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Copenhagen is ahead of the game when it comes to sustainable energy, which makes it a prime target for property investors.

The Resource Rows: probably the best upcycling housing project in the world. This project of 92 homes on the outskirts of Copenhagen is built largely from recycled construction materials. And a large number of the reused bricks come from the old Carlsberg Brewery, famous for brewing what is advertised as “Probably the Best Beer in the World”.

 Carlsberg isn’t the only source of old building materials. Resource Rows uses walls from abandoned rural dwellings, recycled waste concrete and surplus wood left over from the expansion of the city’s Metro. The rest of the bricks originate from various old schools, industrial buildings and derelict houses.

 Not many cities recycle whole buildings. Then again, Copenhagen isn’t your average city. For a start, it’s one of the world’s greenest cities, which is aiming to become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. Here, bicycles rule supreme. Already 50% of commuters cycle to work along the 390km of cycle lanes traversing one of the world’s smallest metropolitan city – and the city wants to make that proportion 75%. Bikes are everywhere. And so are canals, filled with water pure enough for swimming. For those keen to stretch their legs, this compact city is extremely walkable. 

 Somehow, Copenhagen manages to combine being ultra-green with being ultra-quirky. Take Amager Bakke, the city’s new artificial ski slope, built on the roof of a huge incinerator burning waste to produce heat and electricity. The recreational roof park also includes the world’s highest climbing wall. At 80m high, the roof park is a new landmark in a city otherwise devoid of hills.

Or, just look at the city’s Freetown Christiania commune set up in the 1970s as a “social experiment,” and still thriving as an alternative community today. Like Copenhagen as a whole, it’s multicultural, diverse and a liberal paradise for many.

Hygge, hip and happy

Maybe it’s the canals, the old houses with colourful facades, the creative arts scene, the widely acclaimed restaurants or just a mixture of all the above but this small city of just 623,404 citizens also has heaps of hygge. This Danish word roughly translates as “cosiness” and encapsulates the city’s warm, relaxed atmosphere and the general feeling of well-being.

Hygge probably helps Copenhagen rate as one of the happiest cities in the world. In 2020, it came fifth in the UN’s World Happiness Report. And it repeatedly ranks high on liveability indexes, with ECA International giving it the top spot as the most liveable city in the world for European expats in 2020.

A healthy work-life balance undoubtedly keeps its citizens happy. For example, employees benefit from comprehensive maternity and paternity packages and those working in the private sector have an average working week of just 37.5 hours. Moreover, residents enjoy a high level of freedom and safety with strong trust in democracy and state institutions. In other words, Copenhagen cares.

Copenhagen looks after its residents, businesses and visitors.

Rikke Lykke, Head of Asset Management, PATRIZIA

But Copenhagen doesn’t just offer high quality of life. It also possesses a strong, dynamic economy. Last year, when global stock markets plummeted, Denmark’s stock market put on a stellar performance. And unemployment is low at 5.9%.

Quality comes at a price

Given all of its attributes, it’s no surprise that Copenhagen is expensive – as reflected in the weak purchasing power per household indicator of 125 in the PATRIZIA European Living Cities Index. The average household income is €23,988.

Its real estate market is also undoubtedly attractive. Copenhagen’s charms have drawn in more newcomers than the city can house, triggering a housing shortage - demand currently far outstrips supply, and a hike in prices. The municipality is trying to stabilise demand and prices by creating some 270,000 new dwellings, interspersed between the city centre and suburbs.

In the meantime, Copenhagen offers a robust property market for investors, says Lykke. “It’s a powerful city with a young demography, good connectivity and a highly liquid market. Prices were remarkably strong in 2020, ending the year at levels slightly above those of pre-corona.”

So, where should you buy? Indre By, or downtown Copenhagen, lies at the historical and geographical heart of the city. With its coloured houses and lively atmosphere, it’s expensive but a guaranteed prime property location. So is Christianshavn, an area of small islands crisscrossed with canals and a hip café culture, giving it the feel of a mini Amsterdam. Otherwise, Le Nyhavn (new port in Danish) is one of the most picturesque areas of the Danish capital.

Or how about Nørrebro, where you can find independent shops, flea markets and a cool, cultural and ethnic mishmash? For those fans of The Killing, a hit Scandinavian noir crime drama series, most of the hit TV crime series was filmed here.

Then there’s the ongoing urban development of trendy Sydhavnen (South Harbour), which includes the Sluseholmen Canal District development with 1,150 apartments located on artificial islands and separated by dug-out canals. Elsewhere, a number of former factories and industrial buildings have been converted into lofts and luxury apartments.

Green light for investment

Wherever you look, Copenhagen seems a winner for property investment. Not only is it one of the happiest places on Earth, it’s also one of the most sustainable. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources and Copenhagen and Denmark are leaders here – after all, they’ve been making wind power a priority for decades. The Danish capital has its eyes firmly fixed on a green future. And savvy property investors should have their eyes firmly fixed on Copenhagen.  


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