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Why immigrants in Norway are less likely to own a home

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Why immigrants in Norway are less likely to own a home
Immigrants in Norway are far less likely to own a home and more likely to live in cramped conditions. Pictured is a miniature house in Bergen.Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Norway is a nation of homeowners. However, its foreign residents are less likely to have a place of their own and more likely to live in smaller, cramped homes, according to new research.


 As many as 81.8 percent in Norway own a home, according to the national data agency Statistics Norway. The number of those with an immigrant background who live in a home they own is just 62 percent. 

Statistics Norway defines an immigrant background as either being a foreign resident or the child of two non-Norwegian nationals. 

Statistics Norway’s report said the reason for the high homeownership numbers among the general population is the “Norwegian housing model”. This is a set of policies and market regulations to ensure as many people as possible can afford to buy and own their own homes. 

“That people can buy and keep their home is seen as essential both to prevent housing social problems in general and to promote the integration of immigrants in particular (Ministry of Municipal and District Administration, 2020). Thus, the housing market is an important arena to monitor when assessing the integration of immigrants and their children into Norwegian society,” the report from Statistics Norway said. 

Such is the difference in homeownership between international residents and Norwegian is that when foreigners are removed from the figures, home ownership jumps to 86.3 percent. 

One factor as to why fewer immigrants own a home has to do with where they choose to live. Many immigrants settle in Norway’s capital, Oslo, where it is harder to get on the property ladder. 

“Many immigrants live in Oslo, where the percentage of owners is the lowest and house prices are the highest. This may help to explain why relatively few immigrants own their own home, why they have smaller homes on average and more often live in cramped conditions compared to non-immigrants. At the same time, there are big differences between immigrants and non-immigrants, regardless of how central they live,” the report said.

READ ALSO: How many immigrants does Norway have and where do they all live?

Another factor has to do with residence length in the country. Homeownership rates increase among those with an immigrant background the longer they spend living in the country. The exception was nationals from countries where a high number of refugees come to Norway. 


One thing stopping non-Norwegians from getting on the housing ladder, according to the research, is that foreigners were more prevalent in low-income groups, which are less likely to own a home. 

Even those in higher income groups are less likely to own a home, though. This may be due to immigrants returning home rather than laying down roots in Norway. 

“They may also have plans to move out again after a certain time, and therefore choose to rent a home to retain greater flexibility. This may be a contributing factor to the fact that even in the highest income class, ownership shares are somewhat lower for those with an immigrant background, and to the fact that we find low ownership shares among groups of immigrant workers,” the report said. 


The figures also showed that immigrants were likelier to live in a block of flats than in a detached house. This may be due to immigrants living in parts of the country where apartments are much more common. 

Statistics Norway found that one in four homeowners with an immigrant background were living in cramped conditions. Cramped conditions were defined as less than 25 square metres per person living in the home or there being less rooms than people. 

While 25 percent of those with an immigrant background lives in cramped conditions, just 6 percent of the rest of the population lived in similar conditions.

Typically, the rest of the population had around 10-20 square metres more space per person in their home than those with a foreign background, depending on where the non-Norwegian national came from. 


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