What’s the reality of expat life in Europe today?

Many of Europe’s 33 million international residents have hit something of a jackpot - at least if recent research is anything to go by.

What’s the reality of expat life in Europe today?
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

From longer parental leave and better educational opportunities to bigger paychecks and career boosters, expats in Europe seem to be enjoying the many perks of living abroad.

One of the greatest appeals of relocating to Europe in particular seems to be the promise of a higher quality of life. A recent survey conducted by Vitreous World on behalf of AXA – Global Healthcare* suggests that expats in Europe are more likely to have packed their bags for better pay and more benefits than for the chance to embark on a new adventure. In France, for example, 31 percent of foreigners say that the French lifestyle is by far the best thing about living there – and about 44 percent benefit from things such as improved pay and learning a new language.

Find out more about AXA’s health insurance packages for expats

Fresh statistics from the world’s longest-running survey of expats* found that, among other things, many European expat hotspots seem to be hitting the high notes on a wide variety of criteria. In Spain, for example, more expats than in any other expat community report that more sun and a slower pace of life has led to significant improvements in both their physical and mental health.** In Switzerland, too, international residents are enthusiastic about their lifestyle upgrade, which includes reaping the benefits of the strong economy (by way of higher-than-global-average salaries) and taking care of their families without having to worry about political instability.*

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Despite digital technologies alleviating some of the problems once experienced by expats, living and working abroad does, like most things, have a flipside – or, at any rate, its own set of hurdles. As AXA – Global Healthcare’s survey indicates, these can include language barriers, making new friends, seasonal depression, and adapting to a change in climate. But if you’re aware of these challenges before you move, downloading a language app or joining an online expat community can help you to prepare yourself.

Learn more about how you can benefit from AXA’s global healthcare plans

Moreover, expats often face bureaucratic obstacles as they navigate everything from banking services to local healthcare systems. According to AXA – Global Healthcare’s survey, almost four out of five expats had concerns when seeking healthcare in their current country, with 63 percent saying they would travel back to their home country if they needed medical treatment. Fortunately, you can make use of services such as the Virtual Doctor Service – which is offered with some of AXA’s global health plans with out-patient cover. This provides a handy solution for healthcare challenges if they do arise, allowing you to speak to a doctor at short notice, in a range of languages, at any time and from anywhere in the world.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

On the whole, it does appear that for international dwellers in Europe, expat life comes with many benefits. Although over half of the expats surveyed did report that being away from friends and family made it harder to integrate, and 43 percent said that making new friends was tough, AXA – Global Healthcare’s research indicates that, overall, the majority of both European and global expats believe that their experience of living abroad has been a positive one. For example, close to a majority of expats globally attest to having a better work-life balance than in their home country, citing better leisure opportunities, an easier commute, more disposable income, and more time to spend with family as main reasons.

With AXA’s global health cover, you and your family are covered at every stage of expat life. Find out more about how AXA’s international health insurance can help you to get the most out of life abroad.

*Research conducted in February 2019 by Vitreous World on behalf of AXA. A total of 1,352 expats were surveyed (250 in the UK, France, UAE, Canada and China, and 100 in Hong Kong).

**HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2019

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.


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How much does it cost to go to the dentist in Denmark?

Denmark is known as an expensive country and dental care is not fully covered by the public health system. But it's possible to avoid both toothache and severe wallet pain.

How much does it cost to go to the dentist in Denmark?

Many foreign citizens living in Denmark put off dental care—with the sky-high cost of living, it’s not unreasonable to expect an eye-popping bill from a Danish dentist.

But routine preventative care—like a yearly exam and tooth cleaning—could set you back less here than in your home country. And fortunately, the prices for many common services are regulated by the government.

Dental care for children and young adults (under 21)

A trip to the dentist is free for kids with a Danish health card. By the age of 2, children in Denmark are automatically enrolled in the municipal dental program and appointments with dentists are scheduled routinely—some dentists’ office are even located inside elementary schools. All dental care—from cleanings to root canals—is covered by the national health until age 21.

Dental care for adults

After your 22nd birthday, you’ll foot about 65 percent of your bill at the dentist for basic services like cleaning and routine x-rays, while the national health will pick up the remaining 35-ish percent.

Dentists and the Danish Regions, which are responsible for the administration of healthcare services, have negotiated fixed prices for certain common services. This system is called the ‘special act’ and all but five dental practices in Denmark have agreed to participate, according to the Danish Dental Association.

The Danish Dental Association helped The Local compile a price table for the most common routine dental care services as of December 2022. 

Service Set price 
Tooth Cleaning 219 kroner 
Basic diagnostic exam — Check-up (18-25 years old)  102 kroner
Basic diagnostic exam — Check-up (26 years old and up)  175 kroner 
‘Bitewing’ x-rays  224 kroner 
X-rays  159 kroner 

However, some dental interventions don’t have standardized prices — according to the Dental Association, that’s to encourage competition between providers and ultimately save the public money. (the government health portal) offers a price comparison tool that allows you to see how much dentists in your area charge for services including fillings, crowns, and root canals. Note that anesthesia is often listed as an optional add-on for an additional fee. 

READ MORE: Rising prices force Danes to postpone dental appointments

Are braces free in Denmark?

Cosmetic braces aren’t covered by the public health system in Denmark, but orthodontics for medical reasons — like if your bite doesn’t align to the point you can’t chew — are covered for people under 21. 

What about discounts?

Additional subsidies are available for low-income families and people with disabilities — but be careful to check whether the terms of your residence permit allow you to receive public assistance. Even Danes who hope to sponsor a family reunification visa can be penalized, or have their application rejected, for receiving public assistance for dental care

Technically, dental practices that participate in the set prices programme aren’t supposed to offer discounts — but any Google search for dental services in Copenhagen turns up student discounts and new patient bundles (such as an exam, cleaning, and x-rays for a lower total price) that can mean considerable savings. While the dentist may ultimately be fined for offering discounts, there’s no risk to you as a customer for taking advantage of these deals. 

Additionally, dental students at the Copenhagen School of Dentistry (supervised by fully qualified dentists) perform many procedures from emergency dental services to braces and fillings and charge reduced fees. See their pricing guide, last updated in 2021, here

It’s also worth considering the private health insurance programme Sygesikring danmark (a private, not a national company, despite its name) which can offer reimbursements when you pay for dental and other medical-adjacent services. The company offers a number of different price brackets and has information in English here.

READ MORE: From 2014: Dane’s wife has to leave country over dentist bill