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Living in Denmark
What You Should Know About Living Costs and More in Denmark
Use this section of our Denmark guide to learn interesting country facts about Denmark. We cover such topics as how to get a driver’s license, use public transportation, and the quirks of Danish cultural and social etiquette. For example, it may surprise you to learn that when attending a dinner, it is customary to wait to be told where to sit. We also cover just how expensive it is to live in the former land of Vikings.
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When relocating, the cost of living in another country is always important to consider, and this is especially true when talking about Denmark. Living in the Danish country can be quite expensive. However, you will likely receive a high salary. Free education and healthcare are a plus, but this also comes at the expense of almost half of your salary being deducted after taxes.
In this section, you will find guidance on all sorts of practicalities related to living in Denmark. We cover aspects like driving and public transportation. We also explain Danes’ social etiquette and culture, so that communication and conduct are not an issue for your integration in the country.
- Country name: Kingdom of Denmark, Kongeriget Danmark
- Government type: parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Climate: temperate and humid with windy winters and cool summers
- Capital: Copenhagen
- Currency: Danish krone (DKK)
- Languages: Danish (official language); Faroese, Greenlandic, and German (recognized regional languages)
- Religion: Protestant, Lutheran
- Time Zones: UTC+1 and UTC+2
- Calling Code: +45 for Denmark, +298 Faroe Islands, +299 Greenland
- Emergency number: 112
Denmark is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area. As a Nordic country, Denmark has strong ties to Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.
The Kingdom of Denmark includes two autonomous territories: Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland is not part of the European Union although it has the status of Overseas countries and territories of the EU.
Denmark is divided into five regions: Nordjylland, Midtjylland, Syddanmark, Sjælland, and Hovedstaden. Each region is split even further into municipalities or kommuner.
Public Holidays in Denmark
- New Year’s Day, Nytårsdag: 1 January
- Palm Sunday, Palmesøndag: Sunday before Easter
- Maundy Thursday, Skærtorsdag: Thursday before Easter Sunday
- Good Friday, Langfredag: Friday before Easter Sunday
- Easter Sunday, Påskedag: movable holiday in March or April
- Easter Monday, Anden påskedag: The day after Easter Sunday
- All-Prayers Day, Store bededag: movable holiday on the fourth Friday after Easter
- Holy Thursday, Kristi Himmelfartsdag: 40 days after Easter
- Pentecost, Pinsedag: seventh Sunday after Easter
- Pentecost Monday, Anden Pinsedag: The day after Pentecost
- Constitution Day, or national day, Grundlovsdag: 5 June
- Christmas, Juledag: 25 December
- Boxing Day, Anden Juledag: 26 December
Main Embassies in Denmark
Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, hosts the majority of embassies in the country—72 in total. These include embassies for most European countries and some Asian and American countries.
Although a few African countries have embassies in Denmark, most expats from the continent seeking diplomatic services will need to travel to neighboring capitals: Stockholm, Oslo, Brussels, Berlin, London, or Paris.
Main Airports in Denmark
The busiest airports in Denmark are:
- Copenhagen Airport;
- Billund Airport;
- Aalborg Airport;
- Aarhus Airport;
- Vágar Airport.
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Cost of Living
Getting acquainted with the average cost of living in Denmark should prepare you for the kind of lifestyle you can sustain in the country.
Is It Expensive to Live in Denmark?
It can be quite expensive to live in Denmark, especially in the most popular cities: Copenhagen and Aarhus. Copenhagen is among the most expensive cities in the world and both cities are in the top 15 of the most expensive in Europe.
However, high salaries in Denmark should make up for the country’s high cost of living. The highest average salary you will find is in Copenhagen, at 53,000 DKK (7,850 USD) a month which is also where you will find most business centers and highly qualified staff. The lowest average salary is in the region of the North Jutland, at 45,800 DKK (6,800 USD).
Cost of Living in Denmark by Region
You can expect the most popular cities to be the most expensive, like Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, and Aalborg. You will find other cities more affordable, like Esbjerg, Horsens, Randers, or Vejle.
The cheapest areas in Denmark are Southern Zealand, Langeland, and the southern islands, Lolland and Falster. Keep in mind that employment, cultural activities, public transportation, and the like are scarce in these areas.
Living Expenses in Denmark
Here are what your monthly expenses would be in Denmark excluding rent or utilities:
Single person—5,300 DKK (790 USD)
Couple—9,800 DKK (1,450 USD)
Couple with two children—14,100 DKK (2,000 DKK)
Rent and Utility Prices in Denmark
Below you will find the average monthly rent for an 85 square meter apartment in Denmark’s main cities.
|City||Rent (DKK)||Rent (USD)|
One month of utilities, including water, heating, and electricity is around 880 DKK (120 USD). To that you should add internet connection which costs around 186 DKK (25 USD) a month.
Grocery Prices in Denmark
|Food and Alcohol||Price DKK||Price USD|
|Milk, 1 liter||8.50||1.20|
|Bread, 500 g||16.50||2.40|
|Rice, 1 kg||13.60||1.90|
|Eggs, 12 units||22.90||3.30|
|Cheese, 1 kg||77.40||11.50|
|Apples, 1 kg||18.80||2.80|
|Potatoes, 1 kg||11.60||1.70|
|Bottle of water, 1.5 l||9.30||1.40|
|Bottle of wine||60||9|
|Beer, 0.5 liter||12.30||1.80|
|Pack of cigarettes||45||6.70|
Eating out at restaurants in Denmark does not come cheap. Here are the prices you should expect:
|Price DKK||Price USD|
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant||120||18|
|Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||520||77|
|Meal at fast-food chain||75||11|
|Domestic Beer, 0.5 l||45||7|
|Imported Beer 0.33 l||40||6|
|Water, 0.33 l||17||3|
Cost of Education
Education in Denmark should be free of charge if you opt for the public school system.
If you opt for private schools, know that enrolling your kids in kindergarten will cost around 3,000 DKK (400 USD) a month. If they are attending international school, you should expect to pay around 56,500 DKK (8,400 USD) a year.
The state healthcare system is free for all residents in Denmark, so you would not need to have expenses related to healthcare. You would still need to pay for medication. This could be around 56 DKK (8 USD) for regular painkillers, or 78 DKK (11 USD) for antibiotics. If you wish to visit a private doctor, that will cost you around 1,700 DKK (250 UD).
Travel and Transportation Cost
A monthly card for public transportation costs 462 DKK (68 USD), while a ticket for a single trip is usually 22 DKK (3 USD).
If you plan on driving, you should expect gas to cost around 11 DKK (1,60 USD) a liter. Buying a car will likely cost you more in Denmark. A new Volkswagen Golf or equivalent costs 266,800 DKK (40 USD).
Culture and Social Etiquette
Greeting in Denmark is casual with a firm handshake and a smile. Introductions are usually on a first-name basis. You greet each person individually when arriving and leaving, and you should typically shake hands with women first.
Being courteous to everyone is a must in Denmark. Danish culture is one of the most egalitarian in the world, and that goes for gender, ethnicity, job position, and so on.
Your tone of voice should be moderate in public as drawing attention to yourself in any way is usually frowned upon (i.e., playing loud music on public transportation). Danes like their spoken (or unspoken) rules to be followed. Failure to comply may create confrontation with Danish locals.
Dining and Gift-Giving Etiquette
If you are invited to dine at a Danish home, it is customary to bring a gift. This could be a bottle of good wine or a box of high-quality chocolate. Flowers make an excellent gift too, which you can send in advance. Be sure to arrive on time. Danes are punctual, whether it is for a social gathering or business meeting.
Do not sit at the table without being assigned a seat. You may if you are told to do so but try and avoid being the first to sit down. You should keep your hands visible while dining. Rest your wrists on the table, never your elbows. You are generally offered seconds, which you may politely refuse without insulting the host. Do try and finish what is in your plate as food waste is generally looked down upon.
If you are eating out at a restaurant in Denmark, know that tipping is uncommon. That also goes for other services such as taxis. Of course, you can do so if you wish but it is generally not expected.
Values and Culture
Danes have a very egalitarian social structure. This is true for family, business, genders, and social groups. Even the Danish language tends to use gender-neutral words. You will find that both women and men are equally respected, receive equal pay, and occupy leadership roles in business. The majority of people are on a first-name basis.
Being a team player is highly valued and respected. The group’s needs are generally prioritized over individual ones. For that reason, Danes tend to be modest about their own achievements so avoid humble bragging as it may not be well-received.
Danes enjoy spending time with their friends and family. The nuclear family tends to be the norm when it comes to family structure. The way children are raised may not be quite what you are used to. Kids are brought up to be independent and self-reliant from a young age. Most one-year-old kids are sent to daycare once parental leave ends and parents get back to work.
As for religion, it is mostly Protestant and Lutheran. Over 75% of people are members of the Church of Denmark which is the officially recognized church. However, despite the country’s religious roots, this does not reflect much on Danes’ day-to-day life. Most people do not attend church often and couples do not feel the need to get married to live together or start a family.
Cultural differences are often overlooked, and these can make or break the success of any relocation. Intercultural training is the safest way to ensure a smooth integration to any country. Contact InterNations GO! for intercultural training in Denmark if you are concerned about fitting in.
Driving in Denmark
Driving in Denmark requires having a Danish driver’s license or a European license. If you have neither, you may be able to exchange your foreign license for a recognized one.
Driving in the city centers will likely not outweigh the costs. Most people rely on public transportation or bicycles to commute.
Rules of Driving in Denmark
- Not signaling when changing lanes could result in a 1,000 DKK fine (roughly 150 USD).
- You must have your headlights on at all times—day or night. If you buy or rent a car in Denmark, its headlights will likely turn on automatically.
- The use of seatbelts is mandatory for every person in the car.
- Driving speed is 50 km/h in cities, 80 km/h outside the city, and between 110 and 130 km/h in highways.
- It is common to switch tires twice a year in Denmark—a set of tires for winter and another for summer.
- To drive in Denmark, you will need a valid driving license, proof of registration, and insurance for your vehicle.
- The minimum age for driving in Denmark is 18 (or 17 if supervised by another driver who is at least 30 years old and has had a driver’s license for at least ten years).
How To Get a Danish Driving License
Exchanging your foreign driver’s license costs 280 DKK (40 USD).
International driving permits only allow non-residents to drive in the country. Residents in Denmark registered with a CPR number will need to either exchange their existing license or take the Danish driving exam.
Who Needs to Exchange Their License and Who Doesn’t
European licenses are valid in Denmark. There is no need to exchange it and you can use it as long as the license itself is valid. Greenland is an exception. To drive there, you will need to take lessons and a driving test.
You may also be able to exchange your license if you are from a country outside the EU or EEA. The countries include Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Isle of Man, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the US. These licenses can be exchanged within one year. The driver must sign a declaration stating that they have been driving for the last two years and have not had their license revoked in the previous five years.
If your license is not listed, you must check with your kommune (municipality) if you can exchange it without taking the theoretical or practical exam. If not, taking the test is your only option.
Exchanging a Foreign Driver’s License
The first step is to make an appointment with the Borgerservice in your kommune. You should bring the following documents:
- medical certificate issued by your family doctor no longer than 3 months in a sealed envelope
- photograph (see the requirements)
- original driving license
- residence permit (if applicable)
- passport if you are a Nordic citizen
- yellow health card if you are an EU citizen
- translation if the driving license is not written in English or in accordance with the EU model
Renting a Car in Denmark
If you need drive a rental car in Denmark, you should have no problem finding car rental companies in your area. You will need to be at least 21 years old and had to have held a driver’s license for a minimum of one year. In some companies, you may be asked to pay a young driver fee if you are under 26 years old.
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Public Transportation in Denmark
How is public transportation in Denmark? Most public transportation networks in Denmark are extensive and reliable. You will find buses and trains in major cities, a metro in Copenhagen, and a number of ferries connecting the country’s main islands. There are a few airports connecting bigger cities, although these are typically not used for domestic travel.
In bigger cities, one ticket for public transportation often works for several modes of transportation, like buses, trains, or the metro.
Do keep in mind that most people in Denmark own a bicycle and use it for everyday trips.
Costs of Public Transportation in Denmark
A ticket for public transportation should cost around 22 DKK (3 USD). A monthly pass for several transportation modes would be around 462 DKK (68 USD).
Bus networks are common in main cities. These may be divided into several zones, which often dictate the price of the transportation.
You can buy tickets on the bus. Just make sure to have the correct amount, as drivers may not have change or refuse to take bills as a security measure.
DSB is the national railway company operating in Denmark, but you will find other companies as well, such as Arriva or Nordjyske.
Regional trains connect several towns and outskirts of a city to a main station. Intercity trains are the best way to travel between cities, especially the InterCity Lyn (ICL) which is faster and around the same price as regular intercity trains. With an intercity train from the capital, you should take an hour and a half to visit Odense, three hours to visit Aarhus, and one hour to reach Aalborg.
You will find a metro network in Copenhagen. The lines connect the municipalities of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, and Tårnby.
Taxis can be quite expensive in Denmark. You should expect a normal tariff to start at around 48 DKK (7 USD) and every kilometer to cost 15 DKK (2.20 USD). For example, a ride from the airport to the city center in Copenhagen would cost around 200 DKK (30 USD).
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Join Our Exciting Events in Denmark
Once we've helped you move to Denmark, we can make you feel at home by introducing you to other expats who have already settled and are part of our Denmark Community. Attend our monthly events and activities in Denmark and get to know like-minded expats in real life.
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