The leader of the Oslo City Council has expressed concern that the center of Norway’s capital city is “becoming like Manhattan” where “only the richest can afford to live,” as new figures detailed rising costs of living within the city.
Stian Berger Røsland, a Conservative Party politician, told newspaper VG that Oslo will be “a completely different city” if it continues to grow at the rate of 12,000-16,000 citizens per year, ending up “like Manhattan, where people come to work but where only the richest can afford to live.”
The growth in the number of people wanting to live in the capital currently outstrips construction of new housing, which stands at around 1,200-1,300 new residences annually. The city is expected to grow by around 200,000 over the next 20 years, and most of the new housing units are small, high-priced apartments. Demand remains high for larger affordable units that could accommodate families with small children.
Statistics show that a selveier leilighet (freehold apartment, or condominium) in the city has become nearly NOK 3,000 (around USD 550) more expensive per square meter just since January 1. The average price per square meter for such a unit is now NOK 45,818 (nearly USD 8,500).
Erling Dokk Holm, a researcher at the Oslo School of Management and Institute of Urbanism and Landscape at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, also warned that the price could increase to NOK 100,000 (about USD 18,500) per square meter by 2020-2025.
“The surroundings will become more class-divided as only the upper middle-class and higher will be able to afford to buy or live there,” said Dokk Holm. He suggested that the prices would force key workers like teachers and nurses out of the city center, meaning increased wages to offset travel costs and further demands on public transport and roads. He stated that he believes it would “not be possible” to stop this from happening while the majority of residences remained privately owned, adding that “price regulation of the housing market” would be necessary.