I’m taking my two boys and leaving Denmark.
It’s a quest for a good life (read the blog post about why we chose Portugal here), but it began as a budding feeling of discontent.
Why can’t I just stay and let the kids grow up in their home country?
Before I throw myself into criticizing Denmark, I just want to say that I also love the country where I was born.
I sing along to the National Anthem and toast with the Queen on New Year’s Eve and all that.
Why do I want to leave?
One morning during the second corona lockdown, I stared at the ceiling after the alarm clock rang.
I did not want to get up at all.
It was dark and cold outside. The kids would cry when I woke them up, and they would be scared of the dark. It was raining and I would get wet when biking my kids to school across town.
The whole daily routine – picking up, bringing home, organizing, cooking, and running my business in every spare moment where I’m not taking care of the boys – is exhausting.
Really, I have the perfect life with financial independence and freedom.
And yet I don’t have a moment for me.
I feel stuck in the same lifestyle even though I have a business that’s moving from six figures to seven figures.
Okay, let’s be specific.
I’ve made a list of five things I would like to move away from:
I don’t love the winter.
Yes, my news feed on social media fills up with pictures of winter bathers, but I’m not one of those people who likes to splash around in slush ice and post about it.
In fact, I don’t even like biking in the winter. Yet I have to bike my sons to school every day and bike them home in the afternoon (cars are not very practical in the capital).
I can’t stand hail, red fingers, and dark mornings, and I don’t think my kids enjoy it either.
Yes, I like to contribute to society. I do.
But as a self-employed person, it has really opened my eyes to the amount of taxes I pay.
Why is that a problem? I’m a single mom trying to carve out a good life for my two small boys, and they are growing up so fast.
Let’s say I have a webinar launch where I sell courses that bring in USD 100,000. (It’s a nice round number to work with here.)
First, I’ll have to pay VAT, which is 25%. That’s $20,000 gone right away.
Now there is $80,000 left.
Then the expenses of running a business have to be paid. Freelancers’ fees, accountant, office rental, courses and coaching to keep me sharp.
Let’s say that the bills will be $30,000. Now there is $50,000 left.
Then I have to pay personal taxes.
That is 52%. Let’s say 50%, to make it simple.
That’s another $25,000 gone. There’s now $25,000 left for me.
I’m not done.
I now have to pay 25% VAT when I spend the money.
It’s enormously frustrating to me that I have success with my business, yet my lifestyle stays the same.
I still live in the same flat in Downtown Nørrebro (an immigrant neighborhood with gangs in Copenhagen), and I long for more space so the boys can each have their own room (we all sleep in the same room).
I dream of children who can run around by themselves with bare feet in green grass and play.
But housing prices are growing faster than my profits.
That brings us to the next topic… housing prices.
3. The Real Estate Market Bubble
A small brownstone house close to my sons’ school costs USD 2 million.
They’re small: 120-130 m2 spread across three floors.
Prices in Copenhagen have gone through the roof.
So I scrapped the idea of living close to my sons’ school in Copenhagen. They’ll be out of school by the time I can afford it. You might ask, but other people can afford it, and I’ll tell you that it’s much harder to get a mortgage as a single mother who is an entrepreneur than as a normal person with a normal job.
During the first lockdown, when I got really scared about everything closing down, I asked the bank if I could get a mortgage loan on my apartment that I have paid off, but they refused. They wanted the security of a payslip. Not the optimism of a new entrepreneur.
I began looking at old empty houses in the countryside but realized that living on an island or the fields of Lolland wasn’t really for me.
Now I’ve found a townhouse in a nice condominium with a shared pool and playroom for the kids in Cascais.
4. Rough Culture – Especially Against Children
Road rage happens on the sidewalk here.
I don’t encounter much tolerance for families with children.
People get annoyed at us for nothing.
It had already started when my oldest son was a week old. I had ventured down to the local supermarket for the first time. Someone felt that the stroller was in the way and gave it a hard push.
In just one week, I experienced the following:
A man yelling that he hated kids, because my bike with my 4-year-old was in his way.
Someone calling me a fucking idiot, in front of my children, because I didn’t bike in a straight line.
Someone telling me that my kids destroyed her holiday because I didn’t rein them in and a children’s suitcase with wheels hit her feet (that were in closed shoes).
Someone telling me that I should keep my children at home because my youngest began crying in a restaurant.
For many Danes, children are noisy, unpredictable, and annoying.
If you ask me, they’re allowed to have their opinion – hey, I even sometimes think my kids are annoying – but they are not allowed to intimidate my children.
5. Isolated Life
I live a very isolated adult life after having children.
Of course, there are some life circumstances that work against me.
I don’t have a partner and my parents have passed away.
Then there are other things that are cultural.
I was fired on maternity leave and have since started my own business.
My former boss was one of those men who thinks it’s okay to talk openly about the fact that he doesn’t like children – it’s generally okay in Denmark. When it’s okay for a boss to talk like that, it’s also okay to fire mothers on maternity leave.
I also had friends who openly talk about not liking children. I even had friends who have said it in front of my children.
I tried for a while to pretend I don’t have children. I only saw my friends on their adult terms and never talked about my boys.
That meant I couldn’t talk about my life because almost everything, like my thoughts about moving to Portugal, is connected to them.
I no longer have those friends.
Of course, it didn’t help that COVID came and closed everything up.
All school-related social events have been cancelled for more than a year. It’s been challenging to meet the other parents when everything from the school play to the school fair, the Christmas dance around the tree, and the end-of-term celebrations are cancelled.
How does all this get better in Portugal?
I’ll be alone with my boys in Portugal too. Portugal has COVID cases as well of course.
It’s that I’m creating a new lifestyle.
We’ll live in a terraced house with a communal pool, so there will be a common connection point with others. I’ll have a guest room so people can come for a visit and sleep there.
I’m going to get full-time maid service so I get more air. I’ll hire more people to help me run my business because I can afford that in Portugal.
How can this blog post help you?
You can use it as inspiration to take a hard look at your life and explore changes you can make if things aren’t working out in your current life.
The lockdowns have eliminated the noise and made it clear to me that I want something different.
What did you discover during lockdown?
You can make drastic changes. It’s possible.
You can create the lifestyle you want.
As I began to think about these things, I kept imagining Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island
It’s inspiring to think about how some rich people build their very own universe to create the life they want.
I wanted to create my own Necker Island for myself.
My own paradise.
What does your Necker Island look like?
When you want to create your life, having a passive income helps. You can learn to invest with the help of my e-book Free Yourself. You can download it here.