Expat in Jutland

Charlie is no stranger to living as an expat in Denmark since he had already lived there some years ago. Read on to learn about the things he appreciates about living in Denmark (great health care!) as well as some of the things that tick him off.
 

Charlie

-Where were you born?

I was raised in the USA.

-In which country and city are you living now?

Denmark

-Are you living alone or with your family?

With wife and a cat

-How long have you been living in Denmark?

3 years

-What is your age?

50+

-When did you come up with the idea of living in Denmark?

Have lived here a few times before and after working and living in the UK for 6 years, decided it was time to buy a home and settled down in Denmark. That was back in 2008.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?

No, was self-employed at first and had previously worked in Denmark before, so the process was fairly smooth.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

NO.

-How do you make your living in Denmark? Do you have any type of income generated?

Have been a professional magician for 30 years and started doing that when I came back to Denmark. The economy was bad, so have put that on hold and started working with a few temp companies that have kept me busy and give me time off to perform when the occaision arises.

-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?

Yes, I speak Danish ... fairly fluent .. can be understood and understand the Danes when they speak slowly and clearly. There are lots of dialects. I know Sjælland Dansk better than Jysk Dansk and I am exposed to more Jysk, so sometimes things have to be repeated.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.

Yes, but Skype keeps me in touch with family and friends and I take a trip home every year or two. Have lots of friends and family visit, so it is fine. Not homesick.

-Do you have other plans for the future?

Build my performing business up to what it was in the UK and US and hopefully retire in a few years. Work on my new house and sit back and enjoy life.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

Bought a house in the country outside of Arhus. Located between Viborg and Arhus. Could not really afford anything close to town. That which I could afford in town, was not what I wanted to live in. Got a great little place with large yard, privacy and except for one neighbor (have great neighbors). There is always one neighbor that has to play loud music, have a barking dog and be disrepectful of others' rights!

-What is the cost of living in Denmark?

Expensive, but it is manageable. You have to remember that your wages are also higher than the UK or US. Taxation averages about 40%, but you get your health care and many other social benefits. Had 2 operations last month on my back which would have destroyed me financially in the US. Walked out of the hospital after 2 weeks without a bill.

-What do you think about the locals? 

The locals are mostly very good. I found out that if you treat them with respect, they will treat you the same way. Bashing their culture, way of life, government or anything else that they are proud of will not sit well with them. It is okay for them to bash these things and you can agree, but don't start the discussion.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Denmark?

Positives are that life is a little slower paced. Not as much emphasis on work, even though it seems to consume much of my life. Costs are high, but we have been able to cope nicely and find that if you get away from "having to shop", which is very American, than it is not a problem.

Negatives: The weather can be a bit hard. The long, gray, cold, wet winters and the all the snow we have had in the past few years has put a damper on life. Summer is always a welcome sight and we take advantage of that time. Hate some of the fines that are imposed without recourse. For example, got a fine from EuroPark for 590kr for a parking violation in a shopping parking lot. Did nothing wrong, but had no recourse. Just pay it or go to court and pay a higher fine. Their word against ours. Reminds me of pure NAZISM! Never use another Europark car park again. They lied and cheated and I got to pay. Stuff like that just peeves me off. They can get away with anything.

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Denmark?

Learn the rules. Including all traffic rules if driving or on a bicycle. There are laws and disobeying can cost dearly ..money wise. Learn a few Danish phrases. Things like "thanks" and "hello" and "can you help me". A few pleasantries can go a long way to endearing you to the Danes. Danes can be abrupt at first, but break the ice with a nice comment and most will be glad to help you and befriend you.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Denmark?

I am a bit partial to my own site, which helps expats in Denmark adapt to life in Denmark, www.fyidenmark.com. If you move to denmark you should familiarize yourself with your local kommunes website and keep up with what is happening around you.This can really help you get involved with your community and make you feel more at home.