Notes from a Small Country

Our happiness Experiment

“There must be some mistake?” I exclaimed

I’d just been handed the bill to our first family meal at a Danish restaurant.

It was 30% more than than a meal out in the UK would have been.

Yikes! Had we entered a Michelin star restaurant and not realised?

The food was delicious, but not that delicious…

We’d also been served with more than a teaspoons worth of food…

No, we were in Sticks’n’Sushi, a chain restaurant famous for its tasty sushi, not famous for any kind of Michelin star.

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money

Moving to Denmark is the biggest financial risk I’ve ever taken.

I like to have F-you money, which means putting away as much of my takehome income as I possibly can each year (into Vanguard index funds).

For those who haven’t heard of F-you money, it’s the type of money that buys freedom. Freedom to do what you want and to work for who you respect. That’s why it’s called F-you money (f*ck you money).

We’ve lived a modest, happy lifestyle in order to do this.

But the cost of living in Denmark is between 25 and 30% more than in the UK.

So, for now, it’s goodbye F-you fund…

Yes, it’s true, Denmark is an expensive place. Cost of living websites such as Numbeo are great for anyone who’s considering living in another country.

For Denmark, they currently highlight the below:


So we have no money left at the end of each month.

Yet our life is more peaceful & happy since moving to Denmark.

How is that?

It’s not as crowded here, and although Copenhagen is like many cities, with its large corporations and highly competitive jobs, it’s relatively quiet, I like quiet.

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow

Danes have no need to worry about the cost of utility providers, as much of it is controlled by the government (to ensure fairness).

They don’t have to worry about losing their job, as they get looked after by the government while they look for a new one.

They have no need to concern themselves with hospital bills and healthcare, as it’s all provided for free.

Saving for retirement isn’t a worry, as the government ensures you’re looked after when elderly and no longer working.

Happiness is the ultimate currency

I’m British, so it’s easy to judge and think I’m easily tricked by a poster on the side of a bus…

But I’ve learned first hand that money isn’t everything.

What Denmark has given me is a lesson in happiness.

So we’re on what we call our happiness experiment. How long it’ll last we don’t know.

What I do know is, I won’t be saying F-you to my employer anytime soon.

I’m happy, so I don’t need to…

Plus I haven’t added to my F-you money in a year so it’s not ready yet…

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy


I hope you enjoyed episode 5 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

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See you next week for Episode 6.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: Marcus Purvis Newsletters