Living in Copenhagen

How to Find an Apartment in Copenhagen

If you are reading this chances are you are in the process of searching for an apartment or house in Copenhagen. Perhaps you are frustrated and feel hopeless. In any case, that was our situation not too long ago. It cost us a lot of nerves, but we did finally find a place to stay, even from abroad. Because it was so difficult, we have decided to write this guide on how to find an apartment in Copenhagen. If you read on you will learn what to anticipate, how long it will take you, and how much it will cost you. Finding an apartment in Copenhagen isn’t easy, but it is possible! If you have any questions, do get in touch!

 

What kind of rental properties are there in Copenhagen?

During your search you will mostly come across 3 kinds of rentals:
  • A single room within a shared apartment or a house (Værelse)
  • A whole apartment (Lejlighed)
  • A detached house or row house (Villa or Rækkehus)

 

Is there student housing in Copenhagen?

Yes and no. In the rest of Denmark you would first get in touch with your educational institute who will refer you to their student housing association. None of the universities in Greater Copenhagen operate like this unfortunately. This means there is no guaranteed housing for any student, not even exchange students. hereIf you want more information on moving to Copenhagen as a student, read on .

 

However, there is independent youth housing for people between the ages of 18 and 35. For Greater Copenhagen you will need to apply to CIU (Copenhagen) and RIU (Roskilde). You can find their properties on findbolig.nu. With luck, you might find available listings on the portal, but most likely you will have to sign up for their waiting lists. We recommend that you sign up for the waiting lists the second you accept a study place in Copenhagen (but no earlier than 3 months prior to study start). Unfortunately the form is in Danish only and can be a little confusing, but take your time and make sure all the information is filled correctly as otherwise your application won’t be processed. Every minute counts as you will most likely remain on the waiting list for several months.

 

It’s not likely you’ll receive an offer before you arrive, but you can move out of your over-priced apartment later (see below) and safe a lot of money in the long run. You can also send the associations an e-mail explaining your situation. If you’re coming from abroad they will most likely grant you additional seniority (up to 10 months worth) which is invaluable.

 

However, it’s not enough just to send an application to CIU and RIU. You actively have to put yourself on the waiting list for each and every property you’re interested in. If you’re not picky, sign up for every possible property.

 

Another option, especially for finding a room in a shared apartment, is housinganywhere.com which is a portal recommended by most universities in Greater Copenhagen. If you register through your university you can reduce your waiting time.

 

When should I start looking for an apartment in Copenhagen?

Listings in Copenhagen (and most of Denmark really) move extremely quickly. It is rare that you can find a listing more than one month in advance. I would recommend that you do not start looking seriously until 2 months before your move.

 

If you start looking early, you should be prepared to pay for an apartment without actually moving in. For example, if you’re planning to move in August, you could consider listings with move-in dates in July. Yes, you will pay a month’s rent for nothing, but at least you’ll have the security of a roof above your head upon arrival.

 

Which safety measure should I take during my apartment search in Copenhagen?

Because the housing market in Greater Copenhagen is extremely competitive, and many people are desperate, there are people looking to take advantage of this situation. This is a particular problem in Facebook groups, but also on apartment search portals. During your search be aware that people might be trying to scam you! In order to avoid these, follow these few tips:

 

  1. Know the market. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Gather as much information on the landlord as you can, especially in Facebook groups. Check their profiles. Are they part of housing groups in several cities? Or random expat groups? Is their profile only a few weeks old with little information? A lot of red flags.
  3. Don’t rent long-term apartments without CPR registration. Chances are there is something fishy going on.
  4. If you are unsure whether the landlord and/or the listing are real, you can check who the property belongs to at Tinglysning.
  5. Never ever make any cash payments or money transfers through Western Union! Period.
  6. Do not make any payments without having seen a contract first.

 

How can I increase my odds of finding an apartment in Copenhagen?

I have three things to say for that:
  1. Don’t be picky.
  2. Don’t be picky.
  3. Don’t be picky.

 

I know, I sound dramatic, but I’m serious. You cannot be picky when it comes to price, size, location, condition, or anything else. For example, here are the parameters we started our search with:
  • 8000 DKK incl. utilities
  • Roskilde, Glostrup, Valby, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen N
  • Decent condition
  • 60+ sqm
  • Pets allowed
  • Unfurnished

 

And this is what we ultimately ended up with:
  • 12.800 DKK incl. utilities
  • Glostrup
  • Very good condition
  • 50 sqm
  • Pets not allowed
  • Partially furnished

 

During our search we continually adjusted our expectations and finally had to settle for something way above our original budget. We agreed because it was in an ideal location and, to be honest, we were getting desperate. This goes to show that you will most likely not get what you are looking for.

 

Is Copenhagen pet friendly?

No. I think about 90% of the properties we originally looked at did not allow pets (and that means any pets; cats, dogs, rabbits, whatever). You can choose “husdyr tilladt” as an additional option when browsing online portals to see if pets are allowed on the property. They are rare. Really rare.

 

Where can I search for apartments in Copenhagen?

My first tip would be this: Don’t search for apartments, but let other people do the search for you. What do I mean by that? Engage your social network! Most apartments change hands solely through word of mouth. So if you’re lucky and know anyone in Copenhagen, ask them to keep an eye open for you. Ask anyone, even that random Dane you met backpacking through South America and have never spoken to again afterwards. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

Even if you think you don’t know anybody, it’s not true. You know somebody. Maybe you are active in forums or hobby Facebook groups. There may very well be Danes active on these forums and in these groups. Why not appeal to them? Just make sure not to spam anybody.

 

In addition to these you can make use of designated Facebook groups and online search portals. You can find more tips on them below. You may also want to consider joining Internations.org. If everything else fails, you can employ a relocation agency to help you with the search.

 

Facebook groups

There are probably hundreds of Facebook groups dedicated to the rental market in Greater Copenhagen. Only a few of them are really worth your time. Below we have compiled a small list of recommended groups. Feel free to explore more, though!

 

 

If you are coming for studies, we strongly recommend joining groups specific to your university or programme.

 

Online portals

When we began our apartment search, we started coming up with more and more apartment search portals. And not before long we were completely lost. How could it be that every single one of them is called “bolig” something? We couldn’t remember which ones we had checked, which ones we had subscribed to, and which ones were completely useless.

 

We recommend:
  • boligbasen.dk: Contains offers we didn’t usually see anywhere else. However, be careful of scams. The sign-up fee is 600 DKK for 6 months.
  • boligportal.dk: Wide variety of postings. The sign-up fee is 29 DKK for the first 4 days and a further 298 DKK per month.

 

Other portals:
  • minlejebolig.dk
  • akutbolig.dk
  • housingdenmark.com (An agency which specializes in more upscale properties)
  • housingcompany.dk (An agency with mostly big properties on offer)

 

We do not recommend:
  • Boligdeal.dk & Boligoensker.dk: Doesn’t offer anything the others don’t. Also, once you subscribe the subscription is renewed weekly (99 DKK).

 

What to keep in mind

First of all, always assume that somebody is trying to scam you and proceed with care. However, we have already discussed this. With online portals the main thing you have to be careful with, is subscriptions. Pretty much all the websites are in Danish only and between Google Translate and your desperation it’s easy to make a mistake.

 

I was browsing one of many portals when I found an interesting listing. I clicked on the contact details which referred me to another portal. There it said I could contact the landlord for only 1 DKK. I paid happily only to find out that the listing had already gone.
Even worse, a few weeks later I checked my bank account and noticed that nearly 300 DKK had been deducted from my bank account by the portal. Apparently I had signed up for a weekly subscription which renewed a full 3 times without informing me. Naturally I didn’t see a single listing on this particular portal in the 3 weeks I was signed up for. After all, I had been redirected there by another portal.

 

After I finally found out WHICH portal was charging me these ridiculous amounts of money, I found a way to unsubscribe. I also found receipts for my “purchases” on the portal. I then made a reclamation to their customer service. It took dozens of e-mails and 2 weeks before I saw any of that money again. I was reimbursed for 2 weeks which I thought was fair enough (after all I HAD agreed to the terms accidentally), but the whole process made me pretty angry.

 

How long will it take to find an apartment in Copenhagen?

Hard to tell. If you are lucky and you know somebody, it might only take you a week. If you are all on your own, expect several weeks. You would have much more luck when looking for only a single room. It is nearly impossible to find an apartment from abroad, because landlords have plenty of people to pick from IN Denmark. You’ll have more success if you can rent yourself some temporary housing (e.g. airBnb, hostels) and find something then. If that is not an option (e.g. arriving with furniture, pets, …) then you should consider hiring a relocation agency. They will usually find you an apartment within one or two weeks.

 

Hiring a relocation agency in Copenhagen

There are several relocation agencies which operate in Greater Copenhagen, but most of them only work with businesses. If you are relocating for a work placement, get in touch with your HR department who can contact these agencies for you.

 

Some of them work with private customers, but they don’t come cheap. Make sure to get several quotes and compare offers. Know exactly what you need and cross-reference the offers. Otherwise you may end-up paying for something you didn’t need. You should be aware that these agencies set a budget of a minimum of 10.000 DKK for an apartment in Copenhagen.

 

As a private customer you can consider these three agencies:

 

How much will it cost to find an apartment in Copenhagen?

While I was anticipating general moving costs and security deposits, I never thought about how much the actual apartment search would cost us. If you are lucky, you won’t have to pay a dime. Unfortunately we weren’t in such a fortunate position.

 

The first cost we incurred were portal subscriptions. We made a conscious choice of subscribing for boligbasen.dk and then incurred costs when accidentally subscribing to other portals.
When we weren’t successful with the portals, we had no other choice but to hire a relocation agency. In our case all we needed was somebody to search for listings, attend viewings, and help us negotiate the lease contract.

 

100 DKK Boligdeal Access
600 DKK Boligbasen Access
11.900 DKK Relocation agency
= 12.600 DKK or roughly 1.700 €.

 

What will I need for a lease contract in Copenhagen?

  • National ID copy (plus possibly residence permit)
  • Current address, phone number, etc.
  • Possibly university admittance letter
  • Possibly work contract or bank statement (some landlords require financial stability)

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How much will the first payment be?

Well, that is hard to tell. It obviously depends on the property you’re going to rent. However, there are certain things you should be expecting.

 

  1. First month’s rent
    This probably goes without saying. Before you arrive you have to “prepay” your first month’s rent.
  2. First month’s utilities
    In addition to first month’s rent you also have to pay for the utilities.
  3. Security deposit
    This is up to your landlord. The landlord is allowed to charge you up to 3 months worth of deposit. This is also the amount you should be expecting. It is rare that the deposit will be less than that.
  4. Prepaid rent
    This is a bit of a strange concept. Basically the landlord can charge you 3 months prepaid rent which they would use to cover the last 3 months of your lease period.

 

This means that all together you can expect a payment of up to 7 months rent + 1 month utilities in the worst case. At least you should expect 4 months rent + 1 month utilities. After you receive your lease contract you have one week to transfer the money. International bank transfers can take a couple of days, so be sure to save a payment receipt. As always, do not make any payments through Western Union or without a signed contract.

 

Other costs to consider

If you are unlucky, your first payment could be up to 100.000 DKK. If you are lucky, you have this much money available to you at a moment’s notice. If not, you might have to take a bank loan. Keep in mind that in addition to your repayments, you will also have to pay interest on this loan. This is a cost factor I had certainly not anticipated before we began our apartment search.

 

Also, chances are your money is not in a Danish bank account. That means that for whichever payments you make in DKK, your bank will most likely charge a fee. If you can, make any payments with credit cards to avoid this. For bank transfer fees, you will have to check the terms and conditions of your bank.

 

What to consider when moving into an apartment in Copenhagen

When you move into your apartment, you will do an inspection together with your landlord. All interiors and appliances will be graded on a scale from 1 to 3. Afterwards both parties sign the report card. You then have to report any faults or damages within 2 weeks or the money will later come out of your deposit. In any case, take as many photos of any damages as possible.
Make sure that your name is on the post box and on the door as soon as possible, or mail may not be delivered to your address. If you find your mail box overflowing with junk mail, you can order some “No Thank You” Stickers from Postnord.

 

Do not forget to get your TV license from DR as random checks are performed and you can be heavily fined if they catch you.

 

You might also want to consider getting a home content insurance against fire, theft, and water damage.

 

Utilities

When listings speak of utilities, they generally mean water and heating (plus further things such as garbage disposal, cleaning of stairways, etc.). These are paid monthly on top of your rent and are part of your rental agreement.

 

Electricity and internet are not usually included in the contract. We encourage you to look into providers before arrival so you won’t have too much of a delay in service. However, if you rent an “expat apartment” you can negotiate with your landlord to include both in your rental agreement. It will probably cost you more, but could be helpful in the beginning or if you are staying for less than 3-6 months.

 

I found something, but I’m overpaying

Finally you are so glad that you won’t be homeless once you move to Denmark. The downside is that you have settled for something outside your budget. This can happen very easily. Be prepared for this situation and review your financial position to avoid surprises later on. Once you come to Denmark, your house search must continue. There are a couple of things to consider.

 

Waiting lists

Most communes have some sort of social housing. Usually you will have to sign up for a waiting list and pay a small fee to remain on this list (e.g. Glostrup: 125 DKK/year). If you are serious about staying in a certain area, sign up for these waiting lists the second you are able to, so you can acquire as much seniority as possible. Be aware, though, that you could be waiting for months or even years before you receive an offer.

 

Notice Period

With such a dense rental market it seems absurd, but the period of notice is 3 months. That means you will have to inform your landlord 3 months before you are planning to move out of the apartment. In that time the landlord can arrange viewings for prospective tenants. Strangely still, I have never seen an apartment listing with a move-in date further than 1 month later.

 

Unfortunately this puts you in a rather awful position. You could terminate your lease immediately after arriving in Denmark and hope that you will find something by the end of your 3 months.

 

Or, you can be on the look out with something that has a sooner move-in date. That means you might have to pay rent for 2 apartments for 1-3 months, depending.

 

Security Deposit

So, it’s bad enough that you have to pay for 2 apartments simultaneously. But do you know what’s even worse? All your cash is tied up in your original place. By law your landlord is required to return your deposit within 2 weeks after moving out (or more precisely after your 3 months expire). However, your landlord will most likely keep a portion for “renovations”, such as painting. Plan ahead financially for this situation and try to avoid shifting places too many times.

 

Change of Address

Your first step when changing addresses is to change your information in NemID within 5 days. Don’t forget to inform your commune of any address changes within 14 days or you may be fined! Finally also make sure to inform Postnord so your mail will be forwarded to your new address.

 

Financial Aid

Once you have established residence in Denmark, you can consider applying for financial aid. You will need a CPR number and a Nem-ID. There are two kinds of benefits you can take a look at:

 

  1. Rent Subsidy, administered by Udbetaling Denmark
    The amount of the rent subsidy you can receive depends on several factors, but mostly your income, the size of the apartment, and the amount of rent you pay. You can apply through borger.dk (https://www.borger.dk/boligstoette).
  2. Security Deposit Loans, granted by the municipality
    This applies ONLY to PUBLIC HOUSING! Whether you are granted the loan for your security deposit is determined by your household’s income. You can apply for it through borger.dk (https://www.borger.dk/boligstoette).

 

Vocabulary

Here we would like to give you a quick introduction into Danish vocabulary you might need during your apartment search. Obviously, this is not a complete list and you may still need to employ Google Translate, but it’s a start!

 

Lejebolig = Rental Property
Område = Area (e.g. Copenhagen, Frederiksberg)
Boligtype = Property Type
Villa = Detached Home
Raekkehus = Row house
Lejlighed = Apartment
Vaerelse = Room
Parkering = Parking
Husleje = Rent (price)
Størrelse = Size (square metres)
Lejeperiode = Rental Period
Overtagelsesdato = Take Over Date (move-in date)
Husdyr = Pet
Almen bolig = Public Housing
Mobleret = Furnished
Delevenlig = Sharable

Now, what do you think? Have we left any questions unanswered? Or do you have any additional tips on how to find an apartment in Copenhagen for our readers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!

 

3 thoughts on “How to Find an Apartment in Copenhagen

  1. Following this article (that is really great!) we subscribed boligbasen (that is NOT great).
    Seeing a 50% of the rents that allows pets, and that have a price that is around the 60% of what it should be… We came at the conclusion that most of the announces are random generated from the website itself. I mean, we are both architects with permanent contracts, and in two months, hundreds of landlords contacted, NOBODY replies? Once or twice a day, instead I received mails of sponsored rented houses. Those were way more expensive and mostly (totally) without pets allowed. My idea is that announces are fake, but those mails are not. In the end it does not value 600 DKK.
    And on the other side, on boligportal we got lots of responses.

    1. Hi Pier and thanks for your feedback! 🙂

      Unfortunately we had a similar experience as you with Boligbasen. We concluded it might be a useful tool for long-term home search, but it’s really not ideal for the short term :/
      We also saw some offers on Boligbasen which were obviously scams.

      Glad that you found a place after all and we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Copenhagen 😊

      1. Yes at the end we found a place trough an expats facebook group of our compatriots. Between expats the bond is strong so sometimes could be easier to go trough social networks, as you suggest.
        Anyway, thanks for this article!

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