What’s the cost of living in Copenhagen? A complete guide to prices in Copenhagen (and how to save money)

If you spend any period of time in Copenhagen, you’ll quickly notice that it’s a beautiful city. However, you (and your wallet) will also soon realize that the Danish capital is quite an expensive place by global standards. Even for locals, the cost of living in Copenhagen is quite high — but most people can still enjoy a high quality of life.

Many expats that come to Denmark’s largest city cite the cost of living as one of their main complaints when they first move here. You probably won’t notice much of a difference if you come to Copenhagen from another Nordic country, or somewhere like London.

But if you’re from Southern Europe (and much of Western Europe, for that matter), you almost certainly will.

But what is the actual cost of living in Copenhagen, and how much money will I need? Is everything as expensive as people make things out to be? We’ll cover each of these topics before providing you plenty of tips on how you can live a fulfilling life when you move here.

What’s the average rent in Copenhagen?

When you move to Copenhagen, your accommodation will take up the largest chunk of your expenses. Although plenty of apartments have opened in recent years and more are on the way, the Danish capital’s housing market is notoriously difficult to navigate for Danes — let alone for foreigners.

High levels of demand coupled with not as much supply mean that the average price of rentals in Copenhagen is quite high compared to many major cities in Europe.

According to Numbeo, you can expect to pay just under 11,300 Danish Kroner per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center — which is roughly $1,670 or £1,277.

Outside of Central Copenhagen, the average costs for accommodation drop; a one-bedroom apartment will cost you around 8,832 DKK (£998.95 / $1,305.75).

When you rent an apartment in Copenhagen, you’ll need to look at several factors beyond the price to ensure you get a good deal. For example, some don’t let you register your CPR number there — and you need this to get a NemID, which will allow you to open a bank account and receive your salary.

Some apartments will include your monthly cost of utilities in your rent, but this is by no means universal. Moreover, you’ll notice that many are unfurnished — meaning that you have to buy your own beds, sofas, and so on.

In addition to the monthly rent, you’ll usually need to pay a deposit before you can move somewhere in Copenhagen. On top of that, you can expect to pay the equivalent of around three months’ rent for the move-in fee.

Buying an apartment in Copenhagen

Once you’ve lived in Copenhagen for a while, you might decide that you’d like to stay here for the long run. If you do, you’ll probably think about purchasing an apartment or a house at some point.

Regardless of where you choose to live, buying an apartment in Copenhagen is quite expensive. According to the Numbeo page we cited earlier, you can expect to pay 53,499.17 DKK per square meter for a place to live in the city center — and 39,968.87 DKK per square meter for something further out.

Apartment prices in Copenhagen tend to begin at around 2 million DKK and can rise well above 5 million DKK in wealthier neighborhoods like Frederiksberg and Østerbro.

How much does public transport cost in Copenhagen?

In our guide to Copenhagen’s prices for tourists, we covered short-term public transportation costs in the city. You can check that article out if you want to learn more about that; in this particular piece, we’ll look at the long-term public transport costs in and around the Danish capital.

In many parts of Copenhagen, you probably won’t need to use public transport; purchasing a bike is much more cost-effective in the long run. Nonetheless, you can buy a commuter pass for long and short-distance journeys in the Capital Region.

The good news is that public transport tickets in Copenhagen are often more affordable than in many other European cities.

You’ll most likely need to buy a two-zone monthly pass, which costs 440 DKK (c.$65 / c.£50) for 30 days. If you need a three-zone pass, the price increases slightly to 540 DKK (c.£61 / c.$80).

Depending on where you live, you can also purchase a long-distance commuter pass if needs be.

However, you’ll typically only require one if you choose to live somewhere else on Sjælland (this might be more cost-effective if you shop wisely in the housing market, but you’ll need to factor in whether you want a longer commuting time).

In some instances, your employer might subsidize your public transportation costs. However, you’ll need to ask them.

Beer prices in Copenhagen

Building a social network in Copenhagen can take time, but you can almost certainly guarantee that beer is involved once you find a group of friends. The Danish capital has a vibrant nightlife scene, and many hipsters have become innovators to bring their own unique flavors to the standard pub options.

You’ll find both domestic beer and international imports, making it a great city to enjoy some booze.

Beer prices in Copenhagen are higher than in much of Europe, but you’ll pay less compared to most other parts of the Nordic region. We’ve outlined the cost of beer in the Danish capital in this article, but prices vary depending on the venue you choose.

If you want to save money on beer, your best bet is to visit one of the supermarkets. Netto has a good selection of alcoholic beverages; Tuborg and Carlsberg are generally quite cheap if you buy cans of them in bulk.

When out on the town, expect to pay the following for different beers:

  • Beer in a beer: 45-65 DKK ($6.55 / £5.08 – $9.60 / £7.34)
  • Craft beer: 60-70 DKK ($8.86 / £6.78 – $10.34 / £7.91)

What’s the overall cost of food in Copenhagen grocery stores?

When you move to Copenhagen, food will take up another significant amount of your monthly expenses. Even if you’re a single person, you’ll almost always pay quite a lot for food prices.

One particular annoyance for locals and foreigners alike is that the notorious 25% VAT also gets slapped on food items, which only bumps up the price even more.

Like most European countries, grocery store prices vary. You can find higher-end supermarkets and more budget-friendly versions; we’ll cover both of these later in the article.

Vegetables

Generally speaking, fresh vegetables in Denmark are quite expensive. Danish produce tends to be of good quality, but some of the items imported from abroad aren’t particularly great in the budget supermarkets.

If you buy in bulk, carrots are arguably your cheapest option (and you’ll quickly become an expert in finding an untold number of ways to cook them). You can expect to pay 7-11 DKK for a kilogram, which is roughly 79p to £1.24 if you’re from Britain, and $1.03 to $1.62 for American readers.

Denmark’s climate is perfect for growing potatoes, and you’ll find plenty of variety when purchasing these. Again, you’re better off buying in bulk; you can often get excellent deals in most supermarkets.

For 1kg of potatoes, you’ll pay around 10 DKK ($1.48 / £1.13). Depending on how many mouths you need to feed, you might find it more cost-effective to purchase 2kg instead.

Animal produce

Meat tends to be quite pricey, so it’s worth preparing yourself in advance. For a pack of two chicken breast filets, you’ll pay around 32 DKK (you can find cheaper options, but the quality is not as good). Fish is also expensive; a pack of two salmon filets will typically set you back 39-49 DKK.

Eggs in Copenhagen supermarkets also tend to be quite expensive — and arguably disproportionately so when compared to other countries. For a pack of 15 caged eggs, expect to spend 23.50 DKK ($3.47 / £2.65). Organic eggs (marked as Økologisk) often cost more per egg.

Many people consume milk and cheese as part of their diet, and Copenhagen supermarkets have a large variety in both instances. For one liter of milk, you’ll typically pay just under 11 DKK ($1.62 / £1.24).

Imported cheese is quite expensive in Danish supermarkets, and you’ll often pay 19 DKK ($2.80 / £2.15) and upwards for a small packet. Cheese from Denmark is pretty good, and prices for small packages typically begin at around 14 DKK ($2.07 / £1.58).

Bread

When you move to Copenhagen, you’ll quickly realize that bread — especially rye bread — is a cornerstone of the local culture. As you might expect, supermarkets in the Danish capital stock up all kinds of the good stuff on their shelves.

Rye bread is pretty affordable, starting at around 5 DKK ($0.74 / £0.56) for a pack of 10 slices. The quality typically increases with the price, though, so we recommend spending a little more if you plan to eat it regularly.

As for white bread, you can expect to pay just under 21 DKK ($3.10 / £2.37) for a loaf.

Will my salary offset the high cost of living in Copenhagen?

Having read this far, you’ll have enough information to determine just how much money you’ll need to support your life in Copenhagen.

If you’ve already been offered a job in the Danish capital, you shouldn’t have too many problems supporting yourself financially; salaries in Copenhagen tend to be higher than in most other European cities.

According to Statistics Denmark, the average pre-tax income for employed and self-employed people in Copenhagen was just under 370,000 DKK per year in 2020, which equates to over $54,000 per year and around the £40,000 mark.

While Copenhagen salaries are high, it’s not a good idea to spend your money willy nilly. Remember that tax rates are also significant, and in Copenhagen, you’ll typically pay between 37% and 53%, depending on how much you earn. 

Is there a minimum wage in Copenhagen?

Many countries in the world, including the UK and the United States, have a mandatory minimum wage that companies must pay employees. But considering that Denmark has some of the world’s best living conditions, you might find it surprising to learn that no official minimum wage exists.

Don’t worry, though; even basic jobs in the Danish capital tend to pay a better salary than you’ll earn for the same role in most parts of the world. So, while you might not have money to splurge, you should have enough to afford the basic necessities and live somewhat comfortably.

How much do utilities cost in Copenhagen?

In addition to the cost of housing, you’ll usually need to pay a selection of utility bills when you move to Copenhagen. To help you figure out how much you should budget, we’ve broken down some of the most important areas below.

Phone bills

For such an expensive city, mobile subscription plans in Copenhagen are surprisingly affordable. Moreover, you typically get a lot for the price. With Lebara, for example, you can get 100GB and 100 calling hours for just 99 DKK per month.

Some of the major mobile network providers in Denmark include Telenor and Telia. Telenor’s plans start at 159 DKK per month for 30GB, with cheaper options for younger individuals. Meanwhile, Telia subscriptions start from 79 DKK per month (3GB / 3 hours of calls).

When you purchase a mobile subscription in Denmark, you’ll get a certain roaming allowance for when you travel in the EU. These vary, so you’ll need to check with your network provider before signing the contract.

General housing utilities

In most instances, you’ll need to pay utilities on top of your monthly rent. When the days are shorter and colder in the winter, you’ll typically need to pay more for heating and electricity than in the summer.

According to the Numbeo page we linked earlier in this article, the average cost for utilities like electricity, water, garbage, and so on is 1,234.81 DKK per month for an 85 square meter apartment.

Wi-Fi subscriptions in Copenhagen vary in price, but you can expect to pay a little over 250 DKK per month on average.

How much does a bike cost in Copenhagen?

Copenhagen regularly tussles with Amsterdam for the top spot in global bike-friendliness indexes. Many Copenhageners get around on two wheels almost everywhere — regardless of whether that’s to go to work or school or for a night on the town.

And while the winters are brutal, you’ll still see the bicycle lanes full during the colder and darker months.

If you want to offset the cost of living in Copenhagen, purchasing a bike is one of the best ways to do so. Cycling in the city is also safe and efficient, with the majority of streets having pretty large bike lanes — and cyclists always getting priority over drivers.

How much does it cost to purchase a bike, then? What are your other options? Let’s find out.

Buying a bike

In Copenhagen, you’ll find bicycle stores on most street corners in the city center and its main neighborhoods. Bike stores are largely trustworthy, and the majority offer similar models in terms of the bikes you can purchase.

If you want to buy a bike that will last for an extended period, you should strongly consider not spending anything less than 5,000 DKK if you’re getting a new one. You can find numerous bikes for less, but you will often sacrifice quality — and you might need to pay more in regular repair fees.

Many bicycle stores will give you discounts if you need to have anything repaired, and you’ll often have a free check-up within a few months of purchasing your new two-wheeled wonder. You can do maintenance, such as oiling chains, yourself — but you can also pay to have someone do the hard work for you every 3-6 months.

Bicycle rentals

When you move to Copenhagen, we recommend that you search around a little before committing to a bicycle purchase. In the meantime, plenty of bike rental companies operate throughout Copenhagen — and their prices are pretty affordable.

Donkey Republic is one of the most popular bike rental options, and you’ll find its bright yellow bikes throughout the city. To use one, all you need to do is download the app and unlock the bicycle from your smartphone.

You can purchase a monthly membership that gives you 12-hour access to any bike for around 200 DKK per month.

When you buy a Donkey Republic membership, you can also use any of the company’s rental bikes in other cities. These include Aarhus, Malmö, and Rotterdam.

Swapfiets is a Dutch company that has enjoyed success in Copenhagen. Memberships begin at 169 DKK per month; you can go to one of their two stores, one which is by Nørreport Station and the other in Frederiksberg.

How much do gyms cost in Copenhagen?

As you wander around The Lakes on a sunny day or walk around one of the city’s many green spaces, you’ll quickly notice that Copenhageners are an active bunch. The Danish capital has plenty of gyms if you’d rather pump some iron, and memberships are pretty affordable.

Fitness World and SATS are the two primary gym chains in the city. Fitness World has a membership that costs 269 DKK per month and gives you access to all of its centers in Denmark.

SATS operates on Sjælland, with a large chain of fitness centers in Sweden and Norway too. You can choose from several memberships, with prices starting at 229 DKK per month for a single gym. If you want to do classes or train across the Nordics, you’ll need to choose an alternative membership tier.

Other gyms in Copenhagen include:

How to enjoy a lower cost of living in Copenhagen (without reducing your quality of life)

At this stage, you’ve realized that Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the entire world. And while the cost of living will remain high regardless of what you do, you can reduce your monthly spending by a sizable margin if you’re wise.

We’re going to give you some practical tips to save money now, but we’ll aim to do so in a way that does not deplete your overall quality of life. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Adapt your lifestyle

If you’re from a country like the US, where eating out 2-3 times per day is commonplace, you’ll need to adapt your lifestyle when you move to Copenhagen. Restaurant prices are pretty high, and you’ll quickly run out of money if you choose to continue your old habits.

Instead of eating out, cooking from home will save you a lot of money in the long run. Consider purchasing a recipe book with healthy but delicious dishes, and who knows? You might not even miss going to the local restaurant every evening.

Become a smart grocery shopper

Although food prices in Copenhagen are high, you can save money in a huge range of ways. If you’re buying perishables like meat and bread, go at the end of the day when stuff that’s going out of date gets put on offer. You can then freeze or cook it and consume at a later date.

Each week, many supermarkets in Copenhagen have special deals that can knock quite a lot off your monthly food bill.

You’ll see these “tilbudsaviser” delivered to your postbox; they can get quite annoying, but you might find a few hidden gems if you sift through them before throwing them into the recycling bin.

Choosing your supermarket is another way to save money. Irma and MENY are two of the more expensive outlets, so you should try to avoid shopping at these if you want to save money.

Netto is one of the cheaper alternatives, and it’s good for buying basics like rice, pasta, and oats. You’ll also frequently find good deals on dairy products, though you might want to go elsewhere for meat.

Lidl is perhaps the best medium between price and quality. Most fresh goods in Lidl are of excellent quality, and you’ll find a much larger variety of international foods compared to some of Copenhagen’s other supermarkets.

Other stores that are good quality at a reasonable price include:

  • Føtex (but make sure you go to the larger ones);
  • REMA 1000.

Nørrebro has several local markets offering fresh meat and other products at a much lower price than you’ll find elsewhere.

One more Copenhagen grocery shopping hack: buy frozen green vegetables. You’ll get the same level of freshness at a lower price, along with larger portions.

Look for neighborhoods that are close to the city center but not right in the city

When looking for a place to live in Copenhagen, many expats look at Vesterbro, Nørrebro, Østerbro, and Frederiksberg. However, the city is pretty compact, and you can find well-priced accommodation in some of the other nearby districts.

Although pockets of some neighborhoods are undesirable, Copenhagen doesn’t really have any dangerous districts. So, you’ve got a little more flexibility than you might in other major cities.

Neighborhoods where prices are still affordable, but you’re not too far from the city center, include:

  • Kongens Lyngby;
  • Sydhavnen (this might change once the metro is completed in 2024);
  • Vanløse;
  • Valby.

Ørestad is a modern district on Amager where you’ll always find apartments available, and it’s easy to get to Copenhagen if you take regional trains or the metro. However, it’s somewhat far away if you’re thinking about cycling.

Ask your friends about rentals

When you come to Copenhagen, you must build a network as soon as possible. Many of the hidden gems on the housing market are never published because someone else has already taken them, and the majority of listings are expensive.

As soon as you begin your job, make an effort to talk to your colleagues. Over time, one of them might know someone leasing a place to live for much lower than what you’d get on housing portals.

The best things in Copenhagen are free

While consumer prices in Copenhagen are high, the Danish capital has plenty of fun things to do for free — and the locals take full advantage. It costs nothing to wander around and explore this beautiful city, and the city has several clean harbor spaces where you can enjoy a swim (yes, that includes during the winter).

Other free activities include:

(Long-term) join a housing waiting list

If you have any inkling that you’re going to spend a long time in Copenhagen, you should join a waiting list for public housing. It’ll take years — if not decades — before you’re offered something, but you’ll get something much cheaper than would otherwise have been the case.

KAAB is one of the main waiting lists that Copenhageners join. If you have kids, it’s worth signing their names up as soon as possible too.

The cost of living in Copenhagen is high, but it’s still a great place to live

So, there you have it — that’s our complete guide to the cost of living in Copenhagen! As you can tell, prices in Copenhagen are nothing to sniff at — and you’ll typically pay a premium to live here no matter how well you do at reducing your costs.

Denmark is one of Europe’s most expensive countries, though, so this is hardly surprising (plus, it’s still a cheaper option than Norway!).

Fortunately, salaries in Copenhagen are typically quite high. And even after handing much of your earnings over to the state, you should still have enough to live a comfortable life.

While the Danish capital is expensive, you can still offset how much you pay in several ways. Moving to a smaller town on the outskirts can reduce housing costs significantly, and if you’ve got a job that allows you to work remotely, this might be an option.

You also don’t need to pay for many health care services, and your monthly ticket for public transportation is pretty affordable.

When you move to Copenhagen, you’ll have plenty of free time; the Danes work some of the fewest hours in Europe on average. Close to the capital, you’ll find roaming forests, adorable towns, Viking history, and much more.

Why not pick your own adventure and read our article on the best day trips from Copenhagen?

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