As with most things in Denmark, rent is expensive. However, if you consider the increased quality of life, ease of commute, and safety that comes with living in the Copenhagen area, it may make you feel better about the exorbitant prices. NB: The cost of “necessities” like groceries, fast food, and alcohol also varies significantly by area, and this might influence your decision. In the city center, expect to pay about twice what you would in a typical American city for the same amenities, or a little bit more than in New York City. The strengthening dollar of late has gone some way to easing the burden, but Denmark still retains its infamous sticker-shock.
Costs: Keep in mind rents vary a lot by neighborhood and in general are substantially less in the western suburbs. It is much more cost-effective to find a shared flat (andelsbolig) than an apartment (lejlighed) or, if you are a student (even nominally, e.g. taking a Danish course), you may be able to find cheaper accommodation (bolig) in one of the city’s many Kollegiums, which are privately run residence halls and usually provide ensuite single rooms (room=værelse) with a shared kitchen.
A 1-bedroom apartment in the central neighborhoods of the city will run you 8,000 kroner ($1,200) per month on average and a 3-bedroom downtown will be about 15,000 kroner ($2,200) on average (Note: If an apartment listing says 3-room [3 værelser] it usually means that it has two bedrooms and a living room, not three bedrooms). Rents are kept low(er) by government price controls, but these do not apply to properties built in the last twenty years. In the suburbs the average monthly rent drops to 5,000 kroner ($850) for a 1-bedroom flat and 10,000 kroner ($1,500) for a 3-bedroom flat. Utilities average around 1100 kroner ($160) per month on top of that and cable internet will be about 200 kroner ($30) besides. Check out the Neighborhoods section to get an idea of how housing prices and desirability differ around Copenhagen.
Finding an Apartment: Unless you know a guy that knows a guy, finding a great flat for cheap can be tough. If you choose to find an apartment over the internet, use sites that are either in Danish or in Danish and English. Many English-only websites are designed to rip off foreigners.
The largest and easiest of the Danish-English accommodation listing websites are DBA, boligbasen.dk, boligportal.dk, but there are many others only in Danish that can be easily navigated with Google Translate.
Renting an Apartment in Copenhagen: Owners either rent directly to you or through a housing agency. Agencies expect you to pay to register and will often put you on a long waiting-list before anything becomes available. You can also rent a single room or an entire flat from a tenant who is already leasing an apartment (sublease=fremleje). This can be a cheaper option. In Denmark, there is no requirement for a written lease, however you are entitled to receive one if you ask. Many tenants prefer an “oral lease” because it avoids certain restrictions usually written into the hard document. If you are legitimately receiving income and a resident of Denmark, it may be possible to get a municipal subsidy for housing if your rent is very high. Sadly, it is not uncommon for landlords to take advantage of foreigners, especially those that don’t look European; if this is the case complaints can be made to Rent Tribunal (Huslejenævnet) of København Kommune (the City of Copenhagen), located in the Rådhus (City Hall), or your respective town. 70% of such complaints result in reduced rent. University Post hosts a helpful website detailing the ins-and-outs of renting for foreigners.
Kollegium: Kollegiums are located throughout the city and suburbs and are independently owned and managed residence halls for students (“student” being loosely defined). They typically involve a single room with a bathroom and shared kitchen facilities. While most kollegiums are inhabited by Danes, there are also international kollegiums that cater especially to foreigners, although Danes are not excluded. Rent varies by facility but to get an idea, monthly rent for a room in Egmont Kollegiet was 2305 kroner ($343) per month and 4863 ($724) for a room in Bispebjerg Kollegiet without utilities. Here’s a list of the top 10 kollegiums.
Uniquely Copenhagen: Northern Europeans don’t seem to like window screens. This may be because there are fewer mosquitos, but if you leave your window open and a light on for any length of time there could be hundreds of bugs in your room when you come back. They also usually have a washer but no dryer. Garbage disposals are unknown. Also, locks, keys, and door handles often turn the opposite way as in Britain or America (i.e. clockwise to open).