The ultimate guide to studying abroad in Copenhagen

It’s been a while since the last time I have updated my blog. Usually, I post about my travel journeys and adventures but chances are I will not be travelling any more at the same frequency as I did in the past. The truth is, I have recently moved to Copenhagen to pursue my Masters degree at Copenhagen Business School. At the same time, I decided to take an internship in a startup while finding my way around the city.  Juggling between my internship and the university has been quite challenging and therefore I had little to no time to write about my life in Copenhagen.

Why did I decide to move to Copenhagen?

That’s the most frequently asked question that I get from family, friends and new people that I meet. Firstly, I have always liked living abroad and have always felt that my time abroad has never been sufficient. There’s something fascinating about living abroad and experiencing a completely different culture. Cyprus is beautiful, don’t get me wrong – but knowing there’s an entire world out there, makes me even more curious to experience what other countries have to offer.

After graduating with a Bachelors in Business Administration and Marketing, I knew that I wanted to continue down the path of education with something that is closer to what  I want to do with my career. My degree was quite good, but I was seeking something more technical, something more challenging. So how would I combine my love for tech with business? I really didn’t just want another degree to put in my resume, rather than something that will be valuable to me too.

I also had to take into consideration the financial aspect of studying abroad. Tuition fees of over €10,000 were out of my budget and something I could not afford. Also, getting a loan was not a decision I would not be comfortable with. Then, I had to consider the language of the degree. Engish is the only language after my mother tongue that I can understand and speak fluently. So what are some countries that offer English speaking Master programs for free? If you are in Europe, you might already know that there are many countries that provide free education for EU citizens including Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria and Greece.

So, is education in Denmark free?

If you are a citizen from the EU/EEA and Switzerland, then yes it is 100% free to study in Denmark, including registration, and tuition. To this day, I haven’t paid a euro for anything related to the university. The only expenses you might have are books, but this semester I borrowed only one book from the library and it was perfectly fine.

Also, not only it’s free, but the Danish government gives a monthly grant to the students who work approximately 12-15 hours per week. It’s called SU grant and it’s approximately 800€ before tax. If you combine SU grant with a student job, you get approximately €1300 each month after tax. In fact, If you are interested to apply, Tuni wrote a really good guide for an SU application.  I have heard from some people who study in Copenhagen that the budget is beyond fine and allows them to save up too.

What is also cool, once you get a CPR number ( Central Person Register) you can also have access to the free healthcare system of Copenhagen. You are assigned to your own General practitioner who is close to your municipality.

Universities in Copenhagen

Most universities in Copenhagen offer Bachelors and Masters degrees in English. You can have a look at their web pages and scroll through their variety of programs.

For more information regarding the variety of programs check out Study in Denmark portal, it can guide you in the right direction to find and select a program.

Also, note that you need to prove your English proficiency either by an IELTS test or TOEFL. There are some exceptions too, but you need to check each program’s requirements individually.

How much does it cost me to live in Copenhagen?

Depending on your spending habits, it costs approximately 1000-1500 euros per month to live in Copenhagen. That includes housing, shopping and going out.

About my own budget, I had to buy some things like winter coats, jackets and boots which added up. Also, l don’t spend much money going out, so If you like partying expect to have a bigger budget. A beer could cost about 50DKK in a bar (about 6.50 euros) and a cocktail about 80DKK (11 euros). Restaurants are quite expensive too, an average meal in a restaurant costs 200DKK (26euros). If you like cinema, expect to pay from 100-120DKK per ticket ( 13,50 – 16 euros). However, my expenses are expected to be reduced soon since I’m soon moving to a dormitory.

  October November December
Housing/Rent535eu (4000DKK) 535eu535eu
Groceries273eu264eu318eu
Shopping171eu280eu99eu
Restaurants74eu29eu42eu
Cash67eu--
Transport54eu54eu54eu
Total1174eu1162eu1048eu

Finding accommodation in Copenhagen

If you have friends or relatives living in Copenhagen, you might as well know about one of the greatest horror stories once moving in – finding accommodation! I can go on and on about the difficulty of finding a room as I have been there. Luckily (or not) I’m moving to dorms in a few weeks and hopefully, I will no longer be looking for a place to live.

See, there is a high demand for accommodation in this city and not many places. They say it’s more difficult getting a room here than a job – which is true probably. The landlords can choose out of a big pool of people, so expect to pass through rejection, monitoring, interviews and whatever comes with it. Once someone is posting one room, immediately 5-20 people are interested so you understand the competition and struggle in finding a room. The first semester I was quite lucky to find a room when someone went on an exchange. But it was only temporary.

Ways to find accommodation as a student in Copenhagen

KKIK (Residential halls and dorms): It’s the portal to apply for your own dormitory and has a big selection of any type of dorms, from entire apartments to rooms. The price range from 2500-6000DKK depending on the building, area and size of the room. However, the queue list is usually long. It took me 3 months to finally get an offer for a dorm which is in the suburbs of Copenhagen. (Tip: Apply as soon as possible, even before securing a place at the university)

Facebook Groups: That’s the most common way to find a room in Copenhagen. It’s still quite competitive since that’s where people seek a room. I have gathered for you the list of facebook groups I joined to find my first room.

Subscription Websites: 

Danish portals to find accommodation:

Boligsurf

Boligportal 

Findboliger

Portal to find a roommate: FindRoommate (worked for a friend)

Want more? Here’s a list with even more useful links to find the accommodation you are looking for. Including all useful facebook groups, relevant danish websites and more!

Budgeting Tips

Even If it’s so expensive to live in Copenhagen, there are many ways to save money and cut down on expenses. Here are my top money-saving tips:

Save money by following these tips!
Getting a bike
Bike Copenhagen
It has been many years since the last time I rode a bike, but in Copenhagen, everyone seems to embrace the cycling culture of the city. In fact, you might notice there are much more bicycles than cars and pedestrians in the streets. Instead of buying a brand new bicycle, I’d recommend the local craigslist, DBA.dk or second-hand bicycles groups on facebook.
Free Your Stuff
Free Your Stuff Copenhagen
If you are looking for any stuff for free, there is a group in Copenhagen that stuff people getting rid off for free. Expect to find furniture, gadgets, household appliances and much more. It’s quite an active group with many
Foodsharing Copenhagen
Food Sharing CopenhagenWho’d knew that food in Copenhagen can be found for free? There is an organization in Copenhagen called Foodsharing Copenhagen that cooperates with businesses in the city by collecting their surplus from being thrown away. There are events that are held every week and you can find a huge selection of fruits, vegetables and other products.
TooGoodToGo
TooGoodToGoEver wondered what happens to food that doesn’t get sold throughout the day in restaurants? The truth usually they throw it away and so the app TooGoodToGo found the solution by selling the leftovers at dirt cheap prices!
Get a haircut at Hairdressers School
Friskorskole LogoCutting your hair in Copenhagen goes a long way, it costs approximately 400-600DKK for a female haircut and 200-300DKK for a male one. There are mixed reviews about Hairdressers School since it’s basically hit or miss, but at least it costs under 100DKK.
"Pay what you feel" at One Bowl
Friskorskole LogoIf you like vegan food perhaps this social restaurant is the one for you. One Bowl" is a community based, non-profit organization that aims to treat everyone equally, giving everyone the chance to have a bowl of food, regardless their ability to pay.
Find all supermarket offers in one place
EtilbutsavisIf you are on a shoestring budget (like any other student) perhaps browsing the offers by each supermarket is a good method to save on money. At least It has worked pretty well for me for the last few years. On Etilbudsavis, you can find all offers of danish supermarkets in one page!
The ride-sharing app
drivenowIf you are looking to travel between cities (or nearby countries) perhaps you should look into GoMore, the danish ride-sharing app version of blablacar. Traveling between cities in Denmark is actually expensive! Sometimes even more expensive than catching a flight- no joke. However, with this app, you can save a LOT of money If you decide to share a ride with someone who is anyway heading to the city.
The car-sharing platform
EtilbutsavisFor the odd occassions when you are in a real need of a car, you should check out Drive Now. It can be as cheap as 2,50DKK/min, can be found almost in every neighborhood in Copenhagen and really convenient. Buying furniture from Ikea or moving places? Drive Now can save the day! (and your money too)
Last minute discounted restaurants
EtilbutsavisThe concept of this website is to book a last moment table at a discounted rate. So If you are looking to dine out but want to save money at the same time, you should definitely check this out! The selection is quite broad and there is restaurant of any type.

Setting up a bank account

When setting up a bank account in Denmark, it could be quite complicated. Firstly, you need a CPR number (kinda like the social security number for people living in Denmark – you need it!) and then of course to justify that you are a student in Denmark and that is the reason you create the bank account.

However, it could take from 2-4 week to set up an account which makes everything quite complicating. Also, there is almost always a fee when creating a bank account even If you are a student. (paid on yearly or monthly basis depending on bank). Now let me tell you one thing about Denmark, in one year I have been here I have probably used cash only once!! No one ever uses cash in Denmark.

I have realized that my Revolut prepaid card which is connected to my main card I have in my homecountry, has been the ultimate solution. The only reason I made a banka ccount in Denmark is because I got a job and I needed to be taxed properly so I really had to create a bank account. But for the first six months? Wasn’t needed. And why Revolut? There are no exchange currency fees ( I paid seamlessly at the live exchange rates in the market), I could also pay for my rent directly with no fuss or extra charge, was super easy and convenient! Plus everyone accepts credit cards in Denmark (you can withdraw up to 250 euros per month for free with REvolut – I never exceeded it).

In conclusion,

So far Copenhagen has been a roller-coaster ride. There were many difficulties, especially when finding my way around and adjusting to the cold weather and paying for 10 euro drinks. Copenhagen is beautiful and the opportunities here are endless especially If you want to move here for career/educational purposes. It is also one of the most expat-friendly cities I have ever been to and has a beautiful blend of different cultures. Did I mention that everyone speaks English too?

I’m not sure If I’m going to be blogging much about travelling this year as my schedule is really tight and the few days I get to have off, I’d rather travel to Cyprus. However, I’ll keep you more posted about Copenhagen and perhaps the surrounding areas. And by the opportunity of this post, I wish you all have a happy new year!

2 Comments

  1. Great blog post. I’m planning to come down to Denmark early this year as a Guest PhD student at Technical University of Denmark, DTU.

    This information will serve as a guide.

    • I am glad it was useful Inka! 🙂 Pretty sure you will quickly find your way around Copenhagen and enjoy the city as much as possible!

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