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I´d like to know if the average salary for a PostDoc and a PhD student is sufficient for a middle income expectations in Denmark. What I mean for middle income is for the two of us (1 PostDoc and 1 PhD) to rent a 1 bedroom flat, spend in public transport, go to the supermarket without worries and travel on vacations once a year.

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    To my knowledge, postdoc and PhD salaries in Denmark are among the very best in the world. – rhombidodecahedron Jan 16 at 17:45
  • In the Netherlands (sadly about 30 years ago) that seemed to be the case for myself (post-doc) and the PhD students. Although the students took vacations more than I did, oddly enough... – Jon Custer Jan 16 at 18:19
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Cost of living is high, particularly in the Copenhagen area: rent, food, transportation, etc. But already with a PhD salary you will get by no problem and you will have plenty of extra money at the end of the month. Two salaries will allow you to rent a nice small apartment, so no problems. People with kids do PhDs in Denmark, so that should give you an idea, if you have no kids it's plenty enough.

  • The average PhD and postdoc salaries are higher in Copenhagen too, aren't they? Some numbers can be found here. Whether the difference is more or less than the difference in cost of living, I don't know. – Anyon Jan 16 at 22:17
  • @Anyon it depends on the source of funding. – Herman Toothrot Jan 17 at 14:33
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This answer is about the København/Copenhagen/Kööpenhamina region.

Taxes

As a foreign postdoc it is possible to get a flat tax rate, at the price of losing all deductions. This might or might not be worth it financially, but certainly makes planning easier.

Apartment

Renting an apartment is terribly expensive. First, it is difficult to find one that has a reasonable price. Being a foreigner does not help. We (two adults and a child not of school age yet) had to first live in a far too big and expensive apartment before finding a cheaper one. A couple just moving in are renting an apartment with three rooms. Cheap apartments do not exist and finding one of reasonable price is not trivial. Both of the examples here were of Nordic couples/families, and the latter could read Danish fluently and write it intelligibly.

You should have savings. It is typical to pay three months' rent when moving in; the first and the last months of the contract and one more just in case.

It is typical that the walls of an apartment and newly painted and you are supposed to paint them again when leaving. This, too, is expensive. Try to avoid this at all costs when making the contract; it might be possible with a short one, but might be difficult with a longer contract. Be very diligent when making the move-in report and take detailed photographs of everything, just in case.

Life

My family lived with a single postdoc salary. After getting past the initial shock of settling in, we did not have problems, visited museums and places for children and used the public transport.

We travelled back to Finland for Christmas and summer vacations.

Some caveats: We did not eat out (though I did eat at the DTU cafeteria), but also did not save from ordinary food expenses, eating plenty of nuts, for example. We do not drink alcohol. I walked and biked to work, so we did not use the public transportation daily. We did pay for the daycare, which is an expense lacking from you. We tend to buy things used and I tend to not buy many non-food things.

So, given a reasonably frugal lifestyle, we did not have problems living with a single postdoc salary. I did have enough savings to not worry about it anyways. We were there for little less than a year; a longer stay would have made things easier.

PhD salary is quite comparable to postdoc salary.

Eating out

It is unusual to eat frequently at a restaurant in Denmark (and Finland and Norway, so extrapolating to all the Nordic countries might be fine, too). It is something done on special occasions, not every day or every week, for most families. It is also expensive, as the staff has reasonable wages and there are taxes.

Eating out seems to be bizarrely common in some other parts of the world.

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    If the PhD is done while employed in the industry or public sector, the salary will be comparable to employees with regular positions in the company. It is for example quite common for medical doctors to do a PhD while employed as interns at a hospital. Post doc salaries in Denmark are quite good, but usually public sector has lower salaries than the private sector. – Stefan Jan 19 at 19:25
  • @Noah That is because eating out is considered much more of a luxury here (especially compared to in the states), though to some extend it is also related to the generally higher wages which end up making it expensive to run a restaurant while paying your staff a livable wage, which is the standard rather than having waiters have a major part of their pay be the tip (tip already being included in the price, which is what makes Danish tourists such bad tippers). – Tobias Kildetoft Jul 23 at 17:29
  • @TobiasKildetoft Most of your comment only applies to the US vs. Denmark, but Denmark is very different from other rich Northern European countries in terms of restaurant culture (which is why my comment included a large mix of countries, and not just the US). I mention it because it'll be a bit of a shock to anyone who isn't Danish (or perhaps Scandinavian?), and it's relevant to budgeting. You'll be paid enough to live comfortably, but not enough to eat out at a rate that one might be accustomed to in similar countries. – Noah Snyder Jul 23 at 17:51
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    @NoahSnyder Right, it is definitely a thing to be aware of in case you are used to eating out frequently (or even once a month, which would be more than most Danes). – Tobias Kildetoft Jul 23 at 19:43
  • I added a note on eating out to the answer. – Tommi Brander Jul 24 at 5:59

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