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They tell us it is all about knowing the right people. Yeah right! This is no use if you are new to the city. Here are eight unorthodox ways to get a roof over your head in Copenhagen. All tested, and they work! (Updated July 2016)
(Editor’s note: Here is our 2016-updated Guide to housing in Copenhagen)
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who follow the rules and those who make the rules. This guide is for the latter.
Finding housing in Copenhagen is a real drag. You search for months, only to get no real results. When you finally do get something, it is a small room in the other end of town, with some dude who smokes constantly, keeps the door open while he pees, and sneaks into your room to stare at you while you sleep, as he gently mutters under his breath [this is a true story -ed.]. Worse still, you can only stay until his real roommate returns after four months in India.
Before you look these options over, you should know that they have all worked.
This model comes in various forms. Sometimes you find busy families looking for a student to reside with them while helping out around the house. Usually that means living in a big house in some suburb not far from Copenhagen – with children. Also older people or disabled people sometimes look for a young poor person to stay with them while helping out. The conditions vary and you can do anything from grocery shopping, vacuum cleaning, gardening, carrying heavy items, wiping baby butts, and maybe even wiping wrinkly butts…
Photo by Jovanmandic
You don’t find these offers like you find hipsters in the city center, so stay alert and look out. Think bingo banquets, mother-baby cafés, and Anonymous Alcoholics-meetings. Also, it might not hurt to explain all the mutual benefits to whomever you identify as a person in need of slave labour.
What to do:
There are several ways to go about this. Put up posters in supermarkets, refine your searches on accommodation sites to include families, and make your own original profile on websites stating your idea. Find the right place with the University Post’s guide to accommodation websites.
This writer got a large, cheap room working as the personal slave to three young, career/party oriented guys in the middle of the city. Deal: Clean once a week and keep the house tidy.
Ever tried looking through housing ads only to find these huge, beautiful old apartments in Copenhagen, that, for one moment, make you think, “Maybe if I drop out of school and work full-time as a prostitute I can live in this neo-classicist palace?” Well, you can and it doesn’t have to come with moral bankruptcy.
Here is what you do: Find a palace of your dreams – it can be a five bedroom with a tower overlooking the lakes or a penthouse with panoramic windows overlooking the city square. Start hyping it – do it on Facebook, Twitter, the university etc. Find roommates and agree on price and conditions. Sign the lease and pay your deposit. You have now become a dormitory master.
Photo by de Benutzer Priwo
Raising the deposit and handling logistics of getting roommates to agree on leasing a room – before they have perhaps been able to see it – can be challenging. However, it is just a logistic knot to slice carefully. Another obstacle is, that some tenants don’t want students to form dormitories. This can be solved only by lying, or by avoiding them.
You are hip. You are cool. You have dreams of crawling out of bed with a hoggish hangover after a bar-hop round the city, which demands first tikka masala, later vegan-sushi followed by paleo bread with Icelandic fat-free cheese.
Well, city boy/girl/etc., your fair-trade fat-free soy-milk double mocha-frappe-latte is nowhere to be found in the outskirts of Denmark. Here, a burger is called a beef sandwich and a bratwurst with french fries is multicultural cuisine. What you will find though, that is so bloody hard to get in Copenhagen, is fresh air, pristine grass, and great value for money when it comes to finding a place to stay.
Photo by Maria Kraynova
The further away you are willing to leave the Mother Ship, the cheaper housing you can get. This might not fit your job/social/lifestyle situation all too well and what you gain in square meters you lose travelling back and forth.
What to do:
Wave bye bye to big city life and set your search for postal codes higher than 2700. Make your own collective – or join one. See a full list of postal codes while deciding just how far you are willing to travel and enter the number of your desperation on one of the websites on the University Post’s guide to accommodation websites.
Everything is for sale, even Jesus’ soul. Not only does money talk, it also walks, and it will take you further than anything else. So, if you can afford it, use money to find a place to stay. For instance, when writing an application, you can offer to pay DKK 500 more in rent, offer people rewards to find you a place or, when you talk to people who have extra room but no plans of renting it out, make them an offer that they can’t refuse.
What to do:
Find a greedy landlord on the University Post’s guide to accommodation websites.
A sad fact of life — people get old, and then they die. It’s sad for them, and it’s sad for their spouses because all of a sudden, old people live alone in huge houses or apartments. They don’t need a roommate for financial reasons, but they could greatly benefit from a vivid, studious and helpful young person such as yourself.
Photo by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
Finding old, retired people who wants a student roommate is sort of like hunting for albino rhinos. They are close to extinction. You probably won’t find them in the cyber-jungle. But the biggest challenge may not even be to find them. It is to make them realise how dramatically their life will change with more life than house plants in their living rooms. Still, with point three and six in mind, it should be able to work out.
What to do:
Look for them in their natural habitats. Retirement clubs, night schools, gym classes. They are most active between 8 am and 1 pm. With 56,957 activities a year, Ældresagen (organization for elders) makes the impossible possible. Find your event here.
The golden rule in marketing is: always be present. You are trying to sell yourself, along with everyone else, and you are all present in the same medium: the internet. But using the online market as your exhibition window means that the quality produce that you are may disappear among the herd of lesser quality produce that is everyone else. Aside from the typical accommodation websites and social media, advertise your roommate awesomeness in alternative places.
Photo by Melpomenem
The benefit of this way is also its weakness. You are a blind fisherman, throwing your net in the dark of night. It’s not very efficient. You may end up spending hours of work hanging up posters only to see them torn down next time you pass. You impose yourself on countless innocent bystanders most of whom don’t give a rat’s ass about you and your non-existing place to stay. But then again, you only need to catch one…
What to do:
Write a short description of yourself, add a decent picture (read; as someone people will want to both party and philosophise with). Plaster the neighbourhood of your dreams until there is no space left: put it on walls, cafès, supermarkets. Every smooth surface is a canvas for your unsolicited marketing.
Tired of no results, Mathias Andersen plastered the entire Copenhagen quarter of Vesterbro with ads describing his pleasant personality and a picture illustrating the obvious benefits of his company. Did it work? Hell yeah, one month and Mathias now lives exactly where he wants to, discovered by curious people one of the 8.256 supermarket walls adorned with his face.
Couchsurfing – a website for the young, adventurous and culturally hungry. Couchsurfing links travelers across the world, usually by a local host offering his couch to a fellow traveler. It’s free and has more than 10 million members.
Couchsurfing is a temporary solution (although you surely make very pleasant company, having a sofa-resident free-of-charge for months might annoy even the hippiest host), but it could grow into something permanent. If you come from abroad and therefore lack the so-important network, couchsurfing is a great way to meet new friends. And new friends can perhaps spam their network to help you get a permanent place to live.
Another way this can work is that your couch-host with time discovers that they can’t live without you/they could use the extra rent for that tiny closet/room/thing that’s all filled up with old teddy bears anyway – and your couch-host offers you a room.
Collage made using mad photoshop skills on photos by Maxim Zarya and EpicStockMedia
Chemistry is a must, so the biggest challenge with couchsurfing is that you may not surf with people who you connect with. You may also have to go far, and eventually tire of living from your suitcase.
What to do:
When signing up, it is crucial to keep in mind that your rate of success is directly proportional to the amount of energy you put into your profile. Use your interests/hobbies/experiences as an eye-catcher and make sure you actually read peoples’ profile and write them individual emails. Nobody wants to befriend nor house a robot. Sign up for Couchsurfing.
Trailer parks / caravans are not just for trailer trash — they are also for for broke-ass students with no place to live. If you find a park, you can live quite comfortably — running water, electricity, and only marginally less space than a dorm room. If you really want to do it on the cheap, and borderline legal, you can also park your trailer on public property, and use the shower facilities of a nearby gym, or swimming pool, or you can just take showers on campus — many university buildings have shower facilities in their basements. With gym memberships starting at DKK 50 a month, you can get in shape, and stay clean all at once.
Photo by Sitikka
What to do:
Obviously, you need a trailer or a caravan. That said, a second hand trailer could be bought relatively cheap. At the time of writing, this reporter easily found a classic, rust-free 1967 camping trailer, with a double bed, for DKK 8000.