Home Sweet Home (KH)


katharinahauptmann02_dlThe rent market in Reykjavík is difficult. The demand for flats in the downtown area is high, but the supply isn't.

There are only very few flats available. And the prices are rising and rising.

Five and a half years ago, when I just arrived in Iceland, a room in a shared flat in the city centre was around ISK 35,000 per month for us exchange students. That was of course pre-crisis money.

Now, you would have to pay much more for that.

Especially when you are just by yourself and do not want to share a flat finding a place is difficult. Three years ago I paid ISK 78,000 (EUR 476 / USD 616) per month for a tiny studio apartment of 38 m². Now, you would have to pay at least ISK 90,000 if not more.

A friend of mine was looking for a studio apartment in downtown or the Westside for 3 months, she looked at many dark basement rooms, and apartment turned garages and rooms without window, kitchen or shower which she could have rented for a considerable amount of money. At the end, she moved into student housing.

It's amazing what people try to rent out as “apartment“ these days.

Since 2006 I've lived in about 9 to 10 different apartments in Reykjavík, almost three years of that I've lived in my current flat. And I was so lucky finding my place. The price for it is not cheap but really good considering the rent market these days.

I love my apartment, don't get me wrong. It's pretty, the neighborhood is wonderful but it's just a bit too small.

Since my boyfriend and I have decided into moving into something a little bit bigger I've been studying the rent market for quite a while.

Reading the for-rent section in the newspapers is somewhat frustrating.

First of all, the prices.

I'm looking for a flat of at least 60 m² but I have to be ready to pay a minimum of ISK 150,000 (EUR 898 / USD 1,185) every month. Too much for me. Way too much!

Also, most landlords ask for three months rent paid in advance. Pardon me?

Secondly, there are so few available apartments at the moment. When I moved out of my previous flat and was looking for a new tenant to replace me I received about sixty phone calls of prospective tenants on the first day the advert was published. Of course I know that living in the popular district of 101 comes at a price. But not at that price!

Well, the 101 district is just where I want to live, because it's wonderful to live here.

Who wants to rent 45 m² for ISK 120,000 (EUR 718 / USD948 ) a month? Come on, landladies and landlords, 45 m²? I know you have to pay your mortgages and life is expensive and stuff, but seriously? Get real, please.

It almost seems as if many landlords rather leave their apartments vacant instead of just lowering the prices a bit.

Demand determines the price, I get it. But one doesn't have to be megalomaniac.

So finding an apartment of a reasonable size for a reasonable prize in the right area is a rare jewel and should be treasured.

Before the crisis everybody here bought flats and houses.

I've never met so many people in their very early twenties that already owned their own apartment. First, I was really surprised as this is very unusual to what I'm used to from my native country Germany.

With the financial downfall of Iceland many people lost their homes because they couldn't afford to repay their loans.

I remember reading a while ago that many apartments in the downtown area now belong to the banks as a result of that.

Since finding the right apartment to rent seems utterly impossible these days, we decided to look into buying something.

Here, the situation looks a lot different.

The Icelandic real estate market offers a lot of different kinds of accommodations. Beautiful apartments in abundance, the prices seem reasonable.

Some say buying an apartment now is to the best advantage. I hope they are right.

I'm excited about the outcome of my research and efforts to purchase my very first apartment.

And to all of you out there looking for a flat to rent: good luck.

In case of emergency you can always move back to Mama.

Katharina Hauptmann – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.