Consistently ranked one of the top cities to live in for its quality of life, Copenhagen is safe, clean and a beautiful place to live. The stable economy, good education and social safety net mean locals enjoy all the Scandinavian good life, while the shopping streets, cosy cafes and excellent restaurants are a boon to visitor and resident alike.
What is it known for?
If the Little Mermaid is looking a little green around the gills from her perch
in the Copenhagen’s harbour it is because there is a new star in town: celebrity
(yes?) chef Rene Redzepi. Copenhagen is suddenly the centre of the culinary
universe, having hosted the recent “Glastonbury for food” festival on the
waterfront, organized by Redzepi, champion of New Nordic Cuisine and chef/owner
of Noma, twice voted the best restaurant in the world by the S Pellegrino World's Best Restaurant awards compiled by
Restaurant magazine. Along with
restaurants like Geist, Ralae and Geranium, Noma and Redzepi have turned the
city into a foodie Lourdes, especially now that El Bulli on Spain’s Costa Brava
has shut and gourmand pilgrims turn their hungry eyes to the north.
Copenhagen is one of the world’s most expensive cities, but with great
local transport, an ingrained cycling culture (they have even installed low
railings at stoplights for cyclists to rest a foot on) and environmental
policies, it is also one of the most liveable. Joined by the Oresund Bridge to
Malmo, Sweden, the entire region is becoming integrated, with Swedish firms
investing across the sound that divides them, and vice-versa.
The Jean Nouvel-designed DR Concert Hall and the Tivoli Concert Hall in
the famous Tivoli Gardens, plus the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and great
jazz venues, put the city high on the cultural map. And a stroll on Stroget,
the city’s pedestrian shopping area, provides the perfect people-watching experience.
Where do you want to live?
The most desirable neighbourhoods
are in the centre of the city, areas like Indre By and Norrebro, Osterbro to
the north, Vesterbro near the central train station, Frederiksberg to the west,
and Christianshavn just across the Inner Harbour. Osterbro and Frederiksberg
are more posh than Norrebro, which has a multicultural mix and has become very
trendy. Vesterbro is an economically diverse area that includes the red light
Kristine Niss, a Copenhagen resident for 15 years, recently bought an andel in Vesterbro. An andel is a cross
between a leasehold and a co-op, which gives you a share in a building. “This
is the ninth place I’ve lived in Copenhagen,” she said. “Housing is very
expensive and if you want to rent, you have to wait years on a waiting list.”
Developers in Copenhagen sunk a lot of money, pre-economic crisis, into
building new, high-end apartment buildings a little farther out from the city
in the suburbs of Orestaden and Sluseholmen. These units were originally for
sale, but are now being rented out to young families. Another up-and-coming
area is the island of Amager, home to the Copenhagen Airport. A traditionally
working-class region, there are now two metro lines and a train link connecting
it to the city centre and new development has come in. And Nordvest, an
unlovely strip between Vesterbro and Norrebro is gaining a bohemian reputation
for its affordable housing for students, creative types and other urbanites.
Copenhagen is on the large island of Zealand, and many residents have summer
cottages in the northern part where the beaches are the nicest. The northeast,
the closest to town, is the most expensive, and land in the south is the
cheapest. Malmo, across the Oresund Bridge, and other parts of Sweden are also
popular for a quick getaway for a couple of days.
Cities like Berlin and London are quick and cheap flights, and are
popular for weekend trips for locals, as many Danes speak English and German.
“The country is so small, you have to leave it sometimes,” explained Niss.
“People are used to travelling and don’t consider it much trouble.”
House prices have come down from their highs in 2006 and 2007, then were trending up the last few years and
since the beginning of 2011 have come down again slightly. According to Niklas
Alm of the property consultancy Newsec, a, houses, including villas and
terraced or attached houses, currently cost 22,550 Danish crowns per sqm and
flats cost 24,000 Danish crowns per sqm.
Renting is very difficult in Copenhagen, unless you sublet, because
people spend years on waiting lists for apartments that are close to the city
centre. Many parents sign up their children when they are born, so they might
get a place by the time they are 18. However, buying “is transparent and
transactions are easy with low costs,” said Alm. “There is good potential in a
couple of years.”
The Copenhagen Post: English-language news, culture and ads
The Locals: City street fashion
Copenhagenize: Citizen cycling blog