You are here: Home » Our Travel Tales » Europe » Northern Europe » 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

by Andrea on March 14, 2013

Planning a move or visit to Norway? We lived there. Check out our Norway stories and resources.

From time to time we get emails from readers asking us questions ahead of their own moves to Norway or because they are in the process of applying for a visa. Some are still making the decision on whether to move here at all. The other day I was chatting with fellow expat, Megan Starr, of A Suitcase and Stilettos, and we decided to put together a list of things that we wish we’d have known before settling in Norway.

17may norway 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

Celebrations on Norway’s National Day, 17 May. All photos in this post from morgueFile.

After being here a year I feel like I’ve gotten to know the place very well. That said, I also feel like I don’t understand it at all. While on the surface Norway can seem somewhat similar to Australia or the United States, I assure you that the culture is quite different. I am constantly getting used to things here, which is, of course, the nature of the life of any expat. I have been working hard at seeing some of the items below as being neither good nor bad, just simply the way they are. Though some have definitely been more challenging than others.

1. The honesty policy is alive and well in Norway.

This is definitely one of the nicest things about living here for me. People seem to genuinely trust each other and sometimes I feel like I am living in a village instead of a city. Nowhere else in the world would I not hesitate to leave my purse at the table it a cafe while I go up to order a coffee. The other day we accidentally left an entire bag of groceries at the supermarket and went back two hours later to find it still sitting there. I paid cash at the dentist one time and they didn’t have any change. Instead of giving me a hard time about it, they took the largest bill I had and let me pay the rest on the next visit; I even offered to go and get some smaller bills from a shop nearby and that offer was dismissed with a smile and a wave of the hand.

2. Things can be very efficient here.

While some processes will seem slow or clunky, especially when dealing with government, many are fast, efficient and electronic. For example, Norway is quickly becoming a cashless society, where electronic banking and debit cards are fully integrated for easy bill payments. Many procedures are automated (imagine paying for your doctor’s appointment via a machine at the office) and you can easily book services like hairdresser’s appointments online. Because of the high cost to businesses when hiring employees, you’ll find that many interactions are streamlined. Many practices won’t have receptionists, for example – you simply seat yourself if you have an appointment and wait to be called. A place where this efficiency won’t be found is at the supermarket, where you’ll often line up for awhile because there are so few people working the checkout counters. I wonder when self-service checkout kiosks will find their way here – seems an anomaly that they haven’t already been implemented.

3. You may not be able to get a loan right away.

Norway has its own system of rating the credit-worthiness of individuals. If you are planning to buy a home here or need a car loan, you may find that you have to wait months or even years before you have established good credit. Check around with different banks because, depending on your situation, some may make exceptions or be able to accommodate you. In the meantime, be sure you have enough money to get your life in Norway started before arriving.

4. Taxes, taxes everywhere

In Norway you will constantly be paying taxes whether you are aware of them or not. This starts with the 25 per cent value-added tax (VAT or moms; 14 per cent for food and drink). Then there are property taxes, death (inheritance) taxes, fuel taxes, TV taxes, new car taxes, income taxes (at least 28 per cent) and the wealth tax (1.1 per cent on worldwide assets).

norway family outdoors 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

5. It can be difficult to be economical.

Forget about buying staple goods in bulk. Price competition is rare and importing things is not always a solution because of the VAT. Some things I really struggle with, such as the fact that many houses have electric heating instead of gas, which is more expensive.

6. Everything associated with cars and driving is expensive.

From exchanging your licence to the price of a car, to the taxes and fuel costs, driving is expensive in Norway. You have the annual motor vehicle tax, periodic road-worthiness tests, different tyres for different seasons and large fines for speeding. Despite having a good income, we have decided that it’s too cost prohibitive to purchase a car given the relatively short amount of time we will spend in Norway.

614162 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

7. Trade unions and collective agreements make a difference.

Norway does not have a minimum wage. Instead, numerous trade unions exist across many professions and enterprises. They look after their members’ interests and fight for improvements in pay and working conditions by creating collective agreements. If your workplace is bound by such an agreement, you will generally get paid more and have a better work environment. If the agreement has been given general application, its provisions will also apply to foreign workers and non-members.

8. You have to stay with a company for more than 12 months to keep the pension money you earned.

Should you change jobs before a year passes, the company has the option to have the private pension money returned to them.

norway train 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

9. You will want to learn Norwegian.

Many Norwegians speak English, but that doesn’t mean they all want to. You won’t have much trouble at the shops or when obtaining basic services if you speak English, but you won’t get much further than that. Much will depend on where you work and the culture there. For example, if you work for an English or American company, you will probably be fine with English. In a Norwegian company, however, most of the employees will expect to speak Norwegian in social situations, even perhaps in meetings. This is true even when the work is done in English.

Your mail from companies in Norway will be in Norwegian. You will also encounter other non-English speaking foreigners to whom you may only be able to communicate in Norwegian. If you attend parties and social events, many people will be speaking Norwegian even if there are large numbers of English speakers present. So be sure you are happy to learn.

10. Sunday truly is a day of rest.

Most Norwegians do not work on Sundays. Trading hours are generally Monday through Saturday, with only the odd supermarket open on Sunday. Most offices are closed on Saturdays as well.

11. You will pay more for vitamins. A lot more.

Norway has extremely restrictive supplement regulations. High-dose vitamins require a prescription and the prices for the ones that are sold over the counter are exorbitant. If you’re like me and take a lot of different vitamins, it’s going to hit your pocketbook. A normal sized pack of 200 mg Vitamin C tablets, for example, will cost around US$25. On a positive note, the quality of the supplements sold in Norway is tightly regulated and supposedly high.

 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

12. Norway is a great place to be a parent.

If you are paying taxes in Norway, the government will look after your children from the moment of conception. All your doctor’s appointments for pregnancy will be free if you see professionals in the public system. A variety of benefits are available, including the pregnancy benefit and the parental benefit that provides you with income during maternity and paternity leave. These are generous – 100 per cent for 47 weeks or 80 per cent for 57 weeks, and they can be shared between the parents. If you don’t qualify for that, there are lump sum benefits for maternity and adoption. Family allowances help to pay for the costs of raising a child until he or she turns 18. If you look after your young child at home, you may receive a ‘cash-for-care’ benefit. If you’re happy with public schools, elementary education is free from birth to age 16. University fees seldom exceed 500 kr per semester (that’s less than US$100). Additionally, a variety of free counselling, welfare, mediation and women’s services are available. Of course, if you don’t have children, you’ll be paying for these services anyway through your taxes.

13. Getting correct answers to your questions can be difficult.

I have endless frustration when trying to find information, especially from government offices. This doesn’t always happen, but often when I call to enquire, I get one answer from one person and, if this doesn’t sound right or gel with other information I’ve heard, I might call back for a second opinion. This second opinion can often vary from the first; and sometimes it’s a completely different answer. I’ve also found that you have to ask a lot of questions because people won’t automatically tell you things. You may have a question about one part of something, but there will be additional information that could be helpful. Unless you ask about that information, however, it may not be given to you. This is not an intentional slight or anything like that, I’ve just noticed that it seems to be a cultural difference. I’m used to working with checklists when providing information and being very thorough. That isn’t always thought of here in Norway so just be sure to be thorough yourself in your enquiries.

norway fjord 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

14. It’s expensive to travel within the country.

Hotels and flights in Norway aren’t cheap, unless you are just flying back and forth to Oslo. We’ve found our desire to explore the rest of the country hampered by both these costs and those of restaurants and cultural activities. It just seems cheaper to head to the rest of Europe.

15. Holidays are taken very seriously here.

Employees get five weeks of holidays per year, three of which can be taken consecutively over the summer period (forget about getting anything done in the summer). There are a few school holiday periods throughout the year and sometimes it can feel like there is a lot more play than work going on in Norway. They even stagger the school holiday periods from region to region so that the ski resorts don’t get overrun all at once. If anything else frustrates you about Norwegian systems, you’ll smile at how organized vacation is.

For 15 more things to know about Norway, head over to Megan’s blog…

What could you add to this list?

614156 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway 30 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Norway

Planning a move or visit to Norway? We lived there. Check out our Norway stories and resources.

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer March 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Norway is so fascinating. I’d love to live there, but it’s just SO expensive!

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Indeed – I think more for some people than others. If you have a big family, for example, it is probably a better deal.

Reply

Gaute July 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

It really isn’t expensive if you work here and make Norwegian salary.

Reply

inspiringtravellers July 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Thanks for your comment, Gaute! Just curious – have you ever lived/worked anywhere else?

Reply

Carl Youngblood July 7, 2014 at 4:56 am

Speaking as one who has lived and worked in various places in the USA, UK and Norway, my earning power was significantly higher in both the US and UK. Salaries are around 20% higher in Norway but the cost of basic necessities, food, staples, and pretty much all consumer goods is at least 50% higher. It ends up being a net loss. However, there is no denying that the social safety net and general sense of societal cohesion is a lot higher. There are tradeoffs.

Reply

wondernuts March 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Norway sounds pretty freaking awesome! =)

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Some things are definitely awesome, as with anywhere else, I suppose =)

Reply

Krista March 15, 2013 at 12:57 am

This is so interesting to me, and sounds very similar to situations I encountered in Denmark and Germany. Australia has entirely different set of things to get used to. :-) Isn’t it funny how things that make perfect sense to one culture, are completely bonkers to another? :-)

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Yes, I agree about Australia – took a lot of getting used to for me. I think that’s true of anywhere. I am constantly comparing Norway to Oz because we last lived there…I find some similarities to Norway for sure!

Reply

Maria March 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Great post. Yes, it is expensive… I’m OK with that so long as there’s a balance.
Many places have high taxes but the residents paying those taxes generally get something in return that benefits everyone – highly efficient public transport, fantastic public spaces or beautiful schools with the latest tech gear, etc… and the country is gorgeous! Worth at least a peek.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I need to live here longer to decide if there is a good balance. I have only Australia and the US to compare it to – there are pros and cons for any country, I think…

Reply

Jess @UsedYorkCity March 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Love this post, gave a great overview as life as an (expat) local in Norway! Now, how is their public transportation? Is it easy enough to get around without a car?

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm

It really depends on where you live, Jess. Stavanger has generally good public transportation, but it can be frustrating because sometimes to get from one place to another, you have to go all the way to the town centre and change buses. They could definitely use more lines. And it helps to live within walking distance to a good set of shops and supermarkets. Our bus line goes to the city and has good eastern connections, but I never go anywhere in the west…

Reply

Emily in Chile March 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm

It definitely sounds like it’s expensive in many different ways! While I’m sure it would be hard to start from scratch with Norwegian, I can’t say I disagree with locals for expecting expats to learn their language. In Chile it’s less of an option and more of a necessity since most people don’t speak English, but I do think that even in cultures where everyone can communicate in English (or another language, but you know what I mean) it’s appropriate to do your best to learn the local language. You might not become fluent, but a bit of effort will hopefully go a long way in terms of fitting in socially.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I completely agree with you on that point, Emily. Where I do take issue with some Norwegians on this, however, is they can be a bit overzealous on the national pride front when it comes to language. For example: I went to the doctor last month and had a very unpleasant experience related to the language issue. My GP’s office website is bilingual and she and I had spoken English at my last appointment. I started to learn last year but then when we had a lot of issues and didn’t know whether we were going to stay, I stalled. Even if I had been taking classes and studying rigorously over the last nine months, there is no way my Norwegian would have been up for a complicated discussion about this particular health issue. And the doctor speaks fluent English. Anyway, she started off our appointment by admonishing me for asking if we could speak English (I asked in Norwegian). It made me tremendously uncomfortable and I had to sit through the rest of the conversation very upset and with a lump in my throat. I get where she was coming from – she said they have a terrible problem here of foreigners coming in and thinking that they don’t have to learn. After I explained to her my situation and how we may not even be staying here two years, she calmed down, but, you know what? It was terribly unprofessional. If she felt she had to say something, she could have easily said it as an aside at the end of the visit as I was leaving. I also felt like she was out of line considering the fact that she was running almost 45 minutes behind schedule. She had also made a mistake with my medication at the last appointment. My point is that sometimes Norwegians let their aggravation about the language issue and what I think is sometimes a general wariness of foreigners to come before more important matters – like doing their jobs properly. (You may be able to tell that this was not the first time we’ve run into issues…)

Reply

Emily in Chile March 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Ok, that’s very unprofessional and just rude then! If a doctor doesn’t speak or doesn’t want to speak a foreign language, she shouldn’t have a bilingual website giving the impression that she’s able to treat patients in that language. I’m sorry you had such a crap experience.

Reply

Dallas @ GTE March 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of good things about Norway over the past couple of years, so I put Norway (and Finland) on my short list of countries I’d be interested in moving to, especially if I have kids. This post made me realize everything I’d read about Norway has been the “good” stuff. Thanks for writing this – it’s good to hear some actual experiences and heads-ups from an expat.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I found Finland to be quite different to Norway – I haven’t lived there but my initial perceptions were that I prefer Finland. I think there are good and bad points to living anywhere. And it also depends on what you’re accustomed to. There was a time when, because I grew up in the US, I thought that living there was the end all be all — but it has been many years since I lived there and now the US is a very different place than it was the way I remember it. I would need to move back and spend some time there again before reverting to my old attitudes. That said, I don’t think anywhere I’ve lived to date has been my “ideal.” We just keep on searching =)

Reply

Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER March 16, 2013 at 2:26 am

Wow, $25 for vitamins? Actually Korea felt around the same. I’m a big fan of efficiency though and I love that you can do things online. In a way, Korea was kinda similar and I miss that. A lot of online shopping and my ATM would update my bank book for me.

But Norwegians win hands down with the vacation perks! Holy cow, 5 weeks is like a landmine of vacation time and in Korea, you can only really get that kind of vacation time if you teach on a university level.

Forget about the U.S. which is where I’m in at the moment. It totally blows chunks.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm

John almost interviewed for a job in Seoul many years ago, but we have yet to visit Korea. I would like to! I have heard it’s expensive.

These days I think everywhere is becoming more expensive. It depends on what aspect you’re looking at. Cable TV and Internet here is very inexpensive. Food is expensive but not more than say, Australia — unless you eat in a restaurant…then forget about it. The costs rise dramatically because of the labour costs. So we rarely go out to eat. That I miss.

Agree with you completely about the vacation time. We’ve been investigating a move back to the States at some point, actually, because that is where I am from originally. Vacation time and healthcare costs are two of the biggest negatives weighing on that decision…

Reply

Andrew March 16, 2013 at 11:21 am

So much of this seems so similar to Germany. At least 12 of those are nearly identical to Germany. The modern European state is very different than the US has become.

Not that much of that is bad. A lot of the oddities and annoyances are govermental and involve getting integrated into the “system”, but once there things run more smoothly. Maybe there is something weird about that, but the system certainly takes more care than I remember from the US.
I have seen selfcheckouts at Ikea, but at no grocerystore. I expect it has something to do with the workers unions. Even though labor is expensive, they wouldnt be able to let people go.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I agree completely, Andrew – once we were both in the system, everything does run smoothly. I’m not thrilled with the “Big Brother” aspect of it all but I can see the appeal of the conveniences inherent within a state dominated system. Good point about the unions! Though they could add one or two self-checkouts and no one would notice. In Norway there are rarely ever more than two people working in a supermarket at any one time at the cashier’s counters…

Reply

Espen April 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

There are selfcheckouts in several shops. Both the OBS chain of stores and Bunnpris chain of stores comes to my mind, but I am sure there are more shops with them

Reply

inspiringtravellers April 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Good to know, Espen – maybe we’re just behind where I shop in Stavanger…

Reply

A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) March 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm

After living in France for so long, Norway seems like a party to me! Everything here is paper, paper, paper, forms, and more paper. So complicated. I’d be willing to learn Norwegian for a simpler system!

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I speak enough French to get around and always thought I’d love to live there. But I have heard from several people now that it’s one of the most difficult places for an expat. We’ve looked at jobs there but the visas can take six months so it has never seemed a viable option…

Reply

Arianwen March 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm

What a great set of tips! That’s tough about the pension. I guess it looks better to stay in any job for at least a year, but that’s harsh if you discover it’s not for you.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

Well, that’s money that you earned – and for most people, part of the remuneration that was negotiated into the job contract. So to me it’s stealing, but hey…

Reply

Chris April 1, 2013 at 4:06 am

You might want to point out that the gov’t pension remains yours no matter what, it’s the employer-paid private contribution (OTP) that can be retracted.

Reply

inspiringtravellers April 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for the information, Chris. But we have never received any sort of statement from the government informing us of the earned pension money…so we wouldn’t even know how to go about claiming it.

Reply

Chris September 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

You can’t expect them to send you information about pensions until you’re actually eligible to receive them. It’s not a 401K. You can’t withdraw the funds until you reach a legal pension age. The account information is available online. You have to log in using your citizen identification number at NAV’s website (public pension) and any additional private plans. It’s all available on minpensjon.no (in Norwegian).

Tia March 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

I just found your blog and it is so helpful – especially this post! I am living in Stavanger with my husband. We actually just flew in on Sunday and will be here for 1.5 years so maybe I will be hitting you up with any questions I have : )

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 19, 2013 at 9:16 am

Welcome, Tia =) Feel free to email me with any questions, of course…

We arrived around this time last year – get ready for big time boredom over Easter…the place will feel like a ghost town for about a week!

Reply

New Life in Spain March 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

What a fun read! Me being the Norwegian that I am I have some thoughts if that’s ok :)

Number 1- I LOVE THIS. I grew up with this, my friends leave their houses open when they leave, and leave the car key in the car. Just after having been in Spain a while I realize how crazy this is, but it’s also sad (haha, yes I said sad!) that here, and many other places, its not like that. This is actually the one thing I hear the most from Spaniards having visited Norway, they love the respect (of other people’s property) and honesty. Stuff I never thought about while living there of course.

I can’t help but missing number 2 as well. There is a LOT of bureaucracy and papers in Spain, for any- and everything. Sometimes I wish I could just log on to the web and get what I need without having to stand in a line for 3 hours :)

About the prices and taxes there’s nothing to say really. Things are expensive and I feel my pulse racing every time I am in Norway buying groceries. When I complain however people remind me that I am on a Spanish salary and that it’s not THAT bad when you have a decent income. But it must be a shocker for a foreigner I have thought many times, and it would certainly take me some time getting used to again.

Number 9. Ahh the language thing. I can relate! Oh my how many times I have wished that people at public offices, doctor offices etc spoke some English as it’s really hard to explain certain things with limited language skills. It would just be EASIER. But at the same time, although I am not one to judge anyone and I can only speak for myself- I started my stay in Spain learning Spanish and I feel it’s the only way of living in a foreign country and I have always tried to get by only with Spanish. (But I did go to a doctor once where I had to come back with someone who could translate for me cause it was too hard, I didn’t have ‘doctor vocabulary!’) I just never expect anyone in their own country to adjust to me, the foreigner. I feel it’s me who need to adjust and try to speak Spanish. I know many foreigners in Norway think it’s not necessary to learn Norwegian as you can get by with English, but I still think in any country you go to live, it’s about respect and that it is important to learn the local language to get included in the society. But this is simply my opinion and we may all have our different reasons for learning a language or not.

This is turning into a book, I think I’ll stop here with wishing you a lovely day!

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts =) About #9 — as I was saying to Emily in my other comment, I agree with your point of view completely. Though I have to say one of the things that hasn’t had me racing out to become fluent quickly in Norwegian is the fact that we aren’t planning to stay here long and, really, I don’t believe I will get any sort of practice in the language once we leave here (like I could with Spanish, which I did learn for our travels in South America). I started to learn Norwegian at the start but it’s tough – and there’s a waiting list for classes plus they are very expensive. I included that point more as an observation than a complaint…I think others should know that they really do need to learn if they want to live here long term and assimilate. If we were staying longer I would definitely have taken classes by now. But at the moment, while I know some Norwegian, I am by no means fluent. It’s just economics for me…

As for taxes — we just did them and found the tax burden, while a bit high, to be not much higher than in Australia. And given the healthcare and other benefits, which are available to everyone (not means tested as in Australia) – I’d say that Norway is a better deal! =)

Reply

New Life in Spain March 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

I think it’s great that you include the language in this list. It’s also great that one actually can get by with English in Norway, but in the end it’s useful to learn the language. I have met many people here in Spain who want to go try live in Norway now due to the hard times here with the financial crisis that seem never ending. I have also read countless newspaper articles about others, and many don’t even speak English, but don’t see that as a hinder. I wonder why it seems as if some people (also from English speaking countries) don’t realize that Norway is in fact a country, with a language :D

Reply

question October 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Just short questions for the “New Life in Spain”.
1. If everything is so perfect in Norway – why did you move to Spain?
2. Regarding respect etc. – don’t you think Spanish people are very warm and friendly (not like cold Norwegians). It explains a lot. You’ll learn Spanish much faster only because of Spanish culture, where even strangers are willing to talk to you.
3. Regarding the doctor behavior – it’s absolutely unprofessional. Doctor MUST help people if it’s possible and do not search for a personal reason. What this Norwegian doctor would expect for example in Japan on his holiday if something happen to him? Of course he will ask for help in English (not in Japanese).
Resume. I agree that it’s necessary to learn language of the country where you live. But if I’m in Norway just on job contract, or I’m not sure I’m going to stay here – I don’t see the reason to learn Norwegian. And the course is VERY expensive. So if Norwegians are so interested in foreign integration in Norwegian culture – make this course free or at least low price.
P.S. I remember the time when Norwegians were very happy if labors from Eastern Europe could speak some English. But now labor must speak Norwegian to clean the floor. And I think it’s only getting worst.

Reply

New Life in Spain October 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Hi there “question”. Your questions make me curious as to who you are and the reason for your questions to me… but here are my answers.

1. Why do people go abroad? Many reasons. I was seeking adventure, with a very open mind, and found that, and a million wonderful experiences. Although I love my own country, does it mean I should always stay? By the way I believe I have never said “everything is perfect in Norway”…

2. I actually do not find people in Spain warm and friendly on a general basis. In some parts of Spain, people are more friendly than others, but in Barcelona where I spent the longest time, it was definitely not the case. If you go to a tourist resort, people will be overly friendly to get you to buy things and spend all your money, maybe that is the kind of Spanish people you have interacted with? (I don’t know your reason for saying Spanish people are warm and friendly so I am only guessing.) And I haven’t experienced strangers (normal people with no ulterior motive) speaking to me randomly, ever. I have had to make an effort to learn the language.

3. When I mentioned doctors in my first comment I hadn’t even read the Andrea’s comment above about her experience with the doctor. (Which I sympathize with, she wasn’t treated right.) I was simply talking about language, and mentioned an example of my own. Maybe my doctor was unprofessional in your opinion, but many people in Spain do not speak English, so who am I to demand being treated in English in a country where English is not the language? I did not take this personal on any level.

I didn’t go to Spain with an expiry date, I didn’t know how long I would be staying, but my first goal when arriving was to learn the language so I could feel more integrated, and be able to get around, understand what I was ordering at a restaurant, be able to ask for things in shops etc. Like I said earlier, we are all different and have our different reasons for learning or not learning a new language, but for me I know I would feel very uncomfortable not learning the language that is being spoken in the country I reside, no matter if I plan to stay one year or ten. (MY personal opinion)

The language course in Spain was extremely expensive as well, but I was interested in doing it and willing to pay the price. (And yes maybe Spanish is more useful than Norwegian in a longer perspective, but that wasn’t my reason to learn) I know foreigners in Norway who have learnt Norwegian on their own with a book and CD from the library as well.

Can I ask you something as well? How long have you lived in Norway?

answer October 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi there New Life in Spain!
Yes, sure. But it’s strange I cannot find “reply” button under you post, so I’ll answer here:
1. I know a lot of Norwegians who just left Norway and relocate to other countries. But you know what is strange? All of them relocate to the warm, cheap countries. But still loving Norway and Norwegian nature. Adventure you mentioned about is something temporary, it’s something what people want to experience shorty, it’s mostly to shake them up. Don’t want to judge anybody, but I can see duality here. It’s very “comfortable” to love remotely.
2. I can see your point here. But I didn’t mean resort’s area or big cities. I was in Asturias and Galisias areas. It was not commercial relation and nobody wanted me to buy stuff from them. They are just friendly, warm and willing to chat.
3. Yes, I agree with you, in Spain doctors don’t speak English. But subject was different. In this particular case Norwegian doctor KNOWS English but WISH to speak Norwegian, it’s quite different. Again, I’m not judge, but any remark about the language could be done after official visit (like author mentioned).
Yes, it’s a good attitude, but I don’t think you are ably to learn anything important within 1 year (IMHO). It could be first step which help you in further learning, but if you plan to leave after 1 year – it’s useless. You’ll forget everything without using language everyday.
By the way do you know the price of Norsk? It’s more than 5000 NOK (with books) for 2 months course (twice per week). With expat low salary (I assume ~10000-17000 NOK), and paying about 10000 NOK for rent/bills, + food about 3000 NOK per month, I would say we get nice picture how it’s easy to integrate.
I spent in Norway almost 2 years. And yes, it’s my shame I didn’t start learning Norwegian from first day (I wasn’t sure I stay). Do I regret? – Yes, of course. But I cannot explain everything in a two sentences.
This author’s post was about to help people decide if the want to move to Norway. And I like this kind of post, it describes real things and provides information, while in other similar posts you can find only “advertisement” how is wonderful to live in Norway. Usually these people prefer to talk generally, without any facts, numbers and any officials links.
A lot of people coming to Norway after reading these wonderful fairy tails. And a lot of them just loosing their life’s savings and are very disappointed. I find these post not negative, but objective. Giving real information.
P.S. good luck to you in Spain.

Paul March 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This is the first time I’ve read up on Norway. It was a fascinating read!

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Glad you enjoyed it, Paul =)

Reply

Lisa March 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I didn’t realize it would be so expensive to travel within the country. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen you doing more posts on travel within Norway. Oh my gosh, I feel for you on the stores being closed on Sunday and much of Saturday. That would be difficult and wow the vitamin prices are shocking!

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

Yes, that is definitely the reason we haven’t done more Norway posts. And writing about Stavanger all the time gets boring. We had hoped to do lots of weekend trips but it would just eat up all our savings. Too bad!

Reply

Vit March 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm

As mentioned above, it would be a very nice country to raise a family given all the benefits provided by the government — just my girlfriend dislike the cold weather and they seems to have only 2 month of warm weather :(.

Reply

inspiringtravellers March 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

In Stavanger I wouldn’t call the two summer months warm at all, haha. Definitely not a place to live if you don’t enjoy the cold…

Reply

Carl Youngblood May 1, 2013 at 1:26 am

Your experience with Norwegian has been somewhat different from ours. We’ve been living near Oslo for the last 3 years and haven’t felt much pressure from anyone to learn Norwegian, although we have learned it because we wanted to. But we often find people almost seem to want to speak English with us even when we try to speak Norwegian.

Reply

inspiringtravellers May 1, 2013 at 9:27 am

I have not spent much time in Oslo, just went there once for business. Perhaps it is more cosmopolitan than Stavanger? Being a larger city probably makes a difference. It is not everyone who does not want to speak with us, just more than we expected. And it’s often evident that this is not a preference.

Reply

Rainman July 16, 2013 at 6:39 am

It may not make sense to heat using gas in a rainy country with a lot of mountains where nearly the entire electricity production is hydroelectric… Do they even have a domestic gas network? Gas wouldn’t necessary be as cheap as it is in countries with lower renewable resources, and you have to think of the environmental damage of fossil-fuel based solutions too.

Reply

inspiringtravellers July 16, 2013 at 6:41 am

Great points that I didn’t think about – thanks for the insight!

Reply

Tlm August 30, 2013 at 3:30 am

Good article but I would like to commentmon some of your points. I’ve been living here for 14 teatralsk. I have seen a lot of changed.

1. Honesty IS most often the rule, but I had a friend have her wallet stolen from a counter AS she was bagging her purchases, and pick pocketing in rampant in summer and around Christmas, so you have to be extra careful.

Taxes.. Yes taxes are rampant (there is even a back seat tax for cars) but there is no property tax for homes. Not yet anyway.

There is no system set up to use gas for energy here, so it’s not that people ‘choose’ electricity over gas. Electricity IS the system.

Yes, you will want to learn Norwegian and SHOULD if you plan on staying. A big plus is that Norwegian Language classes are FREE! And not enough people take advantage of that.

Norwegian are not generally friendly to strangers, at least not in Oslo, but attempting to speak Norwegian will get you a long way!

Reply

inspiringtravellers August 30, 2013 at 6:49 am

Thanks for sharing, Tim…could you post more information on the free language classes? I know that some visa holders are eligible but we definitely were not when we were there.

Reply

Tlm August 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Sure. As far as I know Thea are still free.. Here is some info for if you live in Oslo

http://www.english.oslovo.no/

Reply

Austin O. September 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm

This was a great article, Thanks! I’m currently living in the U.S. (all my life, currently in Colorado). I’ve been dying to see the Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Finland area for a very long time now. Wanted to plan a trip backpacking or bicycle touring through the area starting sometime next year. With my brother living in Colombia for the last year or so it’s really making me want to try living in another country like Norway. How hard do you think It would be for someone to start from practically scratch?

Reply

inspiringtravellers September 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

Well, I think living in Norway is really different from just travelling through. Are you saying you want to move to Scandinavia or Finland, or just plan a trip? I think planning a trip is quite simple. If you’re willing to camp you’ll find it affordable as well. Let me know a little more info about what you actually want to do and I will tell you as much as I know =)

Reply

New Life in Spain November 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hi again. Isn’t it quite natural that someone from a cold country seeks a warmer climate? Cheap, I don’t know. Most countries in Europe (and the world) are cheaper than Norway, so it’s not really a “choice” in many cases.

But do you mean that because many Norwegians relocate we should stop loving our culture and nature? That is a very strange point of view to me. Don’t you like your home country anymore because you moved away? I don’t know what you mean when you say it is “comfortable to love remotely”. I am starting to feel you are judging me without knowing me at all, and I wonder what I have said to make you say these things. I am sorry if I have come across any way that is interpreted in a bad way.

About how much language one can learn in one year, or how long I would remember should I choose to leave the country was not relevant to me. I wanted to learn asap to be comfortable in my new environment from day 1 (or well as soon as possible). That was my only motivation. My language course was also expensive, and I only did it for a few months. After that I kept on studying on my own, and I have become close to fluent in Spanish that way. I know foreigners in Norway who have learned Norwegian only with books from the library. That is free and if you have the motivation, you can make anything happen. I am not really interested in defending myself to someone who doesn’t know me, but maybe my answers have answered your questions.

Reply

baiba February 15, 2014 at 10:13 am

Hi,

Today read shocking news regarding NORWAY and I would newer go there. It may be a nice and pretty country, but after information I read I am shocked that they are in EU.

http://english.pravda.ru/society/stories/07-07-2011/118418-norway_children-0/

!!!!!!!!!Russian boy becomes sex slave to his own father in Norway !!!!!!

http://english.pravda.ru/society/stories/28-04-2011/117733-sex_slave-0/

!!!!!!!!An Indian couple have had their children taken away by Norwegian social workers because they were feeding them with their hands and sleeping in the same bed as them.!!!!!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2088337/Norwegian-authorities-away-children-Indian-couple-eating-hands.html

Reply

Rene February 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

Very interesting blog. We are newly arrived to Stavanger, planning to live here 5 years. I have not experienced all the things you describe… yet ;) But I do have some experience to add.

as an aside, I do plan to take language lessons. The cost of this is covered by the company that is sponsoring us here, so… there’s no reason not to do it, imo. And learning a new language is something I enjoy. (I’m a native English-speaker who grew up in USA, studied Spanish in high school, worked in South America, then Italy, and lived in Australia for 4 years before moving to Norway.)

My experiences so far… Ask a LOT of questions before you move abroad! I thought I had done this, but I was wrong. Our bank in the USA made it seem like it was no big deal to wire our money to ourselves here. Well, it is a bigger deal than they let on. I went there twice to make sure we could do it, and was told, “it’s simple. You just send a wire.” Well, what they didn’t tell us was that we had to appear *in person* at the bank to fill out a 3-page form to authorize wire transfers. Of course, that is impossible now that we are out of the country. We are going to have to change banks because of this stupid rule… Just be sure to ask a LOT of questions, try to actually do the banking transactions you think you are going to do… or just avoid banking with Wells Fargo if you are going overseas.

Don’t believe everything you hear about the process of getting into the system here. We have 2 young children, one of whom has some chronic health issues. We were told that we needed to bring 6 months of his medicine with us, because we might not be able to get in to see a doctor before then. We were also told that we had to get our person number before we got our local GP assigned to us, and we couldn’t go see a specialist until we had all that sorted out. None of that is true.

Firstly, there are private doctors here that you can get in to see within a day or two. Yes, they cost money out of pocket, but we are here with a large company that has insurance to reimburse most of that cost. (The costs are about like going to see a doctor in the US, without insurance. It’s not that much in the context of your child’s health.) Secondly, you don’t have to wait to get your GP to go see a specialist. We got in to see his specialist with about a week’s wait, mostly because of our schedules, not theirs. We got a letter from a private doctor, referring our child to the specialist. Thirdly, I love the fact that the Norwegian doctors are not in the pocket of any pharmaceutical company! The doctor we saw explained our choices of medications, and actually recommended what would be best for our child. It has been a long time since a US doctor has recommended anything to me! They seem to be afraid to do so. They just offer a couple options and ask what I want to do for my child, usually offering me a free sample of something. I’m not medically trained, so this has always been difficult for me. It’s refreshing to go to a doctor who seems to actually have an opinion on what is best for my child.

We’ve been here for less than 3 months now, and are (I hope) at the deepest point of the down-cycle on the homesickness and dislocation feelings. I know it will get better. It’s also winter, lol! so we have more daylight to look forward to in the coming months.

I would suggest anyone planning to move abroad keep a journal of your experiences, because things change so quickly and sometimes everything seems overwhelming. It’s helpful to write down those amazingly frustrating or incredibly beautiful experiences before they get swamped by other things in your mind. I find it very enjoyable to read through my journals from years ago, and think about how much this or that experience changed me. Anyway, that’s my 2-bits :)

Reply

amgeli cossid March 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm

this blog is truly informative, thank you for sharing your experiences :) I am moving to Norway this May!

Reply

Kosta April 20, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I have been accepted to BI.NO for a B.A. degree in 2011-12
Tuition fees were ranging from 10 000$ to 20 000$ for 1-3 years.
I tried to call the loan company which supports students(started with L…) don’t recall the exact name.
Just by waiting on the line and speaking to them , I got the feeling of bureaucracy.
In addition 10 000$ is what I had to deposit to relocate to start with. :))))
Not a surprise I did not do it due to lack of $$$. Even when I have it now , I wouldn’t do it.
Tried for Uin too, got even more bitter response.
Now I am applying for an internship with Opera soft. company which is based in Oslo.

I guess it’s better to go abroad on a contract with saved money and not to rely on applying when you get there or relying on benefits to get by.

Saying that , I lived in Austria ,the Gulf and come from Eastern Europe.

I am and will be treated as a foreigner just like any other. Accepting that and trying to say simple phrases in local language like Good day, noon , thanks etc. will at least demonstrate a will to fit in while living abroad.

In any country there is a discrimination in the job market towards foreigners, no doubt. Ask yourself if your own country isn’t the same?

I know for sure a job will be given to a Norwegian if there is a foreigner for the same position.
Why would it be different?

Most countries employ professionals in industries that they lack labor hand. Nothing more simpler. Canada is one,USA too, all of Europe(even if they don’t disclose it officially , try to apply as a qualified worker in UK and see if there isn’t discrimination?
Saying all that, bureaucracy aside, highest living cost aside,
you need between 1500 and 2000 euros, too lazy to convert to NOK to get by in Oslo and live in a one bed apartment and afford a restaurant supper plus occasional dating.
Bear in mind Norwegian girls drink a lot and winters are horrible.
All in all, if you are not an oil engineer or a university professor, a musician you will have a hard time in Norway.

Reply

Syver September 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I just came from Megan’s laughable list, and I just want to commend you for giving a more nuanced, and pretty accurate description of the country. Good job!

Reply

nibu September 23, 2014 at 4:01 am

I am from Nepal. I have been thinking for my further study of bachelor in Norway. Would I be able to support all my expenses through part time job. Which country would u prefer between Finland or Norway??

Reply

inspiringtravellers September 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

I’m really not sure, Nibu – depends on many factors such as your qualifications, language knowledge and what type of visa you could get. I can tell you that I much prefer Finland to Norway.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: