Facebook will give you the option to translate the messages on this group.
Step 3.Get Moving
Now that you are housed and sheltered it is time to start seeing the country and learning how to get around. This, in fact, is very easy in Denmark and local travel can be extremely cheap and even free if you know where to look!
Bicycles are everywhere in Denmark and you will soon learn how useful they are. Before you get your own, the City Bike system is one of the cheapest ways to see the local area and bigger cities. For a refundable 20kr, you can hire a bicycle for as long as you like to ride round the cities. The City Bikes are certainly installed in Aarhus and Copenhagen operates slightly different rental system. There are cycle paths on most roads and make for an alternative way of travelling. Just remember to return the bike to a City Bike station to get your money back!
The bus links are very good in Denmark and getting from A to B is very easy in the cities. There are options to pay for single trips or you can buy clip cards that allow you to pay for 10 trips at once, which helps to save money. There are long distance buses that are relatively cheap and run frequently pretty much all over the country. Many buses link towns to airports as well as taking trips from Jutland to Copenhagen. It is very simple and an easy solution to travel around. Rejseplanen is the easiest way to find a bus to get you to where you need to be. It has all the routes for all buses over Denmark, so be sure to use their website or download their app for your phone.
Aside from the bus, taking the train is a very popular mode of transport in Denmark. The trains are an effective way to travel around Denmark. They are also cheap but very clean and modern. They have links all over Denmark as well as into Europe. Tickets obviously vary in prices, but they are frequent to the main cities and can make your life a lot easier when travelling. Plus, it keeps you out of the wallet draining taxis!
This brings us to the taxis of Denmark. Taxis are notoriously expensive and known to be some of the most expensive in the world. It is good as a last resort for the missed flights or a late night return home but if you are trying to be smart with your money, avoid them and stick to public transport.
Step 4. National Insurance & what you need to work.
Your social security number is also known as your CPR number. Your CPR number in Denmark is your key to, well, just about everything. It is your identity and provides you with access to opening a bank account, applying to and getting a job and it is how the government will recognise you on their system. It is your digital fingerprint if you like. So, get yourself to your local International Citizen’s Service office to register yourself as a Danish resident. This will entitle you to a CPR or yellow card. More details can be found at the ICS website.
Your CPR number is your national insurance number and you cannot work without it. Once you have your personal CPR number, you can apply to jobs and to a bank account. As well as these things, you have to apply for a tax card from the Danish tax authority SKAT. This can all be done at the ICS office with the help of a great company called Work in Denmark.
Once you have received a tax card, you are eligible to work in Denmark and unfortunately, pay tax.
We at Room in the Moon have to stress the importance of reading the appropriate information on the ICS and Work in Denmark websites regarding the best way to obtain your CPR number. Different rules apply to EU and Non-EU citizens. Work in Denmark will help you with any inquiries and they have all the information available online or in the offices. If you want a job a national insurance number and a route to finding a job in Denmark then you MUST get a CPR number before you do anything.
Step 5. Look after your health.
With the danger of sounding like a broken record, it is those three little letters once again, that stand between you and the right to receive health insurance as a Danish resident. CPR.
Your CPR number not only registers you with the government, it enables you to apply for jobs, as we already know, but it also gives you a doctor. The doctor’s name and number is printed on the front of your CPR card. When you get ill or need to visit the doctor, your designated doctor, who is chosen for you based on proximity to your house, they will provide you with the care you need.
Step 6: Money and Utilities
The most important concept to get to terms with when moving to any country is the money. There can sometimes be a carelessness when using currency that looks a little like monopoly money! Room in the Moon has the best advice on money and how to spend it when moving abroad. Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries are renowned for their expensive living costs. The faster you come to terms with the exchange rate, the cheaper you can live.
The Danish currency is Krone, which is comprised of notes. 50,100,200,500 and 1000 Kr notes are available, whilst 1, 2,5,10 and 20 Kr are all in coins. The exchange rate is around 8.8 kr to £1, so this is a good estimate when you exchange your currency. Using will help you keep track of where the current rate is.
The Work in Denmark website has a great section on living costs to help break down the amount of money you will be spending on certain things.
Once you have your Krone, you will need somewhere to keep it. It is advised that you get a Danish Bank account otherwise it will become very costly to pay your bank’s exchange fees every time you make a withdrawal.
There are many banks and many have different perks. However, you can only apply for a bank account once you have your yellow card or CPR number. If you have this, then head to a bank of your choice, bring your passport and you can register for an account. They usually take around a week to set up. Here is a list of the more popular banks in Denmark.
There are more banks to choose from but these will certainly be enough to get you started. A good tip is to ask whether the bank you want to use offers online banking in English!
Most of us would find it impossible to live without our mobile phone these days so this is the next important stage in completing your move abroad. Danish phone companies are relatively cheap and have a relaxed attitude. There are 3 or so main companies, all of which have online facilities and flexible tariffs.
These companies will offer you the most competitive prices for your phone contract. It is also possible to get your internet and landline services through these companies, which may be worth checking out too. It is much easier to keep your services in one company instead of spreading them out over multiple ones. It is easier to stay organized and keep on top of your bills.
Paying utility bills is never a nice reason to delve into your new Danish bank account, but sadly it has to be done. If you are lucky, it is possible to get these included in your rent or it could even be arranged with your Landlord that he/she can pay them for you, provided you send them the money of course!
Internet can be purchased at different speeds and this will determine how much you will be paying for it. Ultimately it depends what you need it for but a fast connection can be purchased for around £12 or £13 a month. There are also much cheaper ones and can be provided by many different companies. Aside from the previously mentioned phone companies, Telia are a widely used company.
Water bills are based on your usage of hot water in the shower or washing up, so you can claw back some money here if you are sensible with your water. Don’t worry about being ultra-eco-friendly and using a quick spray to clean yourself in the shower. The water is not exceptionally pricey and you don’t want to smell bad.
Gas and electric bills will probably be most relevant in the cold winters. Heating bills can be expensive so don’t leave them on overnight or when you are out of the house. These bills will usually come from the same provider and will be 3 or 4 months’ worth of usage in a bill. Bare this in mind and find out when you will be billed so you are not short of money. It will be expensive in the winter, so a big blanket and a giant coat are certainly required.
Step 7: Buying Supplies
At last, the food and drink! Shopping is very straight forward in Denmark and is very easy to get hold of the traditional Danish pastries, so be on your guard or you will be reading a Room in the Moon guide on Danish gyms!
The supermarkets are the cheapest way to shop in Denmark and there are many places to choose from. Kwickly and Føtex Food are the most expensive but they have a far bigger selection. Fakta, Netto, Rema 1000 and Kiwi are the other supermarkets and they are certainly cheaper, but have less specialist items and are far better for your more basic shop. You can find alcohol in all of these shops and even in petrol stations and corner shops. Most of the shops have a fresh bakery counter which are highly recommended for some delicious cakes and breads.
Step 8: Entertainment
Due to a lot of the Radio and TV channels being in Danish, it can be hard to find something you like but more importantly, understand! Satellite TV will bring you a lot of more channels in English, they will have Danish subtitles though.
In time, it is actually a good way to get used to the Danish language as you will begin to pick up words here and there. Danish TV has a lot of American TV shows in general, but sometimes you can choose 1 or 2 extra channels for yourself. If you speak to the TV provider, it can be possible to get channels in English, Spanish, and Arabic etc.
This is another company that provides a lot of services but can be used to get TV. Be sure to shop around to find the best deals that suit you. Other companies are;
Step 9: Register for Danish classes
Speaking Danish is no easy feat, so it is definitely a good idea to enroll in Danish lessons. When you are given your CPR number, it is possible to go through a process that will enroll you in FREE Danish lessons. That is a no-brainer. LaerDansk are a language school that will give you as many or as few Danish lessons as you want. You can also chose to study at their school or at home via an online course.
Step 10: Finding a job
First of all, congratulations on getting this far with your move to Denmark! This is the final leg of the journey but possibly the most important. Finding a job in Denmark can be very difficult unless you speak Danish. Some jobs will operate in English but this is quite rare or specialized work.
There are, however, many services available that will help you find your job in Denmark. Being familiar with these sites and visiting them regularly will make sure you have the best possible chance of getting a job that is suited to you.
These sites are unfortunately in Danish, but if you search for them on Google, then the pages can be translated into English. Another great service from Work in Denmark, is their job search help. On their website, they list jobs for foreigners and it is in English. Work in Denmark also provide advice on how to write your CV to meet Danish guidelines and application help. Jobs in Copenhagen are also a great site to use, as they specialize in placing English speaking professionals in a job.
Finally, sometimes the old way is the best way and handing in a CV into a shop, bar or restaurant may just be the way to get yourself in a job and quickly. Maximize your opportunities and follow these tips for finding work as it is not going to fall into your lap. Hopefully, your new life and new job are just around the corner!