The Icelandic housing market differs substantially from the other Nordic countries. Icelandic housing is charecterised by home ownership, although a significant rental sector has emerged in the last years, especially in reaction to increased tourism, which in turn may make it more difficult to find reasonable renting options. Rental Housing in Iceland is generally in short supply and it might prove quite a challenge to find suitable accommodation that fits your budget.
In the capital area keep in mind the distance to and from your workplace when looking for a suitable neighborhood. The location can have an effect on the rental price but the distance could also determine whether you would feel the need to have access to a vehicle or use public transport.
- Arranged by host Some Icelandic host organisations help arrange housing for their PhD students and guest researchers. The institutions cooperate with local agencies to find temporary residence for their guests.
- Private rental market Private rentals are usually the first choice for incoming researchers as they tend to be preferred for short-term stays by foreigners temporarily living in the Iceland. Most landlords ask for a residence permit and for a deposit of 1-2 months’ rent. Private housing can be expensive in Iceland.
- Relocation companies There are several relocation companies in Iceland that specialize in assisting PHDs, researchers or other employees moving house and all the issues connected with it. Many of them offer a free consultation so you can see if their services are right for you.
- Newspapers - In various Icelandic newspapers you will find ads from homeowners who wish to rent out their flats.
- Online - Most rental agents offer online services for a fee.
- Facebook - There are various Facebook groups dedicated to rental apartments in Iceland. Some groups are general and others focus on specific postal codes or neighborhood areas.
- Word-of-mouth - Tell your colleagues and everyone you know that you are looking for an apartment. Apartments are not always advertised in the papers as they are rented through acquaintances.
When you have found the right apartment and both parties have reached an agreement you will be asked to sign a rental agreement (ice. leigusamningur). As with all legal documents it is advisable to make sure that you know exactly what you are signing. This lease is a special form that you and the owner both must sign. It must also be witnessed. After signing, this contract is registered or notarised (ice. þinglýst) at the district commissioner's office (Sýslumaður). This is necessary when applying for Rent Subsidy (ice. Húsaleigubætur).
All those who are renting an apartment, who have signed a lease for at least 6 months, and have a legal address in Iceland may apply for compensation. Applications are in the reception areas of your local Social Services office (Félagsþjónustan). Each application is valid for one calendar year; therefore applications must be renewed at the beginning of each year.
You also have the option of buying a house. It can have its benefits if you are planning to stay for a longer period of time. Loans for housing are available from the banks, the Pension funds (Lífeyrissjóðir) as well as the Icelandic Housing Financing Fund.
- Ministry of Welfare: Information about housing in Iceland
- The Housing Financing Fund: Buying a home in Iceland