I landed here a week ago to start on a full time job I was offered but the housing situation is so bad that I'm now seriously considering to cut my losses, call it quits and fly back to civilization. This post is a warning to potential expats considering coming here, a rant to let me vent and perhaps a request for suggestions on the off chance I'm doing something blatantly wrong.
First and foremost the abysmal scarcity. I've responded to more than forty ads in the two most popular rental sites (after forking out $67 for a 2-month subscription to one of them; now I understand why there are no weekly, biweekly or even monthly plans) and I've heard back from just four. Two had already been rented out, one was available for only two weeks (!!) and only one was a potential long-term match, or so it seemed (more on that later). Initially I was rather selective in my search criteria but after the first dozen or so of non-responses I started replying to almost everything within in a ~30' drive from the center. Cheap rooms, expensive 2-bedroom flats, short-term, long-term, furnished, unfurnished, you name it. Still no dice, deafening email silence.
I started imagining all sorts of possible and less possible reasons. Maybe the sites were not forwarding my emails correctly or they were ending up to some spam black hole. Maybe landlords prefer being called on the phone instead of email (don't have a number here yet). Maybe they ignore mails not written in dansk. Maybe I'm not looking at the right places. Hell if I knew. Then a web search brought me to pages like this and my heart sank. I realized it's not me, it's them. As I was also told from at least two more independent sources, the overwhelming housing demand swamps the supply.
Nevertheless, I still maintained a glimpse of hope that all these non-responses don't matter, all I need is just one response. Once I had a candidate I'd go view it, close it on the spot and be done with it, for a few months at least. As it turns out, I was in for a (second) surprise.
So I eventually got one non-negative reply for a long-term rental and dropped by to see the place at Islands Brygge, one of the supposedly better areas, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. The building looked like a century old, fourth floor with no elevator (seems to be the norm almost everywhere), the room practically unfurnished, a tiny toilet that barely fits a person and to top it off the shower was basically a hose that sticks out of the sink. The guy was asking around $750/month for this slum and said he had 10 other people calling him up to view it since yesterday night that he posted it, and he'd need "to think about it for a few days" before he decided. An hour after I left he texts me saying "sorry, I can't help you, good luck finding something". Who knows, perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for the establishment was a deal breaker. It's mind-boggling.
To say I'm having second thoughts about accepting this job offer is an understatement. The more I'm staying here, the more it seems it was a bad call. Donating half of my paycheck to the taxman in order to live in a city overpriced by any measure is one thing. Begging to rent a room that I'd dismiss as a student in New Jersey six years ago takes it too far. Anyway, by the end of this week this bad joke will come to an end, one way or another.