Considering a move to Denmark - money, insurance, etc.

My husband and I are considering a move to Denmark. Our only child married a Dane and it's clear her life will now permanently be in Europe. We want to be close to her and feel we need to be proactive as we aren't getting any younger. Such a big move may not be possible in 10 years and the idea of traveling even for visits gets more daunting with age.

We are beginning to feel overwhelmed by how much might be at stake and how much we don't know. We would greatly appreciate hearing from others who have done the expat thing. Any suggestions or recommendations on how to  handle money and its movement between the two countries. It seems some credit card companies/banks don't want to deal with you if you no longer live in the states. Trying to figure out the health insurance and visa residency requirements (my husband has dual citizenship but I do not) is another black hole, to say nothing of how to physically get ourselves there. We have a house to sell, furniture to move, etc.

Any words of advice (what to do and NOT do) would be so helpful. Are there any Facebook groups to join, videos to watch, companies to use....I know the Berkeley community is filled with smart, interesting, worldly people so I thought I'd reach out to this group for help.

Thank you!

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Hello, I lived overseas for 26 years of my adult life.  In response to a few of your questions 1- we kept US credit cards active.  We applied for new US credit cards while overseas.  You should keep a permanent US address on your credit card accounts.  Perhaps use a parent's US address? Be sure to get credit cards with 0% international transaction fees.  2- Money. I've opened a commercial bank account in the countries where I lived, and then just transferred $XX thousand dollars every few months from my US accounts to the overseas account.  3- Furniture and household items - I would recommend selling everything you own here, and buying everything you need there. 4.  For visa questions I recommend contacting the Danish embassy - they can advise you about what is required to legally reside in Denmark.  5.  Housing. If you can't stay with your child to start, I would recommend just getting an AirBNB near your child, and then look around from there.  Trying to determine which area to live will be much easier from Denmark than from here.  6.  Things you don't know.  Yes, there will be loads of them, but that's part of the fun!  Enjoy

Gosh, I feel for you: our daughter, and our young grandchildren, live in England, and my husband and I tried Oregon for a year when I was 40 and my husband was 50. I think a lot can depend on whether you both really like living in the Bay Area, and have been here for years; and whether you have both lived in a cold climate.

I'd consider renting out my Bay Area house for, say, half a year--maybe fall and winter, or winter and spring--and trying life in Denmark before making a permanent decision. I've known people in their middle and older years who made permanent long-distance moves, and more often than not, it was quite difficult, in both concrete and emotional terms. (Of course, the joy of being near one's child would be a big plus.) Or could you perhaps rent out your house here and spend two months twice a year in Denmark, or something like that?

Also, if you Google "home exchange sites," there are other URLs that might be useful to you. Good luck! I hear Denmark is a wonderful, livable country.

My family moved from Berkeley to Copenhagen two years ago, and it's been a wonderful move for us! The quality of life is very high. It is quite difficult to get residency, though, so you will need to look deeply into that. I recommend joining the Facebook group "Americans in Denmark" where many of your questions can be answered. I also recommend keeping a US bank account open. You don't need health insurance in Denmark; socialized healthcare is free :) The standards for getting residency are high, though, so I would start there. Good luck! 

I'm currently in the process of moving to France (less than 2 weeks away!) so I've got some recent experience. The first question is what visa you need. If your husband is a dual citizen (European I assume) then as his spouse you should be able to easily get one. I know in France you don't need to get a visa in advance. Once you arrive you go to the nearest prefecture and register yourself. Denmark is probably similar but you should verify. I'm also assuming you're retired or nearly so, therefore I won't discuss working etc which is a whole other ballpark. The real question you should ask yourself is if you want to permanently relocate or if this will be temporary. In our case the move will be permanent but we plan to rent out our house for at least a couple years in case things don't work out and we want to return. If your house is your permanent residence and you've lived there for the last 2 years you can rent for up to 3 years and still not pay capital gains taxes when you sell. I also would persuade you to not ship over furniture unless it's near and dear to your heart. Unless you live in the countryside most houses/apartments aren't the same size as what you would find in the Bay Area. In our case we are moving from a 3/2 house in Oakland with a basement and garage to a 2/1 apartment in Paris. Needless to say there was no way our stuff was going to fit. We ended selling/getting rid of everything and only shipped a few boxes over. We will buy all new furniture over there and have a fresh start. I recommend doing a search on Facebook for 'American expats in Denmark'. You'll get a lot of help there.  I also recommend you keep a US bank account. There are plenty of transfer services that can convert your US dollars to Euros (Revolut, Transferwise etc).

I just wanted to echo the part about renting out your house for a bit when you go over in case you don't like it. We have some friends who moved to Japan at the beginning of the pandemic. They rented their house for like 8 months (using a management company in case the renters had any issues), decided they loved it in Japan, and just recently sold their house. Their realtor would have been willing to find someone to move into storage the stuff they wanted to keep and toss the rest but their parents went over all their stuff with facetime calls to see what they wanted to keep/toss and our family moved the "keep" items to storage and held a garage sale to get rid of the rest. Getting rid of everything, even with giving a bunch of stuff away at the end, took much longer than I expected (about a month) which surprised me. The dad and kids are back now visiting for about a month and the dad is going through what we put in the storage locker. He said he would probably keep about half of it. Not sure if he will then start moving stuff to Japan in suitcases or keep it in storage or ship it or what. They did spend a lot of time (maybe six months working in earnest) cleaning out their house before renting it and there was still a lot of stuff left over when we went to put stuff in storage. So that part will probably also take longer than you expect.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

My family of 4 lived in China on 2 different assignments. We enjoyed our expat life and my kids’ lives are so much enriched by their experiences abroad that we didn’t hesitate to take the 2nd assignment 2 years after re-patriating. 
As for banking, I believe B of A had some program where you can withdraw money from their affiliate banks when abroad. We used this during our first assignment 10 years ago and I don’t know if it is available today. During the second assignment, we opened a Fidelity account that allows you to use any ATM in the world and they would refund you the ATM fees. We kept this account open so that we can withdraw money when we travel. Only drawback is that there is an ATM cap per day per person. If planned out well in advance, you can wire over a bulk some to a local account and then supplement with ATM withdrawals. 
Good luck!

Having moved internationally a few times in my adult life, I have come to realize that physical move is easier than financially move. All moves cost money, the tax consequences and ramification of pre-relation moves are something many people overlook (myself included). So a few random thoughts of mine, mostly concerning finance:

- International money transfer is costly, it's important to research ahead of time for commercial banks/services that will allow you to do it with minimal transaction fees (trying to time the tides of foreign exchange is already costly enough, though if you're smart about it, you might even come out ahead, unfortunately most people don't). The best way I've found is to connect with (trustworthy) people in similar situation but need the opposite currency and just exchange privately. I did this with my expat coworkers and it worked out beautifully

- I kept US banks/credit cards current, by keeping an US address (a trustworthy friend or family would do). You never know when you'd need it, and it's also really convenient to be able to pick and choose between your Europe/US cards. Especially for Europe, depending on the country, their financial products can be limited and not necessarily the best terms (especially for newcomers with little credit history). It's nice to keep access to robust and trusted banking system that you are familiar with.

- Given Denmark's official language is not English, despite their excellent English language proficiency, watch out for the fact that most legal documents you'll sign will be in a foreign language. Tax would be different, there's most likely a tax treaty between the countries, but nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to hire professionals to handle your tax or at least take a look to give advice. Granted, CPAs specialize and cater to the expat community are not cheap

- Talk to an immigration lawyer who'd present options. Be sure you want to live there permanently first. Many European countries welcome foreigners as visitors but not so much as immigrants. Having US passport, you should be able to visit for 90days at a time and get a feel for how things are. Granted it's not the same as moving there and fully experience it, this is a good starting point. If you do move, don't sell everything (especially the house) right away. Wait for 6mon or a little bit longer, after honeymoon period ends and then evaluate if you want to give up your residence here permanently. Given the Bay Area's housing situation, once you give it up, it might be hard to get the same quality/location back easily. 

Just a few cents. :-) It's a great experience to live abroad though, and it's never too late. It just takes some planning, and maybe the help of professionals to make sure things are put a good place.