Tag Archives: Moving

The Danish mortgage system and the negative interest rates

A Canadian journalist contacted me recently asking questions about how it works with the negative interest rate that is going on in Denmark at the moment and what effect that had on the housing market. Could it really be true that people would be paid to have a mortgage? The short answer is no – so far the fees added on top of the mortgage means that no one has actually gotten money from the bank for lending money to their house. Mortgages in Denmark

In order to give a proper reply to the Canadian journalist I asked Rasmus O. Firla-Holme the blogger at Pengepugeren if he could help explain what is going on. His answer is below.

Danish mortgage are based on bonds

As far and I understand the North American mortgage system you basically take out a bank loan with security on the home.

The Danish mortgage system is different in that most mortgages are not money borrowed directly from a bank, but rather from investors. There do exist simple bank loan mortgages (I have one of these), but far more are “realkredit” (directly translates to “real credit”). This mortgage system is praised internationally for being transparent, flexible and a low-risk investment.

A Realkredit mortgage is based on bonds. When you apply for a mortgage your broker issues bonds on your behalf and the money you get for the sale will pay for your house. As with most other bonds, the interest rate depends on the time scale and whether the rate is fixed, capped or floating. A 30 year floating interest rate will be lower than a fixed rate as investors have the opportunity to get a higher profit when interests go up in the future.

So why would anyone Invest in bonds with low or even negative interest rates? The answer is security and price.


As mentioned, the Danish Realkredit is praised for being a safe Investment. During crises (e.g. when Greece government bonds turned too risky and the future of the Euro seems uncertain) investors can find a safe harbour in Danish Realkredit bonds. Interests may be low, but you can keep the money there until things cool down.


Part of the low interest is offset by a low bond Price. When an investor buys a very low interest bond they also buy it with a 2, 3, 4 or even higher “discount”. The mortgage may be 2.1M DKK but the investor buys it for 2M. For you as a home buyer that means you sign up for a loan balance that initially is higher than the price of the house, but you get a low interest rate and thus a low monthly expense.

In short, as an investor you get a chance to buy a bond that provides a low or (on rare occasions) slightly negative interest rate, but you also get a low-risk Investment at a discounted price.

The negative interest rate

A negative (or very low) interest rate is in my opinion a sign that something is very wrong. Why would you ever make an Investment that is almost certain to lose money? The negative interest rates are a consequence of the central bank lowering their interest rate to below zero (currently -0.65 %). This makes it a better investment for banks to purchase slightly negative short-term interest bonds instead of depositing reserves in the central bank.

Also, negative interest rate Realkredit bonds are not by any means a common thing, it even caused issues with the brokers’ IT systems. This occurred to a small group of home owners who happened to renew their short term mortgages during a certain timespan. Although it’s a good story, it’s not like Danish home owners generally get paid for their mortgages. It’s mainly a good headline for the real story: That the Danish Realkredit mortgage is a pretty good, stable system with lower interest rates than in many other countries.

For good measure: Home owners don’t directly get paid for negative interest rates. The Realkredit brokers charge a monthly administration fee which vary from about 0.3% to about 2% depending on type of bond and home equity. As the few negative interest bonds are/were about -0.03% home owners still had a monthly payment to make.

Thanks to Rasmus from Pengepugeren for a very elaborate reply and explanation of the background and current situation. If you can read Danish or feel like running his site through Google Translate check out his blog. Some of his interesting posts I would recommend are:

Buying a house in Denmark

We have just completed the process of buying a house and have spent quite some time looking in to various aspects of property buying and owning in Denmark. This is a compilation of the things we have learned.

Most of the links in this article will unfortunately be to pages in Danish. I have not been able to find that much information in English.


Where to look?

There are two good websites that collect more or less all houses for sale in Denmark. They both offer you the possibility to create a user profile and get alerts when houses matching your criteria come for sale. Neither has an English interface.

Boliga.dk is an independent site that collects data from the differentreal estate agents. Some of the good features about Boliga are:

  • Get email alerts to let you know when new houses are for sale in your area.
  • Get email alerts when houses on your watch list have an open house.
  • You can see what a house has been sold for previously and what the reduction in asking price is.
  • Houses sold by owner are only listed on Boliga not Boligsiden. Same goes for (very) few real estate agents.

Boligsiden.dk is owned by an association of real estate chains. Some of the good features of boligsiden are:

  • They get new listings a day before Boliga
  • You can limit your searches to an area you mark on the map
  • If you add a house to your “Huskeliste” (favorites) you can see how many other people have “fav’ed” it and how many people look at it.

Some of the interesting facts you can see on the sites are:

How to compare?

The mantra for real estate agent are location, location, location. But there is a couple of other things you can look at in your hunt.

Ask thereal estate agent of a house for the reports and they will send you at least four documents:

  • Sales Report (Salgesopstilling)
  • Building Survey (Tilstandsrapport)
  • Electricity Survey (Eleftersyn)
  • Energy Report (Energirapport)

These all follow the same standard for all houses so there will be a multitude of parameters which you can use in comparing two or more interesting houses. Here are some of the ones I would like to highlight.

Price per square meter

From the Sales Report you can see the price per m2. It is public data what the m2-price is in any area split by postcode. So by looking at the m2-price of a house you can get an idea of whether it is above or below the average for an area.

Condition of the property

The building survey will give an overview of the house comparable to its age. A surveyor will go through the house and check for visible faults and errors. The damages are rated according to this scale:

  • K0 = Cosmetic
  • K1 = Less serious damage
  • K2 = Serious damage
  • K3 = Critical damage

This does not tell you how expensive it will be to fix the error but how critical it is to maintain the property’s integrity. For instance, often bathrooms will have lose tiles (K1s or K2s) and outside wood on the house needs painting (K2s or K3s).

The electrical survey is done in a similar way.

Energy rating and costs

Denmark is a cold country and energy costs are a big part of having a house. All houses for sale have to have an energy rating done and you can use this to get an idea of what heating the house will cost you.


The scale goes from A2020 where a 140m2 house costs 1800-3500dkk per year to heat up to G where a 140m2 house cost 26000-35000DKK per year. Compound that to 10-20 years of ownership and you can see that energy costs is a factor to consider.

Roughly speaking moving one step to the left of the scale is equal to a price increase of 800dkk per m2 according to research. If you make certain energy saving initiatives you can improve your energy rating and thereby lower your costs and improve the (potential) value of your house.

In the Sales Report you can see the current owners’ yearly cost of heating. This can vary greatly from the Energy Rating of the house as they might not heat parts of a house or have it colder or warmer than the norm.


Find background information

More and more data in Denmark is getting digitized and the public sector is making good efforts to make it accessible for free. This is to your advantage as you can find a lot of things for free and some sites make it very easy to check things.

Dingeo is a fairly new but really interesting site. If you have an address it lets you find useful information about things like:

  • Radon level – This is on kommune level, so don’t panic. For Sønderobrg area the kommune is in a risk zone of Radon, so don’t sleep in the basement if you smoke – or measure the Radon if you do.
  • Ground pollution (Jordforurening) – What polluting businesses have been on the plot or vicinity in the past. The house might sit on top of an old landfill (as is the case with Møllegade in Sønderborg).
  • Risk of flooding (Oversvømmelsesrisiko) – Climate change has meant warmer and wetter climate in Denmark and that is probably only going to get worse. Avoid buying a house built in a place that used to be a bog or a meadow.
  • Traffic noise (Trafikstøj) – At the moment this feature can only be used in bigger cities but as the data gets better this may have an impact on house prices as air and noise pollution get more focus.
  • School rating (Skoler) – Grade averages (Karakter gns), parents net income (Bruttoindkomst) and absent rate (Gns. Fravær) might be used to give you an indication of the people in the neighborhood.

Tinglysning is the public record of who is the legal owner of a property. (Enter street, house number and post code to search). You can also see which mortgages or pledges there are on the property. So you can see how much the current owner put in a mortgage at the time they bought the house. You can compare that to the “Salgsopstilling” where it often says how much they still owe on a house.

Mortgage and costs

Today there are a multitude of ways to borrow money for a house in Denmark. So here is the simplified version. Image from RD.dk

80% of a loan can be made as a mortgage (Realkreditlån). The rest of the borrowed amount you either have to pay as a down payment or get a bank loan (banklån). Depending on your relation with your bank they will require you to make a down payment of somewhere around 5% of the borrowed amount.

The two main variety of loans are Fixed Rate Loans (Fastforrentet lån) or Adjustable Rate Mortgage (Rentetilpasset lån). What to choose depends on your risk profile, life choices and finances, so you need to talk to a professional for advice. To see what you could end up paying for different loan amounts try this Loan Calculator.

The traditional mortgage model in Denmark (PDF link) is well regulated by law so you are fairly protected as long as you pay your dues. There are four mortgage institutions in Denmark: Realkredit Danmark, Nykredit, BRFKredit, Nordea. All of them are now owned by banks and the prices are pretty much the same – here’s a price guide. You can’t bargain about the interest rate but if you let your other bank business follow your mortgage you can negotiate about fees.

For the bank loan bit it is all up to the bank to decide, so here the different banks will offer you different products and prices depending on how they evaluate your finances.

You get a tax discount of about 33% of the interest you pay on a mortgage per year. So if you borrow 2 million fixed at 2,5% for 30 years your monthly payment is 9500dkk before tax and 7680 dkk after tax.

The “bidding game”

It is quite common that there is a negotiation going on about the price of a house and unless you are buying in a red-hot market it is of great financial benefit for you to know what the market price is and how much to bargain for. The longer the house has been on the market the more likely it is that you can squeeze the price.

The good thing with the publicly available data on, for instance, Boliga is that you can see how other people have bargained. In Sonderborg at the moment houses sell for 6-10% lower than the asking price. (And the asking price might have already been reduced if the house didn’t sell quick) See Actual house sales and how much they were reduced in price.

Get professional help

Remember that the real estate agent is the “seller’s guy”. He is typically paid a percentage of the sale, so his interest is in creating a quick sale for the highest possible price.

The bank “advisor” is also not there for you but to make money on you and he can be paid a commission based on what loan you chose.

So do yourself a favour and either do a lot of research into the field or spend money on professional help. You only have to get professional help to sign the deed but the money is most likely well spent.

The advisors I would suggest you consider consulting are:

– A builder/carpenter or construction technical advisor (Byggeteknisk rådgiver) can help you asses the general condition of the house and which repairs you need to plan and what they might cost. The Building Survey covers some of these areas but it does not give you a complete picture of the house. If you have a local network you can also ask around for a reputable carpenter to see if they want to consult for you.

– A lawyer to write the deed but also to guide you through the legal implications of a house sale.

– An independent financial advisor who can help with financial overview and explain the different loan types, help you choose the right loan and negotiate with the bank.

Buying a house as a non-Dane

If you are not a Danish citizen there are special rules for buying a house.

In order to buy property in Denmark you need to be residing in Denmark (be in the country for at least 180 days a year). If you as a EU citizen live and work here this is just a checkbox on a form. If you are not from EU or you do not live here permanently you need a special permit from the Ministry of Justice.

If you do not comply with the rules you can be forced to sell your property. So if in doubt talk to a lawyer.

Costs of buying a house

These are some ball park figures of what the one time costs are to buy a house in Denmark:

  • Deposit: Minimum 5%-10% of the sales price
  • Notary of loans (Tinglysning) from 8,000dkk – 37,400dkk depending on current loans in house and cost of house.
  • Standard lawyer fee for writing the deed from 4,000 – 10,000dkk
  • Owner change insurance – 10,000 – 20,000dkk (optional but advisable)

The running costs depend on the house but they include:

  • House insurance
  • Utilities (Water, electricity, power)
  • Garbage removal
  • TV license
  • Property tax
  • Property value tax (for the kommune)

An example of different types of family budgets can be found here.

Updated 11/2/2017: Link to budget changed as old link was dead.

Guest Post: Parting Thoughts


For the past few months, Ashish Patel has been occasionally driving back home from work with me and my friends. The time has now come for Ashish to return to India. Luckily for us, he had written a post about his thoughts on his first day here in 2011. That post will come up in the coming days.First we get to hear what his thoughts are now that he is leaving for India, what he thinks of Sonderborg, and why he has decided that it is time to move on. Over to Ashish:

Sønderborg, sounds like a medieval exotic kingdom with elves and fairies and sorcerers of the middle earth.

Though it is not exactly true but what is true is the fact that Sønderborg does make you feel out of the world.

There is strange sense of calmness coupled with grandeur and serenity that oozes out of the laid back lifestyle here.

There is no hurry, no hustle and definitely no traffic jams. Most of houses are centuries old and mostly old cars to match them.

If I were to describe the experience of living here in one word, that would be cozy. Right from the candle-lit drawing rooms, to the musty study, to the nicely decorated dining rooms, there is a homeliness and coziness which comes along. People are polite and have a very private way of life here. They give prime importance to family and after dark people tend to stay at home spending quality time with their loved ones.

The best part of Sønderborg is the area around the castle overlooking the king’s bridge and the massive church. I never fail to feel amazed walking over the bridge onto the line of fabulous restaurants facing the water coloured in different shades of yellow and pink.

The park behind the castle and the harbour sucks out every inch of negative energy and tiredness and fills you with a feeling somewhere between happiness and content. Watching the water from the bench on the long promenade sometimes makes me think I want nothing more from life than to sit and admire the simple sounds of water hitting the rocks.

There is so much to soak here, the rundstykkers of Fridays,the people lining up for ringriderpølser, the Sonderborg band playing in every special occasion, the huge horses and their riders with spears in the ringrider festival, the crazy drunk teenagers who ring people’s door bells on every Friday night.

We made lots of friends at office and at the LærDansk (Danish learning centres) and fitness centres.We had many parties, we joined the Sonderborg cricket club and enjoyed playing here, we did everything to stay busy. I thought I would never get enough of the charm of Sønderborg.

Many many months have passed since we first came here and now the very thing that we loved is also the reason we want to move on. We are citizens of India and growing up we were used to lots and lots of people, lots of noises, lots of friends and lots of family gatherings. When we came here the sudden change brought peace and quite and I am thankful for that. We got time to do what we couldn’t do there. But now after spending a few years here, we miss the noise, we miss the people and we miss the fun we had with our family and friends.

The one thing we learned here was to that the most important thing in life is to have the calmness of heart and the importance of spending time with your family and that is why we want to go back to spend some time with our family.

Vi Ses.

Getting acclimatised: A new city. A new country.

For the first 20 years or so of my life I pretty much lived in the same country, same town, same house. Living in such a small community as Malta has undoubtedly given me characteristics that are Maltese through and through: an urge to speak loudly, talk with my hands, have an opinion about everything (sometimes just for the sake of it, or to play the devil’s advocate). This doesn’t really go down well with people up north!

Colourful houses in Sonderborg

Sonderborg is the 6th city I have lived in for more than a month (after Zurrieq-MT, Konstanz-DE, Prague-CZ, London-GB & Pisa-IT). So I didn’t jump into the experience of moving to a new country with my eyes shut tight. I had also regularly visited Denmark over the past four years to visit Michael’s family and friends, which gave me first hand knowledge of some of the typical characteristics of living here.

Nevertheless, moving to a new country often has its challenges. You have to learn the unwritten norms and values of the place, without losing yourself completely. Sometimes you need to first accept the way things are done before you can understand it. This is not easy for a scientist used to (and being paid to) ask ‘Why? Why? Why?’!

Blue sky and trees

There are different strategies that people can implement to aid (and sometimes hinder!) their acclimatisation. These are often very evident when reading the blogs of other foreigners living in a country. You see the ones who only let themself focus on the good and positive. Others for whom the negative is even more pertinent. Then there are the ones in between.

The strategies one employs also depends on where in the adjustment process one is. Kalervo Oberg, a world renowned anthropologist defined five phases of cultural shock when moving to a foreign country:

  1. Honeymoon phase: The newcomer feels excited and thrilled by new experiences, opportunities and environment.
  2. Crisis: When cultural differences become more annoying and irritating to the newcomer.
  3. Acceptance: Once one has learned more about the culture and accepted the differences, an understanding of the country develops.
  4. Adjustment: Comes after learning to deal with the positive and negative aspects of the new country.
  5. Reverse culture shock: Applies when returning to the home country, one can be shocked of the customs of one’s own home country.

So how am I coping?

Looking back over the past few months I can now very clearly see the strategy I am employing. I am like a pressure cooker, which needs to be vented every so often but most of the time is happily whistling away. My venting often happens when I am with other foreigners (which has probably results in one guy telling me I complain too much…you know who you are :P).But really? I am happy here! I enjoy my job, have enough time after work to enjoy what I like, and the weather is not all that bad. So if you hear me complain a bit here, please do not take it personally if you are Danish. Hope we can be friends ;).

Paying it forward

We moved into our new flat recently – on the 3rd floor. I had some furniture in storage from my university days and we had just bought some secondhand sofas and bed. So not a huge load but some, especially the sofas, turned out to be fairly heavy.

My parents came down to help us move in the day we got the key. Other than that I have one friend in town from high school (gymnasium) but he was busy with work they day. We could pick up the key on the 1st of December between 11 and 12 so we planned to move in then and hoped to be have most of it done before it got dark at 16.00.

Two days before the move in a bit of a desperate try I posted on the Facebook wall of Newcomers Network that we were moving in and could use some extra hands. And lo and behold a few hours later we had offers from 3 guys who could come and help on the day of the move. Pato we had already met briefly as he organised the first Newcomers Network meetup we went to in November. But Merwyn we didn’t know.

amanda lifts a couch
Photo by Tango McEffrie (Jim Hickcox)

It ended up working out great with the help of the guys. We had moved most of the boxes and smaller items to the flat by the time Merwyn and Pato arrived so we “just” needed the big items. And they were a huge help! Without them we would not have been able to get the sofas up four and a half flights of slim stairwell that day – no way.

Once we had finished we asked them why they came and helped and Merwyn told us a story about how some complete strangers had helped him move on several occasions. This was a way for him to pay back – by paying it forward.

I’m thinking and hoping we’ll see a lot more of these guys in Sønderborg and once we are a bit more settled we’ll invite them over for dinner. But more importantly I have a debt to pay and hopefully will be able to help some other people who are new in town.

What’s it like living in Denmark as a foreigner – part 1/2

As Danes we are generally proud of our country and quite often think that Denmark is a good place to live – probably the best place in the world. Forbes and OECD have made surveys that shows that Denmark is ‘the happiest place in the world’.

However a lot of foreigners have a different opinion. Danes consider themselves happy here but when you ask non-Danes you get quite a different reply. A website called Worktrotter did a survey amongst expats (people who are here on their own device and not counting refugees) in Denmark and asked Do you perceive Danes open towards foreigners living in Denmark? The findings are quite revealing.

“46% of the participants don’t feel welcome versus 26% who do. 28% gave a neutral answer. Considering that 98% of the 703 survey participants are well-educated, this is a very worrying result especially as Denmark claims the need for well-educated work-force from abroad.”

In general the survey is an easy read and it gives a good indication of some of the issues foreigners experience when they live in Denmark. The survey identifies five challenges that expats are met with.

  • Social Interaction: Danes are friendly but not easy to get close to as they often have established social circles. It’s rather easy to get by in English but at social gatherings the language often switches to all Danish leaving foreigners out of the discussion.
  • Government and Authorities: Politically Denmark has become a lot more strict on immigration with tests, points and fees that change very often making it difficult to come to, or stay in, Denmark. It doesn’t seem to be a problem speaking English with most authorities but a lot of the information available on websites, in folders and on forms is only available in Danish.
  • Media: When foreigners are mentioned in the media they are often described as problems rather than assets. Negative stories often generalise foreigners as being a problem, whereas good stories are about individuals. We have had a change of government since the survey was done so maybe things will change eventually. However the public discourse and opinion is not going to change overnight and there seems to be a tendency of Danes making generalising negative comments about foreigners.
  • Language: It takes years to learn Danish but Danes are not very patient with people speaking a not-native Danish and quickly switch to English. Some say they get treated worse if they speak Danish with an accent than if they speak English.
  • Being treated as equals: Denmark is a country of equals. But it seems that “some are more equal than others”. Finding a job with a foreign name or without speaking Danish proves to be a huge challenge for people. Some had the same problem when trying to find housing. Racist comments in the media, work place and elsewhere occurs without being challenged.
As a Dane I can see the above issues present when I look at myself, my family and my friends. We are not always as open and accepting as we would like to think we are. If we as a country and people want to take part in the globalised world we need to embrace people and ideas from other cultures better than we do now in my opinion. This report does provide good ideas for how Denmark can improve.
If you are a Dane who wants to know what other people think of us or you are a foreigner who wants an idea of what it is like living here give the report a read.

Applying for Residency (EU)

Although I am an EU citizen and should, therefore, have freedom of movement within EU countries, this doesn’t mean that I can just swan up to any country and settle there. It was, surprisingly, that easy when I moved to the UK. In Denmark I need to jump through a few more hoops however.

Border post from the election in 1920

The first on my list of things to do was applying for a registration certificate. This certificate is the piece of paper I need to be able to stay in the country for more than 3 months (or 6 months if a job seeker).

There should be three ways of applying for this certificate:

  1. at the state administration offices in Denmark,
  2. via mail or email,
  3. or at the Danish mission abroad.

As I was not yet in Denmark I tried option 3 first. I tried to call the embassy but no one seemed to know what I was talking about. I decided to try and visit the embassy in London myself, but there I was not even allowed in to speak to anyone. My final try involved getting Michael to call himself to a new number I was given, where he was told that I should apply when I get to Denmark. So option 3 was scrapped.

In the same way, it was not clear where to send the documents by email or post. I tried to call Danish Immigration but they kept on telling me that I should call somewhere else but didn’t know the number of where I should call. Also, no one seemed to know that Malta is in the EU, so that approach also didn’t work too well. I then hunted down another number online and finally got through to someone who spoke English and knew what I needed. Unfortunately it seems that although I can send them things by email, this won’t speed up the process at all as the application will only be processed once I appear in front of them in person. Therefore, I am not too sure why they list the last 2 as options.

On to my last option: waiting till I arrived in Denmark. I managed to find a list of state administration offices in Southern Denmark on the Danish Immigration Services website by going through the Danish language part using googletranslate.

Temporary Accommodation in Sonderborg

We were offered a flat in Sonderborg through one of the housing associations. However, the place is available from the 1st of December and I start work on the 15th of November. Therefore, we have to find a place to stay in for around two weeks. This is what we found.


We found two hostels in Sonderborg. The first, Sonderborg City, is in the north-west of the city. The second, Sonderborg-Vollerup is on the city outskirts within the Vollerup neighbourhood. Both are part of the Danhostel organisation. This is a Denmark-wide chain of private and public hostels that is a member of Hostelling International, indicating that certain standards of service are met.

Let me dream


Sonderborg being an area that is quite popular with tourists, there are quite a number of B&B options. The options vary from places in the city centre, to places with views of the harbour to places with views of the forest. Luckily for us this was the off season, meaning that we could find a place at a reduced price. Here are the ones we found in Sonderborg:

Éole Airlines


We are typically more of a B&B/hostel kind of people, depending on the reason for the trip. Also, we were hoping to find a place where we had access to a kitchen, which is typically not available in hotels. Therefore, we didn’t investigate this option too deeply. However, these are the ones we found in Sonderborg city:

Time to go to bed

Of course, so far we haven’t stayed in any of these places so we cannot really provide recommendations at this point. At the moment we are leaning towards a B&B. However, we will let you know how the decision turned out once we’re in Sonderborg.

All photos in this posts are bedjumpings made by Éole Wind.

Accommodation in Sønderborg

One of the biggest issues when moving to a new place is, often, finding a place to live. This can be even trickier if you don’t read and speak the local language. Here I’ll try and give some help to navigate the online sites if Danish is an issue in terms of where to look and how the housing market works. I’ll cover private rental and non-profit housing associations as this is what we have been looking for.

This house is actually not in Sonderborg but by Gallehus on the west coast.

A couple of things to be aware of:

  • Most places are let unfurnished – except for student accommodation.
  • Flats and houses are often listed with number of rooms. So a flat listed as having 3 rooms would be equivalent to a British/American 2 bedroom flat.
  • Monthly rent might include some, all or none of the utility bills.
  • Estimated utilities bills might be listed (DK: Acconto forbrug or A/C).
  • Standard deposit is 3 months rent and when you leave it will be used towards redecorating the apartment for the next tenant.
  • Standard notice period for you is 3 months.
  • Private rentals seem to be listed as available immediately or within the next month. Housing association flats seem to be listed 2-3 months before they are available.

Private Rental

We only found two places useful for finding private rentals.

Lokalavisen Sønderborg is a free weekly newspaper that’s accesible online. Have a look here (only in Danish).
If you have the printed edition and flip through to the section called Annoncemarked close to the centre of the paper, the Bolig section is for housing (both rental and owned).

There are loads of websites with rental properties in Denmark but only BoligPortal seemed to have recent ads from Sonderborg. Go to Find Lejebolig, select the southern part of Denmark and put a check next to 6400 Sønderborg. The drawback of this site is that as a tenant it costs dkk 365,- to get access to contact information for rentals.

Non-profit Housing Associations

Common providers of rental properties in Denmark are Housing Associations (DK: Boligforeninger). These are non-profit housing organisations where the people living in an estate pay for the expenses of the building through their rent. Nobody can make a profit from the estate so the rent is set so it exactly covers the cost of running the estate. Vacant flats are rented out based on a waiting list.

In Sonderborg there are three associations; SAB, B42 and SØBO that together manage more than 5000 apartments. SAB is the biggest and this is the one we have experience with and will explain about below. The others should work in similar ways.

In many other parts of Denmark waiting lists at housing associations can be long and you go to the back if you have not been a member for a long time. That is also the case for some estates in Sonderborg, but not everywhere.

  • To get started you first sign up online
  • Then make a bank transfer of the fee of dkk 200 to become an actively searching member and put on the waiting list.
  • Go search for flats, add checks in Sønderborg and Familiebolig and maybe set up limits of size and rent. When you search you will get a list of properties within your limits and you mark all the ones you want to be put on the waiting list for.
  • The waiting game starts now and if you are in the running for an apartment you will get an offer that tells you what number you are in line as well as the details of the flat.

Further information

New in Denmark: Finding a place to live
PDF about how the Housing Associations work


Welcome to the blog Hej Sønderborg! We are Ann and Michael, two new sønderborgensere, moving there in November. Michael is Danish and I (Ann) am from Malta and this will be my first experience of living in Denmark – wish me luck!

Before moving to Sønderborg we lived in London. Being the huge cosmopolitan city that it is we could pretty much find all the information about what is going on at our fingertips. We had a number of favourite ‘things to do’ and community blogs that we particularly enjoyed such as IanVisits, Tired of London Tired of Life and West Hampstead Life. However, we could not find anything similar in English for Sønderborg. We have both had our own blogs before, so we decided to join efforts and start our own!

What can you expect here?

We will mainly use this blog to write about place to see, food to eat and events going on in Sonderborg and the area. Being newcomers to the area we will also write about our thoughts, impressions and practicalities of moving to Sønderborg/Denmark that we hope other people will find useful.

At that we will end this first post. Do let us know if you are out there lurking about and have any ideas or comments. The comments section is open so feel free to throw them at us!