For members


Are provincial parts of Denmark a good option for international families?

Denmark’s less populous cities and towns say they offer benefits for foreign residents and their families. In fact, some are going above and beyond to ensure a smooth transition not just for new foreign hires, but also for accompanying partners and children.

Local authorities in Denmark say they want to attract -- and keep -- skilled workers from abroad by also helping their families to settle.
Local authorities in Denmark say they want to attract -- and keep -- skilled workers from abroad by also helping their families to settle. Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

During the past six months, Lolland Municipality has been busy.

As construction on the Femern Tunnel connecting the island to the German island of Femern has begun, the municipality has launched a series of new initiatives to attract and retain skilled foreign workers. 

In addition to efforts to brand Lolland internationally, a new website for newcomers, welcome events and an international ambassador program, the municipality opened Denmark’s first public international school earlier this fall. 

Located in Maribo, Lolland International School offers free bilingual education to children from international families. 

“Lolland International School is without any doubt the biggest growth and development initiative in Lolland at the moment,” Julia Böhmer, international consultant for Lolland Municipality, told The Local.

The free international school is just one example of how provincial municipalities in Denmark are going the extra mile to attract and retain skilled foreign residents in an increasingly tight labour market – often by appealing to the whole family.


“It’s refreshing to hear from municipalities who are looking after the entire family,” Søren Kjærsgaard Høfler told The Local. Høfler is a political consultant in global mobility at the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI), an organisation representing approximately 18,500 companies across Denmark. 

DI sees attracting and retaining international labour as one solution to the labour shortage Denmark currently faces, especially outside its major cities. 

 “If the entire family is engaged in the community, that enhances the family’s chance of staying,” Høfler said.

DI has a network of companies across Denmark’s municipalities that share best practices for attracting international labour.

“That illustrates how important we think this is for our member companies,” Høfler said.

Family-focused approach gets results, municipalities find

Although Böhmer said it’s too soon to measure the effect of Lolland’s new programs, the international school has already been deemed a success, enrolling more than twice as many students as anticipated in its first year.

“Our international consultant has also received an increasing number of calls from people from all over the world who have heard about the Femern Belt project and sometimes also the free international school,” the municipal consultant said.

One such family belongs to Candice Progler-Thomsen. Originally from the United States, Progler-Thomsen has lived in Denmark on and off for three decades. 

When her family returned to Denmark in 2020 after living in Saudi Arabia, Lolland International School was one factor in their choice to move to Lolland.

“The international school definitely caught our eye,” she told The Local. 

The municipalities of Esbjerg and Vejle have also seen success with initiatives that focus on family. Both municipalities have established programs to help accompanying partners also find jobs in their regions. 

“I’ve heard from residents who have said that [our expat business consultant for accompanying partners] factored into their decision to live in Vejle, even if they work in a neighbouring municipality,” Louise Nielsen, the settlement guide within Vejle’s Newcomer Service department, told The Local.

Esbjerg Municipality has found that its job services for spouses improves retention. 

“If an employee is recruited, but their family doesn’t see anything for them in the city and doesn’t feel like they belong, they are likely to move away after a few years,” Pia Enemark, Esbjerg Municipality’s newcomer service coordinator, told The Local. 

Services for families have also been a recruitment tool for the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern. As Denmark’s third most popular tourist destination, the municipality often recruits Germans who are familiar with the region from years of holidaying there. 

“We’ve found that our childcare options are often attractive to German families, compared to the options available in Germany,” Dorthe Frydendahl, Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality’s settlement coordinator, told The Local. 

Social ties to stick the landing

Another aspect of municipalities’ efforts to attract internationals is to help new arrivals establish a social network. 

“Our aim with making it easier when people first arrive and helping them establish a social network is so they stay,” Enemark said. 

“It’s important that the whole family – not just during work hours, but in their spare time, too – feel like a part of the city they live in,” she added. 

In Vejle, where nearly 10 percent of the population is foreign-born, the municipality has an extensive lineup of events for foreign residents to learn about topics of interest, from taxes to schooling. It also offers some of its town events in English. 

“Leisure activities, friendships, and engagement with the community all make newcomers feel welcome,” DI’s Høfler said. “If they love their job and their family seems settled, that increases the chance they will stay.” 

Member comments

  1. Love this article. Having moved to Denmark from Luxembourg, another (much smaller population) country that understands how economic and social growth comes through attracting skilled/educated workers from the international community. Attract/hold/integrate is the recipe for growth. Bravo Lolland

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For members


Six useful products I discovered in Denmark

Denmark is well known for its tradition for high quality design, but which products make a difference to everyday life?

Six useful products I discovered in Denmark

Inbuilt bike locks 

There’s no need to carry around a heavy and impractical chain to lock up your bicycle in Denmark, as these all come fitted (or you can cheaply add) an inbuilt lock on the frame of the bike.

The lock is the form of a circular bar which is released by a key and goes between the spokes of the back wheel, meaning it can’t be turned when the lock is in the fixed position.

This way, bikes can be locked while still standing freely – which is just as well, since there are not enough railings and bike stands in the country to accommodate the many, many bicycles.

Of course, a locked bike can, in theory, be picked up and carried away even if the wheel doesn’t turn and unfortunately, this does happen sometimes. But not enough to undermine the public trust in bicycle wheel locks.

Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rain trousers

Rain trousers/pants (regnbukser) can be bought on their own or with a matching jacket as part of a regnsæt (“rain set”).

These waterproof pants are a novelty to those of us who don’t come from bicycle cultures, but after your first rainy day cycling commute leaves you at the office with drenched trousers, you’ll understand the appeal.

They are designed to fit over your regular trousers and can be stretched over the top of your shoes and held underneath them with a piece of elastic attached to the bottom hem.

While primarily designed for cycling, they also come in handy for walking around during Denmark’s regular spells of cold, damp weather.

Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

READ ALSO: Essential rain gear for a wet Danish winter (and spring, summer, autumn)

The flatbed toaster

There’s something indefinably satisfying about putting two slices of bread in a toaster and waiting for the ‘ping’ as they pop up, warm and ready for spreading.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that toasters are a bit impractical when it comes to thick slices and rolls.

Of course, you can also warm bread in the oven, but it’s more hassle and not for quite the same result.

Enter the flatbed toaster. This device is much more popular in Denmark than the pop-up version and enables easy, simultaneous warming of several slices of bread of various shapes and sizes – including of course, the national favourite, rye bread.

Pro tip: turn the dial less for toasting the second side of the bread, because the element will already be warm. This way you avoid burning the second side.

Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The cheese slicer

Cheese products popular in Denmark include havarti and the Cheasy range from dairy Arla.

These are both soft cheeses and should be cut with an ostehøvl (cheese slicer), a quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cutting Danish soft cheese with a knife will turn the block into a crumbling mess, so in this setting you can’t really avoid using the specialised slicers. And while their usefulness is diminished for something like cheddar, there are plenty of softer cheeses in other countries that would surely benefit from being set about with an ostehøvl.

One thing to be aware of: injudicious use of the slicer can cause a “ski slope” cheese block, creating uneven slices and leaving one side of the block thicker than the other. Slice evenly.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Foam washing cloths for babies

If you’re a parent and have found yourself struggling with a pile of dirty wet wipes or cotton pads after changing your baby, you may have found yourself wondering if there’s another way.

In Denmark, there is: the engangsvaskeklude (disposable washing cloth) comes in tightly-stuffed packets of 50-100 small, square foam cloths, around 20 square centimetres in size.

The cloths are made from thin slices of polyether foam, a type often used in sofa cushions. Manufacturers say it is better for the environment than other types, and the advantage against wet wipes is they are perfume-free.

They just need to be made damp with a splash of lukewarm water, then you’re ready to wipe – they tend to have a good success rate for picking up baby poo.

A sticker saying ‘no thanks’ to junk mail

We’re talking about physical junk mail here, not the type that goes into your email spam box although if there was a sticker for this, I’d be at the front of the queue.

The reklamer, nej tak (“advertisements, no thank you”) sticker can be ordered from FK Distribution, the company which operates Denmark’s tilbudsaviser (“special offer newspaper”) deliveries. These result in piles of paper leaflets, detailing offers at supermarkets, being pushed through letter boxes every day.

These leaflets are useful for bargain hunters, but many people take them out of their overfilled letter box and dump them straight into recycling containers. If you have a nej tak sticker on your letter box, you won’t receive any of the brochures in the first place.

You can also choose a sticker which says “no thanks” to adverts but excludes the offer leaflets, so you can cut down on the junk mail while still keeping abreast of good deals.

Have I missed any good ones? Let me know.