It goes without saying, really, but let’s put it out there anyway: living in Denmark is not cheap. Taxes are high and monthly budgets can really be pummeled by the high costs of housing, food, clothing, entertainment, etc., etc. While it is not as expensive to live in Aalborg as it is in Copenhagen, it is nice to be able to stretch your kroner a bit further, don’t you think? Here is some information about ways to do that…
Competition between supermarkets in Aalborg is fierce. Føtex, Salling, and Bilka (all owned and operated by Dansk Supermarked), Eurospar, Super Brugsen, and Meny (a Norwegian company recently took over the Super Best and, in some cases, Eurospar chains) dominate the higher end of the range, while a long list of discount chains compete to attract customers with daily lower prices. These include Netto (also owned by Dansk Supermarked), Kvickly, Fakta, Kiwi, Rema 1000, Aldi and Lidl. Both discount and non-discount chains have weekly sales, which you can either sign up to receive by post or find on the stores’ websites (click on ‘ugens tilbud’, ’tilbudsavis’, ‘vores tilbud’, etc.). (Did you know you can also opt to receive only the ads from stores that interest you? Or opt out completely? See my previous post on this here – in the ‘News’ section.) Oh – and a special tip about Salling: while the most upscale supermarket in Aalborg, Salling sometimes has the best deals, I’ve found. They tend to mark down items that are close to their ‘sell by’ date earlier than other stores. I’ve often bought my milk there for 5kr/liter and regularly find other items at 50% off.
There are also small family-owned stores that sell goods from Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries. Here you can find a large range of spices and goods that are not available at the Danish supermarkets, like haloumi cheese, spices for Indian dishes, falafel, etc. Some carry fresh vegetables and fruits at good prices. Two that offer a lot of food items from the Middle East are located just down the street from Netto in central Aalborg: one, called QB Royal Fruit, is on the corner of Denmarksgade and Niels Ebbesens Gade. The other is a block south of that on the corner of Niels Ebbesens Gade and Kayerødsgade. There are also Asian shops on the corner of Østergravensgade and Nørregade (Mekong), on Danmarksgade near Rantzausgade, on the corner of Boulevarden and John F. Kennedy Plads, and at Mølleå Plads (among others – please add to the list in the comments below!)
Finally, there is a farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:00 to 14:00 in the parking lot at Denmarksgade and Ågade. The market boasts stalls with fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers as well as those selling fish, cheese, egg and baked goods. A dynamic atmosphere, fresh food and reasonable prices make this a nice option for those who like to meet the people at the source of their ingredients. 🙂
Another reader suggested ‘dumpster diving,’ which is growing in popularity worldwide. Here is a YouTube video on it in Aalborg; there is more info on it in Copenhagen but the concept is the same wherever you go: check out dumpsters behind supermarkets for food they’ve thrown out but is still in good shape. According to this article, ‘dumpster diving is not generally illegal in Denmark unless it results in damage to property or is trespassing.’
In case you hadn’t noticed, there are PLENTY of these in Aalborg. Many have the word ‘genbrug’ (recycled) in the title. I just read online that in Copenhagen some stores that sell used items charge an arm and a leg for their goods so you have to sort out which are ‘true genbrug’ but I don’t think that’s the case in Aalborg. Many of these stores are run by the Red Cross and religious organizations. VisitAalborg has a good list to begin with, although I don’t think it’s comprehensive. In March 2015, for example, Kirkens Korshær opened a new genbrug at Søndergade 14 and it features items for all ages (as a result of which their shop of used children’s clothing on the corner of Rantzausgade and Danmarksgade closed and became Reden Genbrug on 8 August, 2015). From clothing to furniture, used items in these stores are reasonably priced and a great alternative to chain stores’ goods, if you want to add some character to your pad. I just bought a warm winter jacket for my daughter at Mødrehjælpen on Denmarksgade for 50kr and a friend recently found a beautiful teak dining table at a used store in central Aalborg for 2000kr – about 1/3 or 1/4 of what it would have cost new! Also, check out studyaalborg.dk’s post about furnishing your apartment inexpensively here.
The Danish equivalents of eBay without the bidding process, these sites offer a way to buy and sell items online. The top two are Den Blå Avis and Gul og Gratis. I have perused these sites but not actually bought anything on them; however, I know plenty of people who have found bookcases, freezers, sofas, etc. this way – for a steal! You can even find pets and discounts on summer house stays on these sites.
Another way to get deals online is via a website called precisely that: deal.dk. You sign up for a daily email that alerts you to special offers in Aalborg as well as the rest of Denmark, which are available for a limited time. Once you buy you have a window of time during which to use the certificate. Great for a spontaneous weekend away at 50% off or a meal in a local restaurant for 1/2 price!
Also, see my post about ‘shopping’ for the best-priced services and products like mobile plans, insurance, and Internet connection plans here. I have personally used this service to get a better mobile plan and was very pleased with it.
A reader and friend recommended the minetilbud app, which allows you to find where a particular item is the cheapest at any given time. I haven’t used this yet, but I’m going to download it. Sounds like a great idea.
Loppemarkeds are a great way to find (or sell) stuff in person. Of course it can be a real hit-and-miss experience but flea markets generally have something for everyone. There is an established series of loppemarkeds in Aalborg during the summer: Lopper På Havnen, which takes place the first Sunday of every month at the harbor from May to September (this year, 2015, the last one will be held 13 September). Otherwise it can be a little difficult to find them. Sometimes they’re just posted at the location on the day, which means you can get lucky if you’re walking by (that’s how we advertised when we held one in our neighborhood in June). But here is a site where you can post your own and find those that others have organized. Lopper På Havnen also has a Facebook page, which brings me to my next tip…
For those of you on Facebook, groups that center on finding deals and free things abound. I’ve joined four groups and I’m sure there are more. ‘Gratis fornøjelser i Aalborg og omegn‘ is a super source of free events in Aalborg and the surrounding areas. The top rule for posting is that the event must be free to participate. I have reported on many of the events posted to this group’s page in my ‘Aal around Aalborg’ series and attended many myself! ‘Søges gratis i Nordjylland‘ tries to connect those who are looking for something with those who have it and don’t mind giving it away, while ‘VÆRS’GO!‘ and ‘GRATIS ting / bortgives Aalborg omegn‘ have the opposite goal: to announce things you want to give away and find a new home for them. ‘Aalborg Marked‘ is a kind of catch-all for buying, selling or swapping items; I’ve just joined this one and it seems to have a lot of posts. It is also targeted at the international community so posts are encouraged in English but Danish is allowed (no other languages, please!).
Besides the FB group that alerts people to free events in Aalborg, there are other ways to enjoy free entertainment and leisure time activities. One of these is a terrific service made possible by the Aalborg library system. It’s called Filmstriben and through it you can stream movies for free (and legally!). All you need is a computer and library card (which necessitates a CPR number, of course.) For more information about this service, click here (and then ‘I lænestolen’).
For young people under 30 years and students, the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra offers a great deal: tickets in presale for 75kr (Category 3 / C). Tickets can only be purchased when booking by phone or at the ticket office (remember ID). You can read more about it (in Danish) here.
And most entertainment and cultural venues offer reduced ticket prices for students with ID, so always make sure you check if you happen to be a student!
There is a great website called GoMore at which you can find rides to places (‘ridesharing’) or rent a car from a private individual for less than a standard rental company like Avis or Hertz. I haven’t used the service myself but have heard positive reviews from others. Definitely worth checking out if public transport doesn’t cut it for a trip to Billund, for example!
In terms of public transportation, it is definitely worth getting a ‘rejsekort’ (or travel card), which you can use on trains, buses, and even the metro system in Copenhagen. The cost of each trip is much cheaper when using a rejsekort (don’t forget to touch in and out when using!) than when paying without it – a helpful user of the Aalborg subreddit alerted me to the fact that a bus ride in the city used to cost him 22 kr., but that it now costs between 5 and 7 kr., depending on whether it is rush hour or not. The Rejsekort web pages in English are very good – you can find the home page here and even buy one online. Thanks to another Reddit user, I found out that young people (aged 16 to 25) can buy a DSB Ung Kort (youth card) and save money on train trips. The app costs DKK 125 for one year (or DKK 150 for a plastic card) and it gives travelers a 50% discount on tickets for low travel days and 25% off on Fridays, Sundays and holidays. Here is the info (in Danish). Orange tickets (purchased online or over the phone) can also help you save money on train trips. And last, but not least, there is a free Christmas train for students from Aalborg to Copenhagen every Christmas holiday sponsored by chocolatier Anthon Berg. See an article about it here.
In addition, for those looking for used bicycles (and/or other items), there is a cycle shop across from Nordkraft called Cykel 20 (play on the word ‘cycle thief’) that both repairs bikes and sells used bikes. The Nordjylland police also hold auctions periodically at which they sell items that have been abandoned, repossessed, seized as a result of bankruptcy, etc. Click here for more info (in Danish).
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: you must, by law, have a light on on both the front and back of your bicycle once it gets dark, otherwise you can get fined several hundred kroner by the police. And they DO fine people if they catch them. Also, bike theft is not uncommon in Aalborg – make sure you lock your bicycle, and if it is a really nice bike, lock it to something anchored to the ground. We’ve had two bicycles stolen here within a 3.5 year period – it’s no joke.
Recycling plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans
Don’t throw away the bottles and cans on which you paid a deposit! You may have noticed in grocery stores a machine, usually outside the main entrance, where people stick their empty bottles and cans. Here you can earn back the deposit made on drink containers, including PET bottles, glass bottles (not including wine), and aluminum cans. Only those with a sticker like the one to the left (although they may say Pant A, Pant B or Pant C) are worth anything. Here’s what you get: Pant A – 1kr; Pant B – 1.5kr; Pant C – 3kr. The sticker must be legible to the machine so crushed cans, for example, aren’t going to cut it. Please note: you can get cash back or use the money toward purchases at the store. When you finish putting your items through the machine, you get a ‘bon’ or a receipt, which you can then either take to the information desk or cashier for cash (depending on the store) or hand to the cashier with your items for a deduction from the total purchase amount.
Books written in English
I find that the selection of books in English in Aalborg leaves a lot to be desired. Options? Order from Amazon (but pay a lot – oh and see my post about buying things and having them shipped from outside the EU here) or buy an electronic reader like the Kindle (expensive to import.) Here’s another idea! A colleague recently told me about her side business called used-books.dk, where she resells books she buys in bulk through eBay. Most books are in the 40-50kr range, and if you buy at least 150kr of books, shipping is free.
Here’s the company’s blurb: ‘Used-books.dk is an online bookstore dedicated to making English language books available in Denmark. We offer a wide range of books, from children’s fiction and non-fiction, to humour, literary classics and fantasy or science-fiction. We only sell used and second hand books, but strive to offer the best possible versions of these. Very often our books are as good as new, for a fraction of the price.’
She also holds periodic sales when all books are 50% off. You can follow the company on FB here to get alerts about the sales. Happy reading!
So those are just a few of the ways one can save money in Aalborg. There are many other tips that could help those on a strict budget – or those who just want to save some money – I’m sure. Here is another blogger’s post on the subject. And if you have one, please share below in a comment! The more information available to people the better!