Copenhagen, Denmark Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark 07/09/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Previous tours in Africa and Asia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC area. Flights are typically 13 hours with a layover in Frankfurt, London or Amsterdam. If you're flying with a pet, choose Frankfurt.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2+ years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

DOS employee at embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing can be anything from an apartment to a single-family home. Apartments are typically within walking distance of the embassy, while housing is farther out with travel times of about 30 minutes. Most homes have issues with flooding in the basements during heavy rains. Housing assignments are hit or miss, and at times, questionable. There have been many complaints regarding the housing questionnaires not being considered when assignments are made. And then there's the issue with the landlords' lack of upkeep on the properties.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive! Everything has a 25% VAT, which makes buying groceries a huge expense. However, you can get almost anything you could want. And what you can't find, you order from Walmart. You may have to shop at a few different stores to get everything you need. Grocery stores tend to be on the small side, and not every chain carries the same choices. If you're in a pinch, you may find what you need at the small commissary in the embassy, but the prices are quite high, and a lot of items are past their expiration dates.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Most can be found on the local market, or you can order from Walmart. If you like peanut butter, order it from Walmart! You will only find a very small jar of Skippy on the local market, and you will pay almost $10 for it. If you have a favorite toilet paper, you may want to order it as well. The local paper is very thin and like sandpaper.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You will never starve in DK. They have everything here! One of the nice things about Copenhagen is walking the streets downtown and finding great cafes, bakeries, and coffees shops. There are lots of great restaurants on the waterfront, including Copenhagen Street Food. If you want high end, there are plenty of Michelin star restaurants like Noma. Another popular places is Geist and Mash. If you enjoy sushi, the popular place is Sticks n Sushi or Letz Sushi. They have great burger places: Cocks and Cows, Hacha, and Halifax.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local mail service seems to be reliable. Post has DPO and pouch. It takes about a week to receive packages through DPO. There have been some issues with damaged packages, but mostly things are good.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Rarely does anyone hire household help due to the great expense. Minimum wage is over $20/hr which makes it difficult for most. Expect to pay the same for a babysitter. You may find a teenager at the embassy willing to take less, but eventually they seem to ask for more the longer they're at post.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is an abundance of workout facilities. They're a little pricier, but they are great. The embassy has a small gym in the basement for a cost. Not sure how much.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use a credit card in most places. Most places require a chip in the card and have no problems running an American card. There are ATMs outside of banks where you can use your American debit card.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much. Most Danes speak English fluently. Some elderly Danes do not speak English, but they do speak German.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

That depends on the severity of the disability. Sidewalks are uneven, and some streets are made of cobblestones. Most restaurants and stores have stairs going up or down to enter. Ramps and elevators are scarce, the same as in the rest of Europe.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

DK has one of the world's best transportation systems. There are three train systems: s-tog, metro, and regional; and also buses. You can travel almost anywhere in DK using public transportation. It's safe for the most part, but there is a huge issue with people having their wallets stolen. Late at night there is more activity.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I suggest bringing nothing bigger than a small SUV. There is a lot of street parking, but finding a place becomes more difficult for a larger the vehicle. Parking spaces are small, and most parking garages have low ceilings and narrow spaces.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet is available. The company choice depends on your housing location. I believe the embassy will try to have it set up and ready for when you arrive.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can bring your unlocked phone from the States and get a SIM card locally.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Danes love dogs! They have amazing vet care for your fur baby. There are boarding facilities all over, so it is not difficult to find somewhere for your pet to stay during a holiday. There are no quarantine restrictions upon entry as long as you have the required docs.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There is a handful of EFM positions at the embassy. They are slowly declining as positions are turned into local-hire employment. This has made some hardship for families that need the second income due to the extreme expense of living in DK. Some spouses telework for companies back in the States. Most spouses want part-time work so they can meet the needs of their young children at school. Unless you speak Danish, finding a job on the local market is extremely difficult. Summertime is more difficult for those with young children. There are no programs for your child for the summer, so if the spouse works, it's either pay a babysitter $20+/hr to care for the kids, or arrange a mix of a 3-week day camp and babysitters the rest of the time. All of which is extremely costly.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Formal attire is only needed at specific functions.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There are some home burglaries, so use your house alarms and make sure to lock your doors. Keep your wallet secure, or someone will help themselves to it. There have been some issues with Americans being sought out and attacked. Use common sense and follow what you are told in the security briefing.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

You can find almost any type of doctor for your needs. This is socialized healthcare, so the quality can be less than US standards. They do have private hospitals, and they seem to have better quality of care.

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3. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

There are been some people who suffer from depression during the dark winter season. I believe you can buy "happy lights" or something to assist with that.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winter is dark, cold and long, and the sun barely is seen during a few hours each day. Summer is typically sunny and warm with highs around 76 degrees. There are some rainy days, but after winter you'll take it! The sun will be out until 11 p.m., which makes it hard to sleep during the work week. But on weekends it's the best!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most families attend CIS (Copenhagen International School). There are a couple of others, but I don't have any info on them. CIS is opening a new school building in late 2016 closer to the embassy. It will contain pre-K through 12th grade. For the most part, it's a good school. Communication is not their strong point. There is an expectation of high parent involvement, which is difficult for those working full time. They run after school activities that you can sign your child up for on your own dime, and they have many choices.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There is a pre-kK program at CIS at your own expense. Daycare is available until kids reach school age. Some daycares are similar to those in the US, and most are forest daycares. Google it- they're amazing, and it is great for kids to be free and explore instead of being confined to a small room all day.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It is a moderate-sized community. Morale is pretty low for such a great location. Between housing assignments and living expenses, it can take a toll on everyone. LES (local employees) seem to run the embassy and make all of the decisions. There have been many incidents of questionable behavior in which the front office has taken action. The building was constructed in the 50's and has many issues which make your work day difficult. Facilities personnel seem to band-aid all problems instead of fixing them.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This city is great for all. You will find amazing night life for singles and plenty of things for families and couple to do.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

This is the first country to recognize same-sex unions back in 1989. In 2012 it was changed to same-sex marriage. There is a huge LGBT community. The embassy has participated in Pride Week for the past couple of years. I'd say it's a pretty good city for an LGBT expat.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling! Either within DK or through Europe, traveling is inexpensive and easy.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Mons Klint, castles, beaches, driving north through small towns, animal Safari, Legoland, Tivoli, Bakken, straget, Lalandia. If you can, travel to Barnholm and Faroe Islands.

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6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of shopping in the area, but you may need to take a loan to afford it.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The COLA does not come close to the true expense of living.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would definitely move back if an opportunity should arise that is not with the embassy.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bikes, peanut butter :) and good rain gear.

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Copenhagen, Denmark 05/01/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have lived in many other cities around the world.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC - easy direct flight or connection in Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

People without kids live in the city it what are generally very nice two or three-bedroom apartments within minutes from the Embassy. Families live out in the suburbs if they want to be close to the school, though there are large apartments in the city if they want to live there. The biggest downside to the houses are that Danish houses rarely have more than two bathrooms even if the house has five bedrooms. Some of the houses only have 1.5 bathrooms for multiple bedrooms!

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You probably won't find American brands but you can get anything you want. Anything else you can order on Amazon since this is a DPO post.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. You may not have any storage so think carefully about stocking up before you arrive.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Available but expensive. Save your fast food money and try some of the great restaurants in Copenhagen. "New Nordic Cuisine" is based on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and is artfully prepared.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Literally none.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO. Most things arrive in one week.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Ha ha ha ha. This is one of the ten most expensive cities in the world and minimum wage is about US$21/hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Embassy has a sufficient gym and there are regular gyms you can join just like in the U.S. - more expensive, of course.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You will probably open an account in Denmark and use their local "chip" card (Dankort); that is what everyone does. If you want to use a U.S. credit card, request one with a chip from your card company and then you can use it all over Denmark and Europe.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Absoutely none.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably - there are many historical buildings and apartments that are only walk-ups.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. All are affordable except taxis which can get pricey.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You really don't need one unless you have kids and are dead set on driving them around instead of using public transport. Many people would park their cars for so long their batteries would go dead or they would forget where they had parked.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

I had the most speedy package for about US$100/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We brought unlocked phones from the U.S. and bought scratch cards to reload them.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine; good pet care though prices in line with everything else.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. Though all Danes know English (well), Danish is spoken in virtually all work places. In my time here there was only one spouse who worked on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not really a ton since this is a social welfare state but I'm sure with a little work you could find some.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Danes rarely wear ties even at the highest level of government.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. A recent security notice from the Embassy warned of a demonstration held by something like 50 public school teachers protesting some issue - the teachers were on bikes, with children holding balloons, probably handing out free licorice while they went down the street. Ah, life in Denmark.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No, sufficient medical care plus a nurse in the med unit.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Almost flawless.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

This is the Achilles heel of Denmark - the weather. Winter is long and dark and summer is short but very light. You have to take advantage of both nice days of weather each year.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big community although it's sometimes hard to meet other people unless you put a little effort into it. Morale can be surprisingly low for some. People think this is their magical fairy-land post but it is still a forgein country with rules and traditions that are not like the U.S. I've met people that seemed not to have even googled Copenhagen before they bid on it and didn't make the connection between a 65% COLA and the fact that it means that things cost 65% more than in DC, which is not a cheap city. The other unhappy group of people here can't deal with the weather. If you love summer and/or hate winter, you need to think twice or three times before you bid on Denmark or any other Northern European country. The temperature rarely goes above 70F even in the middle of the summer and it is cold and dark during the very long winters. If you can get beyond the cost and the weather, you will probably love it here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Anything and everything. Go out, stay in, movies, theatre, opera, parks, lakes, beaches, amusement parks, museums, castles, etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all of the above but a little quiet for singles who want a really active nightlife.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely! Possibly the most tolerant city in the world, literally.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Danes can be a little unwelcoming for immigrants, but definitely no problems with religious or gender prejudices.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The unbelievable system of bike paths around the country, the ability to live without a car, the appreciation of such a serene country where people appreciate family and have a real work/life balance. The hours are the Embassy are 8:30 - 5 and few people work late.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Getting out of Copenhagen and exploring all the little islands of Denmark. Enjoying a simple picnic on the pristine beaches watching Danes swim in the frigid water (even in the winter). Visiting one of the many museums in Copenhagen and having a fabulous meal at a cafe on a blustery winter day.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Some Danish handicrafts but the beautiful Danish design pieces don't work with the State Department furniture so I wasn't even tempted!

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

This is a beautiful, peaceful country and Copenhagen is a very manageable city with tons of attractions. The travel around Denmark and Scandinavia is amazing.

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10. Can you save money?

The COLA is a significant amount of money but once you go out to eat and do some travelling, there won't be much left.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It is hard to grasp what a Nordic winter really is like. It didn't bother me but it was still a shock. It really doesn't get super cold like I thought it would (rarely gets below 20F) but it officially rains 175 days a year and there's only five or six hours of gloomy "sunlight" during the winter.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bikes so that you can buy really cute bikes in Denmark.

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4. But don't forget your:

Good quality winter-wear and rain gear.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

The Danes are very hard to get to know. You will probably spend the vast majority of your time with Americans and other expats. If you can avoid the people who spend their days complaining about the costs and the weather, you have the potential of exploring a hidden gem of a country.

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Copenhagen, Denmark 02/08/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've also lived in the Middle East and Europe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington. There is a direct, but the contract fare for the embassy connects in either London or Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2014.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Good size apartments in the city, near the Embassy. And decent houses in the northern suburbs. 10-20 minutes commute time.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get almost everything here. Again, prices are high. Anything you specifically need and can't find can be delivered via Amazon.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

With amazon/Walmart and a DPO, almost everything is possible.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Yes, cost is high compare to the U.S., but that is true for everything here. In comparison to sit-down dinners, the fast food prices are cheap.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I think I saw a bee last week. Seriously though, no bug issues at all.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO. Good service, typically less than a week from the U.S.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Limited and expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. The gym at the Embassy is small, but if you need more, there are plenty around.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Everyone uses them, everywhere. Danes hardly use cash at all. They use the pin and chip card, but most will take a U.S. debit card as long as you have a 4 digit pin. A signature-based credit card will be accepted at most places, but many aren't as used to dealing with them.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All of them can be found somewhere in the city.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Almost everyone in town speaks English very well.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, yes, and yes. Public transport is safe and runs mostly on time. Copenhagen residents use bikes and trains to get anywhere in less than 30 minutes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You don't need one, but they are nice to have for IKEA trips or going to the supermarket (rather than the small corner market). Bring something small if you plan to live in the city (due to parking), but in the suburbs most people have a driveway, so bring whatever you want. If you live in the city, you will likely find that you need to go start your car once a week just to make sure all is well as you haven't driven it at all.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Streaming speeds are normal with almost no outage issues. I don't recall the cost being too high.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Getting a SIM card is easy through the embassy. Bring a GSM phone or you can get one here. If you want a smart phone, bring an unlocked version and you will be fine.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not sure. Quality pet care is available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No. Safer than any U.S. city I have ever lived in.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No concerns. Quality is high. The Danes take a more hands-off approach to things than some Americans are comfortable with. In addition, as it is a single payer, government run system, some Americans find the impersonal feel to things a bit different.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very clean.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dark and wet for 8 months a year, very bright and slightly less wet in the summer. Summer can be absolutely wonderful, but the darkness in the winter can be a challenge.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No personal experience. There are three in town. Most embassy kids go to CIS, but there are two other English speaking school in the city as well as a French school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, through the local government if they are over a year old.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small compared to the major EU cities. Morale is lower than one would think. It is a combination of things really. The weather in the winter leads to a feeling of hibernation in the city. In addition, this place loses the battle with extremely high expectations. People expect it to be a Scandinavian fairy tale, and while it is a great city, modern European life is not as convenient as most Americans desire.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

This is a modern, first world city, most things are available, but everything is more expensive than it is back home.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

All of the above.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Possibly the best one in the world.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender, not at all. Race, some, but nothing significant. Danes aren't really religious anymore, though traditional Protestant themes and holidays are the basis of official Denmark.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of history to see, the Danish royals built some amazing castles over the last 500 years and unlike a lot of Europe, Denmark was all but untouched by the war, so they are all in great shape.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Jewelry and design items, furniture.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather! Okay, that was a joke. First world -- everything works, everyone speaks English, and the city is quite nice.

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9. Can you save money?

Hahahahaha....not if you want to have a social life. If you are a home body, than maybe a little bit.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

If you haven't been on a bike since elementary school, get some practice prior to arrival. Morning rush hour is not the time to figure out that you aren't very good at going through a crowd.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

It has been a solid experience, but I don't think we will come back to Europe.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Car (if you are going to be in an apartment).

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4. But don't forget your:

Waterproof clothing and other assorted rain gear.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Do a wiki search on Jante law. It has both positive and negative effects on Danish society, but the undercurrent of social conformity is ever present.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Denmark is a high functioning, cohesive society. However, it promotes the average rather than incentivize excellence. This comes out in many ways, big and small. The people are friendly, despite what expats say, but they tend to be less superficially friendly than Americans. The city is small by big city standards and can even feel quiet many nights a week. Keep your expectations realistic and you will have a nice, quiet couple of years.

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Copenhagen, Denmark 08/07/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Lived in New Delhi and Luxembourg.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Texas, 17-20 hours average travel time.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Mostly apartments in the city for singles, couples and even couples with small children. Others live in houses out near the school. Be prepared for noise in the city. You will hear your neighbors and they can hear you. The summer especially, since no A/C's are needed and everyone leaves their windows open. This also means you hear everything on the streets and in the summer people like to party late with sunset not until midnight.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

They are all expensive but everything is available. One thing to note is US products are not always available (perhaps due to import protection laws) and you will need to find substitutes. Unfortunately, you will not find English on many of the products for description, ingredients, or instructions. You will need to ask people to assist you in the stores which they are happy to do.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Just specialty items/brands that I like to use.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many, but they are all expensive. A typical lunch for two at a restaurant will cost around US$40-$50. You can get a hot dog or burger from a street vendor for about US$6-$7, not including a drink or any sides.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All is available.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None really. Harmless spiders in the summer and sometimes mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Forget about it.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs/banks are everywhere. However, credit/debit cards that do not have a "chip" and PIN will not be accepted at most businesses. Be sure to bring one or you will be frustrated.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, all.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, but older programs on TV and the English newspaper some people call a "rag". Our cable came with the apartment rent.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps to read a little since not much is written in English except in the tourist paths.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It is a walking/bike riding city with some apartments that still have no elevator. Be sure to ask if this is a concern.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Absolutely safe. You can get monthly passes or clip cards to reduce the price. A 10 clip card costs about US$31, but that doesn't last long. There are also "zones" which means you may have to clip more than once or buy a clip card for the number of zones you'll be traveling. It's a little confusing at first but you'll get the hang of it. Taxis can be expensive as well but are used regularly by locals when public transport just doesn't match the occasion.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Small for getting into parking spaces. If you live in the city you do not need a car. Public transportation is faster, not so expensive if you get a monthly pass, and easier. Better yet, do as the locals do and bring your bikes. Car repair is very expensive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about $40.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I didn't use mine much, so I had an old one just for basic stuff, but everything is available for a price.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are jobs for highly qualified, although they do prefer to hire Danes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Depends on the job, just like in the US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care can be expedited if you are paying for it, otherwise you can sometimes have a wait for services.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent!!

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winters are dark and cold. The temp in the morning when you go out is the same all day in the winter, as there is not much sunlight. Since it is on an island it can be breezy/windy most days with rain, which can make it biting at times. Summers have gloriously sunny days, but the temps stay in the 70's most of mid-day. As they say there is no bad weather, just bad attire :-) Be prepared for rain and cold in the winter and carry a sweater for the shade in the summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large but dispersed.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most have negative comments about being accepted in the Danish culture beyond greetings.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Among expats mostly, but occassionally you will make a Danish acquaintance.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, but you must make the effort to get involved. Danes are very club-oriented so join one that matches your interests and you will do fine.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely. Denmark was the first country to legally recognize gay marraige.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Danes typically no longer practice a faith and you will even see/hear some derogatory comments about "mythology". Despite their touted "tolerance" of other races, you will still hear or see some practice of discrimination against immigrants. However, this has more to do with "being Danish" or not, as the case may be, than it has to do with race.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling and enjoying friends.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many to list, but it is a great city for people with kids as well as for people who like night life.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lanterns, nissers, Royal Copenhagen china, George Jensen designs or other Danish design items.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great place to recoup from a hardship tour as everyone speaks English and everything is available, albeit opening hours are not like in the US.

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11. Can you save money?

Forget about it.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would have visited, but I think I prefer continental Europe.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Garden supplies/furniture unless you are fortunate enough to get a house. There are not even balconies on most of the apartments.

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3. But don't forget your:

Picnic basket and blanket! Danes love to picnic in the parks and it's a fun afternoon/evening. They will have concerts/events/movies in the parks in the summer too. Get the game Kub (or King's Game) when you get there too.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

If you want to understand the culture read about the vikings. Also read about Danish Design and Karen Blixen (Author of Out of Africa)

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Copenhagen, Denmark 07/22/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Lived in Frankfurt, Germany and Brasilia, Brazil

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is Washington D.C. The trip is approximately 8 hours non-stop from Dulles.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years, left in 2010

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing is within 15 miles of the Embassy in either apartments, townhomes or houses. Housing is furnished by the Embassy for most employees. Many employees can walk to work in less than 10 minutes, while others took as much as half an hour to drive, depending on traffic. The public transportation system is very good, so many people use buses or the train system to commute. Bicycles are also a very popular mode of transportation and have designated lanes on most roads.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find almost anything you need in Copenhagen, it will just be more expensive. We tended to go to one grocery store for the staple foods because everything was cheaper there, but they didn't have much of a selection. Then we would go to the larger, more expensive store(s) for everything else. Fruits & vegetables are generally offered in season rather than year round, as Denmark takes pride in not importing a lot of food from other countries. They also spoil quicker, as they don't use preservatives that are used in the U.S., so buy what you plan on using in the next 2 days, or you will be throwing it away. Baby food is almost all natural/organic and moderately priced, however diapers & wipes are costly. You can find imported U.S. goods in the stores, but at a high cost. There is a store called Metro (very much like Costco or Sam's Club) where you can have a more "American" shopping experience, in that there is a larger selection of everything, you can buy in bulk, the carts are not tiny and the aisles can fit more than one cart down them. But the normal grocery stores have pretty much everything you need. And I highly recommend going to a bakery for your bread/pastries, etc... as you just can't beat their fresh baked goods.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We shipped extra toiletries, some packaged food, baby items and our mattress. We were glad we shipped all these items and would do so again.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McD's, Burger King, KFC, Domino's and Subway are all available. It's hard to get out of them without spending at least $20 for two people. There is a Hard Rock Cafe downtown, and a TGIFriday's is over in Malmo, Sweden (about 45 minute train ride from Copenhagen) and is nice for a sudden craving of American food. There are more pizzeria/burger places than you can count, and most will deliver. There are plenty of good restaurants with delicious food, but most are really expensive. Brewpubs are a nice alternative as they are generally moderately priced and provide a quieter atmosphere to eat. I would get recommendations from the CLO and other people at post, as many will have already found the cheaper places with quality food.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Finding organic and/or natural food is so easy. It is in abundance! Sometimes it is difficult to find a non-organic alternative. Vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are easy to find as well. Reading the labels can sometimes be a challenge even if you speak some Danish, and asking for help in stores won't always benefit you as customer service is not a priority in Denmark. That said, you may stumble across a friendly store-clerk who can assist you in finding what you need, or look up what you're looking for in a translator before you go shopping (and write it down to take with you!)

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that I experienced.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Prohibitively expensive. Bringin help with you is a long, difficult and expensive process. Local help is expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a number of nice gyms in the area, and there is also one in the Embassy for Embassy personnel. All have membership fees.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You need a PIN to use your credit card in many smaller stores or restaurants, if they take credit cards. More and more places are taking credit cards, though. ATMs are abound, though many have fees. I would highly recommend joining a bank (Danske Bank was great to us), and getting a Dankort (Danish ATM/Debit card), which will make your life much easier.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, available. Not sure of all the denominations, but I believe anyone can find what they are looking for. It is a very well-rounded and tolerant city.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Satellite TV is moderately priced. English language newspapers are also available, some are free, others are affordable.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Practically none. Most Danes speak English, and even if you try to speak Danish to them, if they can tell you are a foreigner they will switch to English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The sidewalks are not often even, so getting around on a wheelchair or crutches can be difficult. And while there are stroller ramps for the large buggies, I did not see a wealth of wheelchair ramps in the city. Many apartment buildings do not have elevators, either.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes! Very safe, and generally reliable. Buses run at pretty much all hours (though there may be an hour in between pick-ups sometimes) and will go into the suburbs even late at night. Trains are not 24 hours, but do run into the night. Taxis are safe though somewhat expensive.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most Danes use 4-door sedans or smaller vehicles, although SUVs and station wagons are becoming more popular. Service on all vehicles is exceptionally expensive, and parts for American vehicles are often hard to come by and also very expensive. I recommend bringing oil, spare parts and an extra set of tires for your vehicle in your HHE. There are a few import restrictions, so if you are coming with the Embassy, check with them before sending your car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is available at a moderate price, and multiple packages are offered, depending on the speed that you prefer.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine is necessary, generally. A health certificate is required showing that they are fully vaccinated, as is a European/International microchip. Check regulations prior to shipping. Also, airlines will often not allow pets to fly in the summer month, so check with airlines prior to booking your flights.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Kennels are expensive, as are vets. Quality is good, though. If you can have a friend or neighbor watch your pet while you are gone, it will save you a lot of money.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. There are some opportunities, but unless you speak a fair amount of Danish or have a highly sought after skill, your chances of getting a decent job locally is slim.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Danish dress is generally very fashionable but casual. At work, it is also quite casual, though at the Embassy, business casual is the standard.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really, just use common sense. Denmark is exceptionally safe. There was the occasional pick-pocket purse-snatcher, and I heard of nieghbors getting their homes broken into, but overall my family & I felt very safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The hospitals and medical care available are very good. You can get doctors/nurses to come to your home in a pinch, and appointments can often be made same-day. U.S. health insurance is obviously not accepted, so you will have to pay and then file your claims through your insurance.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Moderate in the summers - mostly 70's though it got into the low 80's while I was there, and that was considered hot. Cool in the 50's-60's during the short Spring. Fall & Winter is cold and dark (lows around 15 - 20 degrees F). Snow patterns variable by year. One year we got a couple inches, the next we got half a foot in one storm and then ice & snow storms daily for 2-3 weeks. We got snow all the way into April.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I did not have any experience with the International Schools, but have heard good things about both Copenhagen International school and Rygaards.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Daycare is expensive and generally not available until children are at least 6 months old since Danish parents can get 6 months paid parental leave.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through CIS, I know there are after-school and intramural sports available, but I don't have much information beyond that.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Good. Joining a Diplomatic club or being active in the International School community (if you have children in school) will help you meet more people outside of the U.S. expat community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good, though it varies year to year depending on how active the expat community is, the management at post and what time of year it is. Things get gloomy in the winter, so you sometimes have to actively try to keep yourself upbeat and interested.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Again, everything is expensive, so a lot of entertaining is done at home. If the community is active, it can be a great time with lots of events. Breaking into a Danish circle of friends is difficult, as they tend to very close & private. Friendly, for sure, but not open to creating additional close friendships.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all. Plenty of activities for families, singles & couples, though most everything is expensive. Sometimes just going to a park or playground was the best way to entertain the kids since it was free. Restaurants, bars & nightclubs are aplenty, but all are really expensive.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, it is an EXCELLENT city for gay & lesbians. Beyond being considered equal in the society (pretty much without a second thought), there is a large GLBT event in Copenhagen each year (in the fall, I beliieve).

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I didn't experience any. It is a very tolerant society and everyone seems equal.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The chalk cliffs (Mons Klint), Egeskov castle, Legoland & Lalandia, Tivoli & Bakken, the random festival/event you stumble across at any given moment while wandering the city, driving through the countryside and exploring outside of the city

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are a lot, but many are expensive. The cheaper activities: going to one of the many expansive parks and having a picnic, going to the beach (though the water is COLD, but that doesn't stop many Danes in the summer!), Bakken is one of the amusement parks, and offers free entrance, but the rides all cost money. That said, you can catch free performances/events in the park that make it worth going to, and the rides aren't horribly expensive. Legoland is a fun trip for kids, and Lalandia is an indoor amusement park/water park across the street from Legoland that is a LOT of fun. You can hit both in a long weekend. Walking along the Stroget (the pedestrian shopping street) can be inexpensive if you don't go in the stores -- there are plenty of street musicians and performers to entertain. Tivoli is an amusement park in the middle of the city, and if you plan on going more than twice during the season, buy a season pass for entrance. There are rides, and they cost money even after paying for admittance. There are also plenty of free performances, concerts, etc... in the park that make the season pass completely worth the cost. They open again for Halloween and for Christmas, and I would recommend going for both, as they go all out for both holidays.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Royal Copenhagen China, Christmas market items (the Christmas ornaments are especially beautiful)

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is convenient to both Scandinavia and mainland Europe. Crossing over to Sweden is easy via train, car or ferry, and a trip to Oslo via overnight ferry can be accomplished in a weekend. It's approximately 4 hours to Germany (driving, then ferry boat) which gives you access to the rest of mainland Europe. Inexpensive flights out of Copenhagen to the rest of Europe can be found as well. There is a lot of cultural activities in and around Copenhagen, and plenty of historical sites all over the country to keep you busy!

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11. Can you save money?

Not really. With the high cost of living and the travel opportunities, money goes quickly in Denmark. Especially if you have a family.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but with different expectations. The way of life is much slower, which has pros and cons. Customer service is much worse in Denmark, and things are just done much slower. Most shops are closed after 6 p.m. on weekdays, and closed completely on Sundays. Saturdays have limited hours as well, normally closing between noon and 2 p.m. Living on an American schedule in Denmark is challenging, as we generally do not get as much vacation time and work more hours in a day/week -- sometimes difficult to do when you see Danish counterparts taking 4-6 weeks of vacation at a time. But because leisure is a way of life, there really is a lot to do. You just have to take advantage of it when you do have the time.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

frugality.

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3. But don't forget your:

umbrella, sun lamp, good attitude and passport!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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