• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Dejlige Days Welcome
How to manage the expectations of expat life
Life in a new country isn't always filled with sunshine. Photo: Colourbox

How to manage the expectations of expat life

The Local · 12 Feb 2016, 08:30

Published: 12 Feb 2016 08:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Feb 2016 08:30 GMT+01:00

Managing expectations is the name of the game for successful relocation. It is very easy to fall into the trap of constant comparisons and conversions to everything 'back home'. There are two key areas that people struggle with that can cause major problems in relocating: space and cost. Both of these require a change of mindset and a big dose of reality, something that is often resisted by newer expats.
 
Firstly, space. For many people moving from the UK or the US one significant issue is coming to terms with a smaller living space, especially in regard to bathrooms. A lot of people in the UK will be lucky enough to have at least two bathrooms in their home and understandably take this for granted. They will have a shower and a bath, tons of storage space for all those tubes of cosmetics and face creams we seem to accumulate. 
 
Unless you are looking at a modern apartment in Copenhagen your bathroom is most likely to consist of a wet room less than two square metres including a sink, a small cupboard and the toilet - all neatly and cleverly fitted into the compact space. The shock on the faces of guests from the States when they see the bathroom spaces in Danish apartments is always a sight to behold.
 
The cost of living in Denmark is the next big issue. If I had a krone for every time I hear how expensive things are here I would be a very wealthy woman. There are even people who claim that due to the expensive nature of goods here that they simply ship everything they need from cheaper countries and never spend even a øre in Danish stores if they can help it (not a great way to support your local economy).
 
But with a change of expectations and behaviour you realise that a lot of what you spent your money on at home was totally unnecessary, throwaway junk that you simply didn't need. I am ashamed to admit that I would easily spend hundreds of pounds on a monthly basis on cheap throwaway fashion when I lived in the UK.
 
I would fill my aforementioned bathroom cabinets with the latest wonder anti-ageing cream and forget about it the next week. Being faced with a more expensive price tag for non essential items has helped me pick and choose a lot more carefully and actually use and wear all the things I own. 
 
I have stopped chasing the latest thing for that temporary emotional high and changed my values about consumption. I buy more expensive beauty products but use them until the jar is empty - something I never did with all the cheap ones in the UK. We meal plan and eat all we buy (as much as possible), we don't fill our apartment with stuff we don't need or enjoy. We don't have a TV in every room. And we don't feel we are missing out.
 
It is very easy to get caught up in comparing prices between your home country and your new country and coming to the conclusion that the latter is very expensive. Budgeting is important, but so is realism. Things cost what they cost, so unless you can find an alternative source through friends and family or the internet, you need to decide if you want something bad enough to pay the price.
 
I hear people say that a washing machine would be half the price 'back home', true as this may be you can't buy it there and ship it over so you need to find the best price here. That is an essential element of dealing with the price of things here - shopping around to find the best deal - whether that is on appliances or a litre of milk. 
 
Quite a while ago I started doing my smaller grocery purchases (I use Nemlig for the convenience for the majority) in budget supermarkets like Netto, Aldi and Lidl and our bank balance is showing the difference.
Story continues below…
 
I was recently listening to a podcast with blogger Jen Gale who advocates a healthy approach to consumption and a more ‘make do and mend’ lifestyle and she put it perfectly - once you replace ‘I need’ with ‘I want’ you can start to assess what is really important and essential to live a contented lifestyle and not one based on consumption.
 
It was a change that living here forced me make and it made life a lot easier with less resentment. 
 
Melanie HaynesMelanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for eight years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog Dejlige Days and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at helping expats called Dejlige Days Welcome. Her ebook, Dejlige Days: A Guide to relocation, will be published in February.

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Danish 'devil of death' nurse gets life for killing patients
Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix

A Danish nurse, dubbed a "devil of death" by prosecutors, was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for murdering three patients and trying to kill a fourth.

Brexit
Brits in Denmark left shocked and concerned by Brexit
British expats in Denmark were left feeling like these supporters of the 'Stronger In' campaign who watched the referendum result in London early on Friday. Photo: Rob Stothard/AFP/Scanpix

The Local spoke with a handful of British expats living in Denmark on Friday and not a single one was happy about the referendum result.

Roskilde Festival 2016
8 key questions ahead of this year’s Roskilde Festival
It's that time again! Roskilde begins on Saturday. Photo: Tobias Nicolai/Roskilde Festival

Denmark's biggest party is about to kick off – here's what we'll be keeping our eyes on as The Local once again heads to Roskilde.

Brexit
Denmark vows to defend euro peg after Brexit vote
The Danish krone has had a fixed exchange rate since 1982. Photo: Colourbox

National Bank "will do what it necessary to maintain a stable exchange rate".

Brexit
EU-sceptic Danish party calls for referendum, PM says no
PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen and FM Kristian Jensen addressed the Brexit results on Friday morning. Photo: Uffe Weng/Scanpix

The Red-Green Alliance wants a Danish referendum on EU membership within a year but the PM reaffirms that "we belong in the EU".

Maersk to mull splitting group under new CEO

Danish oil and shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk named a new chief executive and said major changes could be in store.

Brexit
Danish PM: Brexit ‘very sad’ for Denmark and EU
Leave supporters cheer the referendum results on Thursday night. Photo: Toby Melville/Scanpix

Lars Løkke Rasmussen said on Friday morning that he is disappointed in the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU.

Brexit
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Photo: Bjørn Wylezich/Iris/Scanpix

With Brexit a reality, many point to Denmark as being the next country to follow suit but Danish experts say they are wrong.

Denmark's Sankt Hans Aften explained: Witches and rain
How many hay witches will die tonight? Photo: Colourbox

Denmark will be ablaze with bonfires on Thursday night – if predicted heavy rains don't put a damper on the Sankt Hans Aften celebrations.

Brexit
We hate EU too but 'please stay', Danish daily urges Brits
A woman rides a bicycle as she leaves a polling station at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, west London on Thursday. Photo: Leon Neal/Scanpix

In a rare move, Berlingske made an English-language appeal to Brits.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
National
Denmark scraps green card but spares current holders
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Society
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
National
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
National
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
National
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
Travel
The second best destination in all of Europe is...
Sport
We are the champions! Denmark wins world badminton team title
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
National
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
Society
Strangest political story in Denmark just got stranger
International
Keeping Denmark in Europol 'maybe impossible'
Analysis & Opinion
Green card holders tell Denmark to keep its promise
National
Denmark picks F-35 in historic jet purchase
Society
Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness
National
Danish minister tells 'Sharia' troublemakers to 'get a job'
Culture
Danish 'martyr' exhibit reported to police
National
Denmark extends 'temporary' border measures for sixth time
2,271
jobs available