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Foreigners say they struggle to settle in Denmark and Norway but there is an upside

The Local Denmark
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Foreigners say they struggle to settle in Denmark and Norway but there is an upside
Oslo. Photo: mumemories/Depositphotos"

Denmark and Norway provoked mixed feelings amongst international workers trying to make a life in the two countries, as they performed relatively poorly in a widescale survey about expat life around the globe.


Denmark came 48th out of 64 countries in the latest edition of global community Internations' annual Expat Insider Survey, a fall of 13 places compared to last year. Norway placed 35th, 10 places worse than in 2018.

“Despite affordable childcare and education, an amazing environment, and a great work-life balance, expats in the Nordic countries are far from happy, suffering from social isolation,” Internations writes on its website as it sums up the surveys.

READ ALSO: I moved to Copenhagen and expected to become a local. The reality was different

Denmark performed particularly badly in the Ease of Settling In Index (63rd out of 64), ranking among the bottom 10 for the sixth year in a row. In the survey, 70 percent of responders said they found it hard to make local friends, far less than the 39 percent global average.

“The locals are not friendly towards foreigners,” a Portuguese responder to the survey said, according to Internations’ press release.

“It is less easy to have a social life in Denmark than in other countries,” the person added.

Norway ranked 54th out 64 destinations in the same index: three in ten people said they did not feel at home in the local culture and just over three in five struggle with making local friends.

At 63rd out of 64, Denmark also fared poorly in the Cost of Living Index – as did Norway in 60th. The latter country’s high taxes were cited as a key reason for this.

An area where the countries performed better, however, is the Work & Leisure subcategory.

The Local Denmark has previously reported about obstacles faced by foreign professionals regarding work permits, where international talents face daunting criteria and uncertainty about getting to stay in Denmark.

The Internations survey pointed at other factors influencing workers' view of the country, however.

Denmark was voted the world’s best country with regard to working hours, while 81 percent of internationals in Norway said they were happy with the country’s working hours, comparing vary favourably to the 62 percent global average.

READ ALSO: Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance

Norway received some of its best ratings in the Family Life index, where it was the 6th most-highly ranked country overall. Here, 67 percent said that education options are numerous and easy to get (53 percent globally), and 81 percent considered education easy to afford (49 percent globally).

In Denmark, childcare options were ranked 3rd-best of all the included countries.

Somewhat surprisingly, tech-savvy Norway was voted the worst of the Nordic nations at 11th spot overall for digital life. Nevertheless, 96 percent said it is easy to pay without cash in Norway. 82 percent said they appreciated the availability of administrative or government services online, compared to 55 percent globally.

READ ALSO: Why Norwegian media lead the world in digital subscriptions

Some 20,000 people took part in the Internations survey, with at least 75 respondents per country. Internations is a global community and information site for people who live and work abroad, and boasts 3.6 million members in 420 cities around the world. You can read the full report here.

What do you think of life as an international in Denmark or Norway (or even both)? You can let us know here – we’d be happy to hear your thoughts.



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