- David Hicks
Thanks to my network on InterNations, I already had some contact persons to ask for support on coming to Oslo.
Housing in Norway is experiencing a shortage when it comes to high-quality rentals. The different types of houses expats can live in include row houses, apartments, and others. Keep in mind, short-term rentals are also an option and they are even recommended when expats first arrive in the country. This gives new arrivals more time to scope out various areas in the city and countryside. Houses and apartments for rent in Norway can be furnished, unfurnished, or semi-furnished.
Once you have been in the country for a while, you might consider buying a house. Expats will be happy to know that there are no restrictions for foreigners purchasing property in the Nordic country. If you are a first-time buyer, you may qualify for the first-time buyer mortgage which allows you to borrow 100% of the purchase price.
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Renting a House or Apartment
If you are wondering how to rent houses or apartments in Norway, there are popular online sites such as Finn.no and Hybel.no to help you get started on your search. It is also a good idea to ask different expats, colleagues, or friends for any recommendations or if they know of any leads. A lot of homes in Norway are found simply through word of mouth.
If you are a student moving to Norway, the international office at your university may be able to assist you. They can sometimes provide a list of local landlords and housing options available to students.
Looking for a Rental in Norway as a Foreigner
Be aware that there is a general shortage of good / high quality rental properties throughout the country. Quality rentals are usually gone within two to three weeks. Given the great amount of interest, landlords do not bother returning every call they receive.
What does this mean for expats looking to rent? It means that options will be limited, so they need to act quickly. It is also possible to lose an apartment to a local Norwegian person. This is because landlords want to ensure that their tenants will pay the rent and not leave the country. For this reason, having a guarantor can help. In addition, long-term tenants are usually preferred over short-term ones.
Rental Process and Rules
Once you have found a house you like it is important to act fast and contact the landlord quickly to set up a viewing. Some places might have common, public viewings so keep an eye out for that. As soon as you have decided on a place, let the landlord know you are interested. Keep in mind that there is stiff competition so you may not always get the place you want. Therefore, it is best to have a few options in mind. It may also be best to come prepared with all the requirements and documents needed for renting. This could include:
- your deposit and first month’s rent;
- guarantor details and information.
Furnished and unfurnished apartments are both options in Norway. If you are renting a furnished home, make sure you check and ask for an inventory list. Any major changes to the space need to be approved by the landlord.
Rental Contract and Deposit
Something that will take expats by surprise in this country is that the deposit you will need to put down to secure your place is extremely high. Typically, it is equal to three months’ rent and should not exceed six months’ rent. This is in addition to the first month’s rent, which you will also need to pay.
The security deposit should be deposited into a separate account and neither party can withdraw from the account for the duration of the tenancy agreement. Any fees payable to open a separate account is to be paid by the landlord. You get your deposit back upon checkout if the space is in the same condition as it was when you moved in. You also have the right to request the interest earned on the deposit(s).
If you do not have enough money to put down the deposit, it is worth contacting your municipality as they sometimes can lend this to you or act as your guarantor. A good idea for working expats is to check with their company as well. They can sometimes do this too for employees. If neither of these options are viable, then you can take out a loan from a private bank.
As a tenant, you have the right to demand a written lease from the landlord, which cannot be for anything less than three years. The contract should include:
- parties’ names and addresses;
- property to be rented;
- amount of rent to be paid;
- deposit conditions.
Utility bills payment may or may not be included in your rent. It is important to ask about the specifics of this.
It is also important to note that a tenant can terminate a lease at any time without any reason. Typically, you need to give three months’ notice in writing if you intend on moving out unless an otherwise time is stated in the contract.
Average Rent in Norway
How much is rent in Norway? The minimum house rent in Norway can be 4,000 NOK (437 USD) for a room in a shared home to upwards of 45,000 NOK (4,914 USD) for a large house with a view. You will find that apartments tend to be more expensive in and around the city. The following is average monthly Norwegian rent prices according to the country’s main cities.
- Oslo and Bærum—11,240 NOK (1,230 USD)
- Bergen—8,880 NOK (970 USD)
- Trondheim—9,070 NOK (990 USD)
- Stavanger—8,100 NOK (885 USD)
The average rent across the whole country is 8,740 NOK (950 USD).
When moving to Norway as a foreigner, it is advisable you find a temporary rental to start. Apartments for rent on a short-term basis give you the opportunity to live in the country and judge different neighborhoods before you settle on an apartment long-term. If you need furniture, monthly furnished rentals are also available in the country.
If you require assistance with finding and renting a home in your new expat destination, get in touch with InterNations today. With our Home Finding service, we help you secure a home in your new country, whether you are looking for a short or long-term solution. We work with partners that are experts in local housing markets around the globe and find the right option for you, according to your needs and budget. We manage your contract negotiations, and all the documentation related to renting or purchasing properties, eliminating any paperwork-related doubts.
Things to Know about Short-Term Rentals
The government in Norway has been cracking down on short-term rentals in the country. They aim to prevent investors from buying up numerous apartments and renting them out, essentially running their own hotel operations, which is damaging to the legitimate hotel business. There is also a limit to the number of days per year homeowners can rent out their homes on a short-term basis. In addition, they are faced with harsher taxation laws.
Buying Property as a Foreigner
If you are wondering how to buy a house as a non-resident in Norway, you will be happy to know that there are no restrictions for foreigners wanting to purchase property here. However, expats may be shocked to learn that houses in this country are expensive—much more than they might be used to back home. This is due to a number of factors: high costs of insulation for homes in such a cold country, high standards of living which means that few low-cost homes are built, and high wages for construction costs.
Buying a Home in Norway Guide
Norway’s house price on average for a detached home in the country is 24,917 NOK (2,713 USD) per square meter. Keep in mind that buying a house in Norway does not get you citizenship, permanent residency, or a visa in this country. For information on how to obtain this, visit our Visas and Work Permits section.
Types of Property
- Standalone/detached houses (enebolig)—may come with or without garden
- Semi-detached house (tomannsbolig/flermannsbolig)—two or more apartments in the same house; common areas such as laundry and garden may be shared
- row houses (rekkehus)—houses in rows
- shared house/apartment (bofelleskap)—private bedroom but you share other areas of the property
Other types of homes in Norway include multi-unit dwellings, apartments, and bungalows.
Process and Steps for Buying a House in Norway
Step 1: Meet with your Bank
You need to get a sense of what your financial situation is to figure how much mortgage you will qualify for.
Step 2: Hire a Professional
Buying is usually done with the assistant of a real estate agent. They are responsible for adhering to Norwegian rules and can conclude real estate without the need for a lawyer. They are responsible for the financial settlement and registering the transfer deed with the state registry.
With our Home Finding service, we work with partners that are experts in local housing markets around the globe. We find the right option for you, according to your needs and budget. We manage your contract negotiations and all the documentation related to renting or purchasing properties, eliminating any paperwork-related doubts. Contact InterNations GO! today.
Step 3: Search for Houses
Look online for homes on the market first and then attend some open houses. Viewings usually last about an hour and are typically scheduled for the evenings or weekends. This way you can also establish which areas of the city you prefer and the kind of property you would like to live in.
Step 4: Obtain the Prospectus
Once you find a property that you think you might like, have a look at the prospectus to learn about the structure and technical areas of the house plus neighborhood.
Step 5: Put in a Bid
The bidding form is usually found at the back of the prospectus. Keep in mind that bids are legally binding in Norway and there are hefty fines if you put in a bid for something you cannot actually afford.
Step 6: Sign a Sales Contract
Once a bid is approved, the real estate agent will draw up a sales contract that is signed by you and the seller. This contract outlines what would happen in case of any breach of contract.
Step 7: Deed and Deposit
Once the sales contract is signed, you are issued the deed. It remains with the agent until completion of the final steps. You must also put down a deposit of 10% of the final purchase price.
Step 8: Register the Property
The real estate agent will then register your new home with the land registry and the authorities will issue you an official registry document with your name as the new property owner.
Step 9: Pay your Dues
You will pay the real estate agent for their services plus a stamp duty for the registration of the property. Additionally, you are also now responsible for paying the seller the remaining money for the house.
Getting a Mortgage and a Bank Loan
You can apply for a mortgage from most private banks in Norway. The repayment period is usually between 20 to 30 years. Generally, you will be able to borrow up to 85% of the property price or three times your annual income. People who do not own a home in Norway can apply for a first-time buyer mortgage. This is a mortgage with the same interest rate for the entire amount and you can borrow 100% of the purchase price.
Documents you will need to bring to the bank to apply include your tax returns and payslips as proof of your income level. If you are approved for a mortgage, it can take up to two weeks to receive an official mortgage approval document. This is part of the requirements to buy a property in Norway along with a D number (learn more about this in the Working in Norway section).
If for whatever reason you have trouble getting a loan from a bank, you can apply for a start loan from your municipality. Different municipalities have different rules and policies in place when it comes to granting these loans. Based on these practices, the municipality will determine who will be granted a loan and how much. It is best to contact your municipality for the specifics of this.
It is best to apply for this loan before you begin your house hunt so you know just how much you will be able to afford.
Once you have found and moved into your dream home, you will need to figure out how to access utilities in Norway, including gas, water, electricity, etc. This section outlines different utility companies in the country along with essential things you will need to know.
Utility companies in Norway include the following corporations.
- Hafslund—one of the largest power companies in the Nordic region
- Norsk Hydro Energy—renewable energy company headquartered in Oslo; significant presence in the gas industry
- Oslo Energi—part of the Hafslund group
Other companies include EnFo and Norweigian Power Grid among others.
- Voith Hydro AS—located in Oslo, Trondheim, and Fredrikstad
When you move into a new home, you will usually find that water and electricity have not been disconnected. You simply need to transfer the accounts to your name. If you do need to set up utilities, you simply need to provide:
- name and contact information;
- date you require service (move-in date).
Things to Know
Tap water in this country is safe to consume. It is known as one of the purest in the world.
Electricity is the main way to heat homes in Norway. Electricity bills can change throughout the year. The country relies principally on hydroelectricity production. More than 99% of electricity in the country comes from hydro plants on the mainland. This country is one of the world’s largest energy exporters.
Utilities in Norway include electricity, water, and HVAC. Utility bills are sent monthly (or annually, in some cases, depending on your provider) and come with giros which you should fill out and send back with your payment. You will have 30 days to make your payment. You can make your payments at the bank, online, post office, or by mail.
The political framework for energy and water is determined by the Norwegian parliament and their authority is exercised through various ministries:
- Ministry of Petroleum and Energy
- Ministry of Climate and Environment
- Ministry of Local Government and Modernization
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Trade
Electricity in Norway is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are the European kind: round two-pin. If you are an expat from the US, you will need an adaptor. If you forget to bring one, you can purchase converters and transformers at the airport, in electronic shops, souvenir shops, and even in some bookstores. Hairdryers are best left at home. Due to their high power consumption, it is better to buy a new one when you relocate to Norway.
Internet and Mobile Phones
This section covers internet and cell phones so you can get in touch with your loved ones back home. Wondering about television? We provide an overview of this as well.
How to Get a Phone Number
To get set up with a mobile phone in Norway, you will want to look to the country’s three main providers:
- Telenor Mobil
- Network Norway
There is mobile coverage across 90% of the country, the exception being remote, wilderness areas. Cell phone operators in Norway offer discount rates and affordable, customizable packages. In Norway, you have the option between a pay-as-you-go cell phone or a monthly contract plan. The top providers for a pay-as-you-go phone are Telenor and Netcom. You are better off with a contract plan if you intend on staying in the country long-term. You will require an ID number and Norwegian bank account for this.
When you first arrive, you can use your own phone with a Norwegian SIM card, so long as your phone is unlocked. SIM cards can be purchased at kiosks or convenience stores.
If you are looking to set up a landline, you can contact:
- TDCSong (TDC);
- Hafslund Telekom.
Getting a fixed-line can take up to three months before connection so if this is something you will need, it is best to sign up as early as possible. Norway’s country code is 47.
For internet, get in touch with:
The largest television providers in Norway are Viasat, Canal Digital, and GET’s cable service. Wondering how to watch your home country’s TV in Norway? Well, if you are an Anglophone, you are in luck as Norway television actually runs many English-language programs, including both American and British programming. English shows are typically subtitled, rather than d믭. Other television subscriptions and packages include foreign programming of other languages and regions.
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- David Hicks
Thanks to my network on InterNations, I already had some contact persons to ask for support on coming to Oslo.
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