Flytte til Århus
August 9, 2010 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about renting in Aarhus and the logistics of moving to Denmark from the United States.

I am considering enrolling in a two-year graduate program in Aarhus starting in the fall of next year. My American fiance will be able to transfer to the Danish office of his employer, so this post is not about paperwork or income.

Fortunately, we are fairly well-off, and should still be somewhat well-off after losing my income and paying taxes in Denmark. I will be applying to U.S. medical school midway through my graduate program (for commencement in the following year), and I have no idea what city we might be moving to after the two-year stint in Denmark.

We rent a fairly nice apartment for about $3,000/month plus utilities, maid, etc. What should we expect to be able to afford in Aarhus? How long before the move should we start looking at rental property?

We have lots of stuff that was thoughtfully acquired and I am not sure what the best strategy would be as far as moving it is concerned. For example:

Nice commuter bikes. Bring them, sell them in the United States, or put them in storage for two years? Should we just ride the cheapest bikes that won't fall apart, like in Amsterdam and Copenhagen?

A three-week-old car, paid in full. It'd be nice to have a car while there (we love roadtrips, and the shipping fee with taxes is $1,800; no import taxes on used cars). Buying a new car in Denmark with 180% tax would probably be silly. Would it be best to sell it just before we move (it's currently ranked #1 as far as price retention goes)? We lived without a car for more than three years until last month, but it's been so nice to have a vehicle.

We own some expensive new furniture that, ironically, took 8 weeks to be delivered... from Denmark. I'm quite fond of it, particularly of five-six lamps that wouldn't work without converters anyway. Would it be best to ship it, sell it all, or keep it in storage for two years? I'm pretty sure there isn't a huge market for used nice furniture, so we won't be able to get much for it by selling it.

Lots of books. Should I just get a Kindle at this point?

Sporting equipment: lots of backpacking stuff with some spelunking and climbing gear. A snowboard. Will we get a chance to use them in Denmark?

We have no family in our current city to take any of our stuff (but we have friends that will take care of our beloved potted Japanese maple).

If my partner's employer pays for the move, what kind of things should we buy here?

Any other issues concerning the physical move that I have failed to think about?

Anonymous because of financial disclosure,
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around Aarhus, Denmark (3 answers total)
I can't tell you about Denmark, but I have moved overseas a few times, and I think it is really important not to treat it as a temporary situation. This is somewhere you will be for two years, so you want to really settle in and feel at home.

Books - bring the ones you love, because that's part of feeling at home. Don't bring all of them unless you can fit them into a shipping allowance that someone else (employer) pays for. But keep in mind that you will probably acquire many more there, and you will need to bring them all back. A kindle is a pretty good investment for a frequent traveler.

Do an inventory of your electronics. Most things that have an internal battery (laptops, ipods, etc) can run on 220 with only a plug adapter, but you will want to check. Look for something like "input: 100-240 volts" on the transformer. Buy a TV there if you want to own one. Most lamps are just a pretty socket - if it takes incandescent bulbs (not halogen or fluorescent and no dimmer switches) you do not need a voltage converter. You can buy a 220 bulb there just use a plug adapter.

I sold nearly everything, and got a tiny storage unit for $40 a month to keep the things I could not bring and could not give up.

Find someone local to ask about the car. Maybe an expat mailing list. It really depends on the location.
posted by Nothing at 12:48 AM on August 10, 2010

I moved to Sweden on a two year contract in 1995 and am still here.

A three-week-old car, paid in full. It'd be nice to have a car while there (we love roadtrips, and the shipping fee with taxes is $1,800; no import taxes on used cars).

I don't know the rule in Denmark, but in Sweden a car is not considered as "used" for the purposes of import if you have owned it for less than one year. Import duty is equal to the value added tax which I think is 17% in Denmark (it's 25% in Sweden.) Be advised that you may have to make some changes to a U.S. vehicle to bring it up to European standard. Parking lights, for example, as not allowed to be on when the headlights are. Also there could be some problem with the color of brake lights, etc. Not a big deal, but there could be some costs which employers generally go not pick up.

The one mistake I made was storage. I paid to keep a bunch of crap in storage that I ended up giving away. If it is not worth moving it is not worth keeping.

Re. electronics. Buy a heavy duty transformer to convert 220V down to 110V. Bring a few U.S. power strips. Get rid of the TV. European broadcast standards are incompatible with those in the U.S. Radios are fine.

Bring your nice expensive bicycles. After they get stolen, you can buy new ones.

Leave your firearms (if any) at home. Handguns are not allowed. Period. Long guns are subject to extremely strict licensing and training.

Bring your furniture. If the employer is paying for the move these are considered as personal property and won't be taxed. The moving company should be able to give you a very detailed list of what you can import duty-free.

Not much skiing or climbing in Denmark, but the Alps are not far away.

I think it is really important not to treat it as a temporary situation. This is somewhere you will be for two years, so you want to really settle in and feel at home.

Seconding this.

LEARN SOME DANISH. Most Danes speak very good English, but if you can't read Danish and understand it, you'll feel lost. Signs are in Danish. When the train is late the announcement is in Danish.. etc. (You're in Denmark after all.)

One thing I did which has been very valuable is to buy a Vonage subscription. Having a U.S. telephone number which rings in Denmark means your friends and family can call you at no cost. (And you can call U.S. numbers cheaply). Very, very, very useful.

Good luck!
posted by three blind mice at 1:26 AM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm not from Aarhus, but have lived in Copenhagen all my life. When I was a teenager, my family moved to the US for 1.5 years (dad was transferred for work), so maybe I can help with a few things.

Make sure to have things shipped by boat instead of plane, it's much cheaper and you can bring way more stuff. I would definitely bring the nice furniture and the bikes - and FYI, not everyone rides around on crappy bikes in Copenhagen! A nice bike when you use it every day is a must in my book, even if they do get stolen once in a while. I wouldn't bring any larger electronics (TV, stereo, etc) - the converter is annoying and sometimes malfuncitons (I got my (stationary) computer fried because of this). I think it's a maybe on the hiking gear and snowboard - you definitely won't be able to get any use out of it in Denmark (I even laughed a little when I first read that), but like three blind mice says, it's easy to travel around Europe and you can go to both the Alps or Sweden/Norway and hike/snowboard.

Regarding the car, living in Copenhagen, I would definitely advise against the car; Aarhus is much smaller and is also completely accesible without car. But I can see the point in wanting to travel around Denmark and the rest of Europe, where having a car would be great, but of course not mandatory. I don't know where you heard that importing used cars is tax-free - that is definitely false. I can't give you any exact costs, but it will be pretty expensive to import - but then again, so will buying a car here. I found this site where you can calculate an estimate of what you will pay based on your specific car. (Danish link run through Google translate.) If you do decide to import it, I would sell it in Denmark after the two years. Used cars are also a lot more expensive here than in the US, so you should be able to make up some of the import tax. Be aware that gas is also very expensive here, ATM ~$1.9 pr. liter ($7.1 pr. gallon).

Regarding rent, you should definitely be able to get a nice apartment for way less than $3000 a month, probably more around $2000 a month in Aarhus. This kind of depends on what you define as "nice", of course. You can look here to get an idea of the price range.

Feel free to memail me if you have any other Denmark-specific questions.
posted by coraline at 5:24 AM on August 10, 2010

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