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.

Norwegian krone

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 in Norway 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 considering Norway sits on one of the world’s largest oil reserves. We’ll definitely be waiting as long as possible before purchasing a car.

norwegian craft beer

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.


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142 Comments on "Just How Expensive is Norway?"


Adam
17 days 9 hours ago

I’m an Australian currently travelling in Norway as part of a larger European trip, I’ve just been through Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, England, Belgium, Germany and France. Norway is definitely expensive, even when you’re trying to do it on a budget.
Currently in Finse, a pint of beer is 125NOK ($21AUD). I’m from Perth where we have some of the highest prices in Australia for goods and I think the most expensive pub charges $15 for a pint.
We’ve just come from Oslo, and even there things and expensive, a kebab for 79NOK ($13) isn’t crazy expensive, but it’s about a 20% premium on what you’d pay in Australia. A cup of coffee will set you back 40NOK in a cafe, a 50% premium on expensive coffee in Australia.

The country is beautiful, and the way of life seems very enjoyable. If I had a chance to move here and be earning NOK I think I wouldn’t feel such a shock with the prices. Norway has been one of my favourite countries to visit during my travels, it’s just so expensive to be a tourist here.

Vicky
5 months 27 days ago

This was a great read! And very surprising this turned out to be Stavanger based author, as me and my husband just received news he got in on a job in Stavanger through the company he’s with now! We’ve been looking into getting into Norway for a while and now its getting scary close! It’s really hard to find a small but decent place to rent though, there aren’t as many available as lets say Oslo.
We are worried a little as we’ll be starting life there on 1 salary as I need to learn (more) Norwegian before I can find a job.
Has anybody have any experience with living on 1 salary?

We are really looking forward to taking our first hike with our dogs in Norway!!

Petter
6 months 25 days ago

Norway is maybe expensive, but have you seen the nature?

in Norway, most of the people get over 500 000 kr each year, i get 5 millioner each year, so for me isnt Norway so expensive…

from Norway : )

swetalana mohanty
7 months 12 days ago

Sandnes is a nice place to visit and enjoy its scenic beauty with tour guide

Jessica
8 months 2 days ago

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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