Large majority own their dwelling


Three out of four households own their dwelling, and a large majority of these are freeholders. The ownership rates are especially high among couples with children and high-income households.

The Norwegian housing market is dominated by owners. There are about 2.3 million private households in Norway; 63 per cent are freeholders and 14 per cent are part owners or shareholders. This means that 77 per cent of households own the dwelling they reside in, while the remaining 23 per cent are tenants. The ownership share has changed little since the last edition (2015) of the register-based statistics on housing conditions. However, there are significant disparities between different population groups and parts of the country.

Lowest ownership rates among single parents

We find the highest ownership rates among couples with children. Ninety-three per cent of couples with older children are owner occupiers. The proportion is somewhat lower among couples with young children, with 86 per cent owning the dwelling they live in. The ownership share is significantly lower among single parents. More than half of single parents with young children are tenants, while one in four single parents with older children rent. People living alone also have lower ownership rates than the total population.

Figure 1. Type of household by ownership rate

Part- / shareholder Freeholder
Multi-family househeold with children 0-17 years 12 52
Multi-family househeold without resident children 0-17 years 9 80
One-family household with adult children (youngest child 18 years and over) 10 82
Lone parent with older children (youngest child 6-17 years) 16 59
Lone parent with small children (youngest child 0-5 years) 12 37
Couple with older children (youngest child 6-17 years) 7 86
Couple with small children (youngest child 0-5 years) 11 74
Couple without resident children 12 75
Living alone 19 44
Total 14 63

In total, 82 per cent of persons live in a dwelling owned by a household member, but the share varies between age groups. Most people grow up in a home owned by one of their parents. Eighty-six per cent of people below the age of 20 live in a dwelling owned by a household member. Many move out in their 20s. This contributes to a low ownership rate in this age group. Sixty-three per cent of people in their 20s lives in an owned dwelling, but the share gradually increases later in life before falling somewhat in the oldest age group. The decline among the elderly is partly caused by people selling their previous home and renting dwellings that are more suitable for the elderly.

Figure 2. Proportion of persons living in an owner occupier household, by age group

Part- / shareholder Freeholder
Total 11.7 70.9
0-19 years 9 76.7
20-29 years 12.8 50.3
30-39 years 14 63.8
40-49 years 10.8 75
50-66 years 11.5 78.4
67-79 years 13.6 76.4
80 years or older 17.1 61.1

One in four Oslo residents are tenants

The ownership rate varies between different parts of the country, but the largest cities, as well as some municipalities with a large proportion of students, primarily stand out. Among the largest municipalities, Trondheim and Tromsø have the highest rental rate among households, with 32 and 31 per cent respectively. The proportion in Oslo and Bergen is 30 and 27 per cent. In large municipalities, such as Stavanger, Kristiansand and Drammen, around one in four households are part of the rental market.

Looking at persons instead of households, Oslo has the highest share of tenants among the largest municipalities. One in four Oslo residents are tenants. We also find high tenant proportions in some municipalities with a large student population. More than half the residents between 20 and 29 are tenants in student cities such as Lillehammer, Ås, Trondheim and Tromsø.

The large city municipalities, and some of the municipalities around Oslo, have the highest shares of part owners and shareholders. One in three households in Oslo are part owners or shareholders. In Drammen, Bergen and Trondheim, the figure is one in four.

More than half low income households are tenants

There is a clear correlation between income and ownership. Households below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold have relatively low ownership rates – 31 per cent are freeholders and 11 per cent are part owners or shareholders. If we look at income quartiles, we also find that ownership rates increase with income. Forty-nine per cent of households in the lowest income quartile are owners. In the highest income quartile, 94 per cent of households own their dwelling. A large majority of them are freeholders, while part owners and shareholders constitute a larger portion of the owners among those on lower Incomes.

Figure 3. Tenure status, by income quartile

Freeholder Part- / shareholder Tenant
Lowest income quartile 35.5 13.1 51.4
Second income quartile 61.3 17.1 21.6
Third income quartile 73.2 15.3 11.5
Highest income quartile 82.4 11.1 6.6

Recipients of both social assistance and dwelling support are economically vulnerable. The groups overlap to a certain degree and have similar characteristics, e.g. relatively low ownership rates. Thirty-two per cent of households that receive dwelling support and 35 per cent of households that receive social assistance are owner occupiers, compared to 77 per cent of all households.

Eighteen per cent of households have debt that is at least three times the size of their annual income, according to our data. Seventy per cent of these are freeholders and 19 per cent are part owners and shareholders – in other words a higher proportion than for the population as a whole. Although the figure does not give an indication of the type of debt, it seems likely that a large proportion is mortgages. The high debt burden might make this group somewhat vulnerable even though they have a high ownership rate, especially if interest rates increase.