The housing market is INSANITY in Copenhagen.
Every fall, thousands upon thousands of students descend on the city, looking for somewhere to live. Here’s the thing though: Copenhagen is pretty tiny as far as capitols goes. Less than 600k inhabitants, and an area of less than 90km². Compare that with where I came from: LA has a population of almost 4 million and an area of 1,300km². Numbers, numbers, bla bla. It’s really just to say there just isn’t a lot of physical space to house everyone. (Very, very few high-rise apartment complexes here.)
And more surprisingly, the University does very little to help — even for its international students. The concept of on-campus housing isn’t really a thing with most European universities. They can provide some options for exchange students here for a single semester, but those staying for full degree programs (i.e, Masters, PhDs) are completely on their own. Doesn’t matter if you’re an international student or not.
It’s ridiculous, and kind of infuriating, especially since having a physical address in Denmark is so vital to literally everything. Remember the uber important CPR number? Well, that’s tied to your physical address. If you can’t find housing, you can’t apply for a CPR number – regardless of whether you have your Visa in order. If you can’t find a place to live, you’re SOL. No CPR number, no healthcare, no bank account, no phone, no functioning as a basic human being.
Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones.
There were quite a few people in my program who hadn’t found housing a couple weeks into the school year. They were living in hostels, couch surfing, desperately responding to Google Translate’d housing ads on Danish websites.
In one of those ‘it’s a small world’ moments, I met a Dane back in LA through work earlier this year, and she’d just completed a Master’s program at the University of Copenhagen. We got lunch, and she pointed me in all the right directions for the housing search; basically told me all the websites worth searching, what to keep an eye out for, how not to get scammed, etc. I was also able to Skype with a family friend who happens to speak Danish, and he helped me navigate BoligPortal – the largest housing website in Denmark. (Cause, man, Google Translate can really only do so much.)
Isn’t it nuts how everything seems to align when you need it? Sometimes the universe is awesome.
I ended up finding a place with two Danish girls, one of whom had done an exchange in the States during high school. She figured we’d both benefit from the living situation, as she’d be able to brush up on her English and I’d get a little peek into Danish culture. I couldn’t be more happy about how it turned out!
So, without further adieu, a little peek inside what I’ll call Home 2.0.