The complete guide to moving to Denmark

Updated: Oct 4, 2018

With its charming aesthetic and egalitarian approach to society, it's no wonder so many people dream of moving to Denmark.

The impeccable design and progressive ideals make it an attractive option for relocation, so if moving to Copenhagen is something you're thinking of doing, this article covers what you need to keep in mind.

Setting up home

It’s clean, it’s green and in 2008 it was ranked as the 2nd most liveable city in the world - so it’s easy to see why so many people want to relocate to Copenhagen.

As well as being home to government buildings, royal palaces and rococo mansions, Copenhagen is also home to over 600,000 people, so if you’re looking to become one of them, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.

To rent or buy

Property in Denmark is expensive regardless of whether you’re renting or buying, but this is relative because the high living costs and high property prices are offset by high wages.

The most popular areas to live are Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen - Denmark’s largest cities. Living in a city often comes at a premium, and on this front Denmark is no different. Therefore it’s advisable to begin your relocation by renting a property in your chosen city to see if it’s the right area for you before committing to a purchase. The areas in Copenhagen can be broken down into the following categories:


Indre By otherwise known as the inner city area in Copenhagen is very much the centre of town. This bustling centre is full of restaurants, shops and hotels - as well as a pedestrian street dotted with indie shops and upscale boutiques known as Strøget,


Just across the Inner Harbour and home to all of the tourist sites is Christianshavn - a place that’s known for its cafe culture, colourful houseboats and galleries and music venues.

Family Friendly

Known for its family-orientated upscale community, is Østerbro, an area which houses trendy restaurants, exclusive Danish design stores and Fælledparken - a park complete with sports fields and play areas.

Up and Coming

Popular with creative types is Nørrebro - Copenhagen’s hip, multicultural neighbourhood. Here you’ll find late-night bars, kebab joints and high-end eateries.

Although there are numerous options available when it comes to finding housing in Copenhagen, life in the city generally doesn’t come cheap. It’s very much a landlord’s market as due to the demand, they can afford to be picky. As a result, the housing market can be fiercely competitive, especially at peak times of the year, such as the start of a school or calendar year. Therefore if you have a particular date you need to have relocated by, it’s always best to start your search early.

It’s also best to know the lingo so that you know what type of property you’ll be looking at. The terms for property types are as follows:

Hall of residence: Kollegium

Room: Værelse

Shared apartment: Bofællesskab

Apartment: Lejlighed

Terraced House: Rekkehus

Detached House: Villa or Hus

Monthly accommodation costs will depend upon what type of property you’re looking to lease. Apartments, known as lejelejlighed, are a popular choice for couples and working professionals but are notoriously small (unlike their cost!) Whereas terraced houses, known as Raekkehus, are the next most sought after in the rental market, thanks to the interior being more spacious than an apartment, and the fact that most have small private gardens.

Once you’ve found a property you like you’ll need to act fast, as property in Copenhagen is a fast-paced industry. Rental contracts are usually written in Danish, so you may need to acquire a translator so that you can understand what you’re signing, but most agreements are pretty standard.

Typically, leases run for a year but your contract will state the time duration and the condition the accommodation needs to be returned to at the end of the lease period. The contract often states that the accommodation will need to be returned in the same condition it began in, and therefore it’s important to capture photographic evidence of the conditions when you move in. If you do spot any damage or problems, you’ll have two weeks to report any problems to your landlord before you’ll be liable for fixing it.

The following websites are available for those looking to find a property:



Apartments in Copenhagen


Nordic Housing

Tip: Ensure you have savings in place when it comes to accommodation, as in Denmark you have to pay three months rent upfront as a deposit.

Getting Around Copenhagen

As far as cities go Copenhagen is an incredibly easy place to navigate. There are various modes of transportation available, all of which operate reliably and punctually.

By Bicycle:

When it comes to transport in Copenhagen, bicycles are often the most popular choice. Favoured by locals and tourists alike bicycles are quite literally everywhere, and with the contrast between the clean minimalist buildings and the ancient Nordic style of townhouses, there’s plenty for you to see as you go about your day.

There are an abundance of dedicated bike routes across the city with rental places available in most areas on a pay-as-you-go basis, so procuring a bicycle is easy. And with other road users making such an effort to prioritise cyclists, it can feel like one of the safest places to ride.

By Metro:

Running throughout the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, The Copenhagen Metro is an effective mode of transport. Plus, it's about to get better, because in 2019 a new route will open making it easier than ever to connect to the city centre.

By Taxi:

With clear licences and the majority accepting credit cards, manoeuvring the city via taxi has never been easier. All taxis operate at fixed mileage rates and are just as easy to hail on the street, as they are to prearrange.

By Train:

With routes running across the country, including to the airport and through all of Copenhagen's neighbourhoods, getting the train has never been easier.

By Foot:

With all of the pedestrian zones, street crossings and ample pavement sizes, it's almost as if Copenhagen was built for pedestrians. The city invites you to be sustainable, so if you're looking to go green - be sure to bring your walking shoes!

If you're looking to use a lot of public transportation in Copenhagen, then it may be worth getting a Copenhagen Card or CityPass.

When travelling in the Capital Region, the Copenhagen Card means you don't have to worry about the zones or ticket prices on your journey because you get unlimited transportation (including to and from the airport!) with it. You also get discounts on restaurants and free admission to more than 80 attractions!

Whereas the CityPass can be bought with a 24, 48, 72, or 120-hour validity and gives you unlimited access to trains, the metro, and buses across zones 1-4.

Getting a driving licence

Driving in Denmark might be intimidating in theory, but the reality is that the country’s amazing infrastructure make it a joy to drive along. The only intimidating factor, depending on your experience, is that in Denmark, they drive on the right-hand side of the road. So if you’re used to driving on the left, this may take some adjustment.

With regards to the paperwork, EU citizens have it easy as they’re able to use a valid EU licence without needing to replace it with a Danish one. But if you’re travelling from outside of the EU, you’ll need to exchange your licence for a Danish one within 2 weeks of receiving your residency permit.

There is an exception for Australians, however. As of the 1st of April 2016 Australians are able to exchange a full, valid, Australian licence for a Danish one - so long as they meet certain criteria. Information of which, can be found on the embassy website.

School Options

As well as excelling at equality, Denmark’s also excelling when it comes to their educational system as it’s ranked as one of the best in the world.

Children start their educational journey in Nursery Childcare. They then move to Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Upper Secondary education. Once they have completed their secondary education they receive a Danish leaving certificate which qualifies students to attend higher education, such as university.

The average school day runs between 8am-3pm and education is free to all children and students who live in Denmark. This is valid up until the age of higher education where tuition fees are applicable.

In addition to public schools, Copenhagen also has a number of privately-funded schools. Lessons are typically taught in English and students can work towards the International Baccalaureate.

In addition to this, if any students are looking to learn to speak Danish, then Denmark offers free language tuition to students of all ages.

Visa Legalities

Like many countries in the world, Denmark has an agreement in place with countries to enable foreign nationals to enter the country for a set period of time without a visa.

Australia is one such country, which means if you're travelling from Australia to Denmark you are able to enter the country without a visa if it's on a short-term basis.

In this instance, a short-term basis is considered up to 90 days, and if you're looking to stay longer than that, you'll need to apply for a temporary residency.

The temporary residency lasts for up to five years and enables you to live and work in Denmark whilst contributing to taxes. It also enables you to make use of social systems, such as education and healthcare.

If you're relocating from Australia then you'll need to speak to the outsourcing office: VFS Global.

VFS Global is Denmark's external service provider who handles all applications for residency and work permits on behalf of Denmark. If you'd like to make an enquiry or an appointment to discuss submitting your application, you can contact them via:

Phone: +61 2 8599 6215


If after spending a few years in Denmark you realise you want to make your stay permanent, then you'll need to obtain it through naturalisation. Which requires you to have a permanent residence permit which can only be applied for after you have spent five years living in Denmark.

Everyday Life

Copenhagen is often referred to as the City of Spires thanks to its large collection of Medieval and Renaissance architecture that's always pointing skyward. But whilst its architecture is historic, when it comes to fashion, media and design Copenhagen is a modern hotspot - which makes everyday life rather pleasant!

Recreational activities

Whether you want to roam around looking at the architecture or check out some of Copenhagen's attractions, there's plenty of ways for you to spend time outside of work.

Food is a huge part of any culture, so you'll be pleased to know that restaurants are plentiful in Copenhagen and the majority of people speak immaculate English, so ordering shouldn't' be a problem.

And when it comes time to walk off the meal, there's plenty of destinations to go to. Whether it's Nyhavn canal and harbour, the Tivoli Gardens, or walking along Langelinie Promenade to see Edvard Eriksen's infamous little mermaid statue.


Despite a slight slip during the global crisis, the Danish economy sits in the favourable position of having one of the strongest economies in the EU.

The unemployment rate sits at just 6% and the job market is thriving across various industries, with a particular focus on pharmaceutical and maritime shipping companies. Which means that there are plenty of opportunities available for expats looking for work.

The most instantaneous method to get work is to acquire an inter-company transfer, but that isn’t always possible, and so if you’re looking for work in Denmark you’ll need to brush up on your Danish.

Speaking Danish is a vital part of seeking employment in Denmark, not just because of being able to communicate with local residents. But because all government jobs require Danish fluency and over 35% of the jobs in Denmark are government provided.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t find work if you don’t speak Danish! It just means that speaking English won't be seen as a unique characteristic. Engineering and Tech are the most English-spoken industries and so if you don’t speak Danish, these areas are a good place to start.

If you can’t get an inter-company transfer then there are various job sites you can apply on, such as Work in Denmark, Jobnet, Graduate Land and Student Consulting. Or alternatively, LinkedIn can be a great place to network and find roles with a relocation involved.