During the last presidential election Beata and Dave were often telling people that if Trump was elected, they’d leave the country. They even took those quizzes on Facebook (at least Beata did) to see which country they should move to. Of course, it was all in good fun, knowing that Trump would never get elected.
How little did they know…
So when an opportunity to move to Denmark presented itself, Beata and Dave took it without a second thought.
They decided to sell their beautiful, mid-century, 2700 sq ft, unique, Japanese architect designed house in Beacon Hill (with views of Lake Washington and the Cascades) and move into a rental in Copenhagen (or the outskirts of Copenhagen).
Their large family (with two teenagers, two large dogs and a sweet, but needy cat) presented a real challenge for Rikke, their relocation agent in Denmark.
The family was willing to sacrifice square footage (less to clean) and distance to the city center (European suburbs are not as isolating as American suburbs), but they considered having a spare bedroom (for all those visitors who would soon be coming – PLEASE) a necessity.
Because the house had to be located about six weeks before the actual move, only Beata (with their teenage daughter, Nani) made the trip to Copenhagen to view the houses. She had only one criteria: it needed to feel right.
Rikke picked them up at the hotel early one morning and they set out to look at 7 options in one day.
The first house (townhouse – or as they say in Denmark: rowhouse – in Copenhagen proper) was 120 sq meters with large windows and affordable rent.
Located in the Valby neighborhood, this rowhouse was close to the zoo, and well… everything else. When you’re this central and paying only 20,500 DDK ($3000) for a three-story house with three bedrooms and a little yard, you can’t expect much square footage.
120 sq meters is less than 1300 sq feet. That’s tiny.
Beata liked all the windows, which made the place look a lot bigger than it was.
The second option was also a rowhouse. This one slightly bigger and even more affordable. 16,663 DDK for 128 sq meters ($2450 and about 1380 sq ft).
Actually, it’s incredible that one can rent a three bedroom place for less than $2500 in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The area, Copenhagen S, is a newly developing neighborhood close to the airport. Unlike so many new neighborhoods in the USA (you know who you are, Bellevue), Copenhagen S is designed thoughtfully and beautifully. Yes, all the developments are brand spanking new, but the architecture is imaginative, and city planning includes parks, plazas, and plenty of canals that give an illusion of rives floating throughout this district. There is also a nature preserve nearby.
I’m actually a big fan of Copenhagen S and would live here if I could only get a place we all could fit into more comfortably… 128 sq meters is still pretty small.
The third place, an old brick house, newly renovated and sparkling with beautifully refinished floors, was located near the beach in the neighborhood of Amager East.
154 sq m (not counting the basement, which had not one but two additional rooms!) is a little less than 1700 sq ft. That’s more like it!
The house was literally two blocks from the beautiful sand dunes of southern Copenhagen, bars, restaurants, and grassy areas for the dogs to frolic. The location couldn’t have been more perfect.
The house itself was charming and warm. Bay windows, French doors, a kitchen with the most amazing cabinets and light fixtures! It was love at first sight!
23,000 DDK ($3,380) put this house a bit over the budget, but heck, you only live once! Might as well spend it in a little charmer by the beach!
This quickly became the number one choice.
An older rowhouse in a desirable neighborhood of Chrlottenlund was next. A beautiful yard, a beautiful deck and large comfortable rooms. This one had four bedrooms and 148 sq meters (around 1600 sq ft). A little pricy at 25,000 DDK ($3,670), but have you been to Charlottenlund?
This would have been a great runner up, except for one problem… It wasn’t available until August. With family set to move in June, it would have presented a two month period of camping or whatever… Not ideal.
For the next three options, Rikke drove outside of Copenhagen to a city located just north of the capital: Lyngby.
Lyngby – or as it’s properly called Kongens Lyngby (King’s Lyngby, because yes, Denmark still has its royalty) – is a suburb, but it feels like a town of its own. It has a bustling city center and a quick access to the center of Copenhagen (it takes about 15 min to get to the city by train). It has lakes, parks and loads of charm.
Here we saw a seemingly giant home on its outskirts. 166 sq m (about 1800 sq f) did not include the basement, which had two huge rooms and plenty of storage. The house was so much like an American rambler! It even had a master bath (an oddity in Denmark) and sliding doors (also a first). The lawn could easily accommodate a horse or two, and would give our dogs endless joy and countless spots to poop. It would be a nightmare for whoever was in charge of mowing it.
At 24,900 DDK ($3,660) it was not cheap.
The house was so big, it felt too big. It had a built-in espresso maker, which tempted with its easy access to lattes, and those humongous rooms. Lots of light too. But, the “American” feeling of it could not be shaken and its location (in a neighborhood that felt much too far from the middle of all the action) was not ideal.
Next house was a duplex near downtown Lyngby. A fairytale-like street, composed of yellow-orange older homes was just adorable. The house was cheerful and sunny and had an old fashioned wood stove. It also had a wine fridge (forget you, espresso machine)!.
Although it was a duplex, the house was one of the more spacious ones. 179 sq m (a little over 1925 sq f) and the price was right! 22,000 DDK (about $3,232 – the amount we decided would be our price limit).
There was a room downstairs (not included in the square footage, because in Denmark basements are not considered a proper living area, even when finished and livable) and the layout of the entire house was imaginative and charming. Two living rooms joined by three or four steps, two bedrooms upstairs joined by an additional third room, a bedroom downstairs with a door leading to the terrace. Adorable on so many levels!
There was only one more house to see. Located right smack in the middle of downtown Lyngby, it seemed at first like a strong possibility.
197 sq m (2,120 sq ft), it was the largest of the options. It was also one of the most expensive ones at 25,000 DDK ($3,670).
This house, however, proved to be very weird…
The backyard had a giant gazebo and other outdoor rooms. Would be fantastic in the summer and ideal for garden parties. But the weird presented itself on the inside.
Tile! There was floor tile in much of the house. Tile in Denmark, a country known for parquet and wood floors.
Some of the walls had stone facade. But not a charming stone facade, but a stone facade that must have been installed in the 1980’s.
The kitchen was atrocious. Also most likely dating back to the 1980’s, with dark and ornate cabinets. It gave me the willies.
There were two staircases! One lead to a “bedroom” upstairs that had no door (and really no possibility of a door, because of how it was designed). This “bedroom” had a balcony with no railings.
At the side of the house there was a shed, which was all finished inside. A possibility for a guest house, but not enough of a lure to overlook all the tackiness of the main house. It was a most definite NO.
Heart still set on the house by the beach. Rikke contacted the owners, who had the time to think things over and decided they did not want their pristine hardwood floors destroyed by two boxer dogs.
Hearbroken, but still with options, the decision was made to go with the yellow house.
That house (the yellow/orange one in Lyngby) is beautiful. But there are issues. One is the absence of a fenced in yard. Another is the fact that there are three sets of patio doors that lead into the garden and would be normally opened in the summer, but which present an opportunity for one (or all) of the animals to escape, trying to find their way back to America.
Sigh… No one ever said this was going to be easy, right?