University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Housing: The headache for international students and staff - And what to do

The Copenhagen Housing Foundation's Charlotte Simonsen talks about the challenges that international students and staff face when trying to find a place to live and how they can increase their chances.

Trying to find a place to live in Copenhagen can prove to be quite headache for International students and staff.

The beginning of every semester sees an influx of people moving to the country’s capital. A large part of it consists of students from all over Denmark who have been admitted to the University of Copenhagen. But every year there is also a growing number of international students and staff who arrive in city for the first time.

The large influx of students and staff means that the competition to find a place to live in Copenhagen can be intense. “There are an increasing amount of international students and staff coming to Copenhagen so the demand is constantly growing and we are trying to meet it, but it is an ongoing challenge,” says Charlotte Simonsen, Director of Housing for the Copenhagen Housing Foundation.

Similar challenges

“International students and staff face many of the same challenges that Danes do when it comes to finding housing in Copenhagen,” says Charlotte Simonsen.

The lack of available housing and high rents constitute the two most common complaints. The University of Copenhagen is trying to get a proper understanding of the current situation.

“We do not know exactly how big the demand is, but the university is in the process of gathering statistics and finding out how big the demand from international students and staff is for housing.”

The Copenhagen Housing Foundation has a total of 1,400 beds in their residential portfolio and they are trying to increase that number as Charlotte Simonsen explains:

“Things are getting better. We will have 350 more beds this fall. However there is still work to be done. “But we still need an increase in availability. The demand is growing and we are not there yet in terms of meeting it,” she says.

Avoiding scams

Recently there have been several reports in the media about rental and housing scams that target students who move to Copenhagen to study.

“We get a few students once in a while who come in and say that they have had a bad experience, but it’s not every day. If I had to guess I would say that on average it would be about 2-5 students per year out of 2,500 students who report to us that they have been victims of a housing scam.”

However it is always a good idea for International students and staff to be alert if they are new to Denmark. “I suppose you could say that they do not have as good of an understanding of the Danish housing market as Danes. In that respect, they are more vulnerable. “

Charlotte Simonsen explains what you can do to mitigate the risks of falling victim to housing scams. “It is a good idea to seek help from a Danish friend or colleague when trying to find housing in Copenhagen. They have a better understanding of how the housing market works in Denmark,” she says.

It is also a good idea to look at The Copenhagen Housing Foundation’s website for number of concrete tips on how to avoid being defrauded. Another good resource is The International House which is a good place to get help and information.

And if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in a situation where you are the victim of a housing scam you should report it to the police.

life outside Copenhagen

If you are finding it difficult to get a place to live in Copenhagen, there is also the option of choosing to live outside the city.

“It is something we frequently suggest,” Charlotte Simonsen says and goes on to explain why, “It is easier to find accommodation in the suburbs outside the city and it is cheaper.”

The reactions that the Copenhagen Housing Foundation gets from International students and staff that it when they suggest that it might be a good idea to live outside the city, is varied.

“Some want to find the cheapest place available while others want to experience the city center. Some are willing to commute while others want to live in the center. So it depends on the individual,” Charlotte Simonsen explains.

The good news for those considering living outside the city is that you do not have to live too far away to get the benefits.

“They do not have to live that far away from the city. Even a 30 minute commute can make a big difference in how cheaply you can find housing as well as the overall availability of housing. For example a commute from Herlev to Copenhagen does not take that much time, but it can make a difference,” Charlotte Simonsen explains.

The best time of year to come to Copenhagen

Charlotte Simonsen has one final tip to International students and staff who are thinking about moving to Copenhagen and want to increase their chances of finding a place to live in the city.

“International students and staff don’t always have the option of choosing when they arrive in Copenhagen, but if they do have that option, I would advise them to come in the spring. Because there are fewer people coming to Copenhagen during that time of year and therefore the demand is not as high,” she says.