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Copenhagen is a picturesque, vibrant city that always ranks well for its high quality of life. And not surprisingly, many people wish to move to this wonderful city. But, finding an apartment to rent in Copenhagen is no easy task! Having lived and gone through the apartment hunt in Copenhagen, I know this first hand.
So if you’re planning on moving to Copenhagen and do not have a place lined up, this article is for you. Regardless if you’re moving for work with family, as a self-employed couple or as a single full time student, I’ll give you my best tips on how to prepare, find a place, and protect yourself from scams.
Without further ado, here are the steps to finding an apartment to rent in Copenhagen:
I don’t wish to scare you, but finding an apartment to rent in Copenhagen is incredibly difficult and terribly expensive. So much so that the most important thing to start doing ASAP is to save as much money as you can.
When renting an apartment you will likely have to pay the first and last months rent upfront, plus a deposit which can be equivalent to as much as SIX months of rent. And given how expensive rent is in Copenhagen coming up with the equivalent of EIGHT months of rent in advance is a lot.
Additionally you should also have an application ready, so start creating one as soon as you can. Include your picture, who you are, where you’re from, why you’ll be moving to Copenhagen, what hobbies you have, etc. If you’re moving with family members you should write something about them too. Also include if you’re a smoker or not and whether you’ll be bringing any pets.
Start joining Facebook groups early. Even if you’re months away from moving to Copenhagen read all the posts and comments to familiarize yourself with the challenges other people are facing. I mention bellow some Facebook groups I recommend joining.
Where will you be working/ attending university? Is your priority to live nearby, or are you a light sleeper who needs complete silence at night regardless of how far you have to commute to work? Can you handle a long commute by bicycle, or will you be reliant on buses and trains? These are important questions to ask yourself before you begin your search.
Once you have determined your priorities, start looking into which neighborhoods are right for you. To learn more about the different neighborhoods in Copenhagen, check out this guide I wrote.
Now that you’ve determined your priorities and decided which neighborhoods you like best, I’m going to tell you to keep an open mind. Start your apartment search in your preferred neighborhood(s), but keep in mind in mind that Copenhagen is an extremely competitive market. If you limit yourself to only a few areas you will struggle to find a place.
So keep an open mind and be prepared to take an apartment outside of your preferred neighborhood(s). But don’t be too upset about this situation. The good news about Copenhagen is that no neighborhoods are bad. I have walked through most neighborhoods on my own as a young single woman and I never felt unsafe at any point.
Additionally, all neighborhoods are connected by bicycle lanes, so getting around is a breeze; as long as you know how to ride a bike.
Yes, I know I just told you to keep an open mind and to settle for what’s available. However, you should aim to pick a place you can see yourself living in long term. Reason being that it is very very expensive to move in Copenhagen.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you may not get your deposit back. There have been many incidents where renters did not receive their deposit back after moving out, despite leaving the apartment is pristine condition. And given how expensive rent is in Copenhagen, up to 6 months of rent is a lot of money to be losing every time you move.
Additionally, it is customary to pay the last month’s rent in full, but move out two weeks early. The last two weeks of the month are reserved for painting and renovating the apartment. And yes, it is unfair to be paying rent for a place you’re not able to live in, but that is the norm in Copenhagen. Most locals end up paying rent for two places during the month they’re moving apartments.
And of course, trying to find an apartment in a very competitive market can give you a mental breakdown. So if you want to keep your sanity I’d advise against moving frequently.
Unlike North American cities, Copenhagen does not have many purpose-build rentals. Unless you’re moving into a dorm as a student, you will have to rent someone’s private residence. And that makes things quite difficult.
The first thing I’d recommend you do is to join some Facebook groups. Facebook is a very popular platform in Copenhagen. From buying a bike to finding a job or a place to live, Facebook groups are the place to be. Take a look at what’s available and what the prices are. Some groups to join are:
The next step is to join some housing websites right before moving to Copenhagen. The most popular platform by far is BoligPortal. Keep in mind that you will have to pay to access the database. Additionally, you should also build a profile that includes what you’re searching for and some info about yourself.
Contacting an agency will be your best option if you’d like to have a place lined up and ready for you when you arrive in Copenhagen. Otherwise you’ll have to find a short term rental while you search for a more permanent property.
When renting directly from private landlord, you should always view the apartments in person! Never ever ever send money for a deposit without viewing the place in person. Additionally, you should also ask to see proof of ownership. Some people will rent a short-term apartment and pose as the owner to scam you out of your deposit money. And speaking of deposits, do not wire transfer your money to a foreign bank account. That’s most likely a scam.
So, can you rent an apartment from overseas? You could, if you contact an agency. If you’re renting directly from a private landlord I would not recommend it. In my opinion, your best strategy is to arrive early and rent an apartment through Airbnb or HousingAnywhere for a month or so while you’re searching for a more long-term home.
Always take as many pictures and videos when moving out so you have evidence of no wrongdoing. It’s best if you can buy a newspaper that day and have it in frame so you can prove the date of the pictures/ recording. Many landlords will try to keep your deposit even if you leave the apartment in pristine condition.
Again, Facebook groups are a great source of advice. I would recommend you ask people in the Expats in Copenhagen group. Chances are there will be as least one person who went through what you’re experiencing.
Your next step will likely be to contact Københavns Retshjælp, free legal aid. They will advise you on what to do next. Beware that if you are victim of an international scam (ie if you transferred money abroad), they may not be able to offer you much help.
If you’re going to Copenhagen as a student, I would recommend you do your best to sign up for a dorm. Set time aside on the day registrations open and be prepared to pay the fee. There are many students going to Copenhagen and rooms go like hot cakes. If you have the option, I recommend you book your dorm room for as long as possible. Don’t think you can stay there for one semester and find something cheaper later, because you likely won’t.
Take a look at this list of dorms the Housing Foundation mentions. Google each dorm and see if there’s a website. You may be able to sign up for a room directly. When I first arrived in Copenhagen I stayed in a room at Basecamp that I rented through the Housing Foundation. Later I was able to rent a room directly through Basecamp. Had it not been for the Housing Foundation I would have never known Basecamp existed.
If you’re searching for a room in a shared apartment, Facebooks groups will be the best place.
Please note that most hostels have limits to the maximum number of days you can stay. Many students have tried in the past to live full time in hostels due to not being able to find other accommodation. Furthermore, you won’t be able to register for a CPR while living in a hostel.
Check out this guide for more in-depth information on finding student accommodation in Copenhagen.
So there you have it! My best tips for renting an apartment in Copenhagen. I hope you found it useful and not too scary!