Living in Denmark as an Expat: your guide to a successful move

Living in Denmark as an Expat: your guide to a successful move

It’s no wonder that the Danes are renowned for being one of the happiest people in the world. Happiness in Denmark is not just a concept, but a way of life. Their unique lifestyle, known as ‘hygge’ and based on appreciating small moments in life always in the present moment, can be experienced in the bustling metropolis of Copenhagen as well as in tranquil Danish cities. With its excellent quality of life, including a thriving economy and exceptional cuisine, every year, Denmark attracts expats from all over the world.

If you too, dream of experiencing the Danes’ way of life, Foyer Global Health has prepared a guide for your relocation to Denmark.

Moving to Denmark: what are the formalities?

For EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, entering and staying in Denmark for less than three months does not require a visa. But if you plan to live, work or study in Denmark for a longer period of time, you will have to apply for a residence permit and registration certificate obtained from the Danish immigration authorities.

Third-country nationals such as Americans and Canadians as well as citizens from EU member states need to apply for a visa/residence permit/work permit through the Danish embassy in their home country.

The Danish government offers a ‘green card’ program, for up to three years, granting points-based residence and work permits for foreign nationals seeking employment in the country. The criteria for obtaining points include education level, language proficiency, and professional skills.

All residents, including expatriates, must register with the National Population Register (Folkeregister) to obtain a personal identification number (CPR-nummer) and a public health insurance card. This formality is essential for accessing social security benefits and carrying out any daily life formalities, like opening a bank account or subscribing to a telephone service.

For further information on settling in Denmark as a foreign national, please visit:

Working in Denmark

A wealthy Scandinavian country, Denmark boasts a dynamic and flexible labour market, making it easier for employers to hire and fire while fostering the integration of foreign nationals. If you’re working in fields such as design, energy, information and communication technologies, maritime transport or pharmaceuticals, you will find great job opportunities across various companies, especially if you have a good command of the Danish language.

In Denmark, employees enjoy strong social rights protection, including generous unemployment benefits, access to continuing education and extended parental leave.

As the job market is fairly competitive, especially in big cities like Copenhagen, it is recommended to learn Danish as it can set you apart from other expat job seekers. While it is true that English is widely spoken in Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden, learning Danish nevertheless makes it easier to integrate into the local society and the work environment. All EU/EEA or Swiss nationals are entitled to state-subsidised Danish language courses once they have received their residence permit.

Accommodation in Denmark

living copenhagen

In Denmark, finding a great place to live can be challenging as rentals are scarce and housing is expensive. This is particularly true if you plan to live in Copenhagen, where the number of rental properties is limited, and estate agents’ waiting lists for flats can extend several years, requiring a substantial budget. It’s probably easier to directly approach individuals or use property rental websites such as boligportal, lejebolig or keybo. In Copenhagen, 3-room flats cost around KR16,000/month (€2,148).

On the outskirts of Copenhagen, or in a city like Assrhus or Odense, the rental market is less competitive and more affordable. However, rentals here are still relatively scarce. As an expat, you will increase your chance of securing housing by having a minimum command of the language and a solid income.

The Danish healthcare system

Denmark offers high-quality healthcare services based on an innovative and efficient healthcare infrastructure. Denmark’s public and universal health insurance system, known as Sygesikring, is accessible to all residents, including expats, provided they are registered with the population registration service and have been issued with a yellow health card and CPR number. Many expatriates nevertheless opt for international health insurance.  They prefer to pay for their specific health coverage which permits them to be free to choose their health practitioner and to be treated in less time than within the public system.

Living in Denmark – pros & cons


  • High standard of living and high level of income (Danish salaries are among the highest in the EU)
  • Superb quality of life (definitely a pro!)
  • Beautiful surroundings
  • Incredible spots to explore
  • Most Danes speak English
  • A good education system (including international schools)
  • Top-notch & efficient health services
  • High levels of security and prosperity


  • High cost of living (Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world)
  • The taxes (high personal income tax rate)
  • Learning Danish can be challenging (even though English is widely spoken, at least in the workplace)

Best things to discover:

  • The finesse, functionalism and simplicity of Danish design– one of the best in the world[SR1]
  • Stroll along the Nyhavn canal all year long
  • Go cycling and explore the country on two wheels with your friends
  • Discover Ribe, the country’s oldest city
  • Along with the Danes, enjoy the summer music festivals (Copenhagen jazz festival; Roskilde, Scandinavia’s biggest music festival)
  • Marvel at the lights of Skagen, which inspired a group of Scandinavian painters
  • Visit the enchanting gardens of Tivoli, the most visited amusement park in the world
  • Recharge your batteries on the magical beaches of Dueodde or Hvide Sande or on the island of Bornholm
  • Taste Danish cuisine, whether on the go or at Michelin-starred restaurants
  • Immerse yourself in local Viking culture and history in Ladby or in the workshops of Roskilde
  • In Copenhagen, explore the Nationalmuseet and the Louisiana, two must-see museums, as well as Christiana and Nørrebro, two vibrant districts you can easily explore by bike
  • Stroll along the Aalborg waterfront promenade