Moving to Copenhagen
Copenhagen is known as the City of Spires for its large collection of skyward reaching Medieval and Renaissance architecture. But far from being an historic relic, Copenhagen is rushing into the modern era with a distinctly Scandinavian spring in its step.
The city is a Northern European financial centre, a maritime transport hub, a hotspot for design, fashion and media and is an important location for life sciences and biomedical research. With some of the highest gross wages in the world and a favourable tax system for foreign research specialists it’s also attracting large numbers of expats.
Moving to Copenhagen will enlighten you to the cleanness, greenness and convenience of a city that was ranked as the 2nd most liveable in the world by lifestyle magazine Monacle in 2008.
Copenhagen makes extensive provisions for cyclists, has a top notch public transport system, has a target to be carbon neutral by 2025, features acres of green space and even 3 beaches in the near vicinity.
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The capital of Denmark is home to the royal palaces, government buildings and rococo mansions alongside modern works by Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind. But despite its economic importance, Copenhagen is refreshingly short of skyscrapers to obscure these architectural delights.
Recently Copenhagen has also become an exporter of successful television shows: The Killing and Borgen were both produced in the city.
Moving to Copenhagen from the UK
In a 2012 survey by the UN, Denmark was ranked as the world’s happiest country so moving to Copenhagen from the UK, ranked a lowly 18th, should see a marked improvement in quality of life - as long as you recognise that the excellent healthcare system, emphasis on family time and active lifestyle comes with some prices attached.
First of all, you’ll pay considerably more tax in Copenhagen than in the UK. High earners might pay up to 57% of all their income in tax. The VAT equivalent is called MOMS and amounts to 25%.
Secondly, there’s the winters: there are just over 7 hours of daylight in Copenhagen in December and January when temperatures can fall as low as −18 °C. Snow boots are essential and much time is spent indoors.
Lastly, there’s a noticeable lack of ethnic diversity which might be alarming to those moving from large UK cities. While it’s still possible to find a good curry, for example, you’ll have to be prepared to look a lot longer. Danish immigration laws are tough for the EU and getting tougher.
Danish is the only official language and anyone moving to the country would therefore be well advised to learn it despite a high level of English speaking among the Danes (learning English is mandatory in Danish schools). Luckily the government provides free Danish language courses for immigrants.
Comparing Copenhagen vs London
Copenhagen has a very similar climate to that of London with comparable annual rainfall and hours of sunshine. Average temperatures in the Danish capital though are a few degrees colder all year round and the higher latitude means that there’s a starker difference between summer and winter in terms of daylight hours.
The Danish healthcare system often sees you able to get an appointment with your GP the same day and fees are low. While you might pay more to eat out, for groceries and consumer goods, rent and property are far more affordable in Copenhagen than in London. Rents are currently rising though (while property prices continue to fall).
In terms of high culture, Copenhagen has an impressive list of international standard museums, including the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which hosts the work of many famous impressionist and post-impressionist artists. There’s also the Copenhagen Concert Hall which is the second most expensive concert hall ever built and is home to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
Those interested in a more underground scene might want to explore the jazz circuit, which peaks during the annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival, the Vega music venue with its three concert spaces or the street performances of the Strøget.