Five months in and we're just beginning to feel settled in our new home. It's long enough to occasionally feel like we've lived here forever but still plenty short enough that we're still making mistakes that cost us money. For those moving here, I thought I'd share four quick things that can cost you money if you aren't aware of them.
1. Discuss the street setup at your new address with your moving company.
This is especially important if you're using a company in your local area to prepare the initial quote and make arrangements for a door-to-door move. We paid for a complete relocation of a small shipment from Melbourne to Stavanger. After waiting over three months for the delivery, the day finally came - well, not quite. An out-of-breath removalist knocked on our door and told me that they couldn't get their huge 18-wheeler truck onto our street to make the delivery. To make a long story short, I believe a nervous, inexperienced driver was to blame in this instance as our street actually is accessible to trucks. But at the time it was our word against the delivery crew and our belongings were taken back into storage. The company handling the delivery on this end tried to charge us a steep fee to re-deliver with a smaller vehicle. I had to provide photos showing the rubbish trucks picking up the bins on our street and had an exhausting exchange with the companies to get the re-delivery at no extra charge.
As it turns out, this is an issue that was faced by other Stavanger expats as well. Norwegian neighbourhoods, at least in this part of the country, can have narrow, winding streets. Houses are (smartly) built close together to save costs on the delivery of utilities to the dwellings. Double-check that someone on the receiving end of your shipment has had a look at the street setup and is prepared to make the delivery in the proper vehicle. This is particularly important if the company overseeing the final delivery is not located in Norway (in our case it was a UK company). Don't assume that they will check this out on their own. And while you're at it, don't assume anything about anything in Norway - if in doubt, ask!
2. Be sure to choose a company for the delivery of your electricity.
When we moved into our house the real estate agent told us that she just had to send a form into Lyse, the network company, or 'nettselskapet,' and then we would be all set regarding the power. What she failed to mention is that we also needed to choose a power provider, or 'kraftleverandør.' The network company will provide power until the latter is chosen, but at a much higher cost than the kraftleverandør. We received a list of almost 100 power providers to choose from with a notice from Lyse telling us that we had missed this step. So be sure you don't! You can check the prices of electricity on the Norwegian Competition Authority website. Use the tool on the page I've linked to.
3. Calling 5-digit phone numbers from your mobile phone is expensive.
These numbers are used by some Norwegian businesses for customer service. We elected to only have mobile phones instead of purchasing a landline connection that we would never use. Unfortunately calls to our cable and internet provider cost about twelve dollars after waiting on hold for the requisite twenty minutes. This may not happen with all mobile plans but be sure to check yours or incur a larger bill than expected. The way around this? Check the company's website for a number you can call from overseas. It's usually just the five digit number with three numbers in front of it.
4. Discuss packages with family, friends and companies before they ship.
The value-added tax (or VAT/moms) in Norway is 25%. I'm not even making that up! Make sure you want what people are sending you before it goes in the post. You can be billed for the VAT + 'handling fees' depending on what company delivers the package if it comes from overseas and is valued higher than 200 NOK (or about $30). You'll find some guidelines for personal packages on the Norwegian postal service website.
Do you live in Norway? What are some of your cost-saving tips?