A beach home (or a summer house, as we call it in Scandinavia) is not just for summer, sunshine and ‘perfect’ weather condition… Oh no. Summer, sunshine and perfect weather is not a sure thing like in other countries such as Florida or Australia – up north we consider a summer house an all-year hide-away, even in winter. And rules for buying are complicated, so here’s how to rent or buy a beach house in Denmark.
Simply being by the sea is a treat and as the home of Hygge, the Danes know how to create a fabulous atmosphere in the coldest of climates. Therefore, beach houses are hugely sought after – not just by Scandinavians, but also by Germans in particular, who love the nordic coastline.
Despite a long and winding coastline, homes by the sea are in shorter supply and under strict rules as to what we can do with the property and who can buy those homes. Below we explain the ins and outs of purchasing a summer house in Denmark – take this as a guidance and if and when you get to make an offer, consult your lawyer because the rules are complicated and changeable.
Scandi Connections – rent or buy a Beach Home in Denmark?
But it’s not just a case of handing over the money and the house is yours…here’s how: Only Danish citizens can buy a beach home in Denmark, it says. But there ARE ways foreigners can buy or rent a holiday home by the sea.
The small Nordic country is a popular summer holiday destination with 4,300 miles of coastline and nearly 1,500 small islands. The stunning wild coastline of West Jutland is much sought after by the Germans who arrive in July and August. The British favour both Copenhagen and Skagen, the very northern tip of Denmark, and Copenhagen.
Skagen is famed for its brilliant light and heritage. Strict planning laws are in place ruling over what new and existing owners can do with the property so close to the beach. Checks are in place to ensure owners don’t overstay their welcome beyond a few months a year. That hasn’t dampened demand for summer houses in Denmark.
The strict planning laws that govern property buying and developing close to the beach are in place to protect the Nordic way of life. Denmark is after all the country of ‘hygge’ – read our post here on how to learn to appreciate the small things in life and live like ‘the happiest people in the world’. It is possible to get a decent beach home for around $75,000 (£57,000), but top prices hover around $3.8M (£2.8M). The bad news is unless you’re a Danish citizen it can be very difficult to buy a summer house in the country.
Stopping foreign Citizens from buying Summer Homes
Back in the 1970s when the country joined the European Union it secured the right to stop foreign citizens buying summer homes. The Danish argument was that it’s a small country and properties should be reserved for the Danes – however, there are exceptions. If, as a foreigner, you have a connection with Denmark, family ties, financial, employment or cultural tiesthe Ministry of Justice can give permission. Or if you have any ties to a particular property you might be interested in…. It is hugely advisable to consult lawyers to work out the complicated rules and regulations. They will know how to rent or buy a beach house in Denmark.
Big Buyers – Americans, Norwegians and Germans
So what are the requirements for getting permission? Permission is granted at the discretion of the government. But if you have holidayed there regularly in the last 10 years you are more likely to be given the green light. There are over 200,000 summer houses in Denmark and of those nearly 300 were sold to foreigners in 2015. Around 125 applications to buy were rejected. Among foreign buyers the Norwegians, Americans, Germans, Swedes, Dutch and Swiss are the biggest buyers of beach homes in Denmark.
Main Option – To rent a Beach Home
That means for a majority of non-Danish citizens, renting is their only option. But unless you’re a serious investor or has particularly close ties with the country that’ll do. And those looking to live like the Scandis for the summer have plenty of choice. Charming cottages lie tucked away amongst the dunes, overlooking the wild and windy North Sea with endless sandy beaches for nature lovers.
Luxury Options for those who want to rent or buy a Beach Home
Skagen is famed for its stunning beach villas – the area has been compared to America’s Nantucket. But the coastline north of Copenhagen features a string of stunning ‘liebhaver’ villas near tennis courts.
And it is, or course, within reach of the Michelin starred restaurants of the capital and views across the water to Sweden. As the Danish government manages to keep a tight reign on planning along the coastlines, there’s great pressure on renting. There is enormous competition for a house in the months of June-August. Choosing your beach home will depend on what kind of holiday you are looking for.
Beach Home Mod Cons
Are you looking for down time, ie Hygge, with friends or family? Or is it going for walks, cycling and exploring nature around you that’s important? Perhaps it’s a bigger affair with friends, entertainment and possibly more people visiting? Scandis are fond of grouping together to share the experience and expenses. Two families with young children or older couples holidaying with other couples from their school days and so on…
Sought after features and requirements:
- Burning stove
- Sea view
- In-house bar
- Swimming pool
- Near cultural sites or institutions
- Near leisure complex (for children)
The beach house or summer house has become a much bigger feature in Scandi living. The Danes want bigger and better holiday homes and interior styled like their main home. In fact, summer houses look increasingly like villas inland. The average size of a summer house has grown by 30 per cent to 800 sq feet over the past 30 years. However, building extensions must not reach to within 300 metres from the waterfront with other rules in place as well. It is difficult to build your dream house by the beach due to the intricate regulations. Another growing trend amongst summer house owners in Denmark is to use it as an all year round base.
Local Planning has eased
This is ok for pensioners, but others are required to have a permanent residence elsewhere. That puts pressure on the construction of the building and the infra structure needed around the property. If you’re a first time buyer, read also our blog First Time Home Buying: What to Ask Estate Agents for tips on what to look out for when negotiating with agents. Local planning in and around summer house areas in Denmark has eased in the last 25 years. With it comes rules for how to rent or buy a beach house in Denmark.
Despite the still complicated rules, some areas have come to look like villages rather than the old style beach house areas. Yet the government keeps the pressure on aspiring summer house owners with limitation on access to these properties. Therefore, anyone wanting to live the hygge life on a Danish beach should get themselves a good lawyer. If everything falls into place, it can be a lovely life, indeed!
Read more on where to find the summer houses here.