Copenhagen, Denmark Report of what it's like to live there - 02/09/22

Personal Experiences from Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark 02/09/22

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have also lived in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Gaborone, Botswana; Kabul, Afghanistan; and Augsburg, Germany.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The USA. Connections are very easy between Copenhagen and almost anywhere in the US. There are direct flights to several US airports or you can fly through Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What years did you live here?

2020-2022.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

It is mostly apartments with a few houses. Single people are in apartments. Families can choose. My apartment is very nice. Many apartments are within walking distance of work. Apartments do not have air conditioning and there are no screens on the windows.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Copenhagen is an expensive city but the grocery stores have excellent products and product choices. The quality is, generally, better than the US but with slightly less selection.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

No need to ship anything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Wolt is the most popular food service delivery app but there are some other options too. There are tons of excellent restaurants. They have excellent burger places and hot dog/sausage carts.
Restaurants are expensive but usually provide high quality food. There is no lack of choice for anything you want.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No, there are very few bugs in the summer even with your apartment windows open and no screens.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO is excellent.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is very rare to have household help here due to the high cost.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are plenty of good gyms. The Danes love to stay in shape. They are around $50 a month.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Danes prefer cards to cash and it is very safe to use cards anywhere.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Every Danes under the age of 70 seems to speak fluent English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The metro seems to be well set up for handicapped access and the sidewalks and roads are in good repair. Not all buildings have elevators, though.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro, S-train, and buses are excellent and not too expensive considering the normal price of things in Denmark.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A car is not needed for many people. If you bring one you will find parking difficult. Post will ask if you need a parking spot. Bring something not too large.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it is widely available, fast, and inexpensive. It should only take a couple of days to get it installed if that.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I use Google-Fi and my work phone.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some spouses work at the Embassy and some work online.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual at the Embassy, suit and tie for important meetings

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is a very safe post. There is some bike theft and pick pocketing/purse snatching.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is excellent health care and the air quality is good too. The winters are very cloudy and overcast with minimal sun which may cause some depression for people.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent air quality: lots of fresh air and strong winds from the Baltic Sea

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

None, let restaurants know what your allergies are and you should not have an issue there either.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Long nights and very cloudy, overcast days with rain in the winter.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It tends to be moderately cold with plenty of rain in the winter and strong winds all year. The summers are mild.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community is huge in Copenhagen.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Don't expect to socialize with Danes. They keep to themselves. They are friendly and helpful but don't expect to be invited over. It feels like half the residents of Copenhagen are expats so you can find other expats to socialize with. If you are single, like I am, you need to be happy spending a lot of time by yourself. There is tons of stuff to do in the city by yourself.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it is excellent for couples or married people. If you are single and can be happy doing things on your own it can be very good. There might be some decent options dating other expats.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I haven't seen any prejudice but many Danes are anti-immigration. It is difficult to make friends with locals but there are many expats in the city.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

From what I have been told it is an excellent city for LGBTQ+.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

This is a great springboard for exploring the Nordics, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland or the rest of Europe. My most unique trip was to Greenland which was spectacular. Greenland can be expensive but very worthwhile. It is easy to take the train around Denmark and even Sweden but everywhere else is easier by plane. I have visited Croatia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Sweden in the last year, and all of them were great trips and easy to do.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Copenhagen has lots of cool museums and other sites. I climbed to the top of the Church of Our Savior in Christanshavn which is a Baroque church where the staircase to the top of the bell tower is outside. It was awesome but there was definitely some vertigo. Copenhagen is an excellent and safe city to walk around. You can take the S-train or regular train to lots of cool places close to Copenhagen. The Viking ship museum in Roskilde is spectacular and there are some cool castles/palaces to see in Helsingor and Hillerod.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

No, there isn't much to buy here and everything is expensive. I have bought plenty of stuff on my trips around Europe. Stockholm which is only a 4 1/2 hour trip by train has some excellent and reasonably priced art.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is a safe city and excellent for walking, biking, and public transportation. It has excellent food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

If you really enjoy the work and advantages of living in the developing world then this might not be the place for you. It is expensive. There is not a lot of interesting work since you are in the middle of safe, well-developed, rich, western Europe. There might be some interesting Greenlandic/Artic issues to work on. Expect work to be boring and life outside the Embassy to be easy and mostly enjoyable.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

expectations of making local friends.

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4. But don't forget your:

love of travel.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great post for exploration of Europe. You should have a good life outside of work but work may not be the most stimulating. I know several people who curtailed from western European posts to go back to the developing world because they were dissatisfied with the boring work.

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