21 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Denmark
Denmark can be overlooked for bigger and more well-known European countries like France and Italy, but it has its own strong identity and history that spans centuries.
Even if you think you’re a pro on Denmark, there might be some things you don’t know. So we’re here to tell you all about Denmark, from their healthcare to their toy exports, and everything in between.
If you’re here because you’re moving to Denmark, you might want to look into how you’re shipping your belongings. To figure out how much you might be spending, fill out our form to receive free quotes from selected shipping companies.
1. They’re (almost) the happiest country on Earth
To quote an important part of the study: “Being poor in Denmark does not have as harsh [an] effect on happiness than in the US, where the gap between rich and poor is much larger and where there are not similar welfare services and public goods available for the poor.”
And if you’re worrying that you’ll miss out by not being a local, don’t be! The study shows that people who move to Denmark are just as happy as those born there. If you’re moving to Denmark, you’ll have every opportunity to level up in the realm of happiness (as long as you’re not moving from Finland.)
You can't tell, but all these Danes are absolutely beaming due to their quality of life
2. They have a large cultural emphasis on equality
To follow up on the passage of the study we mentioned, equality doesn’t just apply to people’s happiness. In fact, there’s a cultural principle dedicated to equality for all – that no one is better than anyone.
This is called Janteloven – The Law of Jante, and while it isn’t a legitimate law by any means, it pervades culture and the Danish zeitgeist and encourages the good of the collective over the good of the few.
In fact, there’s no word for please in this country. The cause of this is often thought to be because of the emphasis on doing what you should for other people.
3. They have particularly high taxes
This cultural focus on the collective means that the taxes in Denmark are quite high when compared to other countries. They have a 25% VAT, and the average Dane pays a 45% income tax. Either way you cut it, a lot of money goes to the government.
Don’t be disheartened! Education and healthcare is free, or at the very least, extremely cheap, so you’ll save a lot of money in the long run, and won’t have to worry about an accident draining your bank account.
4. LEGO is Danish
Stepping away from the boring government stuff for a bit, let’s play with some toys. A lot of the most famous toy brands – like Barbie or Hot Wheels – are American. But one of the world’s most beloved toys, LEGO, is Danish.
LEGO actually overtook Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand, so they’re one of Denmark’s most important assets. They made 5.16 billion euros in revenue in 2019, and while that isn’t all going to Denmark, it’s definitely an important part of the country.
If you're planning on building a new life in Denmark, you'll need to start with the basics
5. Cycling is pivotal to the Danish way of life
People in Denmark love their bikes. In fact, nine out of ten Danes own a bike, a statistic provided by the Cycling Embassy of Denmark. Yes, they bike so much that they have a cycling embassy.
If you’re the kind of person who loves to indulge in some cardio while being environmentally-friendly, Denmark is a great place to be! The major cities are fully stocked with bike lanes, and the weather is almost always nice enough to get out on a two-wheeler.
6. Denmark is one of the flattest countries in the world
How did biking become so integrated into the country’s identity? Well, that’s because the range of elevation in Denmark is extremely small. There’s only a difference of 584 feet (178 meters) between the lowest and highest points!
Denmark’s highest mountain, Møgelhøj, is nothing more than a nice walk when compared to Mount Everest – the former is 170m tall, the latter is 8,848m. You’ll have to translate the page, but here’s the mountain’s own tourism page.
7. Healthcare is free
We touched on this when discussing taxes, but it’s worth mentioning again. Denmark’s publicly funded health system covers almost everything. From check-ups to operations, you’ll never have to spend any of your own money on making sure you’re safe and secure.
If you’re a registered resident of Denmark, whether it’s through birth or a visa, you’ll be allowed to use this system to its fullest extent. There will be very rare occasions where you’ll need to pay for prescriptions or dental check ups, but it will never bankrupt you.
8. They have some of the oldest European history
You might know some French kings or old British battles, but it’s not an outrageous claim to suggest that Danish culture isn’t hugely well known. However, when you look into it, you’ll find that Danish history spans back further than a lot of other historied European countries.
In fact, Denmark is the oldest kingdom in the world – full stop. The current queen, Queen Margrethe, is part of a royal lineage that can be traced back to 900 AD. Full knowledge of their family lineage over a millennia is something few people can claim to have.
9. They have the oldest flag in the world
It’s not just the royal family that’s an ancient Danish icon. Their flag is the world’s oldest flag, being created in 1219 during The Battle of Lindanisse.
A flag this old has a lot of history and tales behind it. The legend says that as the Danes were on their last legs in the battle, the flag miraculously fell from the sky and encouraged them to push forward and win the day. Whether this was a signal from god, a mass hallucination, or some kind of bird, it’s safe to say that this flag won’t be changing any time soon.
You can't honestly say that if this flag fell from the sky you wouldn't be encouraged to charge into war
10. Their water is crystal clear
Denmark is very coastal, and oftentimes coastal countries lose their lustre over time due to pollution. Not the case with Denmark, however, as their coastal cities take great lengths to ensure that the water stays clean and clear.
It’s generally accepted that you don’t swim in the water in the Hudson or the Thames. But in Copenhagen, you’ll be able to splish splash around the harbours with no risk of contracting any kind of horrifying parasitic disease.
11. There are hundreds of islands
When you think of island paradises, you might picture the Bahamas, or Belize, or Barbados, or some other place starting with B. Denmark might not spring to mind, despite the fact that it has 444 islands under its jurisdiction.
However, only 76 of these islands are inhabited by humans (including Zealand, if you’ve ever wondered where “Old Zealand” was), so if you’re brave, you can try your hand at exploring some islands looking for lost viking treasure!
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12. Greenland largely belongs to Denmark
Remember when President Donald Trump tried to buy Greenland? What the hell was that all about? Anyway, had the negotiations progressed past the theoretical stage, he would have been dealing with Denmark, or they would at least have had a large say in what happens.
The documented geographical size of Denmark can vary wildly, due to the fact Denmark officially owns Greenland. They allow the country to run itself with its own autocratic government, but they still technically own the land. It’s like paying for your child’s rent while they’re at university – they control the daily goings on, but if something goes wrong, it’s going to be Denmark helping to fix the problem.
13. The Danish did not create the danish
In a not-at-all-unprecedented move, one country took a snack or meal from another, improved it, and made it their own. Just like how it’s thought that Italy originally took pasta from China, the danish doesn’t really belong to Denmark.
During a baker’s strike in 1850, Denmark imported a bunch of Austrian bakers to make sure the country had enough bread circulating. These Austrians brought their recipe for Plundergebäck, which gained so much popularity that the Danes started to put their own spin on it, birthing the danish we all know and love.
14. They’re extremely free, some may think they’re too free
Freedom is a bit of a nebulous metric to judge a country by. America often claims to be the most free country, when in fact, many developed countries think America is quite shocking when it comes to their limitations. Denmark, however, might be one of the most “free” countries in the world.
Pornography is freely sold all over the place, as well as broadcast throughout the day. The legal restrictions concerning alcohol and children are very lax. Those under 18 can’t buy hard liquor, but there’s no laws against consumption by anyone. Is this too free? Is there such a thing? Let’s move on.
15. You can visit Anti-Hawaii
We’ll admit that was somewhat of a sensationalist heading for this section, but Anti-Hawaii sounds a bit more ominous and intriguing than Cold Hawaii. Either way, if you’ve always loved surfing, but just hate that blazing sun, this is your spot.
Cold Hawaii, officially known as Klitmoller, is a massive surf spot. The big difference here is that it’s absolutely freezing, with people surfing in diving wetsuits to avoid getting hypothermia. Make sure to keep putting on sunscreen though, since the sun still shines no matter how cold!
16. They have great environmental sustainability goals
As we seemingly barrel toward unknown environmental precipices, it’s a slight comfort to know that Denmark is pushing hard for all kinds of sustainability goals.
They use wind power, open renewable energy power plants, and offer to help other countries with their own goals. You can see the fruit of these efforts when looking at their clear water and fresh air. Thanks Denmark for doing your best to save us all!
This could be anywhere, but Denmark's wind farms are one of their biggest steps in sustainability
17. The weather isn’t the best
If you know anything about geography, you’ll know that any country situated near Denmark is not going to have the best weather. They’re very cold in the winters, and when they’re not cold, they’re often rainy.
But in the summer when it’s not raining, it’s nice and temperate. You won’t have weeks upon weeks of heat to rely on, but you’ll have a few days throughout to go swimming or have a barbeque.
18. Danes can be very standoffish
For whatever reason, a lot of Nordic countries are known for aloof populations, and Denmark is no exception. Don’t take this the wrong way – they aren’t cruel or mean. They’re still human – if you smile at someone they’re not going to stare blankly at you. They’re just a bit harder to crack.
They’re so hard to crack, in fact, that expats ranked it the worst country if you want to make new friends. There will be all kinds of explanations for this, and no one will have a solid answer. Just don’t expect to walk into a bar and leave with five new drinking buddies.
19. You can’t burn any flags, except Danish ones
Some countries are very touchy about their flags, and rightly so. A flag stands for what the country represents, so to burn it is a transgression that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Which is why Denmark has outlawed the desecration of any flags, as they view it as a matter of national relations. This is a pretty symbolic law, however, as the last conviction for this crime was in 1936.
Well, there is one flag you can burn legally. Denmark’s own flag can be burnt as much as you like, as it’s a matter of freedom of expression. In fact, much like a viking funeral, burning a Danish flag is the only appropriate way to dispose of it once it’s threadbare, as this is considered more respectful than letting it touch the ground.
20. They are home to the two oldest amusement parks in the world
They love having the oldest everything in the world, don’t they? Bakken is the world’s oldest amusement park, founded in 1583, followed by Tivoli Gardens, which was founded in 1843. Both are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
There’s all kinds of stuff to do in these parks. They’re always unveiling new things, but there are a lot of old staples they rely on too. One of the main attractions of Bakken is the 82 year old wooden roller coaster. We’ll hold your stuff while you go on that one.
21. Denmark is an international shipping superpower
This might be an odd one to end on, but it’s not often we get to talk about the world of international shipping on our international shipping website, so give us this one.
Due to how coastal Denmark is, they’ve been a maritime giant since way back when – focusing a lot on fishing and ocean-based trade. This has followed them all the way up to modern day, as they are now one of the biggest hands in the international shipping world.
A huge 10% of all shipping containers used worldwide originate from Denmark, which is insane when you think about how small the country is. There are so many, that a lot of them are converted into housing by trendy young people. (Seriously, check out that article, they look incredible.)
And like all things, Denmark is sincerely aiming to reduce emissions and make shipping more sustainable.
Denmark is honestly pretty great, either to visit or to live. It’s entirely possible that you had no intentions of moving to Denmark before starting this article, but if you’ve changed your mind due to the overwhelming positivity of the country, we wouldn’t blame you!
Whether you’ve been moving for a while or just decided right now, check out our online form. If you fill it out, you’ll be able to see some quotes for the cost of shipping your belongings internationally.