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Life As an Expat in Copenhagen?

With enough research and careful planning, you can prepare to be an ex-pat in Copenhagen with ease and confidence. Here’s an overview of the things you will need to think about:

Real Estate

With its green and safe environment and high standards of living, it is also to be expected that real estate prices in Copenhagen are also quite sky-high. For instance, a 3-bedroom town house can range from £240,000 to $350,000; while the same type of house at the city’s provincial town can go about £120,000 to $175,000. A two bedroom apartment in the city will cost £90,000 to $130,000, and those located at the city’s rural area will be priced from £90,000 to $130,000.

Buying a property

When you’ve found the property you want to buy in Copenhagen, it is advised for you to ask for someone to check for damp or errors in building construction before you have your Real Estate agent draft the “purchase agreements”. Also have a lawyer or a solicitor take a look at your contract or documents before signing them; this lawyer will also be the one who would notarise the contract on your behalf. If paying in cash, try to negotiate for the property’s value; some sellers will give good discounts for those who pay in cash.

Fees

The price that you pay for your Copenhagen real estate would normally already cover a Real Estate agent fee which is roughly around 6% of the property’s value. Other fees include the legal fees for mortgage deeds (about 1.5% + £115 / $170), fees for the final contracts (0.6% + £115 / $170), lawyer fees (between £250 and £650), and other costs including the stamp duty (0.6% – 1.5%).

Property Tax

Denmark charges various property taxes. There’s the real estate tax which is 1% of the property value, local tax which ranges 0.5 – 2.5% depending on the property’s location, and county tax about 1%. If you live in the house yourself, you will just have to pay for property tax, also called “Ejenfomsskat”.

In sum, it is advisable to carefully think about buying a property in Copenhagen. Seek for guides and tips from locals or from fellow expats to avoid unnecessary inconvenience.

Living

Combining business and pleasure in Copenhagen is a pleasant experience for those who decide to be expatriates in the city. Here, the workplaces prioritise having flexible working hours to give you more time for your family without compromising productivity. Schools and health services are also offered for FREE, which will save you a lot once you decide to live in the Danish capital. As one of the greenest cities in the world, living in Copenhagen will also entail having to live in a relatively safer and healthier environment.

Quality Life

According to many international studies, Denmark is one of the countries with the highest standards of living. This means that living in Copenhagen will give you a more advanced lifestyle, which includes a more productive and better work-life balance. And because the city is also ranked among the places with the lowest crime rates in the world, this makes living in Copenhagen way, way safer than anywhere else in the world.

Culture and Customs

Upon your decision to live in the Danish capital, you will then have to consider integrating yourself in the city’s culture and traditions.

Denmark, as an egalitarian society is more gender-friendly. Most of the Danes are characterized of their modesty as far as their accomplishments are concern (which is quite impressive given that they are recognized to be among the most highly intellectual people in the world). When living as an expat in the city, it will not harm to also try modesty to make you easily at ease with the locals.

Additionally, the Danes believe that there is one proper way to believe in public – may it be written or not. If they see someone acting otherwise, do not take offense if they call your attention. While warm and friendly, the Danes also expect everyone to behave accordingly and courteously.

By making yourself accustomed with the life in Copenhagen and knowing more about, you’ll find yourself easily adapting with your new life as an expat.

Moving

If you are planning of moving to Copenhagen, there are a number of things that you would need to take care of for a smoother transition to the Danish capital. Here’s a checklist:

Residence Permit

Unless you are from a Nordic country, you would need both a residence and work permit in order to live and work in Copenhagen. There are various ways to obtain these permits, depending on your home country and qualifications.

EU/EAA citizens will have to apply for a EU registration certificate. Of course they can stay in Copenhagen for up to 3 months sans a certificate, but after that, application for certificate would be asked.

Non EU/EAA citizens will have to pay a particular fee to have the Immigration Service process their application. It can be paid by the applicant or another person living in Denmark.

Work

For those who intend to work in the Danish capital, there should be a labour market consideration that will justify the work and residence permit. An example of this is when the country lacks people to carry out a particular work. There are several schemes for this, there’s the Positive List, The Corporate Scheme, Pay Limit Scheme, Researchers, Greencard Scheme, and more.

Studies

Those who wish to study in Denmark will be granted a residence permit if they fall under the 3 main categories: Higher Educational Programmes, Basic and Youth Study Programmes, and Folk High Schools.

Accommodation

To be registered as resident in Denmark, you would need to have a permanent accommodation – which is quite difficult, if not expensive, especially for newcomers. To help you with this, it would help for you to search the Internet, read ads in the local papers or those in special housing papers, sign up on a wait list, place a notice in a supermarket, or ask help from friends, family, and acquaintances already living in Copenhagen.

CPR

Upon your registration as resident in Denmark, you will then be given a CPR number, which is like your personal identification number. This number is used when doing anything that requires your identification in the city, such as paying bills, getting insurance policies, purchase a house, etc.

Health Insurance

Healthcare in Denmark is financed by taxation, so when you feel sick, you can consult the doctor or be confined in the hospital without having to pay fees – except for medicine, certain special treatments, and dental treatments. To get these benefits as resident of Denmark, you will need to get your Health Insurance Card, which you will show your doctor as proof of your identity.

Tax

Working in Denmark would entail paying the Danish state your income tax. The tax you pay the government will be used to pay for healthcare, education, childcare, infrastructure, care for the elderly, and more!

These are just a few things to consider before moving to Copenhagen.

Jobs

Working in Copenhagen as an expatriate would mean having to work in a “safe and well-functioning society with a high level of public service” (http://www.copcap.com), thus making this experience one that you can look forward to. But before that, here are the things that you need to know about working in the Danish capital:

Work Permit

In order to work in Copenhagen, work and residence permits are needed. To obtain this, certain qualifications have to be met depending on your country of origin. These permis should be one of your top priorities if you want to legally work in the city.

Work Culture

The Danish work culture is a rare mix of lean and efficient work style with continuous search for new ideas for the improvement of the business process. The working environment in Copenhagen therefore is attractive to those who seek for responsibility and group dynamics. This is reinforced by the Danish companies who push for easy-going culture, allowing honest and open communication.

Taxation

Denmark offers favourable tax rules to foreign researchers and expats, which makes it one of the few EU countries to have such advantage.

If you meet certain conditions set by the Danish government, an expatriate can avail of the 26% special reduced tax rate on their income for their first 60 months in the city as well as in the country. This special rule will make adjusting in the city easier and more financially helpful.

Maternity Leave

Pregnant expats can take four weeks of leave before they give birth, and are obliged to get at least another two weeks after giving birth. After the obliged two weeks of leave, the mother can take up to 14 weeks of maternity leave, while the father is entitled for a 2-week paternity leave within the first 14 weeks after the child’s birth.

Public employees will get their full salary during the maternity leave.

Doesn’t this simply make working in Copenhagen wonderful?

Studying

Copenhagen offers a wide range of excellent education opportunities, may it be for a short, medium, or long-term basis. For those who are non-Danish citizens, studying in Copenhagen will require you to submit an application to the Danish Educational Support Agency to request to be put on equal footing with the Danish citizens.

This request is possible if, for instance, the student moved to the country with his/her parents before his/her 20th birthday and still resides in Denmark. You are also eligible to apply if you are married to a citizen of the country and have lived in Denmark for at least two years. You can also apply if you’ve had paid employment in the country even before you start your education.

Residence Permit

When deciding to study in Copenhagen, a residence permit is also needed. There are three categories to get residence permit for students: higher education programmes, basic and youth study programmes, and folk high schools. To assess your qualification, submit your application to the Danish Agency for International Education. The assessment report from the department will state what foreign qualification you have corresponds to in the country, like your educational level, and if possible, your field of education. To get access to regulated professions, another application shall be made for authorization.

Student ID Card

All students in the country will be given by their school a student ID card. This card is what’s generally used when enrolling, taking exams, borrowing books in the library, or availing of student discounts.

For further information about being an expat student in Copenhagen, read our pages on Living in Copenhagen and Moving to Copenhagen.

Sandy

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