International Student Blog

Home away from home

Whether you’re a current student looking for a change of scenery or a future student searching for housing from afar, determining where you’re going to live is vital part of the school-abroad experience. There is a need for the right space: that sense of home. In 2015 I moved from Fantoft – student housing about 20 minutes outside the sentrum  (city center) by bybanen (light rail) – to the sentrum itself. While my experience in Fantoft was positive, especially with my flatmate, my classmates, and other friends I found living there, I’m extremely happy with my move. So how do you decide what’s right for you?



My first Sentrum apt view. Photo: Stand Hiestand


My 2018 sentrum view. Photo: Stand Hiestand

Student housing may be a great choice for you:

Sammen (the student welfare organization) offers housing for students in Bergen. You can apply for and book your housing online before you arrive in Bergen.

  1. If you want to feel confident you’ll have a place when you arrive – if you’re an international student you get a housing guarantee assuming you follow the instructions and meet the housing deadlines.
  2. If you want to save money – it is definitely less expensive than finding a place yourself.
  3. If you want to make friends – you may be grouped with a charming flatmate or group of students sharing a kitchen, this can be an opportunity to make new friends in a new country. Also, Fantoft is large, that means there is quite a lot of students around to socialize with.
  4. If you want to feel clear about what you’ll get – it is easy to navigate choosing a place online with Sammen’s site, the site is in English, and you can trust that Sammen is offering what they display online.
  5. If you want many reasonably priced choices – Sammen Housing offers 4396 units, ranging from student villages (such as Fantoft and Alrek) with large student populations, to smaller housing units in neighborhoods in the sentrum.

Read more about applying for housing with Sammen here.

For more information about student housing, check the UiB student housing page or Sammen’s housing page.



What if you’re interested in something other than student housing?

The reasons for my move were very specific to me. I love to walk, I will walk as my commute, as well as my entertainment, that is how much I love to walk. I prefer to get everywhere I can on foot.

  • Will you walk up a mountain? Yes I will. Well, that’s not impressive, every Norwegian, their toddler and their grandma does that! (Grandma runs it.).
  • Will you walk in the city? Absolutely.
  • Will you walk in the rain? Come on, it’s Bergen. I will walk in the rain.
  • Will you walk in the snow? In the snow, feeling low, all aglow, with a bro, stubbed my toe… on my feet I will go, I will walk. Let’s all go.

There were great places to walk around Fantoft, but I really wanted walking to be my primary mode of transport, without having to rely on bybanen to get me home. While bybanen is rather reliable, I just prefer to leave it to my feet. So I moved into the sentrum in 2015, I lived near Korskirken for a couple years  – now I live behind Bryggen at the base of Fløyen where I can walk up a mountain any ol’ time I please. I’ve been very happy with the apartments I have lived in in the sentrum. So how did I find them? Or, more importantly, how do you find one of your own?

lake near fantoft

One of the lovely places to walk near Fantoft. Photo: Stand Hiestand


The following websites are similar to cragislist (if you have that in your country, if you don’t… they’re like classified ads online). and are both in Norwegian, so have the translating add-ons for your browser fired up and ready. They both offered tailored searching, you can look for a specific price range and choose specific neighborhoods.



My first sentrum neighborhood. Photo: Stand Hiestand


Making friends in the 2018 neighborhood. Photo: Stand Hiestand


  1. offers not only apartments, but also goods for sale – from guitars to boats, and it even has a free section, check it out!
  2. offers housing only.





Additionally, it may be worth posting or scrolling through posts in expat group pages on Facebook. Here’s one for expats in general.  You might look for groups specific to your country of origin, as there was an American one, for example. Most of these are closed groups, ask to join to see what they have to offer!

And you might even try asking your Bergen buddy from Buddy Bergen if you signed up for one.  Buddy Bergen does not say they can assist with finding a place to live, but you never know what your Norwegian buddy might recommend (they know the good stuff)!



Did I miss a way to find a place to stay? Have your say… below!

5 comments for “Home away from home

  1. Dede
    4. April 2016 at 00:45

    Thanks for the posts! I plan on studying at the University of Bergen in the Fall and I will be studying as an international student. I really want to make the most out of my trip. Do you recommend staying in the student housing or finding an apartment off campus to do that?

    • Stand Hiestand
      5. April 2016 at 14:00

      What’s great about your question is there is no wrong answer! But what’s best for you may depend on your priorities — do you want to make sure to be immediately surrounded by a bunch of other students (especially other international students) with extremely easy access to student activities and gatherings? Then you probably want to stay in the student housing. Are you someone who prefers a bit of their own space as well as easy access to all things in town? Then perhaps you want to look for non-student accommodations on your own (most international students get housed in Fantoft student housing, about 20 minutes away by light rail). I love living in my own apartment in the Sentrum, myself. But that being said, it will almost assuredly be more expensive to find your own place than to sign up for available student housing. So, take your budget into consideration as well. Thanks for the question, and best of luck deciding on where to live!

  2. Jessie
    11. August 2017 at 14:09

    Hi, great blog it’s very helpful 🙂 I have decided to rent a flat in town and have received a contract for a room but it’s in Norwegian and the end date says it’s in 2020 instead of the end of this year which is what we agreed on. Do you know if there are services offered through the uni or else where to help? I don’t want to get stuck paying for a room I can’t stay in or something.

    • Stand Hiestand
      16. August 2017 at 12:06

      Hi there!
      I can understand why you would be worried about this. While I don’t have specific expertise here, my experience has always been that landlords here tend to be trustworthy and keep their word. Also, I believe it is standard to have a 3 year rental contract for apartments – but as you might guess that often doesn’t work for many renters. In my experience, even when you are “breaking” the 3-year contract, as long as you find a new renter to take your place, there is no problem. It may be that based on your conversation with the landlord, they don’t expect you to even do that. You could start by clarifying with your landlord about the contract date and if they expect you to find another person to rent the apartment or if they will do that themself. You might also take a look here for information about tenant’s rights. Finally, if you need additional help, I would recommend reaching out to the Tenant’s Association in Bergen to see if they can direct you. Hope it all works out without issues and that you enjoy your apartment and your time in Bergen!

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