Since the housing situation in Iceland is not really that stable yet (mortgages are still high and the government is still trying to find a reasonable rental market solution), the rental market is going strong. Great if you own a flat that can be rented out, tough if you are looking for a place to rent.
There are four popular websites where people regularly check for available apartments. These are: mbl.is, fasteignir.is, leiga.is and bland.is. These websites are all in Icelandic so if you are a foreigner moving in there is nothing to do but ask a willing Icelandic friend for help or Google Translate.
I regularly check these websites as I currently rent and always on the lookout for something a little more reasonable or just better situated.
I’ve been in the same location for the past three years. It’s not in the hip downtown area but more importantly, the bus route is one that runs until after midnight and therefore convenient for when I go home after evening shifts. Many say that I am actually lucky having found a ground floor, 90 m2, two bedroom apartment for ISK 105,000.
This of course does not include utilities like electricity and internet but does include hot water (which in Iceland equates also to heating as houses are heated with geothermal energy). There is grass outside my windows and a pretty good children’s park right across. So, apart from an occasional annoying neighbor or two, I really can’t complain.
Still, I check the rental market every day. Today, the cheapest apartment available for rent is ISK 115,000 (USD 925, EUR 710) (for 65m2) on mbl.is, ISK 135,000 (USD 1086) (for 50m2) on leiga.is and ISK 148,000 (USD 1167) (for 92m2) on fasteignir.is. It’s tough to tell on bland.is because it’s a freewheeling marketplace that cannot be classified according to price. However, in the 10 minutes I went through the site, the cheapest I found was ISK 110,000 (USD 885) (for 60m2) in the outskirts of Reykjavik.
How does it compare to other rental markets? Certainly cheaper than the 3rd arrondissement in Paris where my sister lives, or the tiny Manhattan apartment where my best friend does. However, here in Reykjavík where salaries are not comparable to any of those two other international cities (at least in terms of dollar value), these rental prices are becoming horrendously expensive.
The head of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, suggested last week that changes be made to rent regulations by following the Danish model. This he says will lower rent in Reykjavík by 29 to 43 percent , i.e., a 100m2 apartment would be less than ISK 88,000.
This is not the first suggestion or even effort to lower apartment rentals. In fact, the housing authority (Íbúðalánasjóður), faced with a surfeit of apartments from mortgage defaults, flooded the market with 881 rental apartments last year. I never felt that ‘flood’ of apartments so I asked around.
It turned out that some of these apartments had in fact been rented out to its defaulting owners. One of my coworkers benefited from this plan. A good idea but nothing that relieved the pressure of the rental market.
So, be prepared. If you are thinking of moving to Iceland, don’t think that because we have a small town atmosphere going, small town rent follows. Have at least three times the going rental rate in your housing pocket. There is still one month rent advance and one month rent insurance to think of. This is how we roll in rental Reykjavík.
Marvi Ablaza Gil – email@example.com