Avoiding Hidden Costs When Moving To Norway

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.

Trucks and Norwegian streets don't always play nicely together.

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?

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10 years ago

one thing that needs to be emphasized, as was mentioned before, salaries are in line with the cost of living….sure things are expensive, but as a PhD “student” I am making more than I would at any entry level engineering job back home.

Also, in case you don’t know, make sure when you get your tax notice that you find the area on the form where you can get 10% back for being new to Norway….no one told me this until it was too late, but apparently for the first 2 years you get an extra 10% back from taxes.

10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

We do know about the 10% deduction, however, it has been difficult to get a clear answer from online sources or my accountant on how that works, exactly. From what I understand, it is something you can get instead of the standard deduction – though that doesn’t really make sense to me because then it really doesn’t help you that much. Need to ask at the tax office on that one…

10 years ago

A long time ago I was an expat living in london. Most expensive city I have ever lived in, but thank goodness the moving company I used were quite familiar with London’s streets. But the VAT–an ungodly 18%. I seriously don’t know how you do 25%…that’s crazy! But Norway IS one of the most expensive places to live, hands down, but yes at least the education is free, and quality at that. Very, very helpful post. Thanks! Won’t be going to live there anytime soon though;) Maybe to visit…

10 years ago
Reply to  Charu

Haha – no – stay in the US! But do come to visit us =) I suppose if I wanted to do my phD now would be a good time, wouldn’t it?

10 years ago

Uff, steep fees! That last one can happen in Chile as well – VAT’s a slightly less painful 19% here, but they also tack on handling fees and, if you’re not available for delivery the first time, they’ll charge you for storage. Without making any mention of this on the note they leave you, as my friend just found out when she put of calling to reschedule delivery for a few days because she was busy. Expat life is never uncomplicated!

10 years ago
Reply to  Emily in Chile

Indeed – never a dull moment!

10 years ago

The TV license is double the price of the UK one and must be paid twice-yearly, that’s quite a cost! Back in Britain I could at least spread the payments monthly. Another annoyance (albeit minor in monetary terms!) is when buying drinks from a supermarket, the advertised price is excluding pant, so if you buy a 4 pack of Pepsi bottles for 40 Kroner, it’ll actually cost you 50. Yeah you get the 10 back of course, but it’s still an added cost to begin with 🙂 Overall though, after recovering from the initial shock of the prices, I’ve adapted… Read more »

10 years ago

I’m happy our landlord pays that NRK fee. Back in the US we just call that ‘public television’ and it survives on donations only. I wish I knew enough Norwegian to understand the NRK channel and stations – I’d like to know what they are all about for that cost! Re the soft drinks – wow! I didn’t look at my receipt yesterday but I bought a six-pack of cans of Coca-cola and they cost almost $10!! The pack with the glass bottles cost even more (58- kr for the cans, 80+ kr for the bottles) – outrageous! Thank goodness… Read more »

something to consider when moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world, Norway.

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