From Iceland — Renting In The Free World

Renting In The Free World

Published March 22, 2012

Renting In The Free World

The rental market in Iceland is historically small and the large majority of Icelanders own their homes today. However, an increasing number of people have turned to renting since the financial crash.
In fact, there have been on average 790 notarized leases signed per month since 2009, which is nearly double the number of leases signed per month between 2005 and 2007, according to data published by the National Registry.
So, what is the rental market like in Iceland?
Naturally it depends on whether we are talking Reykjavík or Ísafjörður. And it probably comes as no surprise that it’s most expensive to rent in downtown Reykjavík, postal code 101.
But it’s now possible to say more than that given that for the first time, on February 24, The National Registry published data on the cost of renting by size and location. With that information, we have created a map much like the map The Guardian made earlier this week, which depicts how many hours somebody would need to work for minimum wage to afford renting a two room flat.

See a larger version of this map.
It shows that a two-room, 63 square meter, apartment in 101 Reykjavík rented for an average 109.863 ISK/month in 2011. To afford rent there, somebody working full-time (171 hours/month) for minimum wage (182.000 ISK/month in 2011) would need to work 103 hours, which 60% of the work month.
While there is slight variation in the average price of an apartment in the greater Reykjavík area, somebody working for minimum wage would still need to work at least 87 hours in a month to afford rent.
The least expensive apartments are located in the remote Westfjords. An average two-room, 63 square metre, apartment in Ísafjörður, which is considered the capital of this region, rented for 57.477 ISK/month in 2011. To afford renting this apartment, somebody working for minimum wage would need to work 54 hours per month, which is 32% of the work month.
Of course, keep in mind that this is all very much approximate data. It’s a pity that the National Registry does not provide data with finer granularity. If you are interested in the data behind this map then you can explore a Google spread sheet here: and download a csv here:
The rental prices are from, the number of homes comes from, population data can be found (along with A LOT of other data) on the excellent The comparison numbers are from the aforementioned Guardian article.

Follow Grapevine’s designer and map department Páll Hilmarsson @pallih and visit his blog (viewer discretion advised).

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