Emilie and Kenneth left the capital after about 10 years. The couple fell in love with Vejle, even though their only connection to the city was their dream house and a heartfelt wish to live close to both the city and nature.
There are restaurants everywhere!
Kenneth looks at Emilie.
- True. Actually, we go out to eat more often here in Vejle than we ever did in Copenhagen, she replies, smiling.
The young couple moved to Vejle just a month before the interview. They arrived during the summer, and they have enjoyed their first time with their toddler Bertram, now 1½ years old.
- We had been looking forward to getting closer to nature, and we are super happy with the city, which is full of life, Kenneth notes.
Emilie Husted and Kenneth Juul Nielsen met each other in Copenhagen during their studies and started their careers there before moving. But the apartment in Vanløse didn’t feel like home after their first child arrived.
- We wanted a house and a garden. But in the Copenhagen area, a run-down house, ready for demolition, would have cost us 4-5 million kroner - and then we’d probably have at least an hour’s drive in to work. We just didn't want to do that, Emilie explains.
Vejle ended up solving this problem, and the young couple were already open to the idea of moving west.
- Some of our good friends, who have a child the same age as Bertram, were considering moving away from Copenhagen, just like us. We’d already talked about Vejle, and when visiting us, our friend suddenly asked us: I've landed a job in Vejle, so we're moving. Want to join us?, says Emilie.
This really made us think.
Next thing, Emilie had the opportunity to take up a job in the Department of Culture in Vejle Municipality. That was it! The couple’s minds were made up.
The couple found a house in Søndermarken, a residential area on the outskirts of central Vejle. Being a trained architect, Kenneth couldn’t help himself: he immediately got to work, designing improvements to the family's future dream home.
- It’s obviously exciting for me because of my profession. But it is also an interesting case, professionally. Our one-storey house is from the 1970s, when more homes were built than ever before. My experience with, among other things, the installation of underfloor heating and moving the kitchen to a more central location in the house – and at a reasonable price – can benefit other families, too" says Kenneth.
Will the architect be cycling to work any time soon?
While Emilie and Kenneth wait for their house to be rebuilt, they live in an apartment in downtown Vejle.
- The thing is, since the houses cost a third over here, we can actually afford paying off two mortgages. This means, we don't have to live in the construction mess while half of our house is getting underfloor heating installed, Kenneth explains.
So far, he has kept his job in Copenhagen, working two days there and three days at home.
- My employer is the best! I am really happy with this arrangement. But I've promised Emilie to try to find a job here. Who knows, maybe I should set up shop, advising newcomers on the refurbishment of detached houses from the 1970s?, he smiles.
- Joking aside, I don’t actually know the job market for people like me in this area. I'll have to get to know that first. But it’s pretty apparent that there are loads of options. I majored in design at architecture school, so in principle I could even work on projects in LEGOs R&D department. That might be interesting, says Kenneth.
No matter what, Kenneth is guaranteed a lot of options. And likely some that fulfill his dream to cycle to work - no more than 45 minutes each way.
Plenty of time at the nature playground
As far as Emilie is concerned, the job change across Denmark also meant that she could start working part-time. She loves the extra time this has given the family – and so does Bertram.
- It’s just fantastic! I leave the office an hour earlier and spend less time on transport than I did back in Copenhagen. When I pick up Bertram, we have loads of quality time together, and we often go to the playground. In Copenhagen, I had to literally tuck him under one arm while hurrying about my shopping. Then we could rush home and cook dinner, she says.
One of the places where Emilie and Bertram will surely spend many hours together is the nature playground in Søndermarken. It is close to their new house, and the playground is a prime example of what made the couple move to Vejle.
- The nature is just so beautiful in this area. The trees, the hills. Bertram can climb trees, dig, and get a breath of fresh air whenever he needs it. That’s the kind of thing you want to make possible for you kids, says Emilie.
A passionate runner, Emilie will get to know Vejle’s countless forest trails. Kenneth, on the other hand, wants to explore Vejle’s beech-covered hills at speed - he has already sold his old mountain bike to buy a new and better one for his adventures.
Newcomers become friends
The couple’s friends, who made the move to the municipality first, live in Børkop, close to Vejle. Naturally, they see each other regularly.
After getting to know the city, Emilie and Kenneth are sure they will find lots of new friends.
- We quickly realised that we hadn’t sacrificed urban life, just because we had left Copenhagen. There is so much happening in Vejle. We did, however, part with many of our friends, and we were honestly slightly anxious of – and we don’t want to sound snobbish, here – whether there was "anyone like us" over here, says Kenneth.
Emilie nods and adds:
- But we like being newcomers in a city like Vejle, where there are so many other newcomers. It means that there are loads of people that, just like us, are looking for new friends. Whenever we leave our apartment and walk the streets of Vejle, it is pretty clear that a lot of foreigners live here, too. This just underpins the exciting vibe of the city, she says.
Finally, the couple agree that the urban environment in Vejle has a "compactness" that contains most everything you need.
- There are quality retail stores, there’s a place like Design Fabrikanterne – and there are several different DIY and hardware stores to choose from. That’s important, too, says Kenneth.
Bertram, Emilie and Kenneth plan on staying in their apartment for another six months before moving into their renovated house.
by Carsten G. Johansen
Translated by Chris Rowley (Influentsy ApS)