Housing and cost of living
Apartments for rent
The market for rentals in Reykjavik is limited. Rent in the capital area is generally more expensive than in other areas. To find an apartment you may want to use the tips below.
Use the internet
The following websites that are connected to the newspapers have listings that are updated daily. These ads are all in Icelandic. Look for “Húsnædi í bodi” on the following sites: www.visir.is and www.mbl.is.
https://nyrbyr.com/ is a website that pulls together info from various other rental websites and is well worth trying.
Last but definitely not least, Facebook has groups for apartment renters and searchers and you can both post or search there. Here are a few:
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for an apartment. Often apartments for rent are not advertised in the papers as they are rented through acquaintances before people get the chance to advertise them.
When renting a house or an apartment it is normal to pay a month in advance and a security deposit. You should always have a written, signed lease. For more information on leases or to print out a lease in English, go to: https://www.stjornarradid.is/media/velferdarraduneyti-media/media/eydublod_vel/Lease_form_14122016.pdf
Use online rental agencies:
Note that all these websites are in Icelandic.
Below are some translations which may help as the rental websites are only in Icelandic:
- Heimilisfang = address
- (póstnúmer) = area code
- (herbergi) = bedrooms
- In Iceland a 2 herb. (bedroom) apartment has one bedroom and one living room
- Leiga = how much it costs to rent it
- Verd = Price
- Fermetrar = Size (in square meters)
- Herbergi = Bedrooms
- Gata = Street
- Einbýli = House
- Einbýli = Stand-alone home
- Leiga = Rent
- Tvíbýli = Duplex
- Þríbýli = Three units in a building
- Fjölbýli = More than 3 apartments to a building
- Húsgögn = Furnished
- Rafmagn = Electricity
- Bílskúr = Garage
- Laus = Available
- Langtímaleiga = Long term lease
- Heimasími = Home phone
- GSM sími = Cell phone
- Netfang = E-mail
On this site you can enter street names and get directions:
Below you can see a map of Reykjavik postcodes.
The Reykjavik area rental market can be a challenging one and good apartments go quickly, so as soon as you know of an apartment you might like you should contact the owner by phone or email, and ask to view the property. When viewing an apartment you should remember to consider factors such as public transport options, distance to the closest grocery, bike storage (if you have a bike), location of schools (if you have kids), and gyms (if you like to work out), the proximity of noisy establishments (and whether that is a pro or a con), what the neighbors are like, etc. If you are happy with the whole package you should try to reach an agreement with the owner, BUT make sure you consult with someone before signing the agreement.
Most property owners request a bank guarantee or a cash advance when renting out their apartments.
Rent Subsidies (Húsaleigubætur)
People with low income who are renting an apartment, have signed a lease for at least 6 months, and are at least 18 years of age may apply for public rent subsidies. Application forms are in the reception areas of your local Social Service Office (þjonustumidstöd). Each application is valid for one year, therefore, applications must be renewed annually. There are social service offices in all municipalities in Iceland and several offices in Reykjavik. For information about your Social Service Office call 411 1600.
To see if you can apply for housing benefits, check this link: https://www.hms.is/husnaedisbaetur/housing-benefit/.
Note: If you rent in an industrial complex or some other form of housing that is not a legal residential area you will NOT receive rent subsidies.
Utilities and other expenses
Whether you buy or rent an apartment, there will be home-related expenses, e.g. electricity, water (geothermal heating), housing funds, council tax, insurance, etc. In some cases, some of these are included in the rent but it is important to know which are, and which aren’t.
Gas is not commonly used in Iceland but those who prefer it can get canisters refilled at gas stations.
Cost of living
For the cost of living comparison please check this website: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries.jsp
Prepare to network
Below are some Facebook groups you may want to join.
This one is general info and support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/living.in.iceland/
This one is for buying and selling: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4saleIS/
This is a group for foreign women wanting to meet other foreign women living in Iceland. They organize regular social events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/reykjavik.ggi/
This is a link to places of interest: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zbRwHDHuZdiM.khklghJ09g_I