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Living in Denmark - A Guide for Students

by Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier and Chantelle Francis

It's difficult to say exactly what one feature marks Denmark as attractive to tourists and international students. For a small country of around 5.5 million people, Denmark is well known abroad.

World-class design, cinema, literature, and Nordic food have really placed Denmark in the spotlight of the world map. Have you heard of Noma, the two-Michelin Star restaurant? Seen Helena Christensen on the catwalk? Played with Lego? Read Hans Christian Andersen’s children tales?

Here you are sure to find something special in every experience.

On this page you can read about how to find accommodation, the cost of everyday living, and the general lifestyle in Denmark.

Elsewhere, you can read about the education system and Masters study in Denmark.

What's it like to study abroad in Denmark?

Denmark is a very 'green' country. Its Government has ambitious plans: by 2050, the country aims to obtain 100% of its energy from renewable sources. The capital, Copenhagen, is already a carbon-neutral city. Innovation, architecture, efficient public transport or cycling are all fully integrated in the Danes’ ethos, helping the government to reach its target.

Despite the fairly cold weather in the winter, the Danish countryside can be enjoyed throughout the year - with hiking and winter-sports popular among many Danes. When the weather warms up, Denmark actually offers some of the best windsurfing opportunities in Europe. Denmark is known for its friendly people, wild countryside and beautiful cities. The markets are colourful and the food is fresh and rich.

Denmark is also one of the most peaceful countries in the world, with one of the lowest crime rates - so students will find it a safe study destination. You may have heard that Danish is a difficult language to learn and to pronounce, and you haven’t been misled! However the majority of Danes speak and write English very well, particularly in a university setting where everyone knows English and often speaks a second language.

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Danish universities have traditionally not offered on-campus housing. Most students live in private accommodation or in privately/publicly-managed student halls of residences situated some distance from university campuses. An efficient public transport system which includes train, metro and tram, makes it easy to travel to student residences outside of city centres.

It is advisable that you start your accommodation search several months before you are due to start your Masters. Your institution can give you information about housing as soon as you have been accepted into a study programme.

You can search for accommodation through links listed on the Study in Denmark website.

Types of accommodation

Most Masters students in Denmark live in either privately rented accommodation, or in halls of residence provided by universities:

  • Rooms in shared private accommodation
    You might prefer to rent a room or to sub-let from a Danish student or landlord. Or you could rent an apartment or a house, which you can share with friends.
  • Student halls of residence (' kollegier ')
    Student halls of residence are also an option. This type of accommodation is often administered by local 'allocation' organisations. If you fulfil the criteria (notably the age limit), you can apply for accommodation through this option. It is recommended that you apply for a room in as many properties as possible even if these seem far outside the city centre. In large cities, competition for this type of accommodation is fierce so be as flexible as possible.

Living costs

You may find living in Denmark a bit more expensive than in your home country. Denmark is known for having one of the highest tax rates, but it also has one of the highest standards of living in Western Europe.

When planning your budget it is best not to include any predicted income from student jobs or summer employment. It can be quite difficult for international students to find work in Denmark, especially if they do not speak Danish.

You should budget between k1,500 ($226 USD) and k2,000 ($302 USD) per month for your personal expenses, in addition to rent and transport. The recommended complete budget for students in Denmark is k4,200 per month ($635 USD), as stipulated by the Danish government.

Typical student prices in Denmark

The following tables give approximate prices for some of the common items and services you are likely to purchase whilst studying abroad in Denmark:

Item Price (k) Price ($)
Milk (1 litre) 6.25 0.90
Loaf of bread (500g) 14.10 2.05
Potatoes (1kg) 10.50 1.55
Chicken breasts (1kg) 59.05 8.40
Rice (1kg) 13.35 1.95

Entertainment & Leisure
Item Price (k) Price ($)
Cinema ticket 100 14.45
Mid-price bottle of wine 60 8.70
Cup of coffee 32.80 4.75
Draught beer (0.5 litre) 40 5.80
Inexpensive restaurant meal 110 15.90

Monthly Utilities
Item Price (k) Price ($)
Monthly travel pass 378 54.65
Broadband internet (10mbps, uncapped) 187 27.05
Domestic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Water and Waste) 929 134.20

Note Information in the above tables is based on crowd-sourced data collected by Numbeo. Figures are approximate and provided for comparative purposes only. They do not take account of student discounts and may vary over time or between cities.

Learn more about studying in Denmark

Looking for more information about Masters study in Denmark? Our detailed guide covers everything from university rankings and courses to fees, funding and applications.

Working whilst studying

Non-EU/EEA and non-Nordic students are allowed to work in Denmark for a maximum of 15 hours a week from September to May, and 37 hours a week from June to August. You do not need to apply for a separate work permit; this change in allowed working hours is automatically granted with the residence permit.

Whilst it can be difficult to find a student/part-time job in Denmark, most universities will have jobs listings which will help you in your search. If you wish to engage in the local Danish community you can do so through volunteer work. Contact local authorities, student unions and universities as they will have information on available opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and to meet Danish people.

You can also use PostgraduateFunding.com to search a comprehensive database of small grants available to all postgraduate students. These can help top up your funding if you have any difficulty finding work alongside your studies.

Further information

Hopefully you've now got a good idea of what life might be like for you whilst studying a Masters in Denmark. You should be able to get started finding accommodation, budgeting for living costs and perhaps finding a part-time job to help support you whilst you study.

You may also have decided to check out some of the leisure opportunities that will be available to you whilst you study in Denmark - perhaps taking up windsurfing or maybe visiting the original Legoland (Masters students in construction and related disciplines might even be able to justify the trip as fieldwork - it's worth a try!).

There are a few other topics you should read up on before you head off to start postgraduate study in Denmark, however. Read below for further information.

Travel and transportation

Denmark's location makes it an ideal place to be able to travel to the rest of Scandinavia and Europe. Berlin and Amsterdam are just an hour’s flight away while London and Paris can be reached in less than two hours. Denmark also has an excellent transport infrastructure, despite its unique geography consisting of the peninsula of Jutland and an archipelago of 433 named islands.

All 72 inhabited Danish islands are connected by a ferry service or a bridge. The two largest and most densely populated islands, Zealand and Funen, are linked by a locally called 'mega-bridge '. Another mega-bridge connects Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö (the Öresund Bridge). Denmark can also be explored by road and rail thanks to its extensive motorway and railway networks. There are also domestic flights between Copenhagen and the cities of Aalborg, Aarhus and Rønne.

In the cities, it is just as easy to get around by bus, metro and train. A zone-based pricing system and multi-ticket card makes it a simple system to use. Copenhagen has one of the world’s most efficient metro systems – a fully-automated system operating 24/7.

Health insurance for students in Denmark

Denmark is one of the most equal and affluent societies in the world. The Danish welfare system ensures free healthcare for Danish citizens and foreigners who hold a residence permit for Denmark. As a masters student, you are automatically included in the Danish Health Insurance Scheme which gives you the right to free medical treatment by general practitioners, dentists and in hospitals.

When you register with a local authority, you will receive a personal registration number, which also serves as your health insurance number. After your registration you will receive a health insurance card. Remember to bring the card along whenever you see your doctor or your dentist. The name, address and phone number of your doctor will be printed on the card.

You may, however, wish to organise a personal insurance to cover your first few weeks in Denmark, as medical treatment is free only from the moment you have received your residence permit which may take some weeks after your arrival.

Search for a Masters in Denmark

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Last updated - 21/11/2016

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