What is it like to move to Aarhus, Denmark To start a new life in a foreign country?
In the Ask an Expat series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for other (future) expats and information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat now calls home.
Denmark always scores high on lists about best countries to live in, best quality of life, etc. This interview with Grace, who chose to move to Denmark I therefore found very interesting and a great way to find out more about what life in this highly praised country is really like!
Expat life in Aarhus, Denmark
Location: Aarhus, Denmark
Hometown: London, UK
“I graduated from university in the UK in July 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Like many other graduates, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next in my life! I knew I didn’t want to keep studying Sociology at a higher level, but I didn’t feel quite ready to get a full-time job. My boyfriend is Danish and we began to joke about me moving to Denmark to work or study. I was a little apprehensive about the idea at first but then I thought ‘why not?’, it would be a great experience and a chance to see what it’s like living in Scandinavia. In August 2016 I made the move and I am so glad that I did! I am studying towards a marketing qualification here and I also work part-time for a fashion company.”
“Of course it was convenient that my boyfriend lived here and already had an apartment. However, it was also important to me that I found something that I really wanted to do whilst I was here, so I was lucky that I found a great education program.”
What do you like about Aarhus?
“I love how safe it is here. In the UK I tend to feel a little on edge when I’m walking alone, especially at night, but here I don’t get this feeling at all. I also love the size of the city; it is not as big as Copenhagen or London but it is just the right size to still feel busy but at the same time, still cozy.”
What do you dislike about Aarhus?
“I wish that I could pick all my friends and family up and move them here! Apart from that, there is not much that I dislike about living here. The only thing I can think of is that some things, like groceries and eating out, is a lot more expensive here than it is in the UK. In England I tended to go out for dinner with my friends and family a lot as it is fairly inexpensive, but because of the prices here in Aarhus it is not a frequent occurrence.”
What is your favorite thing to do in Aarhus?
“I love to go to brunch on the weekend down by the canal that runs through the center of the city. A lot of the cafes by the water have buffet brunches, which are a lot cheaper than eating out at dinner-time, with so much yummy food. It’s a really nice relaxed way to spend a lazy morning.”
What is your favorite place to hang out (restaurant, bar, etc) in Aarhus?
“A really great place I like to go to eat is to Aarhus Street Food as it is huge and has so many different food options. For nightlife, I really like a bar called Hornsleth which is in the city center, it gets really busy on the weekends and they play good music over a couple of different rooms. The website looks a little strange and the club itself has a lot of odd artwork and writing on the walls but I promise it’s a nice place! For a more cozy and relaxed atmosphere I like to go to the Latin Quarter of the city to places like Café Jorden.”
What is the expat community like in Aarhus?
“I have never reached out to expat communities or forums here in Aarhus but I know that they do exist. One example is the International Community Facebook page – they regularly post about expat events that are happening in and around the city. Another option is the Aarhus Internationals Facebook group”
Any tips for moving to / living in Aarhus?
“Accommodation is hard to come by here, many of my friends have struggled with finding apartments or rooms. I think a good tip for this would be to try and make friends with some Danes who can let you know when they hear of a friend who is looking for a roommate or a renter as it is not often that they will appear on letting websites.
If you are an EU citizen, make sure to register for your EU residence certificate and CPR number as soon as possible. This number will allow you to open a bank account, get a job and a travel card. The process of getting this number can take months so be sure to get the ball rolling as soon as you move here as without it, things are a little trickier.”
Any resources you found useful during the process of moving to and/or building a new life in Aarhus?
“I browsed mostly government websites and also websites like Work in Denmark to find out about the formalities of moving here and what I needed to do when I got here. I also read a book called ‘The Year of Living Danishly’ by a British author and journalist Helen Russell. It gave me a humorous taste of what to expect when moving here and it has been very accurate!
In terms of building a life here, an essential website that is also available as an app is Rejseplanen. It is available in both English and German and is a quick and easy way to check out bus and train times. Of course, the Google Translate app has also been a lifesaver. Most Danes speak great English but it is always handy to have and it has saved me a few times!”
Is there something you just have to see or do when you are in Aarhus?
“The biggest tourist attraction here in Aarhus is the ARoS art museum and I can see why. It has lots of interesting exhibitions of mostly modern art, but the stand-out feature is the circular glass rainbow walkway that is on top of the building. That is definitely a must-visit if you find yourself in Aarhus.”
Grace is 21 years old and moved to Aarhus, Denmark from the UK 6 months ago. She is studying in Aarhus, exploring the city and also works part-time at Danish fashion start-up Trendhim.
Aarhus is the main city on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. With a population of just over 300,000 people, it is Denmark’s second largest city and the city with the youngest population.
Aarhus offers an elegant mix of cosmopolitan city and small-town charm, with lovely pubs, restaurants and romantic places.
Den Gamle By is its old town open-air museum, with centuries-old timbered houses. Nearby are the greenhouses of the Aarhus Botanical Garden. In the center, the multistory ARoS art museum shows global contemporary works. The underground Viking Museum explores early local history. Nearby, Aarhus Cathedral has restored 14th- to 16th-century frescoes.
Aarhus is known as The City of Cafés and has for many years been known as a nesting box for Danish musicians and bands, primarily in main stream pop and rock music. It hosts the largest cultural festival in Scandinavia, Aarhus Festuge (Aarhus Festival).
And, if you need any more proof that Aarhus is a city well worth visiting: the city has been selected as the European Capital of Culture in 2017.
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Images thanks to Visitaarhus.com