We will stay here, says the Chinnow family in Hvide Sande (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
Dreams come true between the North Sea and Ringkøbing Fjord
In 2019 Dagmar and Udo Chinnow and their two children Pauline and Pepe moved from Löbau in the eastern part of Germany to Hvide Sande in Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune. Four years later the family is not in doubt: -We’ll stay here
After several holidays on the Danish west coast the family had fallen in love with Denmark.
-On our holidays in i.a. Hvide Sande and Blokhus we became more and more convinced that we wanted to live in Denmark. The nature, the mentality, the opportunities. It just felt right for us, the couple says.
In Löbau both Dagmar and Udo were working in the restaurant business, but in spite of two full-time jobs, with their salaries and future job opportunities it was not possible for them to fulfil their big dream: Buying a house. Their plan was actually to postpone living the dream of Denmark and buying their own house, until the two children had moved away from home. But after having learned about other German newcomers’ experiences in Denmark, the family made the big decision of moving all four of them in 2019.
Hvide Sande – between the sea and the fjord (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
Hvide Sande – between the sea and the fjord
Dagmar and Udo never doubted that their new home in Denmark should be located close to the North Sea. They considered various towns along the west coast of Jutland and finally opted for Hvide Sande. The family had enjoyed their holidays in the town and seen the big potential of an active business life, the local school, and the many activities and companies in the entire area around Ringkøbing Fjord.
The settlement coordinator of Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality assisted with information and guidance concerning moving and local conditions, and the family also got in contact with other Germans in the area.
–We were advised by other settlers to consider that many tourist resorts more or less close down in the winter. It is not like that in Hvide Sande. Admittedly, it becomes more peaceful here when the tourist season is over, but it is still a vibrant town, the shops stay open and there are people in the streets. So it almost feels like luxury to be left on your own during the winter months, Udo says adding with a smile: -As we say, it’s like being on a holiday living here.
People greet the Chinnow family when they go for a walk in Hvide Sande (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
A good start in the new home country
Once the decision was made things accelerated. During yet another holiday week in Hvide Sande Udo was called in for two job interviews. He left one of them with a contract in his hand agreeing to start in his new job with Hvide Sande Røgeri only one and a half weeks later. The family rented a temporary flat for Udo, and three months later Dagmar, Pauline and Pepe followed to their new home country in the north.
Before that - based on telephone calls and photos - Udo and Dagmar had decided to accept renting a house close to both the town and the sea in Hvide Sande. Incidentally, Udo had passed the house with a notice in the window saying “for rent”, and as was the case with the job interview, this time he also left with a contract in his hand after the first meeting.
After arriving in Denmark Dagmar quickly landed a job with Hvide Sande Røgeri, and the children started school. Pepe, who was 7 years old at the time, and Pauline 11 started in preparatory classes in Ringkøbing to learn Danish. They attended these the first year together with children from various countries, until they were ready to start at Hvide Sande School.
–Everything was arranged by the school. We were shown around and visited the classes the children were going to attend after preparatory school. Unasked, the Head said that transport to the temporary school in Ringkøbing had been arranged and paid for, Dagmar says, and she continues: -In Germany this would have required countless numbers of applications and forms, but here it was just taken care of, and we could focus on settling down as a family instead of worrying about a lot of red tape.
As a customer service assistant Udo is in contact with both German and Danish holiday home visitors and -owners (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
A new life and a new language
Both Dagmar and Udo would have liked to take part in the free Danish classes of the Municipality, but the Covid-19 lockdown put a stop to that. Instead, they were practising at home and especially at work. The colleagues from Hvide Sande Røgeri are both Danes and Germans and you help each other with the language. Especially in the summer the customers of the shop are German tourists, so mastering German here is only an advantage.
And for Udo the German language is also an advantage in his new job as a customer service assistant with the summer house rental agency, Danwest, where he was hired one year ago. – Of course, I can easily communicate with the German holiday makers when I am visiting them in the summer houses. And both my colleagues and the Danish holiday makers are very patient and open, so I learn more and Danish every day, he says
Both Dagmar and Udo now speak Danish so well now that they no longer see the language as a challenge.
-The children speak fluent Danish. They learned this in a few months, and when they speak quickly with each other we grown-ups still find it hard to keep up, which the children definitely see as an advantage, Dagmar laughs.
Group work and outdoor classes are part of the everyday school life at Hvide Sande School (Foto:flytmodvest.dk)
A school day with freedom
Pepe and Pauline are now 11 and 15 years old and have no problems keeping up in school. They both quickly reached the level of their Danish peers, who warmly welcomed them.
Both children quickly did feel welcome and at home, both in the preparatory classes and afterwards at Hvide Sande School. They are happy about having changed school, and their experience is that the school day and education is a lot freer than in Germany.
Pepe is fond of going to Hvide Sande School (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
-We often work in groups and are allowed to move around and have a voice in many things we do, Pepe says. -I learn a lot better in that way, instead of sitting in the same place all day.
Pauline also thinks it is nice to go to school in Hvide Sande (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
And his older sister Pauline agrees: -We have by far less tests than in Germany, and there is not a constant focus on achieving certain goals. The teaching matches us. We don’t need to adapt to it only, which makes going to school nice.
Pauline and Pepe share their musical interest in their sparetime (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
In their spare time Pauline and Pepe play music or meet up with friends at the playground and skate park. Pauline plays the contrabass and Pepe plays the piano. The only thing they miss is more possibilities of music lessons and playing music together with others. Luckily, however, there is plenty of room in their home for instruments and plenty of time to rehearse both individually and together.
A good work life with many opportunities
Dagmar started out as a cleaner and is now serving customers at the fishmonger’s. Here she has continually been given more and more responsibility, and she sees the career options – especially for women – as one of the really big gains of having moved to Denmark.
Both she and Udo like their jobs and have been able to let go of previous worries about job safety and fair pay.
Dagmar has both Danish and German colleagues at Hvide Sande Røgeri, where her dad also works and Pauline also has a sparetime job at the fishmonger’s (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
-Except from being entitled to having only the first day off in connection with your child’s sickness there are only advantages on the labour market, compared to Germany. Wages, working conditions, and especially development potential are much better. If you want to you can, she says.
The Chinnow family now live in their own house between the sea and the fjord close to Lyngvig lighthouse (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
In their own house
There have of course been challenges along the way. One year ago, when the family finally could fulfil their big dream and buy a house of their own, meetings with the bank and other practical arrangements were sometimes linguistically complicated. The family were not yet totally familiar with legal terms, but everywhere the family has been met with great kindness and support.
The family’s house lies north of Hvide Sande. There is plenty of space for all four of them and their animals. One dog and six cats are living together with the family in the bright house only approximately one kilometre from the beach. Overlooking Ringkøbing Fjord their sitting-room has a fantastic view.
In the small guest house on the site there is room for friends and family from Germany who enjoy paying a visit.
-Some were sceptical when we left. Would we be able to make it? But once they have been here, they understand our decision. And they find out that we are not as far away as one might have thought, Udo says.
Dreams come true for the Chinnow family (Foto: flytmodvest.dk)
The dreams come true - also for the grandparents
However, some of the family is not at all far away. One year ago, Dagmar’s parents moved to the town of Lem on the very opposite side of the Fjord. Dagmar’s father has become her colleague at the fishmonger’s where Pauline also has a spare time job. – It is nice to have my parents so close, and it is wonderful to see that they have also had their dream fulfilled. Like us, they are feeling really fine here.
The family has found both tranquility, nature, a house, career opportunities, and new friends in Denmark. When the holiday makers go back after 1-2 weeks’ holiday, the family are pleased that they can stay. The family even contributes with its own little tourist attraction when they walk down to the beach. Apart from the family’s dog, their six cats also like to join, so passers-by can experience quite a little cheerful procession.
-We have always worked hard to fulfil our dreams. We do the same here, but the difference is that now we are actually able to succeed. We still have many dreams and goals, but so far, we feel that they are being fulfilled one by one like beads on a string. So Dagmar and Udo guarantee that they will also succeed in fulfilling the rest of it.
The entire Chinnow family agrees: - We’ll stay here.
Here you can watch a video with the German newcomer family in Hvide Sande (subtitles in English)