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Moving to Oslo: Where to live

Moving to Oslo: Where to live

It’s not the cheapest place to live, but we guarantee you’ll quickly fall in love with Oslo. With its unique mixture of fjord, forest, lakes and urban paradise, there’s something for everyone. All you need to do is find the right spot to drop anchor.

As PART III of our Memory Guide to Oslo, here’s everything you need to know about finding an apartment in Oslo — from an overview of the best neighbourhoods to what it’s like renting as a foreigner.


The best Oslo neighbourhoods

Despite being a relatively small capital, Oslo has an diverse mix of neighbourhoods with different personalities and charms. It’s a vibrant cultural centre for families, as well as an exciting playground for young professionals. And with super dependable transport services, living outside of the centre isn’t an issue.

Here’s what the native Norwegians and expats at Memory make of Oslo’s different neighbourhoods.


West Oslo

“A nice place to live if you’re a homebody and like calm quiet areas. It’s close to Frognerpark (a great place to run and walk), Bygdøy (which is great for swimming and walking) and the Skøyen train line, which makes it super easy to get to and from the airport for travel.” — Layal on Frogner

  • St-Hanshaugen: quiet district right in the center of Oslo. Boasts some of the prettiest apartment blocks and parks overlooking the city. Some nightlife and a few students.
  • Frogner: traditional wealthy area with big houses, good restaurants and fancy shops. Home to the famous Frognerpark. It’s beautiful and peaceful, attracting both young families and an older demoghraphic. A little too calm for some and certainly too expensive for most.
  • Majorstuen: highly popular area of grand apartments, luxury shopping and extensive transport connections. Its desirability brings a steep price tag.
  • Aker brygge & Tjuvholmen: Oslo’s old docks have been transformed into a slick, hyper-modern marina full of bars, restaurants, shops and chic apartments. Always busy, popular with tourists and extremely expensive.
  • Skøyen: a quiet new area of town in between Frogner park and Bygdøy. Just a short distance to the park and beach, and a 5-minute bus ride to the centre.

Want to go further from the madding crowd? Check out Oslo’s western suburbs Bygdøy, Vestre Aker and Ullern.


North Oslo

“A great location to live just 15 minutes from downtown by bus. It’s a beautiful area with everything you need: lots of cafes, parks and outdoor space for exercise or chilling out, gyms and grocery stores (even some that are open on Sunday!). A good amount of people without being too noisy.” — Matt on Sagene

  • Sagene: a popular spot for young families with kids, being quiet but close to the center. Close to the river Aker Selva with good access to most areas.
  • Torshov: a northern extension of Grünerløkka’s cool.
  • Nydalen: very north and very popular with students due to its close location to the Norwegian Business School.
  • Ullevål-Hageby: another student hotspot, close to the University of Oslo.
  • Frefsen-Kjelsås: quiet and pleasant residential areas with good tram connections to central Oslo. Popular with families.

If you want to stay connected to the city, just be sure to stay south of Ring 3!


East Oslo

“If you’re into disc golf, the course here is pretty cool. There’s also a large area with a few soccer fields and a mini golf course, and a great park with a beautiful view of the city.” — Liz on Ekeberg

  • Gamle Oslo — a site covering several smaller areas (Tøyen and Grønland) and including remnants of Oslo’s old medieval city. Up-and-coming, vibrant young area with a buzzing street life and truly multicultural feel.
  • Bjørvika — area containing the Oslo Opera House and famous Barcode strip. While its residential area is still undergoing development, its location to the central station makes it highly attractive (and, regrettably, rather expensive).
  • Grünerløkka-Torshov — newly gentrified district home to some of Oslo’s best restaurants, bars and cafes. A vibrant central area popular with millennials, young families and hipsters. Not the best choice if you’re after quiet and relaxed living.
  • Østensjø — close to nature, quiet and with a lot of families. Ideal if you like skiing, hiking and biking in the woods. A good mix of both ethnic Norwegians and foreigners.

If you want to go further from the centre, take a look at Oslo’s eastern and southern suburbs Helsfyr, Hellerud, Furuset, Stovner, Ekeberg and Søndre Nordstrand. Want even more info? Check out Life In Norway and Visit Oslo!

Renting in Oslo

What’s the average rent in Oslo?

This isn’t going to be pretty, since Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. You can expect to pay:

  • 5000–8000 kr/month for a single room in a shared apartment
  • 9000–11000 kr/month for a studio apartment
  • 11000–15000 kr/month for a one-bedroom apartment

But this price does usually include all utilities, except for electricity(300–1000 kr/month) and internet (500–1000 kr/month).

What about deposits?

Deposits are usually three months’ rent on top of your first month’s rent. They’re managed by a third party account, so both you and your landlord are safe! To pay your deposit, go in-person with your passport to the bank chosen by your landlord. It will be paid back to you shortly after you move out (providing you haven’t trashed the place).

What’s the standard renting contract?

Most rental contracts have a 3 month notice period, but some landlords might try to lock you in for longer. Check with a Norwegian colleague if you suspect they’re trying their luck!

Are flats most furnished or unfurnished?

There’s a pretty good mix of furnished, partially-furnished and completely unfurnished around the city. It’s totally up to your own preference. Just know that there are tons of great stores in the city where you can buy everything for your new place (tips on the best in PART IV)!

Do you need a Norwegian bank account to rent?

Since you need a permanent address to open a Norwegian bank account, you’ll likely need to use an existing account in your home country to make your deposit and first rent payments. But it’s super simple — just get hold of the IBAN number of your home account. For the long-term, it’s better to use a Norwegian bank account to avoid expensive international transaction fees.

Is it harder to rent as a foreigner?

Renting as a foreigner in Oslo is pretty much the same as renting as a Norwegian. You’ll likely need to provide a reference from your employer which confirms that you can actually foot the monthly rent, but that’s the only extra requirement. Just remember that the renting market is pretty competitive, so you don’t really have much room to negotiate on the rent!

How to find an apartment in Oslo

The top sites for finding apartments and booking viewings are:

Yes, they are all in Norwegian, but Google Translate does a pretty good job of making sense of them. Besides, you’ll pick up some niche words to kick-start your Norwegian language learning (like “kabel-tv” and “internett”). If you’re into Facebook, there are also a few useful pages to keep an eye on. People regularly post new available rooms and apartments on:

  • Oslo apartments for rent - Rent in Oslo
  • Oslo roommates for apartments
  • Rooms/apartments for rent in Oslo
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