Monday, October 05, 2009
Norway's one of the most expensive countries in the world, and house prices have remained at a record high this September, which is why the same article gives a list of fourteen places with the cheapest house prices in Norway. No information is given on how interesting they are to live in though, so we'll have to turn to other sources for that.
The average price nationwide is 24,900 kroner per square metre (one square metre is about ten square feet), or $4300 USD, and the most expensive part of the country is Oslo and Bærum with average prices at 33,800 and 33,000 kroner ($5825 and $5690). Outside of Oslo the most expensive locations are Stavanger and Sandnes with 30,600 ($5275) and 27,000 ($4655).
And now for the fourteen cheapest parts of the country.
#14: Sandefjord - average price 19,900 kroner ($3430 USD) per square metre
Population 42,333 and seems to be famous for having Viking ships, spas, and whaling. There is also a brewery and a chocolate factory here.
#13: Møre og Romsdal - average price 19,400 kroner ($3345 USD) per square metre
The largest city in this region is Ålesund with a population of 41,385, and is famous for its large concentration of Jugendstil architecture. The region uses Nynorsk as its official linguistic standard (as opposed to Bokmål, which is what most people learning Norwegian learn).
#12: Agder outside Kristiansand - average price 19,400 kroner ($3345 USD) per square metre
That's Vest-Agder - Kristiansand is the capital of this region, so everywhere but that. Vest-Agder has a population of 166,976 and Kristiansand is about half that. Besides that the largest settlement seems to be about 13,000 people or so.
Next to it is another region with Agder in the name called Aust-Augder - total population is 106,842 of which 41,241 is in the capital called Arendal, which looks like this.
Arendal is a port town with a large jazz festival and some other yearly music festivals. Seems to have a large number of churches too.
#11: Buskerud outside Drammen - average price 19,100 kroner ($3290 USD) per square metre
Buskerud has a population of 253,006 of which 60,145 live in Drammen.
This is the town of Hurum along the coast, with a population of 9,011. Kongsberg is another town in the region with a population of 23,997.
#10: Rural Vestfold - average price 19,000 kroner ($3275 USD) per square metre
Vestfold is located fairly close to Oslo with a road leading directly into Oslo and thus real estate in the cities there would be expensive, but apparently the areas outside the cities aren't that bad. The picture above is of Holmestrand, population 9,949 and thus probably one of the places to which the list is referring.
#9: Fredrikstad - average price 18,900 kroner ($3260 USD) per square metre
Fredrikstad is a relatively large city (by Norwegian standards) with a population of 72,935 and located to the southeast of Oslo, pretty close to the Swedish border. It has an old town which is Northern Europe's best preserved old town. A blog post here seems quite impressed with Fredrikstad. Fredrikstad is right next to Sarpsborg (#5 on the list).
#8: Larvik - average price 18,400 kroner ($3,170 USD) per square metre
Larvik is located within Vestfold, right along the southwestern edge. It's a ways out of Oslo but it still lies on the road leading directly into the city. Bottled water is produced here.
#7: Northern Norway outside Tromsø - average price 18,300 kroner ($3,155 USD) per square metre
This is Bodø, population 46,049. It lies just north of the Arctic Circle so you can see the sun 24 hours a day during the summer, and 24 hours of darkness during the darkest part of the winter, each for about a month at a time. It's also a very windy city.
#6: Trøndelag outside of Trondheim: average price 18,000 kroner ($3,105 USD) per square metre
Trøndelag is where you start to get into the northern part of the country and has a total population of 418,453 of which 168,257 live in Trondheim. Outside of Trondheim the largest city is called Stjørdal:
with a population of 20,616. Stjørdal is quite close (35 km) to Trondheim which gives it a growing population as a satellite city, and it has a lot of birds and an interesting castle.
#5: Sarpsborg - average price 17,300 kroner ($2,985 USD) per square metre
Remember Fredrikstad (#9)? This city is in the same region, and located even closer to the main road that goes northwest to Oslo and southeast into Sweden (eventually to Gothenburg/Götenborg). Sarpsborg has a population of 51,813 and together with Fredrikstad they form the fifth largest urban area in Norway. Sarpsborg is the home of the brewery Borg Bryggerier, which produces these beers. Bethlehem (yes, the Bethlehem) is one of its sister cities.
#4: Rural Østfold - average price 16,300 kroner ($2,810 USD) per square metre
Østfold is where Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg are located, and you can see how prices fall even further when getting out of the cities altogether.
That's Rakkestad, population 7,232. It's basically located in the same area as the other two cities mentioned but smaller and a bit more out of the way, as it's off the main road that leads into Oslo to the northwest and Gothenburg to the southeast in Sweden. Rakkestad has a lot of farming and forestry. Though not related to Rakkestad in particular, the Wikipedia page on the community has the following: "Everyone in Norway has a right of access to and passage through uncultivated land in the countryside, regardless of who owns it...You may also put up a tent for the night, but you must keep at least 150 metres (492.1 ft) away from the nearest house or cabin. If you want to stay for more than two nights in the same place, you must ask the landowner's permission."
#3: Oppland outside of Lillehammer - average price 16,300 kroner ($2,810 USD) per square metre
Oppland has a population of 183,851 of which only 25,070 live in Lillehammer, but Lillehammer was the site of the 1994 Olympics.
Just next to Lillehammer though is Gjøvik, which actually has a larger population (28,627).
It's also located alongside the same lake and is further south so less out of the way than Lillehammer and closer to Oslo.
#2: Telemark - average price 15,800 kroner ($2,725 USD) per square metre
This is Skien, the largest city in Telemark with a population of 50,595. It's fairly close to Larvik (that's #8) but is a bit farther away from Oslo. The page on Skien on the Norwegian Wikipedia is more detailed than most other cities its size, with quite a few pictures.
And now we get to the cheapest part of Norway:
#1: Hedmark outside of Hamar - average price 15,300 kroner ($2,640 USD) per square metre
Hedmark is located northeast of Oslo, and just east of Oppland where Lillehammer is located. Total population is 189,586 of which 27,593 live in Hamar.
This is Elverum, the next largest city with a population of 19,665. There is a forest museum here. Elverum also happens to be extremely close to Hamar, which looks like this.
So there you have it, the fourteen cheapest places in Norway in terms of real estate. When living abroad it's important to choose a location that balances cost of living with opportunity, so simply finding the cheapest place to live is no help if opportunities to work are severely restricted. Norway also has a lot of linguistic variation, so keep in mind that people living in places off the beaten track will likely be incomprehensible at first, even if you've put in the time to learn a lot of Bokmål before going.
Personally my favourite from looking at the list alone would probably be #9, Fredrikstad. Seems to have a nice old town, is fairly close to Oslo, also next to Sarpsborg, Sweden is easily accessible too. Ålesund also seems to be quite interesting for those that are interested in Nynorsk and/or architecture and enjoy the cool weather. Here's another nice image of Ålesund either at dawn or dusk.