The bridge between the Scandinavian region and mainland Europe, Denmark is an enticing mix of Old World fairytales and modern, eco-friendly development. With natural beauty, old-school Viking culture, and happy locals, it's also a great place to spend a year working as an au pair!
Working as an au pair in Denmark has plenty of advantages, including the generous benefits (free housing and meals, anyone?) and opportunities for immersion in the unique Scandinavian culture.
Au pairs in Denmark have the chance to bike through the streets of Copenhagen, explore the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, or rock out at the world-famous Roskilde music festival, all while taking free Danish language classes and becoming part of a Danish family.
Au pair applications are open year-round, so it's possible to apply at any time. There might be more families looking for au pairs to start near theend of the summer, when the Danish school year begins.
Agencies can help match au pairs with families, but applicants should vet the agency and try to talk to other au pairs before committing to anything. The same goes for online databases that allow applicants to connect directly with families -- this can be a great option, but applicants should watch out for scams or placements that seem too good to be true.
Au pairs should apply for the residence permit before going to Denmark. This can be done online through the official government website or at a Danish diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate).
Danish language classes are included as part of the standard au pair benefits package, at no extra cost. It might also be possible to take classes in other Scandinavian languages.
Many families look for English-speaking au pairs to help children improve their English skills, so language instruction -- either in English or another language, if you speak it -- may be part of the expected au pair responsibilities.
Public transportation in Denmark is generally good, with reliable buses running between most cities, making it easy to get around even without a car. Many urban areas in Denmark are also designed to encourage biking, and trains and cheap flights allow easy access to other European countries.
Au pairs from non-EU countries must have a valid residence permit granted by the Danish government. These typically cover one year, with a possible extension up to 24 total months if the au pair and family want to continue working together. The au pair and host family also have to sign an au pair contract, which is included in the official residence permit application.
Applicants from other Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, and Finland), and the EU don't need a residence or work permit in order to au pair in Denmark, but they do need a proof of residence from their local government.
To work as an au pair in Denmark, applicants must be between 18-29 years old, unmarried, and can't have any children. They are also expected to be able to speak and understand a "reasonable level" of at least one of these languages: Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English, or German. If driving the family's car is part of the job description, au pairs should have an international driver's license that will be valid in Denmark.
People who have previously had a Danish residence permit, worked as an au pair in Denmark, or had two or more au pair stays in other EU countries are not eligible to apply for a residence permit as an au pair in Denmark.
Salary & Benefits
Au pairs in Denmark work between 18-30 hours per week, or 3-5 hours per day, six days a week, with a guaranteed minimum of 1.5 days off each week.Under Danish law, families pay au pairs a minimum monthly stipend of 4150 krone (about $600).
Families are also expected to provide au pairs with time and opportunity to take Danish language classes, and pay for the au pair's flights to and from Denmark at the beginning and end of the year if they are from outside the EU.
Au pairs receive free room and board, including their own room in the host family's house. The family is also required to provide meals for their au pair -- both room and board and meals are additional benefits separate from the monthly stipend. In exchange, au pairs are expected to act as members of the family, and take on responsibility for some household chores, like babysitting or laundry.
Denmark has a generally temperate climate, with mild winters and cool summers. Temperatures typically range between 32-65 degrees Fahrenheit (0-18 degrees Celsius) throughout the year, so no Arctic gear is required.
Denmark does have four distinct seasons, so au pairs should plan for changing weather by packing lots of layering options, from short sleeves to jackets, as well as rain gear for the wet spring months and a warmer jacket and boots for winter.
Though au pairs usually aren't required to dress up for work, especially if they're babysitting, clothing should always be appropriate -- err on the conservative side to be safe.
Like other Scandinavian countries, Denmark is relatively expensive. However, since au pairs don't have to pay for rent, bills, or food, general expenses are fairly low. Obviously, au pairs are responsible for covering their own expenses for personal necessities, leisure activities, travel, or meals outside of working hours, and should budget accordingly.
In general, cities are more expensive than more rural areas, with Copenhagen the costliest location. A meal out at a restaurant in Copenhagen costs around $17, while a cup of coffee is about $4, and a bottle of water about $2. Public transportation is fairly affordable, especially with rail passes and other frequent traveler options.
Copenhagen: The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen is a colorful, bike-friendly, artistic international hub. It's packed with amazing museums, restaurants, and music venues, and just a few hours' train ride from other European destinations like Malmö and Berlin.
Aarhus: Denmark's second-largest urban center (and its happiest!), Aarhus is a young, trendy, university town, crisscrossed by cobblestone streets and close to miles of tranquil hiking trails. It's a laid-back counterpoint to cosmopolitan Copenhagen, but no less charming.
Aalborg: A waterfront city with a Viking history, Aalborg is perched on the edge of Jutland, Denmark's northern peninsula. This rugged region is home to fjords, golden eagles, the country's largest forest, colorful traditional cottages and the biggest Carnival celebration in Scandinavia.
Odense: The country's third-largest city, named after the Norse god Odin, sits on an island right in the middle of Denmark. Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and has a number of museums and sites devoted to the author. It's also the official bicycle city of Denmark.
Roskilde: Just about 20 miles west of Copenhagen, little Roskilde is one of Denmark's oldest cities. Its Viking history is showcased at the Viking Ship Museum, and the Gothic-style Roskilde Cathedral is the final resting place of dozens of Danish kings and queens. In summer, this region hosts the Roskilde Music Festival, one of Europe's biggest music festivals.