For the last many years Denmark has been ranked among the happiest countries in the world. It has also earned good positions in different rankings of countries with best gender equality and security, making it the perfect destination for many internationals looking for a new start, opportunities and -why not- adventure. However, through out these years living here, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to a repetitive conversation about all those things expats found significantly challenging, and which perhaps would have had a decisive role if they have knew them before relocating to this Scandinavian country.
1. Danish language
For most internationals the local language becomes one of the most challenging aspects to crack about this culture. The undefinable vowel sounds, the pronunciation of the soft d and the ø and the lack of strict grammar rules make the Danish language something most would have like being aware of.
This group of people, although swearing it can be one of the most difficult languages to learn and assuring that most of the times you can live your life by getting around in English, will also say that when learning it (or at least making a conscious effort) your everyday can become significantly easier and more enjoyable than before.
Read this post in case you feel like giving the Danish language a try.
2. Housing market
Long story short, the main Danish cities are facing a housing crisis due to the high demand for renting rooms/flats/houses. The prices are over the roof, internationals are continuously scammed and the fact that rules and regulations are in the local language makes many of the procedures to secure your housing more challenging than it could be foreseen.
Although there are countless of recommendations to find the best housing offers, how not to fall in the systematic scams and the organizations to be contacted in case of problems, one of the top recommendations given by internationals to other new comers is to ensure -when ever possible- the housing situation before moving permanently to Denmark.
Check this post in case you are looking for housing on the internet before relocating, it might avoid you some trouble ahead.
3. Labour market
The news say that Denmark is in need of many specialized professionals and high skilled workers, however it must be understood that the industries where this is the case are very specific. The job market becomes a big challenge for certain groups of people such as students, internationals with no Danish proficiency and accompanying spouses, among others.
The advise in this case is also to study thoroughly the market where you could probably work before relocating, contacting before hand some of the companies that could be possible employers, ask about future openings and join all the different networks to apply for jobs.
Check organizations like Work in Denmark for more information about the topic.
4. The weather
Denmark isn’t the coldest, wettest or windiest country in the entire world. However, it has managed to mix those three elements quite well, making the weather very unenjoyable for many, specially the new comers. Internationals tend to complain about this a lot and Danes will continuously reply with the old saying: “der findes ikke dårligt vejr, kun dårlig påklædning“, meaning there isn’t bad weather, just bad clothing.
When moving to this country make sure you’ll be ready to face long dark and grey months over winter, a lot of rain during several periods per year and strong wind over some couple of hundred days! In other words, gear up with whatever that helps you keep warm, dry and happy.
5. Danish gastronomy
When moving to some specific countries worldwide, one of the things expats look forward to is its gastronomy. Italy has the pasta and wine, France has some mind-blowing cheeses, Belgium it’s chocolate, India the curry-flavoured dishes, etc.
Denmark well… let’s just say its traditional food isn’t in the top of the list for most internationals. The Danish cuisine, although very contemporary and modern in its restaurants, will continue to be based on pork, potato, butter and rye bread on the everyday life.
But don’t get discourage, many expats end up creating a taste for it and in no time you’ll find ourself enjoying some licorice, cheering with some snaps and inviting friends over for some home made smørrebrød.