• 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
Denmark falls in international student satisfaction rank
DTU was once again named the best university in Denmark. Photo: NewsOresund/Flickr

Nordic nations once again dominated the annual International Student Satisfaction Awards.

New Copenhagen project will 'try to change the world'
Martin Kæstel and Anja Müller are the driving forces behind think.dk. Photo: Melanie Haynes

A new project based in the Copenhagen district of Østerbro was launched this week to give sustainability proponents power in numbers.

Denmark reverses course on refugee ‘child brides’
An unspecified number of married couples have been reunited in Danish asylum centres. File photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix

Married couples will be allowed to live together in Danish asylum centres even if one party is underage.

Copenhagen tour boat fined over girl’s amputated arm
The tour operator said it had followed all of the rules and the accident is the only one of its kind in 25 years. Photo: Colourbox

Tour boat operator Netto-Bådene was ordered on Tuesday to pay 50,000 kroner for an accident in which a 10-year-old girl had her arm smashed.

Photo gallery
IN PICS: Celebrating Copenhagen beer... in Boston
Danish beer culture took over Boston's City Hall Plaza for the weekend. Photo: Samer Khudairi

A Danish beer party in Beantown? Yep, and The Local had a photographer there to document the happenings.

Danes acquitted of aiding 2015 Copenhagen attacker
The trial of the four men was held under heavy security in Copenhagen. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Four men accused of helping a Copenhagen gunman who killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard were acquitted on terror charges.

Danish kids among the fittest in the world: study
The study compared kids' 20m shuttle run times. Photo: Mikkel Zibrandtsen/Flickr

Danish kids have some of the highest level of aerobic fitness in the world, according to a recently-released international study.

Copenhagen police arrest teen as car fires continue
Firefighters extinguish a car fire in Valby over the weekend. Photo: Mathias Øgendal/Scanpix

UPDATED: A 17-year-old has been charged in connection with one of the 11 new fires over the weekend.

Danish nationalists hand out cans of 'refugee spray'
The party said it distributed more than 100 cans of its 'refugee spray'. Photo: Daniel Carlsen/ Danskernes Parti

The nationalist Danes’ Party elicited strong reactions went it took to the streets of Haderslev to hand out cans of what it called ‘refugee spray’.

Video
Metallica to open new Copenhagen arena
Metallica's James Hetfield at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in New York City's Central Park on Saturday. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Scanpix

Copenhagen’s coming multi-purpose arena will be opened in grand style with two nights of shows with the legendary band.

Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
International
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Copenhagen declared world's most livable city - again!
Record number of Danes leave the church
Society
Record number of Danes leave the church
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
National
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Society
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
National
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Analysis & Opinion
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
National
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
National
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Society
Expats: Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Business & Money
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
2,226
jobs available