Goodbye CPH, Hello Valby

So moving house has been an interesting experience this week. I’ve long been against the idea of paying for bricks and mortar and once wrote a column on the subject that received a lot of positive and negative critique.

My main concern has always been the idea of being tied down to one place and not having the option to move or change whenever the opportunity arises. Having bobbed from country to country these last few years, paying a mortgage has been the last thing on my mind. But now here I am in Denmark, ready to (finally) settle down and working hard to make my photography business a success.

Up until last week, my residence had been just a stone’s throw away from the city centre, on Islands Brygge. Can you imagine how useful that’s been for a photographer without a car? Trust me, all that equipment weighs a lot more than can be good for you.

So I was a little vexed when our landlord told us we had eight weeks to find somewhere else to live, especially as I was all the more aware of how expensive it was to rent so close to the city. (For the record, we were paying just 7500kr all in every month). Our options were simple: Buy a shoebox andelslejlighed for 500,000kr and stay close to the action, or leave civilisation behind and move out to Valby (the new New York City, apparently).

We chose the latter.

But oh, how I moaned. “It’s too dark. It’s too far away. It’s cold. There’s a hole in the wall. I can hear the traffic outside. There’s a chaffinch eyeing me suspiciously from the garden.” Etc etc. But now here we are, the proud owners of 1.4% of a property.

For many, an andelsbolig is by far the cheapest option and means that you actually get to take your first step on to the property ladder – especially now whilst prices are super low. The concept is relatively simple: You buy your apartment and own it, but still pay a form of rent that goes towards maintenance costs and the general upkeep of the building. Of course there are many things to keep your eye on, like variable rates for your ‘rent’ for instance. But in general, it makes buying a place to live a lot more affordable. Even if it does mean giving up your shoebox in paradise.

But let’s not pretend that the housing market is in good shape right now. I saw an advert last week for an estate agent that read “Last year we helped sell over 50 homes,” (in other words 51). Is that a healthy amount? It’s less than one a week. It shows that nobody is daring to sell their property right now, as they’re guaranteed to make a loss in most cases. So be careful; be weary. Seek advice first. And if you carry heavy equipment on a bike everyday, make sure you find a place somewhere near a train station.

You can find more information on andelsbolig by visiting

By Matthew James Harrison • March 5, 2013
Categories: , ,



  1. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm by Anne | Permalink

    Hi again

    It is also a good idea to avoid I/S cooperative housing – as they always have joint liability for the debt.


  2. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm by Anne | Permalink

    …Or at least get an accountant to check their books, regulations and records of the general meeting 😉

  3. Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:32 am by Martin | Permalink

    You’ll grow fond of Valby.(it isn’t that far from the centre really,and close to both tranquile Frederiksberg and the lively,hip Vesterbro area)..the “village” atmosphere around Valby langgade is quite charming..don’t forget the green areas of “Søndermarken”,”Vester KirkegÃ¥rd” and the magnificent “Valby parken”..Worth checking out too is the new swimming/wellness complex “Valby Vandkulturhus”..

  4. Posted March 11, 2013 at 9:54 am by Matthew James Harrison | Permalink

    You’re starting to sell it to me, Martin. The beautiful sunny weather of late has certainly helped, and it only takes and extra five minutes for me to cycle in to Copenhagen Language Center. Which is nice!

  5. Posted April 15, 2015 at 8:22 pm by Jeff | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    How are you liking Valby? Either you get fed up with it and moved away, or you’ve found the beauty and photogenic side of the area by now. I just found your blog, as I am moving to Valby next week for three months. I wondered if you could give me any tips on the area?

    I’m British and working in Christianshavn, but I commute home to the UK every fortnight. If you have the time and inclination, please email me.

    Best Regards,

  6. Posted April 17, 2015 at 6:55 am by Matthew James Harrison | Permalink

    Hi Jeff. Yep, still living in Valby and actually quite liking it now. It took a bit of getting used to, but it’s well connected with public transport and the parks are beautiful. I haven’t had much of an urge to go out and take photos, simply because it’s not really my style. But I’ve no doubt the parks are photogenic in their own way. I actually have a great one from Valby Park on my Instagram account if you use the app (You can find me at PhotoMattJames).

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy living there.

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Aperture of a city

Matthew James Harrison

Award-winning British photojournalist Matthew James Harrison has over four years of professional experience working in the newspaper and magazine industry. He has provided images and articles for the BBC and MTV, and for many of the UK's national publications. Now living in Copenhagen, Matthew is working as a freelance photographer and has just started a new company, a series of workshops for amateur photographers. In his spare time Matthew is also a musician, a scuba-diving instructor, and runner. You can see more of his work by visiting