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Home* News and Stories → Housing mar­ket still tight in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Housing mar­ket still tight in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The housing mar­ket is still dif­fi­cult in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was less appa­rent during the years with coro­na rest­ric­tions, but it is get­ting more of a pro­blem again curr­ent­ly as the important win­ter tou­rist sea­son starts.

Accom­mo­da­ti­on has always had a hea­vy pri­ce tag in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but the situa­ti­on beca­me real­ly dif­fi­cult after a num­ber of hou­ses was lost during a snow ava­lan­che in Decem­ber 2015, which also took the live of two peo­p­le, inclu­ding one child. A num­ber of hou­ses with more than 100 units were aban­do­ned after ava­lan­che risk assess­ments. Ava­lan­che fen­ces and walls have sin­ce been built to secu­re remai­ning are­as, but cer­tain addres­ses still have to expect tem­po­ra­ry evacua­ti­on in dan­ge­rous wea­ther situa­tions, as recent­ly in Nyby­en.

avalanche wall, Longyearbyen

Ava­lan­che wall near the moun­tain Suk­ker­top­pen next to a resi­den­ti­al area
in cen­tral loca­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

On top of that, the fire in Sep­tem­ber des­troy­ed seve­ral hou­ses with a num­ber of flats. Nobo­dy was inju­red, at least, alt­hough it was a nar­row escape for some, who lost all their belon­gings in the fire.

Fire in Longyearbyen

Seve­ral hou­ses in cen­tral Lon­gye­ar­by­en were lost during a fire in Sep­tem­ber 2022.

New dwel­ling hou­ses are under con­s­truc­tion in seve­ral loca­ti­ons in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, main­ly at Elves­let­ta, bet­ween the cent­re and the river Lon­gye­a­rel­va. This may give visi­tors the impres­si­on that Lon­gye­ar­by­en is gro­wing, but it is actual­ly still a race to catch up with the los­ses.

Construction site Longyearbyen

Con­s­truc­tion site in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: the place appears to grow,
but it is actual­ly a mat­ter of cat­ching up with the los­ses.

The pro­blem was less appa­rent in 2020 and 2021 due to coro­na, but now the win­ter sea­son is under full steam. Just as the fishing indus­try on the main­land, the tou­rism indus­try depends on sea­so­nal staff to run the busi­ness. But now the indus­try is facing big­ger pro­blems than ever befo­re to find housing for their work force. The­re is no detail­ed data, but NRK assu­mes that the­re is a lack of housing for a three-digit num­ber of peo­p­le for sea­so­nal jobs in tou­rism.

Main housing space owners in Lon­gye­ar­by­en include the sta­te-owned com­pa­nies Stats­bygg and Store Nor­ske. Statsbygg’s main task is to sup­p­ly employees of the public sec­tors with accom­mo­da­ti­on, and they don’t con­sider it their job to help the tou­rism indus­try. Store Nor­ske says they are wil­ling to help, but this would obvious­ly requi­re available capa­ci­ties.

Con­s­truc­tion is going on, and many are hoping for an easier housing mar­ket in the future. But this will take years – and tho­se out for housing will have to pay hea­vy pri­ces if they find any­thing at all.

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last modification: 2023-02-21 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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