Moving to a new country sounds fun but may involve a series of crucial steps, especially if it means choosing between two countries. If you are a US citizen moving to Denmark or an expat torn between Denmark and the USA, it can be more challenging as both countries can significantly change your life for the better in terms of your career, personal, and interpersonal growth.
Denmark is an excellent choice if you’re after a decent middle-class life where you don’t need to look beyond what you need to survive. However, if your dream is to live a vibrant, fast-paced life while earning top dollar, then America would be perfect for you.
This article helps you get an idea of the pros and cons of living in the US vs Denmark and which country can ultimately be a better choice for your personal situation. There are plenty of Americans relocating to Denmark each year, hence, there are legitimate reasons for it.
Living in the US vs Denmark
Generally, both the US and Denmark are great countries that have embraced their immigrants. In terms of well-being, Denmark continues to rank the second happiest country according to the World living happiness report.
The report bases its findings on a collection of factors that influence national happiness.
Denmark maintained the second position in 2021 with a happiness score of 7.64, while the US ranks 16th with a score of 6.98.
In fact, Denmark has a significantly low rate of suicide cases compared to the United States, as the quality of life plays a significant role in how the Danes relate to others, handle stress, and make healthy choices.
However, like any other country, Denmark has its fair share of imperfections. Let’s go through some of the cons of living in Denmark.
Cost of living
When it comes to the cost of living, Denmark makes life easier for the middle and lower class compared to the USA. The standard of living for the average Dane is much better than that of an average American hence lower poverty levels in Denmark.
Here’s what we mean. The average cost of living in Denmark ($1,665) is 21% less costly than in the United States ($2,112). Denmark ranked 20th compared to the United States, which ranked 6th in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.
Both countries are ranked 9th and 23rd best countries to live in the world, respectively.
In Denmark, the net income may be enough to cover your expenses for up to 1.9 months. However, the after-tax can go up to 2 months in the United States. The US has a broader range of salaries, while most Danes enjoy a similar income.
That said, most items cost more in Denmark than in the US, with some exceptions for healthcare and rent.
|Dinner in a restaurant||$80.2||$61.4|
|Fast food meal (McDonald’s)||$11||$8.48|
|Beer in a pub (0.5L or 16 fl oz)||$6.35||$5.32|
|Pepsi/Coke (0.5 L or 16.9 fl oz)||$3.29||$2.08|
|1 bedroom apartment downtown (40 m2 or 430 ft2)||$967||$1,410|
|Cheap 1-bedroom apartment (40 m2 or 430 ft2)||$691||$1,088|
|3-bedroom apartment downtown (80 m2 or 860 ft2)||$1,767||$2,466|
|Cheap 3-bedroom apartment (80 m2 or 860 ft2)||$1,329||$1,870|
|Utility bill for one person (electricity, heating, water, etc.)||$103||$108|
|Utility bill for a family (electricity, heating, water, etc.)||$158||$166|
|Internet plan (50 Mbps+ 1 month unlimited)||$30.6||$65.2|
|Mortgage Interest Rate for 20 years||1.81%||5.15%|
|Apartment price to buy in the city center (1 m2 or 10 ft2)||$5,032||$5,500|
|House price to buy in the suburbs (1 m2 or 10 ft2)||$3,503||$2,943|
|Local transport ticket||$3.22||$2.2|
|Monthly ticket for local transport||$68.5||$64.5|
|Taxi ride (8 km or 5 miles)||$24.1||$17.3|
|Gas/Petrol (1L or 0.26 gal)||$2.03||$1.25|
|Milk (1 L or 1 qt)||$1.48||$0.96|
|Bread (0.5 kg 0r 1.1 lb)||$2.45||$2.79|
|Rice (1kg or 2.2 lb)||$2.12||$3.85|
|Cheese (1 kg or 2.2 lb)||$11.4||$11.6|
|Chicken breast (1 kg or 2.2 lb)||$9.76||$11.2|
|Round steak (1 kg or 2.2 lb)||$13.5||$14|
|Apples (1kg or 2.2 lb)||$2.72||$4.48|
|Banana (1 kg or 2.2 lb)||$2.77||$1.73|
|Water (1 L or 1 qt)||$0.87||$1.25|
|Coca-Cola/ Pepsi (2 L or 67.6 fl oz)||$3.1||$2.12|
|Beer (0.5 L or 16 fl oz)||$1.77||$3|
|Cold medicine (1 week)||$7.13||$8.46|
|Toilet paper (4 rolls)||$1.58||$3.78|
Read how much houses in Denmark cost.
Visas and residence permits
In Denmark, you must apply for a temporary residence permit through the Danish Immigration Service or the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
This is a requirement for people who want to stay, work, study, or seek family reunification and intend to be in the country for an extended period. These permits are valid for 1-2 years, depending on the type.
If you want to live in Denmark permanently, you can apply for a permanent residence permit that you can only acquire after living in Denmark for at least five to eight years, depending on your situation.
Similarly, in America, the state provides for immigrant visas based on employment, family ties, adoption, special immigrant categories, and diversity visa.
You can apply through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), National Visa Center (NVC), The Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), and US Embassies and Consulates.
Both countries are known for difficult immigration processes. If you are an EU/EEA citizen, it’s easier to move to Denmark.
Regarding in-demand jobs in Denmark, having unique skills and learning the Danish language will set you apart from the stiff competition in the job market. Local candidates are a top priority over foreigners, so you should show a high work ethic.
As a foreigner in America looking to tap into the job market, you have a better chance of securing a job as there are emerging businesses and rapid expansion year in and year out, compared to Denmark.
On the other hand, Denmark is a great country for someone looking to grow careerwise as it has an excellent work-life balance and attractive salaries.
However, with a population of about 6 million people, finding a job for an immigrant can be challenging as the labor market is a bit compact.
In-demand jobs in Denmark in 2023
Some of the highest paying and with greater opportunities jobs in Denmark include:
- Various Engineers: Civil, Mechatronics, and Electrical Engineers
- Software Developers and other IT-related jobs
- Life Science
- Other Medical Personnel
- Business and Finance
- Metalworking and Mechanical Engineering jobs
- Skilled Construction Workers
- Transport and Logistics
- Hospitality and Housekeeping jobs
In-demand jobs in the US
If you’re considering moving to the US and you’re still unsure of what career path to take once you get there, these in-demand jobs are your best bet.
They have more opportunities than there are candidates to fill them, which means better benefits, including higher salaries, career advancement opportunities, and job security.
Some of them include:
- Information Security Analyst
- Nurse Practitioners
- Physician Assistants
- Medical and Health Services Managers
- Software Developer
- Data Scientists
- Financial Managers
- Speech-Language Pathologist
America is the home of the biggest workaholics because they have little choice in the matter as there’s no social safety net available for Americans. However, in Denmark, the Danes have a great social safety net and some good benefits, including high unemployment benefits.
Finding a work-life balance in the US can be difficult because most of its employees prioritize work over their personal life leading to increased cases of burnout.
In Denmark, there’s less competitiveness in the workplace with fewer office politics compared to America. This means that it’s probably easier to get rich in the US compared to Denmark while living in Denmark could earn you an easier life.
An average employee in Denmark earns a gross salary of about 45,513 DKK ($6,513) per month or $78,096 per year, which includes a pension. It’s about 29,061 DKK ($4,160) per month after tax.
The table below shows some of the expected salaries in Denmark depending on the job title.
|Working area||Average gross monthly salary by survey (in DKK)|
|Agriculture, Food Industry||30,970|
|Arts & Culture||34,942|
|Construction & Real Estate||43,904|
|Economy, Finance, Accountancy||44,596|
|Education, Science, & Research||37,614|
|Electrical & Power Engineering||42,685|
Read this guide on salaries in Denmark.
When it comes to the US, the median weekly income across all full-time workers was $1,070 in the third quarter of 2022. That’s about $4,280 per month or $51,360 per year (bls.gov – US statistics).
After taxes, that salary will leave you $44,157 per year or $3,679 monthly in New York. As you can see, the average wage is significantly higher in Denmark (12%).
Here are some of the median salaries in the US and their projected hiring growth by 2024.
|Job title||Median salary (in $)||Projected hiring growth in 2024 (in %)|
|Information Security Analyst||90,282||19|
When it comes to lifestyle, the choice between Denmark and the United States will depend on your personality and the kind of society you want to live in.
That said, the chilled nature of the Danish culture may make sense if you’re after living a decent middle-class life (where nearly everything is taken care of for you) while earning an average income.
This may include health insurance, the cost of daycare, and free education.
While Denmark provides free healthcare, education, and subsidized daycare fees, it’s not granted for free. The high tax rates are channeled toward that. It also gets worse for top earners as most of their income is heavily taxed to ensure even the weakest member of society has better living standards.
In fact, you start paying taxes if you stay in the country for 183 days within the first year of relocation. The Danish government imposes huge taxes on its citizens that are between 37% and 53% in income taxes and an additional 8% for pensions to meet the needs of its small population.
The only upside of Denmark’s high tax rates is that the Danes have a great social safety net and some decent benefits, including a high unemployment benefit.
Similarly, America is a fantastic place with a superb lifestyle, especially if you’re young, healthy, and employable. If you’re an overachiever, you can easily afford most of the things the Danes enjoy, as it’s easier to live a flashy lifestyle compared to Denmark.
It’s also important to note that Nordic countries, including Denmark, have a code of conduct that follows the law of Jante. This law denotes social disapproval towards expressions of individuality and personal success. The media can call you out for overspending, which is not the case in the US.
It can be pretty challenging to integrate with the Danes as a foreigner as they’re known to keep their childhood friendships, making it impossible to immerse yourself in their circle. This can be pretty lonely for immigrants compared to the US.
Being home to diverse nationalities, the USA makes it feel like an international hub. With almost every nationality represented, the US feels less lonely and a home away from home setting.
Everything feels familiar yet different at the same time compared to Denmark.
Making friends in the US is also quite a smooth experience, as its people are generally friendly and welcoming.
In America, healthcare is mega expensive, but the services are top-notch, with excellent systems for people who can afford it.
However, in Denmark, all citizens enjoy universal, equal, and free healthcare services provided by the local government of the five regions.
That means that in Denmark, you don’t live constantly worrying about being one illness away from bankruptcy. On the other hand, a chronic disease in your family in the US can easily push you to bankruptcy.
For example, according to this healthcare website in America, fixing a broken leg can cost you up to $7,500, while an average 3-day hospital stay is about $30,000.
Best cities to live in Denmark
Some of the best cities you can live in Denmark as a foreigner in terms of opportunities and excellent living standards include:
Also read: Cheapest cities to live in Denmark.
Best cities to live in the US
If you’re moving to the US as a worker, expat, or student, these cities have the most to offer in terms of jobs, education, rich culture, and a decent lifestyle:
- Boston, Massachusetts
- New York City
- Chicago, Illinois
- San Diego, California
- Los Angeles, California
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