How to survive the Danish krone

By Pedro Henrique Barreto

Photo: Pedro Henrique Barreto. For musician Richard Walakira, Internet can be a helpful tool in save money.

Photo: Pedro Henrique Barreto.
For musician Richard Walakira, Internet can be a helpful tool in saving money.

While getting ready to start a life in the happiest country in the world, many foreigners have to deal with an issue that can be not so cheerful: the high costs of living in Denmark.

There are nearly 18.000 foreign students currently living in the country, according to Denmark’s official website, and living on a tight budget is common for them. However, it becomes especially difficult when one is moving to a country where groceries and services are among the most expensive in the world. According to the Big Mac Index published by The Economist in January, Denmark ranked third, only below Switzerland and Norway. The index represents the purchasing power in each country, showing how overvalued the Danish Kroner is in comparison to the U.S. Dollar.

A quick research on the Internet shows Danish government efforts to inform newcomers about how to deal with the budget control when applying for the studies in the country. As living expenses vary according to lifestyle and habits, the government presented a table with an average of monthly expenses. Do you want to buy a second-hand bike? Then you will spend between DKK 250 to a 1000. Looking forward to drink a beer? Then be prepared to pay at least DKK30 in a bar, or half this price if bought in a supermarket.

In Jutland, a partnership among the Municipality, the University and business companies of Aarhus have established a network called International Community which coordinates events, seminars, publications and newsletters. The aim is to improve conditions for international employees, providing assistance for them and their families.

The “newcomers” network

The Internet can be a helpful tool for many students coming to Aarhus. “Facebook is definitely an advice: you can see other students’ experience to save money, find out ‘hidden’ spots to buy products at a reasonable price and also good places to have a nice night out”, says Demba Kandeh, 27, who moved from Gambia to Jutland last September.

Social networks can be a useful tool for savings, as groups range from housing options, second-hand furniture, kitchenware and all sorts of services for low prices. Newcomers can also check supermarkets also offers announced on apps, such as Mine Tilbud.

Jobs and rides

Richard Walakira, 25, knew by heart the difficulties he would face when he decided to move to Aarhus to live with his Danish wife. Since he arrived, last December, Walakira has been looking for a job as a musician, the same area that he used to work when living in his home country Uganda.

“Finding jobs through the Internet is a good option”, he says. “There are websites like for example, with a lot of temporary positions”. Walakira also uses Internet to find cheap options for his everyday life. “For traveling, there is, a website which offers car rides to different cities, which is really helpful.”

Priorities on track
For students moving to Denmark, the first step must be to plan everything, outlines study counselor Marie Louise Bro Pold, from the School of Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University. She explains that going to restaurants, bars and cafes can be, in fact, an expensive reward for the student lifestyle.

Bro Pold suggests that students set priorities in their expenses. “It would be advisable to have a savings account for start-up expenses, like deposits for room or apartment. “ She highlights that student card is also important, as it can provide discount in many place, such as movie theatres and hair dresses. “Most important is that you keep track of your expenses and learn how to save when possible”.

Pedro Henrique Barreto is a Journalist from Brazil and contributor for Jutland Station.