Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

    A millennial teacher who moved from Texas to Denmark shares the pros and cons of living there

    Ilana Buhl told Business Insider about some of the pros and cons of living in Denmark after being there for several years now.

    Ilana Buhl believes the cons of living in Denmark are minor compared to the pros.Buhl, who moved to Denmark in 2018, finds feeling safer and being in a walkable city are two pros.Meanwhile the weather can be a negative at times.

    Ilana Buhl said there’s no reason for her to move back to the US just yet after living in Copenhagen since moving there from Dallas in summer 2018.

    Buhl, who got her permanent residence permit not too long ago, said “the cons are so minor compared to the pros” in Denmark.

    Buhl posts videos about being an American in Denmark on her TikTok account that has over 98,000 followers. She’s discussed visiting Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, exploring a museum, what a staffed playground is like, and being a teacher in Denmark after teaching in Dallas.

    She’s now been living in Copenhagen longer than she was in Dallas before moving. Buhl shared with Business Insider some of the pros and cons of living in Denmark after living in Texas.

    Being able to feel safe for herself and her family

    Buhl said she feels much safer in terms of both gun violence and being a woman.

    “There’s petty crime — pickpocketing, bikes get stolen — but for the most part you don’t have to worry about your bodily safety here, which to me feels very different,” she said.

    Outside of that, Buhl said the levels of support available to people add to feeling so secure. People could get paid parental leave and there’s subsidized childcare.

    “We actually get a small stipend from the government just to help cover the costs of having a child,” she said. “Everybody gets that until their child is 18.”

    She also thinks her child can be safer here. She shared that it’s typical for people to leave their kids outside to nap in their strollers. She said she uses a digital monitor during this so the child isn’t unattended.

    “It just gives me a lot of peace of mind and means that I don’t have a lot of the stresses that I probably would if we were living in the US,” she added.

    Having long parental leave to navigate becoming a parent

    Ilana Buhl said she feels her child can be safer living here.

    Buhl said it was amazing to have over a year off of leave that was mostly paid — although she said “it wasn’t all technically maternity leave” as she took paid vacation days too and a month of unpaid leave. The US does have the Family and Medical Leave Act, but not all workers in the US are eligible for the up to 12 weeks of leave provided for in that law — plus it is unpaid. Buhl said if she was pregnant in the US and teaching she would likely be eligible because the law applies to school employees.

    In an essay for BI, Buhl said her husband — who she married after dating long distance for two years — took off two weeks while she took off 50 — not including the weeks of paid vacation and the unpaid leave. She ended up still making her salary or getting a government stipend during that. She said in the essay that “my husband and I felt it made sense for me to take the school year off.”

    She told BI the couple could have “a comfortable amount of time to figure out what we’re doing and get into a groove of things and figure ourselves out as parents before we both had to be back at work.” She added that she finds this is “a huge luxury compared to the US.”

    Being in such a walkable city with public transportation options is another pro

    While Buhl’s former city of Dallas has walkable areas, Buhl said the ease of getting around without a car is a pro about Copenhagen. Plus, she finds public transportation is a good option so she often uses that.

    “Most people in Copenhagen bike a lot,” she said. “For me, my commute is quite long, so I haven’t found that to be the most practical option for me. But I love how easy it is to get around in general. I feel like that is a quality of life improvement for me.”

    She has a better work-life balance

    Ilana Buhl is a teacher.

    Buhl teaches at an international school in Denmark. She used to teach at a school in Dallas.

    “My job is more or less the same as what I was doing in the US, which definitely is really nice, but the major differences are I actually have less contact time with students, less instructional time and more planning time, which means that I’m able to get a lot more of my work done within my contract hours than I was able to in the US,” she said.

    Plus, in her experience teaching in Denmark, she doesn’t have to pay for classroom supplies. She noted that the school buys the supplies and that they get classroom budgets.

    “I think there’s also more of a mindset that we’ll just use what’s here,” she said. “So nobody is like, ‘oh, but I need the sparkly pens or whatever,’ which was totally me in the US.”

    Several teachers in the US have previously shared that they do spend some of their own money on things for their classes — up to thousands of dollars.

    People who have moved to Denmark from the US like Buhl may also find they have a better work-life balance. According to the International Labour Organization, the average hours in a workweek is 38.0 per employed person in the US but 33.9 in Denmark.

    “People are really encouraged and expected to have boundaries outside of work and have lives outside of work,” Buhl said. “I think that extends to teachers too, which is very different from the US where teachers are kind of expected to just go above and beyond, do all this unpaid labor for the sake of the kids and just stick it out with no real compensation for it.”

    The weather can be one negative

    While Buhl finds the pros of living in Denmark outweigh the cons, she noted a few downsides.

    “The winter can be very long and dark,” she said. “I do love the summers though, so that’s the flip side.”

    Sometimes feeling like an outsider can be a negative too.

    “It can just be difficult to live in a foreign country even when you’ve learned the language,” she said. 

    “I’m not sure that I’m ever really going to feel Danish, even if I get citizenship someday,” she added. “I’d say a con is just kind of a general feeling of being an outsider no matter how long you’ve been here.”

    Buhl also finds the food selection can be a minor negative and said she misses American grocery stores. While she finds there are a lot of good restaurant options in Copenhagen, she hasn’t found the same variety you would find in major US cities.

    Copenhagen can also be expensive.

    “Rent is definitely higher, but then things, other things are less expensive than I expected,” Buhl said about Copenhagen compared to Dallas. The family’s monthly rent is around $2,000.

    She said that despite it being a city with a high cost of living, “there are ways to offset it.” She has found her phone and grocery bills are lower than what she thought they would be and she said she’s not spending as much on her public transportation pass than on her car back in Dallas.

    Have you moved to a different country? Share with this reporter why and the pros and cons of your move by emailing this reporter at mhoff@businessinsider.com.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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