The next instalment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part, or want to see a certain place featured let me know!
I spent one day in Copenhagen earlier this year, and I’ve kept it on my list because there’s so much to do there. Plus, every Danish person I speak to tells me I really need to make it out of Copenhagen and explore the rest of Denmark! I was really interested in finding out what it’s like to live in Copenhagen, since I really enjoyed the vibe I got when I was visiting. Luckily, Mary from the blog, A Mary Road, agreed to share her experiences about living in Denmark!
Tell us about yourself
My name is Mary, I’m originally from the Philippines, but haven’t been living there for the past 3 three years. I’m currently based in Israel, but I move a lot, I like calling myself homeless! I started travelling in November 2015 and had covered some parts of Southeast Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
What made you decide to move to Denmark?
The first time I moved away from my home country was in 2013. I moved to Denmark. I honestly never see myself to do it. What happened was after I finished my bachelor, I got a job in a restaurant right away. However, I really didn’t like it. I hated it and I wasn’t happy. Until the offer to do the au pair program came along. I quickly said yes without even knowing anything about Denmark other than it’s in Europe!
Tell me about the cost of living in Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark is very expensive. If you live in Copenhagen the rent starts around 800 USD. If you are a student you can get your own dorm room with shared kitchen and bathroom for a bit less than that. Transportation is pricey as well (bus ride flat rate is 3-4 USD for the first 3 kilometres). Bread is quite affordable though, they usually cost around 1.5 USD for the cheapest white toast bread. Beers in the pub is between 8-12 USD, whilst in the grocery store is around 1 USD.
- If you cook most of the time and maybe eat less meat, it should save you some money.
- Buy a bicycle, bike lanes are well provided all around the country.
- Collect the plastic bottles, beer bottles, and cans then return it back to the shop. Where you will get your reimbursement.
How did you make a living?
I worked as an au pair whilst I was in Denmark, it was a good way to learn the culture and of course travel around Europe.
I got the offer to be an au paid through my sister. She used to live and work in Cape Verde, her boss was Danish. They mentioned to her that his cousin was looking for an au pair. Since my sister couldn’t go, she offered it to me instead.
However, you can find websites that cater this service. Although, I don’t recommend to go on an agency where you have to pay to get a host.
Do you need a visa to live in Denmark?
Yeah, I needed to obtain a temporary visa which allows me to stay in Denmark for two years and travel around the Schengen area.
What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?
Ha, coming from the Philippines, it wasn’t very smart to move to Denmark during November. I was homesick for the whole winter. It wasn’t easy to make friends, what I did was to get online and join international groups and meet ups.
What’s the best thing about living in Copenhagen?
The Danish culture. Growing up in a conservative culture, living in Denmark totally changed my mindset. It helped me grow to be a more matured and open minded person.
What’s the hardest thing about living in Copenhagen?
Finding friends, I found it really hard to get into the local scene of how to be friends with the Danes. They are very private and they have a cold culture. But when you get to know them and be actually friends with them, you’ll never lose them!
How is your new home different from your old one?
Denmark is very liberated country (in a very fascinating way) compare to the Philippines.
If we had just one day in Denmark what should we not miss?
Danish baking! Never ever leave Denmark without trying their cakes and biscuits!
Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?
If you are young enough, go the Friday bars and meet the locals! Or else, join the local festivals. Danes love festivals and they have good number of holidays throughout the year.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Copenhagen what would it be?
Open your mind. Danish culture is a little bit different compare to the other part of Europe. Have a good time and take it easy.
Have you been to Copenhagen, or explored more of Denmark? Would you like to move there?