Finding an apartment in Copenhagen is a nightmare. When people tell you that, you better believe. Especially if you have a limited budget.
There are thousands of people looking for a place, but only a very limited number of apartments and rooms available. All the best ones seem to go to someone before they are even posted anywhere online.
So prepare yourself for a long search. If you’re lucky or supergood at it, you might find a place in 2-3 weeks. But in most cases, we’re talking about a search of some 4-10 weeks.
And you also need to understand, that you might find a place fast – but might still not be able to move there immediately. Especially if you’re renting through a company. As their open houses often take place a month or a month and a half before the actual moving date.
We started our search in Denmark. Most people start searching before moving, but people at my work place told me that it would be a lot easier to find a place if you were already staying in Copenhagen. This makes sense, because you really can’t attend any open houses if you’re not here.
So we booked an AirBnb apartment for the first month. The only problem with this approach is that you cannot register CPR in an AirBnB (well in some very rare cases, the host might let you, but you have to discuss it with them). And without a CPR in Denmark, you cannot get a bank account, a mobile subscription or anything of the like.
When we moved to the AirBnb place, I was anxious. I knew we needed to find our own place and that it’s not gonna be fun and easy.
Fortunately, all worked out well for us in the end. Read below for my tips!
Housing portals – this is where you begin
Both companies and private landlords use housing portals for listing their available rooms and apartments. You can find both long term and short term accommodation here as some people add their place there if they’re going on a 1-5 month holiday or are moving abroad for a semester.
I recommend using these:
Because many of the housing portals require a subscription before you can contact landlords, I’d go with these. Bolig Portal is by far the biggest and many of the other portals actually use their data.
Note that you NEED to be super super fast when using housing portals. Every single new room and apartment gets tens of applications the first day they are published. So subscribe to Bolig Portal’s email alerts and be active. When you get a mail saying that there’s a place available, don’t procrastinate. Send a message immediately. And when I say immediately, I mean within 1-5 minutes.
Many landlords like to follow a first come, first served -rule. It might not always be so that the first to send the message gets the place – but, for instance, only the first 5-10 get an invite to the open house. So either way, you have to be one of the first ones to send a message.
In Bolig Portal you can save your “default message”, so you don’t have to write it every time. You just click a few buttons and that’s it.
Networking – this works the best
As I said before, many of the great places actually go before they have even been posted on a housing website. Because Denmark works through social networks. Someone knows someone who knows someone with an available apartment in Copenhagen.
For a foreigner, this is tough. I did not know anyone when we moved here. Well, I knew my boss and he’s always been extremely helpful and nice towards us, but he’s not a superhuman. Nor is he a housing agent. So I pretty much had no connections when I moved here.
If you’re moving to Copenhagen for work, then the first thing is to ask people at work for help. Locals here are helpful, I noticed. Especially if it’s a global company and they know how difficult it is for a foreigner to find a place.
So be social and ask for help. That’s the best tip I can give you.
Housing companies – if you can afford them
Even though I used the word “afford” in the heading, it doesn’t mean that all housing companies are expensive.
List of apartment companies in Copenhagen (email me if I skipped some)
- City Apartment
- Nordea Ejendomme
- Housing Denmark
- Danish Homes
- Express Housing
- Housing Company
- Homes and Housing
- Capital Homes
We came to Denmark on the 30th of July and started looking for an apartment in Copenhagen immediately. We went to a few open houses that were out of our price range, contacted tens of landlords via Bolig Portal, but in the end, after 3 weeks of searching, we got an invite to an open house in a superb place via a housing company.
The open house was on Friday and the next monday we got a message telling us that we got the place. We used a housing rental company called CityApartment.dk. They’re very professional and have a great selection of properties in very good locations. They are not the cheapest, but for a working couple they are affordable. And I actually heard about this company from a friend at work. Networking helped again!
So anyway, on the 22nd of August we heard that we’d get the apartment – but the moving day is the 1st of October. We had to pay the deposit and sign the contract almost immediately. This is rather usual with housing companies.
Now we’re staying in an AirBnB during September as well. We were lucky that the place we booked for August was also available for September – and the hosts actually preferred to have their apartment rented out for the full month. We didn’t have to move and we get to stay in Østerbro which we really like.
Oh, and our new place is in Østerbro as well. A little closer to the city center, but not too close. We have a short walk both to the sea and to Fælledparken. I’ll keep you posted about living in the new place after we have moved there! So far everything looks very good.
Also note that some of the rental apartments through housing companies are furnished – just like ours. Some of them are not. And that actually applies to private landlords as well.
This is something that needs to be addressed.
It’s not unusual to hear about someone who lost thousands of krona in a housing-scam in Copenhagen.
How scams usually work:
- Someone posts an incredible room / apartment on Facebook or some portal and asks for quick replies, because he/she is in a hurry.
- You’ll get pictures of the apartment, but never go and see the place.
- They’ll ask you to pay the deposit now to get the apartment. They might try to push it by saying they have a long line waiting, but they liked you the best.
- They disappear with the money.
Note that sometimes these scams begin by a text message. So if you get a seemingly random text message from an unknown number offering you a place to live, be cautious. This tactic is used sometimes.
The easiest way to avoid such scams is to:
- Always demand to see the apartment. If you actually see them use their keys to get to the apartment, you’re halfway there.
- Never pay the deposit or anything else with cash, Bitcoins or some online wallet. Normal bank transfers are the safest, because they can be traced.
- Make sure you receive a signed contract that has the right names on it. Usually it is better to have a contract ready BEFORE you send any money anywhere.
- Read the contract carefully. Ask someone Danish to go through it as well, if you’re not a fluent reader / speaker.
- If subleasing, make sure the landlord also knows about this.
To sum it up
There we go. The best ways and tips to find an apartment in Copenhagen. In my honest opinion.
Please also remember that in Denmark, when you vacate the apartment, it is supposed to look the same as when you got it. So in many cases – especially with unfurnished apartments – that means painting the walls and even sanding the floors. These costs are often taken from your deposit. But remember to ask about this before signing a contract.