Norwegian krone

Just How Expensive is Norway?

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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133 Comments on "Just How Expensive is Norway?"

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Meka
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… Read more »
Tamara

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

Brett

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

Brett

John
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… Read more »
John

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:
http://inspiringtravellers.com/2013/06/15/beer-norway-life/

Donna

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.

John

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!!

Brett

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.

Cheers

Brett

Donna

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.

Inspiring Travellers

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/

Donna

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

FriendlyNorwegian
“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… Read more »
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