10 May 2017

Phillip Mills - Expat in Copenhagen, Denmark

Phillip Mills - Expat in Copenhagen, Denmark

We’ve had the chance to talk to Phillip Mills, 60, a British expat who has moved to Denmark with his wife. Mr. Mills who has been living there for almost 36 years, now works as a Spatial designer and blogger. 

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born and raised in Nottingham in the UK with roots in Galloway, Scotland.


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: Originally, I travelled and worked on a kibbutz in the Negav Desert in Israel in the early 1980’s. It was here on the kibbutz that I met my Danish wife, Jette.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I have been living in Copenhagen, Denmark since 1981. Purely and simply to be with the love of my life.


Q: How long have you been living in Denmark?

A: Almost 36 years. 


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live alone with my wife.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Homesickness has never been an issue. Of course, in times of a family crisis, such as illness and the loss of a family member it can be emotionally stressful. However, with low flight costs, Facetime & Skype, communication and contact with family and friends in one’s original homeland is so much easier than back in the 1980’s and 90’s. 


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Danes, especially in Copenhagen, are so internationally orientated and well informed which their language skills, especially English is excellent. Local residents in Copenhagen are relaxed, open and curious with a healthy work/life balance.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Denmark? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Originally I met and made friends through my wife’s social network. However, when I took my education as a spatial designer in Copenhagen and then through the architectural studios where I worked, I began to establish my own social network with former colleagues. I have never really socialized with expats.


Q: How does the cost of living in Denmark compare to your home?

A: The standard of living is high in Copenhagen as are the prices compared to other EU countries. Remember that prices outside of Copenhagen, e.g. Jutland, are generally 10% lower.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: The price of a Cappuccino 35 DKR. (4 GBP)

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: For a main meal, 150 DKR. (17 GBP)

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Remember Copenhagen has over the last 15 years developed into a serious gastro-centre with world class restaurants. For the main meal, 250 DKR. (29 GBP)

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: An okay bottle of wine bought at your local supermarket will start around, 80 DKR. (9 GBP)


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Denmark?

A: You will have to open a bank account in Denmark. I would strongly advise meeting with a couple of banks in your local area.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Prior to Brexit, I have never experienced problems with Danish bureaucracy. On the contrary, very efficient. However, after Brexit and the uncertainty the future holds for British expats living in the EU, it is difficult to predict what’s in store regarding visas and permits. 


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Denmark is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Healthcare in Denmark is generally excellent as is the dental care. Finding a local GP and dental should the first priority.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Denmark?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Most Danish companies often provide health insurance packages that cater for most needs.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Denmark? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I have always travelled light, otherwise I have no experience with movers internationally or locally.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Learning the language without a doubt. Danish was my first language after my native English. The first couple of years were a struggle, however, the rewards have been so worth it, both socially and work wise. Learning and using Danish has given me insight into the society I have participated in and help establish long and endearing friendships.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Denmark?

A: This maybe boring, but I have only positive experiences of living in Copenhagen. It’s wonderful living in a city that is so progressive and continues to develop. Copenhagen’s cycle infrastructure makes getting from A to B easy. Copenhagen’s cultural and gastronomic scene is up there with the best cities in Europe.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: There are so many things to do for all ages groups and interests. The best way to explore Copenhagen is by bike, boat or walking. Another excellent of coming into contact with local residents is the very popular communal eating. The earlier Absalon Church in the neighbourhood of Vesterbro is the perfect example of this.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: As much as love visiting friends and family in the UK, Copenhagen is my home and have no plans of moving.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Learn the language. Yes it is one of the most difficult languages to learn and yes your pronunciations will draw the odd smile or comment from your Danish colleagues, but the rewards can be very enriching.  


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Denmark?

A: Obviously my own, www.philsspaces.com which focuses on the positive aspects of living in this wonderful city. Otherwise, www.thelocal.dk will keep you up to date. Download the DOT app for local transport, it’s excellent. Remember the bicycle is king in this city and there are loads of apps to help you on your way. Try CykelPlanen to start with.