Pension Pimpin’ in Flensburg 2/2

Insights from the Danish life in Germany

As borders become less of a barrier, more people in Denmark are finding that they can have the financial benefits of living in Germany with few drawbacks.

By Steffen, Andrew & Camille

In the past 10 years, a new opportunity has been revealed to many Danes that only in recent history hardly seemed possible.

“Over the course of time, people’s national feelings have lessened and lessened. And especially in the last ten years, the cross-border cooperation has improved “ says the Danish Consulate General, Henrik Becker-Christensen. A change he believes is a result of the Schengen agreement.

As the European Union furthers their goal of creating a borderless society, cultural and geographical differences are becoming less of a hindrance to someone living in a different country than where they work and maintain their primary cultural ties.

Globalization of companies coupled with the work by the EU has caused more people to cross borders for practical reasons, such as employment or cheaper living expenses, while worrying less about cultural, geographic and societal differences.

In 2007, a report by the Directorate-General of Employment and Social Affairs for the European Commission found that the number of Germans commuting to a job in a different country increased by 63.3 percent between 2000 and 2007. Nearly every other country in Europe showed similar results, including a 56 percent increase in Denmark. The report shows that less Europeans view borders as true barriers than they used to.

With the benefits of cheaper living expenses, those making the move south of the border have found themselves quickly at home, many living with other Danes that share their reason for uprooting.

“In the area we live in, more than 80 % of the people living there is from Denmark. It’s like a small community within the community” says businessman Aksel Damm, who has been living there the last three years.

There are new housing areas near the German-Danish border that are built  to accommodate the cross-border employees and retirees that want to get a bit more for their money.

These new housing developments are designed more specifically for Danish people as the way German houses are built are less attractive for some Danes.

“The problem is that most of the houses in Flensburg aren’t attractive for Danes, they want nice floors made of wood and have other standards in many things,” said Simon Faber, the Mayor of Flensburg.

The mere fact that Danish people are living in North Germany is far from a new development. As the border between Denmark and Germany has shifted in years past, the border region has become a mix of people of German and Danish descent.

Though those moving to North Germany find a community that has much of its roots in Danish culture they tend to keep to themselves and are more connected to their lives on the Danish side of the border.

Organizations like Sydslegvisk Forening, SSF, and cultural centers like the Akti House work to connect and maintain the culture and community of the historic Danish national minority that have lived in the region since the 1400’s.

Despite the available outlets, most Danish people moving to North Germany choose to maintain separate lives from the Danish national minority. Thus, these Danes are also less active in local politics as they are rarely involved in organizations like the South Schleswig Voter Federation, SSW, a political party that focuses on representing minorities in the area.

“Most of the Danes keep to themselves, even though the Danish minority would like to have them as a resource,” says the Danish Consulate General, Henrik Becker-Christensen.

Despite their being more Danes in the area, there is not an increased need for cultural organizations, nor significantly more governmental power for the Danish minority party, the SSW.

Nonetheless this doesn’t speak for all the Danish newcomers as some have found refugre in places like the Akti House as moving to a new country can be a bit overwhelming and often lonely, especially for those of older age.

As one of the primary groups making the change are retirees that want to  take their pension to Germany to make the most of their funds, the transition can be hard after years of living in the same place. However, some have found local initiatives have brought the newcomers together.

“After discovering the Aktivitetshuset, I haven’t had much time to get bored. Always new things to get involved in. I go there almost every day.” Says pensioner, Tove Tarp Pedersen, who hasn’t regretted it once, that she and her husband moved to Flensburg.


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