If you’re moving to Norway, when you’re going to want to find a place to live. Some people choose to buy a house or an apartment when moving here, but most people are looking to rent an apartment in Norway when moving.
This guide is meant for international students or workers who are moving to Norway and looking for a place to live. It’s designed to be useful both for those of you looking to rent an apartment before you arrive, as well as for people who are already in Norway.
We’re going to start out with the guide part where we show you exactly how to find apartments for rent, and how to actually sign the contract and rent them. After that, we’re looking closer at some of the cultural things about renting apartments in Norway, including what things are considered normal, what to stay away from, and what renting an apartment in Norway really is like.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
How to find apartments for rent in Norway
There are a few different websites that you can use to browse apartments for rent in Norway. We’re going to take a closer look at how to find apartments for rent at each of them below.
Renting apartments on Finn.no
The best one is Finn.no. Pretty much all apartments are listed in Finn, and it’s the number 1 go-to website for listing apartments for rent in Norway.
Finn is only available in Norwegian, so here’s how to find apartments for rent on Finn.no:
- Go to Finn.no.
- Click on “Eiendom“.
- Click on “Bolig til leie“.
- Find the field called “Område” on the left sidebar.
- Choose your region.
- Further choose the municipality (or city district for Oslo) you want to rent an apartment in.
- Use the other modifiers to narrow the search. Type in sums in the “Månedsleie” part for setting up maximum monthly rent.
- See all the apartments for rent.
- Click on each apartment to learn more about it and get in touch with the landlord.
The apartment descriptions will be in Norwegian for 99 % of all apartments, so I suggest running it on Google Translate to get an idea of what the apartment is like.
Most cities will have hundreds of apartments for rent at any given time, but smaller towns might only have a few ones. However, it should be doable to find an apartment pretty easily in most places in Norway.
You can easily see photos of the apartment, but the text is also essential, so don’t ignore it.
To get in touch with the landlord, look at their contact address on the right side of the main content on each apartment.
Most will have a name, e-mail address or telephone number attached, but some will only have a “Send Melding” button. This means “send message”, and you will need to create a Finn.no account to use the platform message system to get in touch with them.
This might be a bit of a hassle, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s also free of charge to make a Finn.no account.
PS. Finn.no is a very popular website used for many different things here in Norway, so you might as well get used to using it in the first place.
Renting apartments on Hybel.no
Hybel.no is another popular website for listing apartments for rent in Norway, and it’s targeting students, seasonal workers and people looking for smaller apartments. This means that it’s a good match for international students, but this website is also only available in Norwegian.
Here’s how to find apartments for rent on Hybel.no:
- Go to Hybel.no’s main website.
- Click on “Annonser“.
- Type in the name of the city you are looking to rent in.
- Click on the ads that look decent for your criteria.
- Create an account here if you want to get in touch with the landlord.
And that’s pretty much it. Just find apartments you are interested in there, do like on Finn.no and give the ad text a spin on Google Translate, and get in touch with the landlord if you are interested.
Renting apartments on Facebook
A final option for finding an apartment for rent in Norway is to browse Facebook. It is actually very common for people to post their apartments for rent on private Facebook groups, especially in smaller towns and villages.
To find these groups, go to search for Facebook Groups and type in “til leie CityName”. For example: “Til leie Oslo” or “Til leie Porsgrunn”. You will usually find at least a few different groups.
Apply to become a member (some are open to the public, while others need to verify each person before getting in), and start browsing the group for apartments.
This is also a great place to post an ad yourself! Write a short introduction to who you are, where you are looking to move, and ask if anyone has an apartment you can rent. You might even be able to find apartments that are not listed on the public market by doing this!
Getting in touch with the landlord and arranging the rental
If you find an apartment that you are interested in renting, the first thing you want to do is to get in touch with the landlord. I recommend writing a message to the landlord instead of calling if you speak English, because some people might be a bit puzzled if they suddenly get a call from a non-Norwegian speaker. However, you can call if you really feel like this is the best option for you.
When contacting the landlord, you will want to tell them something about yourself. It’s important to keep in mind that most landlords get between 10 and 100 different people contacting them about each apartment, so you might as well save them some time to see if you are a good fit for them.
So write where you are from, what you are going to do in Norway, why you are interested in that particular apartment, and how you are going to finance your rental costs (this is important!). Hopefully they will think that you are a good fit, and invite you for a viewing.
You might not get a reply from every landlord (yes, many of them are really this rude), so don’t put all your eggs in one basked.
Looking at the apartment
Most people who are renting apartments in Norway prefer to go looking at it before signing a lease. This gives you an opportunity to see if it’s really a good fit for you, and gives the landlord a good chance to learn if you are going to be a good fit for them.
If everything goes according to plan and you both are happy, you can sign the lease right there and then.
However, it’s not uncommon for landlords to have dozens of viewings, so you will often find that you will get contacted by the landlord a little while after having seen the apartment. They will then let you know if they want to sign a lease with you, or if they have rented it out to somebody else.
Can’t go on a viewing?
Many foreigners who are moving to Norway can’t just go on viewing before coming here, and digital apartment viewings are more and more common. You can ask the landlord to book an viewing like this where they show the apartment digitally from their cellphone camera while you are talking with them and asking questions about the apartment.
It can be a bit tricky to get this done, and you might find that many landlords won’t bother with this at all. This is especially true for cities where there are far more people looking for renting apartments than there are available apartments.
Yes, it feels a bit unfair for people who are living aboard and are looking to rent an apartment in Norway, but look at it from the perspective of the landlord. Why would they bother with doing everything digitally when they can easily get people to come to the apartment itself? It’s much easier for them to just show up with a contract, and lease it to a person they like instead of all the hassle with digital meetings.
It’s also a lot more difficult to get a good idea of the renter and landlord are a good match by only communicating online.
So I would recommend going on viewings if it’s possible. And if not, be prepared to contact a lot of different potential apartments before finding one that will lease it out to you.
Different types Norwegian apartments
When looking at the apartment ads in Norway, there are a few different words you will come across. We’re going to take a quick look at each of these so that you know what to expect from each type of apartment.
Small 1-bedroom apartment (studio apartment), called hybel
A studio apartment is called hybel in Norway, and is a 1 bedroom apartment where the bed is typically located in the same room as both the living room and kitchen, or has a very small bedroom where you can barely fit a bed.
Students who want to rent an apartment in Norway typically chooses this option. The benefits to studio apartments is that they are cheap and easy to clean.
It might be a good option if you want to live by yourself without sharing a bathroom or kitchen with anyone else, and are fine with having next to no space.
The studio apartments are intended for a single person, and I would not recommend renting these if you are two or more people.
Student housing is often a great option for foreign students! These apartments can either be hybel / studio apartments, or a regular apartment.
Some have a shared kitchen, but some have small, private kitchens. It used to be common to have shared bathrooms in student housings in Norway, but it has gradually become standard to have a small, private bathroom with a WC and a shower.
The big benefit to renting a student housing is that they are generally cheaper then renting on the private market. And as you can expect from the name, they are only available to students.
Bigger cities like Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim has a lot of student housing options, but they are very sought after, so you are not guaranteed to get one. However, foreign students tend to be prioritized for these, so it’s a good chance of being able to get one if you are coming from abroad.
Most student housings are rented out on an application basis where you apply for one when you get accepted into the university.
Regular apartment, called leilighet
A regular apartment is called a leilighet in Norwegian, and this word is used for apartments of a certain size. You can expect at least one bedroom that is separate from the living room, as well as a regular bathroom with an apartment. It’s also possible to rent apartments with multiple bedrooms.
The different between a hybel and leilighet is that regular apartments are meant for couples or even families, not for a single person, and will have separate bedrooms and a kitchen.
Shared housing, called kollektiv
A final option when renting an apartment in Norway is to rent a room in a shared apartment, called kollektiv in Norwegian. This is pretty much just a regular apartment where each room is rented out individually. You have to share the living room, kitchen and bathroom, but get it much cheaper then renting an entire apartment all for yourself.
Some groups organize the rental of the apartment themselves, then just split the rent, while other landlord will organize the entire thing, and rent out each room themselves.
This is yet another popular option for people who are moving to Norway to study or work for a short time, and most Norwegian students who are living in cities use this type of renting.
How difficult is it to rent an apartment in Norway?
It is considered a bit difficult to rent an apartment in Norway, especially as a foreigner. Many places like Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim have the problem that there are more people looking to rent apartments than there are apartments for rent. This means that not only are the rental prices very high, but there are lots of people to choose from for the landlord.
Having many option will reduce your chances of actually getting the apartment, and I’ve heard of people who have been to over 100 different apartment viewing before even finding an apartment to rent.
It’s luckily not that difficult for most of us, but you should be prepared for a bit of a struggle in the bigger cities.
The rental market is a bit more sane in smaller cities and towns, but it can still be a bit challenging.
Are foreigners discriminated against in the rental market?
Unfortunately I would say that many foreigners are discriminated against when landlords are choosing who to rent their apartment out to. It’s not legal to discriminate based on ethnicity, but you will find that many landlords do this.
I asked a few landlords about it, and their reply usually has to do with cultural differences and problems the tenant not understanding what is expected from them.
Some of the landlords I talked to have had bad experiences with renting to international students and foreigners in the past, and simple chooses to rent to Norwegians to not have the same problems again.
For many of them, it’s simply just easier to rent out to Norwegians. This way they won’t have to deal with language barriers, cultural differences, or the fact that it’s very easy for foreigners to skip out on the rent by just moving away from Norway in a hurry.
Some things to consider when renting in Norway
Renting an apartment in Norway can be a bit different from many other countries, and this section will include some things that you should probably be aware of when renting in Norway.
The landlord will have many potential tenants in the big cities
When going on a viewing, you need to be aware that most landlord will have many people who are interested in renting. This allows them to be picky when choosing who to rent out to, so it’s important to be prepared before going on the viewing.
If you don’t know the common protocols of renting in Norway, it’s going to be much easier for the landlord to rent out to someone who knows. And the same can be said for anything that will lead to more work for the landlord.
So make sure that you are not seen as a liability when going on a viewing and looking to rent. Use decent clothing, be polite, ask and answer questions, and just generally be a nice person.
Renting can be pretty expensive!
The rental market in Norway is very expensive, especially in the big cities. Renting a 2-room apartment in Oslo can easily cost 14,000 NOK per month! It’s much cheaper in smaller cities and towns, but it’s still going to be at least 8,000 NOK per month for a decent apartment.
You should always be prepared to pay a 3 month security deposit
It is very common to have a 3 month security deposit when renting in Norway, and you need to be able to pay this when signing the contract for an apartment. This means that you need to pay 4 months of lease up from when renting (3 months for the security deposit, and 1 month for the upfront pay).
If you are renting for 12,000 NOK a month, this security deposit can be significant. In these cases you need to have 36,000 NOK (or around $3,600 USD) ready for the security deposit, which is obviously a lot of money!
And since rent is by in advance, expect to shell out 48,000 NOK ($4,800) the first month of renting this apartment.
Unfortunately you are unlikely to find a place to rent if you can’t pay the security deposit. This is just the way renting apartments is like in Norway.
There are some fine details about the security deposit that might be worth checking into if you want to rent in Norway, so make sure to click below for a more in-depth look at these deposits.
Landlords might not always follow the laws and regulations
Norway has many laws to protect people who are renting apartments – at least in theory. However, you will find that many of these are just theoretical, and don’t really apply in real life.
Unfortunately many landlord break the law in many different aspects, and they are well-aware of the fact that it’s very difficult for renters to find a new apartment. This allows them to do whatever they want to and threaten to terminate the lease if you cause any trouble.
Some laws that I see broken regularly by landlords are things like:
- Entering the apartment without consent from the renter.
- Discrimination against certain groups.
- Not doing the required maintenance.
- Making the contract more favorable to the landlord.
- Breaking a lease without a proper legal reason.
It’s very unfortunate that this is what it’s like, and many organizations are trying to increase the renter’s rights. So be prepared for some sketchy landlord, and hope that you find a nice one that follows the laws.
Frequently asked questions about renting an apartment in Norway
Why are the rental costs in Norway so high?
Norway is an expensive country, and buying apartments and houses is very expensive here as well. This leads to an expensive rental market. However, keep in mind that Norway also has a high average salary, so it’s not as expensive as it might seem at first glance.
Is electricity included in the rental cost when renting in Norway?
It is not common to have electricity included in the rental lease, but you will come across it from time to time. If it is included, it will be specified in the contract. If not, you need to pay the bills yourself. You will usually have to sign a contract with an electrical company yourself, but the landlord should be able to help you with that if you have trouble.
How do you pay rent in Norway?
It is common to pay the rent by bank transfer when renting in Norway. I have never experienced anything else in my 15 years of renting.
Is it difficult to find short-term rentals?
Most landlords don’t really want short-term rentals due to the big amount of work for the landlord, but there are companies that have specialized in these types of rentals in the bigger cities in Norway. So it’s absolutely possible.
Is water included in the rent?
It is common for water and renovations to be included in the rent, so this is typically not something you need to pay yourself. But again, there are probably going to be some landlords who are going to charge this bill to their renters.
Is it common to find apartments that accept pets?
Some landlords allows their tenants to keep pets in the apartments, and others do not. Ask them in advance! It needs to be specified in the contract if the landlord does not want you to keep pets.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.