house hunting

Rents in Denmark are about the cost of a monthly mortgage. The deposit required to rent a place is very close to the cost of a down payment and chances are slim to none that I'd get any of it back. As a renter, I'd have to pay to have the place repainted when I move out, and I've learned that Danish landlords are notorious for finding ways to hold on to whatever might left of the deposit after that.

Since I almost own my current house outright, I wasn't thrilled about going back to renting anyway, so I've decided to avoid the rental nightmare, and buy a house or a flat.

House hunting in Denmark is nothing like house hunting in the US. When I bought my last house, we signed with an agent, we discussed our criteria, then she drove us around to see places that might be a good match. When none of those were a good match, she called us with other places as they came on the market, and eventually, we found our dream house.

In Denmark, agents can only show houses listed by their company, and I need to call the listing agent for each house I'd like to see. Then I need to find it on a map, and walk, beg a ride, or take a bus to see it.

Since they don't have buyer agents here, I need to check various websites everyday to see if anything new has been listed. This is a goodtime! Not really. All of the websites are in Danish so when I find something that looks decent, I have to copy/paste the description to Google translator then try to figure out what it's trying to say. The other day I had a translation that said something about skunks. I don't think they were really talking about skunks, but who knows?

I spent most of last Saturday trekking around town looking at places that looked promising online, but fell short of expectations.

The first house I looked at was built in 1930 and had every ounce of charm one could hope for. Unfortunately, the ground around it had started to sink and the house was visibly leaning to one side.

It's really a shame because I adored the kitchen, and it had a greenhouse, a deep soaking tub, and a beautiful upstairs terrace off the master bedroom.

The next house was atop the steepest hill in Denmark. The hill is so steep that the sidewalk was made of concrete steps, and it's illegal to ride a bike down it.

This house was built in 1920. It was in a lovely area and had a fabulous yard and stunning views of the harbor. The downstairs was beautifully renovated, but the upstairs was in disrepair to the point that the bathroom wasn't in working order. It would've been nice if the agent told me that up front, but such is house hunting in Denmark.

I also looked at a flat in a coveted location near the "walking street" that is car-free and lined with restaurants, shops, and cafes.

I loved the woodwork and the large windows, but the agent embellished the size of the place, and I just will not be happy in 89 square meters of space. Especially when the shower is off the bedroom and the other half of the bathroom is in the hallway. *sigh*.

It's a bit unsettling to not be able to read inspection reports, etc. But I have a few good friends who speak decent enough Danish that I can get the gist of things. Still, it's a leap of faith to be house hunting alone and making important financial decisions based on things I can't read for myself.

I'm seeing another place tonight...

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