Expats love life in Denmark

Denmark breeds happy foreign citizens. In fact, 9 out of 10 expats in Denmark are happy or very happy with their life in Denmark, a new study shows. Work-life balance is the most important factor for accepting a job in Denmark, closely followed by opportunities to improve professional and personal development. Do you want to join?

The Expat Study 2020, conducted by Oxford Research, examines how expats living and working in Denmark perceive their professional and personal lives. In short, the overwhelming majority are highly satisfied with their choice to live and work to Denmark.

Great news if you are considering moving to Greater Copenhagen to work, isn’t it? Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the findings.

Denmark’s work-life balance makes life better

9 out of 10 expats are happy or very happy with their life in Denmark. This includes high satisfaction with the Danish work culture, which has earned Denmark the reputation as one of the world’s most family-friendly places to live.

Top three factors for accepting a job in Denmark:

  1. opportunity to have a good work/life balance: 61%
  2. career development: 51%
  3. to have an interesting job: 50%

“Work-life balance is the factor that most expats list as important when accepting a job in Denmark. This is especially important for expats originating from outside Scandinavia”

- Expat Study 2020

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Expats move to Denmark to improve their career development

Professional and personal development opportunities are next on the list, with 8 out of 10 expats being satisfied or very satisfied with their job from a personal and professional point of view, and 66% said that there are good career opportunities in Denmark.

Especially expats with a high level of education list career opportunities as important factors for accepting a job in Denmark.

Expat friendly public services for internationals

Moving to a new country is synonymous with paperwork and, sometimes, trouble-some interactions with immigration and international citizen services. In Denmark, this runs rather seamlessly according to expats who have been in contact with public authorities such as the local municipality and The Danish Customs and Tax Administration, SKAT.

  • 84% of expats from non-EU countries were very satisfied or satisfied with the services of the Danish authorities in their process of obtaining a residence and work permit.
  • 91% of all expats strongly agree or agree that Danish public authorities can communicate in English.

“Denmark has increased its focus on helping internationals settle in Denmark. In Copenhagen, International House Copenhagen has been established as a public-private partnership to provide international citizens with the best possible start to life in Copenhagen by giving them the comfort of a one-point entry”

- Nikolaj Lubanski, Talent Director, Copenhagen Capacity

44% plan to prolong their stay in Denmark

Moving to Denmark is often a long-term commitment, rather than a brief encounter. 39% of the respondents plan to stay permanently in Denmark, 11% plan to stay for more than five years (but not permanently), 16% plan to stay for 3-5 years, and only 4% plan to stay less than 12 months.

Once in Denmark, many seem to be smitten with the Danish way of life. Only 6% plan to leave earlier than originally planned, and a whopping 44% plan to extend their stay in Denmark.

The decision to stay in Denmark is very dependent on the happiness of the family and/or partner moving with the expat. And if a double income setup is important, it may be useful to know that accompanying partners with a master’s degrees or Ph.D. have a higher degree of labour market attachment than total spouse/partner population.

Paying taxes makes sense

In Denmark, taxes ensure all citizens receive free education from pre-school to university, free healthcare, generous parental leave for both mums and dads, and a safety net for workers and the unemployed.

  • 66% are very satisfied or satisfied with the balance between taxation and the benefits of living in a welfare state. Only 10% are dissatisfied.
  • 57% are very satisfied or satisfied with the balance between living costs in Denmark and personal income after taxes.

You may also like: Why Danes happily pay high rates of taxes

Learning Danish makes making friends easier

The respondents were also asked what could make them stay longer in Denmark. 51% listed better Danish skills. Not speaking Danish could be a barrier to making Danish friends, which is linked to plans to stay in Denmark, the study concludes. Indeed, 45% say they would stay longer, if they had a better social network.

“Danes speak English very well, and English is the corporate language in many companies. However, informal socialising in and outside the workplace is often in Danish. So, taking Danish classes will make life easier – and a lot more fun”

- Nikolaj Lubanski, Talent Director, Copenhagen Capacity

On a low note, 43% of respondents said that it is difficult to make friends in Denmark. The study also showed that expats are more prone to socialise with other expats in their spare time than with Danes. This is especially true for expats who do not speak any Danish. And expats who do not socialise with Danes have a greater tendency to leave Denmark earlier than planned.

Personal and professional networks are important for career development

When finding a job in Denmark, online channels such as job sites, company web sites, LinkedIn, and other internet channels such as social media form the most important job recruitment platforms. However, the single most used job channel is personal and professional networks as 37% of the respondents learned about their job in this manner.

60% of expats coming to Denmark applied for their job themselves, 13% was transferred via the company they work for and 13% were headhunted.

About the Expat Study

The Expat Study was carried out by Oxford Research, combining survey data among 1,954 expats living and working in Denmark with registry data from Statistics Denmark.The 2020 Expat Study is the fifth Expat Study conducted by Oxford Research, previous studies were published in 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

The Expat Study 2020 is financed by a group of sponsors. In alphabetical order they are: Copenhagen Capacity, Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (Akademikerne) and The Danish Society of Engineers (IDA).

Would you like a job in Denmark?

If you think working in Denmark sounds great, you can find vacant positions in the Copenhagen area at Greater Copenhagen Career Portal and in Central Denmark at headstartcareer.dk. The job portals list jobs especially suited for English-speaking internationals.