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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Norway
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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Norway

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: If you're planning a move to Norway, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Norway.

Are you considering a move to the land of the midnight sun? Norway, with its stunning landscapes, high standard of living, and rich cultural heritage, is an attractive destination for expats from around the world. However, before you pack your bags, there are a few things you should know about this Scandinavian country. Here are the top 10 things to know before moving to Norway.

1. Understanding the Norwegian Climate

Norway is known for its cold winters, especially in the northern regions where temperatures can drop below -40 degrees Celsius. However, the coastal areas enjoy a milder climate due to the Gulf Stream. Summers can be surprisingly warm, with temperatures often reaching 25-30 degrees Celsius. It's also worth noting that daylight varies greatly throughout the year, with long, bright nights in the summer and short, dark days in the winter.

2. High Cost of Living

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. From groceries to housing, you'll find that living costs are significantly higher than in many other countries. For example, a simple meal at a restaurant can cost around 200 NOK (around 20 USD). However, salaries are also generally higher, which balances out the high cost of living.

3. The Importance of Outdoor Activities

Norwegians have a deep love for the outdoors. Hiking, skiing, fishing, and camping are popular activities, and many Norwegians own a cabin in the mountains or by the sea for weekend getaways. Embracing the outdoor lifestyle will not only help you fit in but also allow you to enjoy Norway's breathtaking natural beauty.

4. The Norwegian Language

While most Norwegians speak excellent English, learning Norwegian will make your life easier and help you integrate into the community. There are many language courses available, and the government even offers free classes for immigrants.

5. The Norwegian Work Culture

Norwegian work culture values work-life balance, and it's common to leave the office at 4 pm. Overtime is not encouraged, and employees have the right to flexible working hours. Moreover, Norway has generous parental leave policies, making it a great place for families.

6. The Norwegian Healthcare System

Norway has a universal healthcare system, which means that all residents have access to healthcare services. While the quality of care is high, be prepared for long waiting times for non-emergency procedures. Also, even though healthcare is publicly funded, you'll have to pay a small fee for most services.

7. The Norwegian Education System

Norway offers free education from primary school to university. The education system focuses on critical thinking and problem-solving skills rather than rote learning. There are also many international schools, which can be a good option if you're planning to stay in Norway for a short period.

8. The Norwegian Social Etiquette

Norwegians are generally reserved and value personal space. Don't be surprised if people keep a physical distance or avoid small talk. However, once you get to know them, you'll find that Norwegians are friendly and welcoming. Also, punctuality is taken seriously in Norway, so make sure to be on time for appointments.

9. The Norwegian Tax System

Norway has a progressive tax system, which means that the more you earn, the higher your tax rate. The tax revenue is used to fund public services like healthcare and education. As an expat, you'll need to apply for a tax deduction card and report your income to the Norwegian Tax Administration.

10. The Norwegian Love for Coffee

Norwegians are among the top coffee consumers in the world. Coffee plays a big role in social gatherings, and it's common to invite friends over for a cup of coffee and pastries. So, if you're a coffee lover, you'll feel right at home in Norway.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, and it's important to be well-prepared. By understanding these aspects of Norwegian life, you'll be able to make a smooth transition and enjoy your new life in Norway to the fullest.

Expats talk about Moving to Norway

"Extremely pretty, very little work, basic infrastructure, no crime, in my case, the best neighbour in the world, probably. Move here if independently wealthy but it's impossible to predict how you will be "digested" by the Norwegian state until you get here and it's too late. There is a woman who works at the local tax office who is a demon! She has achieved things on her own for me that have defeated the rest of the Norwegian system," said one expat living in Skei i Jolster.

"I would tell them that they should have to like a closed off culture of people. When you walk down the street people do NOT smile or say hello. A man will push you out of the way to get through the door first. If you are lazy and don't have a good work ethic, then this place will be perfect for you. There are plenty of expats that love this place, however its not for us," said one expat living in Tromso.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

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