Living in Oslo?
Accommodation in Oslo
Modern Vibes: Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen
Before 1985, Aker Brygge was nothing but a shipyard and a major hotspot for mechanical industries. Today, the neighborhood attracts around twelve million visitors each year with its modern collection of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés on the boardwalk, as well as seafood markets with fish fresh from the boat. Those who love Oslo’s nightlife and cultural activities will enjoy life in Aker Brygge. After all, the waterfront along the west of downtown Oslo is a lively, crowded place in the daytime and at night.
Tjuvholmen, on the other hand, is one of Oslo’s newest neighborhoods. The district boasts an impressive, diverse architecture with lots of unique outdoor areas. Different galleries and art installations are located here as well, such as the new, internationally recognized Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and the adjacent Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park.
Oslo’s Old-Fashioned East and Affluent West: Two Opposites
As is the case in most cities, Oslo’s east is a cheaper neighborhood than Oslo’s west. Grønland is characterized by traditional pubs and modern bars, cheap vegetable and fruit markets. Tøyen and Kampen are only a stone’s throw away and well known for their charm and the traditional wooden houses. Tøyen is also famous for the Edvard Munch Museum, though only until 2020, by which time the Museum will be moved to Bjørvika.
The eastern neighborhood, Tøyen, is a former working-class district, and many of its current inhabitants are from migrant backgrounds or low-income families. Grønland shares a similar composition of its inhabitants, and the two districts have experienced quite a few social problems in the recent past. Moreover, they tend to be associated with higher levels of crime than other parts of the city — whether or not this reputation is entirely justified. Possibly because of these factors, people rather tend not to stay in Tøyen and Grønland for a long time, preferring to settle in more upscale areas if or when they are able to afford a new home.
Oslo’s east also holds historical significance as some remains of medieval Oslo dating back some hundreds of years have been discovered here. In addition, the area offers a magnificent view of the city and a chance to see where Edvard Munch was inspired to paint his famous Scream.
The west is more expensive in terms of rent and closely located to Majorstua, which is well known for its buzzing nightlife and shopping opportunities behind the Royal Palace in Oslo. The affluent area also has lots of modern, luxurious apartment buildings, as well as small shops and bars, restaurants and parks.
The restaurant scene in Oslo’s west is traditionally very upmarket, featuring lots of vegetarian places and many Asian cuisines. Around the areas of Bislett and St. Hanshaugen many students can be found in coffee shops and bars, as the College of Oslo is located closely nearby. All in all, Oslo’s west is quite cozy and charming.
Jump Right into Oslo’s Ski Culture at Holmenkollen
Holmenkollen is located in Oslo’s northwest and includes probably the most popular recreational area in the city. Holmenkollen also acts as a gateway to the vast forests of Nordmarka. Tryvann and Frognerseteren are full of a varied nature and are great places to start your hikes or cycling tours. The area is connected to the rest of the city by metro; it is only a 20-minute or 30-minute journey away from the center of Oslo.
At the same time, the surrounding forests and hills are within easy reach and are full of skiers during the long winter months. The Holmenkollen Ski Museum and the ski jump are located in this area as well. Offering both the hustle and bustle of the city and the serenity of Oslo’s mountainous surroundings, Holmenkollen is indeed very popular among expats and Norwegians alike.
Other neighborhoods in Oslo include the green, well-off residential Bygdøy, and Oslo’s coffee mecca: Grünerløkka. The latter area is definitely not to be missed, especially for those expats who love up-and-coming cool places, with coffee shops on every corner. Grünerløkka has some of the best bars (with great mixologists), run-down spaces turned into art exhibitions, and hidden-away vintage shops. While you may not find the sidewalks flooded with tourists, don’t be surprised if you encounter hipsters en masse.
Finding Your New Home in Oslo
The apartment search in Norway’s capital can be quite a challenge for expats. Not only is the real estate market highly competitive, the rents are also exceptionally high.
Finn.no is by far the biggest marketplace, offering ads for rentals and more. Unfortunately, the page is available in Norwegian only and includes mostly long-term rentals. Hybel.no is unfortunately not available in English, either, although you can translate the ads from Norwegian. “Hybel” is the Norwegian word for a room in a shared apartment; usually sharing a kitchen and bathroom, you may live with the owner of the house or other flatmates. You should also take a look at the classified sections of local newspapers, like Aftenposten.
Alternatively, you can choose to use the apartment service of a professional renting agency. Such agencies either have their own apartments or rent out apartments on behalf of their clients; with most of them fully furnished they make ideal homes for expats. Frogner House or Oslo Apartments provide these services, for example. Keep in mind that this option is rather costly, and like all real estate agents, it will have fees associated with using their service. If you plan on living in Oslo for a few years, hiring a realtor or going on a good old-fashioned apartment hunt may be a better choice for you.
What Is a Standard Oslo Rental Price?
As we have mentioned before, the cost of living in Oslo is quite high. One-bedroom apartments can go for an average of 7,740 NOK per month in the Oslo and Bærum municipality (2016 figures) and three-bedroom apartments can cost 12,880 NOK in monthly rent or more. The exact price, of course, depends on the location of your apartment of choice, whether utilities are included, and on what the place is equipped with (furniture, kitchen, etc.). Expats who wish to live right in the heart of the city center should expect to pay more than the average prices listed above.
Please remember that you may be asked to pay up to six months of rent (but usually less) as a deposit. This is a completely normal procedure. Once you have moved out and the owner has made no claims for repair, you will get your deposit back. The size of your deposit may vary and depends on your landlord. However, it is usually not to be negotiated, and crucially, landlords are not allowed to request a deposit larger than the sum of six months’ rent.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.
If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.