Just How Expensive is Norway?

March 30, 2012

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

Back in October I wrote a post about how much I loved Switzerland, despite the high costs of travelling there. It was my first time in the country and, while I couldn’t believe the prices, I still adored it. What can I say? I have expensive taste. Clean, efficient, high quality places attract me and I’m happy to pay a bit more if I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I said at the time how nice it must be to live in a place like Switzerland. We even looked into it as a potential home. But I think it was all just forshadowing for the place we would eventually end up: dear Norway.

4954979849 4ce8e095d0 z Just How Expensive is Norway?

Norway’s currency: the Norwegian krone – Photo by kjelljoran from Flickr.

Let me preface by saying that we love it here so far. Even more than my beloved Switzerland. While there’s no cheese fondue or Swiss-German being spoken around us and we don’t have the Alps, I’m more than content. Standards of living are high, people are friendly and helpful, efficiency seems the go and everywhere I look is nature’s eye-candy. But it does all come with a hefty price tag, even moreso I imagine for visitors who aren’t earning the local currency, Norwegian krone (NOK). Norway has one of the highest price levels for personal goods and services in all of Europe; the cost of food is a whopping 47 per cent higher than the continental average.

It’s all relative, though. We moved here from Australia, which seems to get more expensive every time we return. When I first migrated Down Under from the United States several years ago I couldn’t believe how expensive things were. We regularly pay A$9-12 for a pint of beer, A$1.50 for a litre of fuel and don’t even get me started on the costs of cable television and internet subscriptions: the top-level pay television package is around A$120 per month and that includes less than 100 channels. Clothing, cars and accommodation are dear and the tax level is very high for what you get back as a mid to top-level earner. So coming to Norway wasn’t as shocking for our wallets as it might be for someone from say, the US, UK or Germany.

That said, we are finding some things to be extremely pricey. Restaurants, alcohol, fuel and accommodation seem to be the most costly. We went out for fajitas the other night and paid NOK 310 each (A$50). They were some tasty fajitas but not any better than I could make at home for a lot less. Fast food burgers are about A$8 each, a pint of domestic craft beer about A$20. That’s high by anyone’s standards. We’re in Stavanger so I’m conscious that things might be a bit cheaper in Oslo – a student we spoke with the other night told us that our town is actually more expensive than Oslo when it comes to renting an apartment. Fuel prices are the scariest: A$2.50 per litre in central Stavanger! That’s pretty crazy considerin Norway sits on one of the world’s largest oil reserves. We’ll definitely be waiting as long as possible before purchasing a car.

norway craft beer Just How Expensive is Norway?

Alcohol is very pricey in Norway.

It’s not all bad news. Anyone can camp for free in the wilderness areas (some restrictions do exist so be sure to do research before pitching your tent). Taxes are high but the benefits are the best I’ve seen in any country with a socialized health and work system. Some things, such as cable television and internet are cheap for us compared to Australia, especially considering the differences in speed and the variety of channels available. There is no need to purchase bottled water. Our grocery bill is only slightly higher than it would have been in Australia. And hey, we’ll be loving it when we travel internationally: we’ll be spending NOK and everything will seem like a bargain, even London.

For locals, these prices are affordable with the wages on offer. People don’t seem too concerned with the costs going about their daily business and no one talks about how overpriced things are. This is just the way it is here and it’s best to just not think about it too much. For us, Norway is a place where we’ve come to settle for a little while. We’re not drinking much alcohol these days and won’t be going out to restaurants often. Our plan is to start a family, take it easy and enjoy all the nature and outdoor activities in our free time. Thank goodness hiking is free!

But we did get a taste of what it’s like to be a tourist here for a couple of weeks and I certainly could never recommend Norway as a budget travel destination. A basic room at a no-frills chain hotel on the outskirts of town with breakfast ran us around A$350 a night. Again, this is Stavanger and it’s always busy here for business people, which drives up prices. A guide to some of the prices can be found in this cost of living index for Norway.

Have you visited or lived in Norway? What are your thoughts on the cost of living?

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

learn to earn2 728x90 Just How Expensive is Norway?


Older comments
  1. Comment by Bikram

    Bikram Reply June 5, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Iam an international students from Asian countries. How hard is to find an accomodation?? Also
    Is it really cold countries??

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers June 5, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Hi Bikram – yes, it gets quite cold in Norway… Regarding accommodation – that will depend on what you are looking for. I really cannot speak to a generalization. Good luck!

    • Comment by David

      David June 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

      It is not unusual cold. It is cold in the winter, but not insanely cold. If you live south, it is just like in the USA, but if you live in the north, it is more like Canada. The summer is extremly hot. So i dont know why people say its cold there. I guess they think of the winter or something…

  2. Comment by Thanos

    Thanos Reply June 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Hi everyone,

    Very interesting info really. One ‘small’ question: i’ve been just offered a job in the University of Oslo, with a starting salary of about 400,000-500,000 KON per year (5,000-6,000 euros per month). Having read the above, is it really affordable? And what are the quality of life there, not just in terms of health, insurance, wage, but also of things to do, climate, socialising and so on?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers June 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      It’s really hard to say not knowing you and what kind of lifestyle you need. For us, we just did not save enough money in Norway, even making a “high” salary. The cost of living really put a damper on things. But Oslo is different to Stavanger and perhaps you will find it to be a great place to live. You will likely have more variety there and better public transportation options, more to do, etc.

  3. Comment by Kris

    Kris Reply June 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Hello. Great website. I am a norwegian who loves living in my beautiful Norway :-) I also like to be tourist in my own country (Other places than my hometown). It is expensive to be tourist in my country compared to many other countries in europe. But I don’t find Norway to be so expensive to live in with norwegian salary. The pricelevel is very high, yes. But still the salary is high. I belive its cheaper to live in Norway with a norwegian salary than living in Spain with a spanish salary, even its cheaper to be a tourist in Spain with a norwegian salary, than being a tourist in Norway with a norwegian salary. Norway is an expensive country for tourists, but for norwegians its really not very expensive. But of course as in the rest of all the word, you can also find people here with bad economy, and also people that live in poverty, but as long as you have a job, and can pay your bills, than I think your economy is good in Norway. I have not a very good payed job, compared to many other jobs in Norway, but I think that I have a good life still. But buying your own house or apartment seems to be very expensive, and it will take me long time, so I have to rent for many years, but after all, in many countries this is just something that you can just dream about, and can never be reality, so Norway is for the avarage norwegian not a expensive country.

  4. Comment by Ralph

    Ralph Reply June 26, 2013 at 3:35 am

    350 a night?! Preposterous. I just booked a hotel room in Oslo with free parking for 107 US a night. Pricey, yes. But far from unreasonable.

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers June 26, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Oslo may have more options being the largest city. But travel outside to the smaller cities and it can be tough to find cheap digs.

  5. Comment by Carolin

    Carolin Reply October 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I’m a Norwegian student, living away from my family, and yes, Norway is expensive. I get just over 7100 NOK each month from state fundings for students, but just the rent for my room costs 4500 NOK each month. Factor in food and occasionally going out (I say occasionally, more like every other weekend), and I’m only getting by thanks to my parents being generous and giving me extra money each month. it’s true, Norway is an expensive country. However, the minimum wage is over 100 NOK per hour, so most people get by fairly well.

  6. Comment by Keith

    Keith Reply October 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Andrea and John! I run Pardon My Norwegian?, and I recently just posted about my upcoming return to Norway and linked to one of your articles about dealing with the sticker shock while in the country. Feel free to check it out! http://tmblr.co/ZApG0yx8Wg-C. I love your site, and I just liked your page on Facebook!

    Best wishes,

  7. Comment by Sebastian

    Sebastian Reply December 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I have been to Norway once and stayed in Oslo for a weekend. Even for me as a German it was unbelievably expensive. I don’t remember the exact price but I payed about 12 Euros for a McDonalds menu. A Canadian friend of mine was with me and at some point he just said: “fuck it, I only eat bananas from now on” :-D

    I have the luck that (in contrast to you) I am bored when I live in high efficient and clean places. I prefer to travel to and live in warm countries like Thailand. I just don’t understand why I should pay 10 times as much for everything in a country where I freeze my ass of when I could live right at the beach in another country ten times cheaper. But to each his own.

  8. Comment by Rishabha

    Rishabha Reply January 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Hi guys I was planning on doing my Masters from Norwegian Business School, if I get a 100% tuition waiver, but looking at the posts I think the 2 years I have to spend there will be very expensive for a student :( :(
    Any advice for the same???

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers January 8, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Hi Rishabha – what specific advice can we help you with?

  9. Comment by Poor Backpacker

    Poor Backpacker Reply January 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

    What can I bring to sell or trade in Norway so I will be able to afford to visit ? I guess 2 suitcases 40 kilos. Jeans? Sneakers ? Xtra-Small condoms ?

  10. Pingback: Andrea Spirov – Editor of Inspiring Travellers - LIFE IN NORWAY

  11. Comment by Graeme Voigt

    Graeme Voigt Reply February 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    WOAH! Amazing… I’m currently living in London, after leaving native Australia. I’d love to move somewhere like Norway, Switzerland etc. etc. but this is pretty scary for sure!

  12. Pingback: When We Can’t Wander As Much As We’d Like

  13. Comment by Anna

    Anna Reply March 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you so much for your blog post! Has a lot of very useful insight. Me, my boyfriend, my best friend and her husband decided to take a 2 week summer break from our University and visit Norway this year, so we purchased our flights without doing much preliminary research. Boy, were we in for a surprise as to what will happen to our bank accounts come May. But traveling is a passion and money is (semi) relative.
    I had a question for you since you said you lived in Stavanger. We plan to hike to Pulpit Rock and then spend a night in Stavanger before heading back to Oslo for the flight back. Do you have any suggestions as to local lodgings where we might be able to stay for cheap, aside from camping? We only plan to bring carryons with us, so we won’t have much space for camping gear.
    Thank you so much in advance!

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers March 31, 2014 at 6:40 am

      Hi Anna – thanks for stopping by! We stayed at the Park Inn on Lagårdsveien for the first couple of nights when we moved there and that was the cheapest accommodation we could find at the time. Be sure to book ahead well in advance because hotels in Stavanger tend to book out, especially during the week. There are airport buses as well that you can look into to save on cab fare. You can pick them up in town and if you just have backpacks this hotel is in walking distance. Enjoy!

  14. Comment by Tingeling

    Tingeling Reply May 12, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Hi, so glad you love Norway. So many people skip us because they think we have snow all year. LOL.
    About the prices. I really think it’s because you are tourists, and don’t know where to eat and drink at afordable prices. We always wonder why people say that it ‘s so expensive here. If you travel to Paris the prices are almost double. No native Norwegian would never ever pay $20 for a beer, that’s insane!!! That’s Paris prices. Hotels in London and Paris are also waaay more expensive than Norway for the same standard. If you see how much an average Norwegian spends of their income on food and rent it’s almost half of what an American does. Maybe it’s because we don’t eat out as much, but still. You are right about fuel. Cars and fuel is crazy expensive. But if you look at the Subway and busprices London is more expensive.
    The thing you must not do in Norway is drink wine at good restaurants. That will cost you a small fortune. Buy it at “Vinmonopolet” and drink it at home! :) And stay away from 7/11 and gas stations, the prices are doubled there. It’s all about fees, Norway have fees on alcohol, fuel, tobaco, sugar, etc. So when you end up sick, you have already payed for your medical care through these fees :) That’s why we don’t mind paying 36% Income tax. We know that when sh** hit’s the fan we are covered.
    Hope you enjoy Norway, and let a local take you out to less overpriced places in Oslo.

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers May 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Thanks for your comments =) We were actually expats living in Stavanger, not Oslo. Only got to spend one day in Oslo – I’m sure being a larger city there are more affordable options. We spent time in the smaller cities and I must disagree with you – we looked everywhere for affordable restaurant options and everything was very high. Yes, you can buy drinks at the Vinmonopolet but they are still way more expensive than other places in the world. Perhaps our perspectives are different because we have lived and travelled so many other places in the world. We ended up cooking at home most of the time.

  15. Comment by FriendlyNorwegian

    FriendlyNorwegian Reply June 17, 2014 at 6:50 am

    “That’s why we don’t mind paying 36% Income tax. ”

    Well, don’t require much effort to analyze how much socialism you point of view contains.

    Anyways.. I totally agree that norway is an very expsensive country. And many norwegians do talk about prices being far to exspensive. But truth be told it’s all because businesses in norway are forced to charge that high price due to costs to run the businesses and to pay the worker atleast a minimum wage. On top of that the goverment in Norway taxes everything possible. businesses are dying like flies in norway. Not only because smaller businesses can’t compete against larger companies, but mainly the reason is that the goverment drowns people in fees and taxes. I also agree on your point of view on prices in the vinmonopol, it’s sad when you walk into the vinmonopolet and see some cheap low quality liqor having a pricetag 4times the value of another country. Wine prices in norway is not that bad though. Some good imported brands are actually cheaper in norway then other countries.

    If you go to a restaurant you will be bankrupt. except if you go to a sloppy kebab/foreign pizza restaurant.
    I hope it does not sound like i dislike norway. I do like it, but i hate the system of how things run and operate here. The crimerate is skyrocketing, the policeforce a joke (Seriously.. people make ironical jokes about calling pizza deliveries instead of the police. since the pizza deliveries arrives at least.) , some laws are so dumb, people think that a they make the laws so that the idiots who make them don’t get unemployed…and the list goes on.. Anyways.. to many brainwashed people here in norway, this my point of view.

    I really should get some sleep now. I enjoyed reading your post by the way.

    -Some random facts from a friendly norwegian guy.

  16. Comment by Donna

    Donna Reply July 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Great find while doing research on a possible vacation from the USA to Norway. We’re not into camping a preparing our own meals while on vacation, (we do like our wine and beer) so I think with the high costs that socialism has caused, we’ll be looking elsewhere. Unfortunate, because it appears to be very beautiful, just not worth it.

    • Comment by inspiringtravellers

      inspiringtravellers July 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Understandable, Donna. I highly recommend Finland as an alternative…not a cheap country, but amazing scenery and much more doable on a budget. http://inspiringtravellers.com/tag/finland/

    • Comment by Donna

      Donna July 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Thank-you for the tip, I will most definitely look deeper into Finland

  17. Comment by Brett

    Brett Reply July 15, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Hi There!

    Great blog, I enjoyed reading it. Im a fellow Aussie considering the move, depending on the outcome of a few job interviews.
    I was wondering what the cost of take away beer is? for example how we would get a carton of standard beer in Australia for around AUD35-45?
    Im an Engineer and to be honest thats probably my biggest expense haha. If you know anything about wages in norway that would be great too.

    All the best


    • Comment by John

      John July 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks Brett. The wages are high, but be prepared for even higher taxes and cost of living. You will not save much, even on an engineer’s salary. Along with rent, good beer is also very expensive. I never bought any standard local beer/swill and I don’t recall seeing cartons on sale. But the quality Norwegian craft brews were something to behold. Certainly experimental and definitely amazing. Check out the beer link in the legend above or search under Norway. Nogne O brewery produces many tasty drops. AUD12 will buy you just one of these 500mL bottles, but the alcohol content usually ranges between 7-11%. Enjoy!

    • Comment by John

      John July 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Brett, I just want to clarify something. Australian standard beer, as you know, is delicious. This is not the case in Norway, hence my desire to get stuck into the other varieties whilst there. Here’s the link I was talking about:

    • Comment by Donna

      Donna July 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      As my husband here in USA brews his own beer and we make our own wine via juice kits or fresh pressed grape juice. Are the ingredients readily available to brew your own beer in Norway? Can you have them shipped? Or is that regulated and/or are the shipping costs to high or not possible.

    • Comment by Brett

      Brett July 16, 2014 at 2:03 am

      Thanks Donna and John,

      Im pretty easy on taste to be honest, not much of a craft beer kinda person.
      I was more wondering what say for example a 6 pack of standard local beer would be at a supermarket in terms of an “average” wage for an engineer say.



    • Comment by John

      John July 16, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Donna, I knew someone that was brewing their own beer, so I’m sure the ingredients are available. But having never brewed myself, I’ve no idea of any shipping costs.

      Brett, you know my mind escapes me on six-pack prices, mostly because I rarely got those. I wouldn’t think you’d break the bank being an engineer though.

      Good luck to both of you!!

  18. Comment by Tamara

    Tamara Reply September 26, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Hi thank you for this blog I am also an Aussie but unfortunately I have never left the country I have wanted to visit Norway for awhile now and recently seen that the 1nok is worth 0.18aud and thought oh it can’t be that expensive over there just the flights there and back but to see they charge that much just for a burger is crazy I think I will wait to travel to Norway maybe when I’m a bit older and more financially stable

  19. Comment by Meka

    Meka Reply November 2, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I love your blog!! I am probably one of the few crazy Americans who loved Norway so much after my first 16 day visit in Feb/Mar 2014 I went back 2 months later for another 8 days! And I am by no means rich or well off. I am a very blue collar worker, earning what most would consider a low income. I do know how to be frugal, plan ahead and do a TON of research to find ways to save a buck here and there. While I did experience extreme price sticker shock when I got there, I did have some friends who softened the blow by warning me first. These were a few ways I helped keep my cost down while visiting:
    1. Airbnb.com- renting an apartment or someone’s spare bedroom can be a LOT cheaper and more comfortable than a tiny, expensive hotel. Plus, with an area to cook, you cut down on restaurant expenses as well. A trip to the grocery store for 4-5 days worth of food to cook for lunch and dinner can equal the cost of 1 meal in a nice restaurant. Plus room sharing is a great way to meet the natives. On my trips, I rented an apartment in Oslo & Bergen and rented a basement studio in a family’s home in Mo I Rana. I had a blast meeting and getting to know my hosts when it was possible.
    2. Bring your own snacks- A stash of popcorn, protein and granola bars, pop-tarts, rice cakes, cookies and a few goodies can go a long way in saving frivolous spending at the 7-11. I brought individual packs of instant oatmeal for breakfast too. Also bring a water bottle with a filter. That way you don’t have to buy expensive bottles of water and with a filtered water bottle, you won’t suffer severe digestive issues from a change in water. For some variety, throw a few packets of flavored drink mix in your bag.
    3. You ain’t Santa Claus- Everyone wants a souvenir or a postcard. That’s fine if you’re going to Disneyworld. But you’re in Norway, where it cost $50 (American) to mail 20 postcards. Keychains and magnets were 3/$18. All those people that wanted a souvenir… they are going to get really nice selfies of me in the snow covered fjords and views of the mountains from the Flåmsbana on the nice, cheap Christmas cards in having printed right here in the good ol’ US of A! And if they don’t like it, they can spend their hard earned money and fly to Norway and buy their own damn troll shot glass and cheese slicer.

    One of the things I did splurge on was a boat trip through the fjords. I took the “Norway In A Nutshell” tour. I recommended this to ALL of my friends that went to Norway this year. I told them that it didn’t matter which tour they took, just take one. I don’t understand how one can go to Norway and not spend some time exploring one of the greatest natural phenomenons that the country is famous for!
    I can not wait to go back to Norway in 2016. I am planning and saving for a 2-3 month trip that will also include several other Nordic and central European countries, but at least 50% of my time will be spent in my favorite country in the world. (No matter how freakin expensive it is!)

  20. Comment by Jessica

    Jessica Reply November 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Just want to confirm how is expensively in Norway by one things that i am on my way to get a driving license in Norway now. As i am from country of Non EU but my husband he is. I started my driving practice first to pay entrance as 950 NOK 158 AUD(for 1 hour), and each week i have to take doubbletimerkjører is 1 hour 30 minute for 1300 NOK. x 4 week per month thats i paid 5200 NOK 870 AUD every month since August 2014. An still i am going to driving school everymonth til now ending of November.
    In addition is still must pay for mandatory course in Norway
    -Driving in the dark 500 NOK 83 AUD
    -First-Aid course 1700 NOK 284 AUD
    -Driving on slippery course 3550 NOK 593 AUD
    -Long driving x2 days, and teori of it 1195 AUD

    Now i collected my bills and i paid over 20,000 NOK 3343 AUD already
    and still continue as i have not pay 550 NOK.for teori test at the traffic office and the rentcar and driving test in final about 5000 NOK. An every school in my city Kristiansand are same price! no where cheaper than 50 NOK. per hour

    I getting desperate about it as i can not understand why they required a massive hours and mandatory more than the other countries in Europe. as other driver from EU can driving as good as in Norway or even driving better than some Norwegian in Norway too.

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