- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Norway Guide (PDF)
Expats looking for accommodation in Norway will be happy to know that there are a variety of housing options throughout the country, and generally of excellent quality across the board.
Although accommodation prices in Norway can be high (as much as a third or even a half of one's salary), employers often provide expats with a housing allowance in their employment contracts.
Moreover, expats thinking of relocating to Norway with their families can rest assured that – as with all other aspects of Norwegian society – the range of accommodation options available to them is strikingly family friendly.
Types of accommodation in Norway
At least during the initial stages of their time in Norway, most expats will probably opt for renting property in Norway. Expatriates have a variety of accommodation options to choose from, including flats, luxury apartments and small houses.
Those intending to rent accommodation in Oslo will probably end up in a flat (apartment), as property prices in the Norwegian capital are exorbitant. Expats who have grown accustomed to shared housing should be aware that this isn't really an option in Norway – the closest thing is tomannsbolig, which are large houses that have been subdivided for use by two families.
Flats and apartments in Norway are available as furnished or unfurnished options, with the former obviously being slightly more expensive. If an expat chooses to take the unfurnished route, it is possible to ship furniture to Norway; otherwise, a good range of furniture stores (including IKEA) can easily be found.
Renting accommodation in Norway
The process of renting a property in Norway is straightforward – although, expats are advised not to pin all their hopes on one specific property, as competition can be quite stiff. Typically, a person attends a showing, puts their name on a waiting list, which the landlord of the property will then consider, and waits to (hopefully) be contacted at a later point. This can be a bit of a popularity game, and if an apartment has an open showing, the potential tenant must be there to meet the owners if they want to be considered at all. Expats often elect to have an agency do most of this legwork for them, once they've decided on their budget and housing specifications.
Most lease agreements in Norway are signed on at least a one-year basis, and sometimes up to two or three years. Expats will be required to pay up to three months' rent upfront as a deposit before moving in and will be subject to a penalty fee if they back out of the lease agreement before taking up residence in the property.
Standard of accommodation in Norway
The standard of accommodation in Norway is excellent, though expats relocating from countries where houses are generally spacious might be surprised at the relative lack of space in Norwegian homes.
Nevertheless, expats can expect comfortable, well-finished, well-insulated living quarters with good heating systems. Expats should ensure that the heating in their prospective lodgings – whether it is gas, electric or a wood-burning stove – works well because it will be a necessity in winter.
Home security is basically a non-issue in Norway, with many expats reporting that they don't even feel the need to lock their doors. An incredibly small minority of houses in Norway will be fitted with alarm systems – expat tenants shouldn't panic if their dream rental doesn't have one, as they will likely not need it.
Buying property in Norway
It is possible for expats – even those from non-EU countries – to buy property in Norway. Over the last decade or so, buying property in Norway (and especially in Oslo), has become a relatively common practice for expats who are attracted to the idea of settling in a country with such an extraordinary social welfare system.
As property laws in Norway can be nuanced, it is highly advisable that expats hire a local real-estate broker to oversee the process. Listings can be found online or by attending open showings which normally take place on weekends.
►Transport and Driving in Norway gives information on getting around in the country
►Accommodation in Oslo provides useful tips for finding a home in the city
"I think the standard of living is quite high here. As for housing: it is about on par with New York, but more expensive in better areas in Oslo. There is a range, as with everything else." Read more on housing in Norway in our interview with Laura.
"A lot of the older houses are beautiful traditional wooden buildings with multiple floors, but there are also a lot of apartments ranging in size and price." For more on an expat's experience of housing in Norway, read this interview with Selina.
Are you an expat living in Norway?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Norway. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.