Denmark is home to hygge and some of the happiest people in the world. Work-life balance, quality of life, environment, and salaries are at the top level. But there are also some downsides to living there. Hence, you should consider some cons of living in this Scandinavian country before assuming the grass is greener elsewhere.
There are several reasons why you should not move to Denmark, including high taxes, high cost of living, cold weather, language barriers and many more. To be able to distinguish if moving to Denmark is the right choice for you, you must factor in these downsides when deciding.
Is moving to Denmark the right decision for you? Well, it might not be. Read this article to learn what drawbacks can living in Denmark bring with it. Yet, we can not forget about Danish hygge and that it’s one of the happiest nations in the world. So, maybe not all is that bad!
Why you should not move to Denmark?
1. High taxes
Just like the other countries in the Scandinavian region, Denmark is adopting high tax rates that may feel exorbitant, especially if you come from a country where tax rates are not at all that high.
Denmark has one of the highest tax burdens among European countries. In 2019, taxes took 46.1% of the total country’s GDP. Yet, as part of the Danish welfare state, citizens are guaranteed equal access to the different services that are paid for by taxes.
That said, the OECD average tax wedge for a single worker in 2021 was 34.6%, while in Denmark, it was 35.4%. Hence, on the European average, employees don’t pay extremely high taxes. In fact, Denmark took 21st place among other 38 OECD member countries.
As an individual, you will pay income taxes as soon as you stay in the country for 183 days within 12 months.
In order to meet the needs of its small population, the Danish government imposed heavy taxes on liable citizens with a total tax rate equivalent to a maximum of 52.07% (2022). Generally, residents pay between 37% and 53% in income taxes +8% for pension.
You can see in the graph below how Denmark makes most of its money:
It’s worth noting that in Denmark, employees don’t pay social security contributions, but they do contribute to a Labour Market Supplementary Pension Scheme (LMC).
Here are tax rates in Denmark depending on the income level you make:
|Income (DKK)||Gross (LMC)||State Tax||Effective Rate|
|0 – 57,200||8%||0%||12,09%|
|57,200 – 552,500||8%||12.16%||12,09% – 18.15%|
|552,500+||8%||15%||18.15% – 22.99%|
That said, only 9% of Danes pay the top tax rate.
Related: What is a good salary in Denmark?
2. Language barriers
Denmark and other countries in the region have some of the highest proficiency in English among the local population. That said, don’t be fooled that you can live life to the fullest in Denmark without speaking Danish.
Eventually, if you decide to move to Denmark, you will want to learn the Danish language to make the most of your time there.
If your stay is less than a year, you may not need to make this effort. However, if your stay is longer than that, you most likely will need to learn the language to communicate with locals and the community.
It is true that English is taught in the school system from the age of six onwards, but most people prefer to converse with their family or friends in their native language.
Besides, many jobs in the local market have proficiency in Danish as a requirement. Without speaking the language, you won’t even be able to apply.
German is very close to Danish, so it might be beneficial if you are fluent at some level in Deutsch.
3. Little sunshine
During the winter months, when you reach the end of November and December in Denmark, the sunlight will be weaker than in other European nations. When you first relocate here, you may find it challenging to adjust to the long hours of the night during the winter months.
On average, Denmark has about 1,603 hours of sunshine, compared, for example, to Italy, with around 2,000 hours. Keep in mind that the total number of possible hours is 4,383. Hence, when moving to Denmark, you are cutting your possibilities of getting vitamin D.
But don’t be discouraged; winter is a perfect time for dark hygge evenings at home or in a coffee shop with a cup of hot chocolate.
4. Cold weather
Due to the geographical location, Danish weather can be pretty depressing. You can expect a lot of rain, cold, wind, and overcast skies from October through March.
Denmark lies in a temperate climate, which means it’s cold in winter and relatively warm in summer. In summer, the average temperature is only around 17 and 18°C.
Winter in Denmark is cold, with an average temperature in January and February of about 0°C. The days are incredibly short, with a sunset at 3 pm in December.
There is no doubt that living in Denmark can be pretty difficult for those accustomed to countries that receive plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year.
Drinking is a very common way of spending time locals enjoy in Denmark. When it gets dark and cold, a glass of beer or wine is very comforting. Yet, alcohol consumption is pretty high in the country, making it a risky place to gain some unhealthy habits.
For instance, in 2021, the average Dane consumed approximately 10.4 liters of pure alcohol. It’s even higher than in previous years.
Of course, Denmark is still behind many other countries. For example, in Latvia, people consume about 13 liters per year. Yet, Denmark is still ahead of the US, Sweden, Iceland, and the Netherlands.
Moreover, having a drink in a bar is a social custom most people religiously follow. If Danes might not speak to you anyone during the week, you’ll have plenty of conversational opportunities on the weekend (but in the pubs!).
6. Complicated visa processing
If you are moving to Denmark, you must consider whether you need a visa and which of them is suitable for your case. For a visa, it’s mandatory to be able to support yourself financially and have health insurance. The process can require a significant amount of paperwork and time.
Besides the complexity of getting a visa and residence permit, you also need to ensure you can qualify for one. At the moment of writing, Denmark hasn’t introduced a digital nomad visa, so you will have a limited number of reasons to apply for a long-term visa there.
Some options can be a work visa if you have a job offer from a Danish company or a student visa if you want to study in Denmark.
If you are looking for a work visa, check out the list of most in-demand jobs in Denmark.
7. Affordability is an issue
In Denmark, things can be costly, especially if you used to live in a cheaper country. Among all EU countries, Nordic countries like Norway and Denmark are the most expensive to live in.
For instance, prices in Denmark, Iceland, and Norway exceed the EU average by 40% and Sweden by around 30%. There are also high taxes on many products.
Most likely, you will also earn more in Denmark, but if you don’t make money there, then paying for things can be painful.
Before you move to Denmark, check out our list of the top most affordable places in the country.
If you are planning on renting an apartment in Denmark, you need to be prepared that it’s most likely will be rented out empty. Yes, you heard it right, you might need to take care even of kitchen and bathroom equipment.
No washing machine, no nothing. Besides empty houses, rent prices can bite, especially in Copenhagen.
9. It can be lonely sometimes
Making new friends in a new country is never easy, but Nordic countries are totally different ball game. People in Denmark aren’t very open to making new friends, especially if they are over 30. It’s one of the top countries where expats struggle to build new relationships and friends.
For all these reasons, you might feel lonely from time to time, if you are moving alone to Denmark.
10. Existence of passive racism
Racial discrimination is a serious offense to human rights, and since it is a big problem in the United States, some people might want to relocate to someplace where they feel safer and free from racism.
If that’s the case, moving to Denmark may not be a good thing, as the existence of passive racism is widespread in some cultures here.
People from different racial groups might face some passive racism when living in Denmark.
Here, if there are not enough families looking and thinking like them, it is not uncommon for them to move to a new neighborhood.
In the event that a foreigner moves to Denmark to join a partner, there are specific requirements that must be met before a marriage license can be granted to them.
In order to qualify, they must prove their ability to speak Danish, and a spouse must also provide a $10,000 bond.
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