Denmark is a tiny nation in northern Europe consisting mostly of islands and a mainland attached to Germany. If you only listen to their endless self-bragging you could easily think that Denmark is heaven on earth. But facts and stories of people who have moved there tell a very different story.
Most Danes live in the illusion that Denmark is the best place on earth. However, most people who think so are those who haven’t been much outside the gates of their tiny kingdom. To illustrate that, let me give you an example. Once, Denmark was rated the happiest people in the world. Most Danes celebrated that despite the nation having a very low expectancy in Europe and very high consumption of both alcohol and anti-depressive medication. Fortunately, a local university got curious about how the Danes top the list of the happiest people in the world, despite the sad statistical facts. They researched it in depth and found that the Danes topped the list because they had the lowest expectations of life. They don’t expect to live long and healthy and don’t care about good food. They don’t care about having a great healthcare sector as they have the second lowest hospital capacity in the entire EU
Don’t fall for Danish self-bragging
Most Danes still brag about their country, mostly because they are brainwashed by media and politicians that Danmark is the best place on earth. Danish media are never critical of the Danish conditions and politicians never look abroad to see if things could become better with inspiration from other countries.
Often, when I meet Danes at conferences around the world, they usually talk a lot about how things are done in Denmark, but they have no interest in listening to how things are done in other countries. That is because they assume Denmark and the Danes are doing things the best possible way already.
Denmark is a member of the EU. Not because they want to be a part of and learn from a big community, but only to get as much money out of the EU as possible. They have absolutely no problem with taking the money and at the same time complain about how bad the EU is. Danes love democracy, but they don’t understand why the EU isn’t run and ruled by the Danes.
I was (unfortunately) born in Denmark, but I never liked being there, not even in my childhood. I think I realised at a pretty early age, that the danish self-perception was based on a scam that can only exist in tribal cultures.
Later in life when I made it a career to study and change cultures and wrote my doctoral dissertation on that topic, I realised that Denmark actually is a typical tribal culture. Churchill came to the same conclusion 70 years earlier when he said that “Denmark is not a nation but a tribe”.
So if you are considering moving to Denmark after having listened to the self-bragging Danes, then here are my 10 reasons why you shouldn’t move there.
10 reasons why you don’t want to live in Denmark
- You will have a hard time getting into the Danish circles as they usually only hang around with people they have known for a very long time. They might be nice to you in public, but the chances it goes further than that are very limited. You can easily feel very lonely especially if you don’t drink as much as the Danes. Most Danes need a lot of alcohol to loosen up, so if you are not into that, you might find yourself excluded rapidly.
- Don’t expect Danes to be open-minded and curious about where you are coming from and which values you carry. They will ask where you are coming from just to tell you all about how you are and how much better Denmark and the Danes are. Don’t expect anyone will listen and learn from your experiences.
- Danes say they love freedom, but in reality, they don’t. They love the idea of the state controlling and monitoring everything. More than 50% of the adult population is employed in the public sector, predominantly controlling the population in every possible way. They are fond of their high level of digitalisation. Not because it makes things easier or cheaper, but because it gives great opportunities for surveilling the population. There is a single key, the CPR number to everything you do everywhere, so it is very easy to map everything you do as an individual. The Danes don’t care, in fact, they love it. Most other people don’t.
- The weather is usually bad. Cold, rainy and windy weather is the norm. Christmas is usually rainy and windy, so the romantic dream of a white Christmas usually remains a dream. The weather makes people depressed and makes the Danes drink even more. So unless you can cope with that, go somewhere else.
- Racism is widespread in Denmark, so if you are dark-skinned or east-European you will have to deal with both implicit and explicit racism. The origin of your name can determine whether or not you will be invited for a job interview and if you are dark-skinned you will certainly be discriminated against. My company Gugin has worked with several danish companies and international organisations in Denmark to help them find out why ex-pats are leaving. Racism is one of the top reasons. Still, when Danish politicians are talking about how to attract more foreigners to Denmark, they only talk about tax incentives, despite it having nothing or very little to do with why people don’t want to stay in Denmark.
- Denmark is a pseudo-member of the EU. They still have their own currency, which protects the Danish businesses and is an effective barrier for new entrants. That means there are no foreign retail banks in Denmark and no foreign supermarket chains. The variety of food you can get in Danish supermarkets is very limited compared to other countries and the fintech solutions available are also very limited and back-level compared to the ones you find in the Eurozone. They are also a lot more expensive to use because of the protected monopoly market and the small size of the market.
- Everything is expensive in Denmark. High salaries, high taxes and 25% VAT on everything contribute to that. Another factor is that there is very little competition in many sectors, which means you pay a lot more for a product and service than in the Eurozone.
- Danes love rules. If you want to cross a road in the middle of the night with no cars in the street they still stand and wait for the light to turn green – even when they are drunk. In Denmark, an action is considered illegal unless it is specifically mentioned as being legal. So if you can’t live with an absurd high level of rule and norm obedience, then stay away.
- Danes are possibly the most homogenous population you will ever meet, hence Churchill’s remark about the Danes being a tribe. They have a lot of political parties but they are essentially all alike. That is because all Danes support the general concept of having an enormous public sector that liberates you from any personal responsibility – and freedom. And the Danes never look outside the gates of the tribe to get inspiration of any kind, so no new ideas are flowing into the pond.
- Denmark has a number of public nutcases that can only exist in tribal cultures. They all have scores of domestic followers who never look for any kind of sanity check. If you as a foreigner don’t find these local nutcases funny or interesting you will definitely be excluded.
- Good luck!!
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