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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 half of one's salary), employers often provide expats with a housing allowance in their employment contracts.
Moreover, expats thinking of moving 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 pricey. 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.
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 nonissue 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.
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. Expats often elect to have an agency do most of this legwork for them, once they've decided on their budget and housing specifications.
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. Most lease agreements in Norway are signed on at least a one-year basis, and sometimes up to two or three years. The contract should include information such as the monthly rental price, deposit conditions and whether utilities will be included in the rental costs.
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. The deposit is refundable, provided the property is not damaged beyond normal wear and tear.
Utilities such as water and electricity are rarely included in the monthly rental in Norway. Typically, the listing will outline whether utilities are included or not. Expats should ensure the lease agreement clearly states the responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord.