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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

Moving to Norway

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 06, 2023

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Norway for its high quality of life, stunning natural beauty, and excellent job opportunities. People can find a place to live in Norway by searching online for rental properties, or by using a real estate agent. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Norway are Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger.

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What do I need to know before moving to Norway?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Norway, they said:

"Before moving to Norway it is important to research the cost of living and to plan for any additional taxes you may have to pay. It is also essential to learn some of the local language, as English is not always widely spoken. Norway is renowned for its excellent infrastructure and high standard of living, so ensure you familiarize yourself with the rules, regulations and customs before relocating. Make sure you plan for the future and arrange health and social services in advance to ensure that you are fully taken care of. It is also worth researching employment opportunities in advance as competition for work can be high. Finally, ensure that you pack appropriate clothes and footwear as the weather can change quickly throughout all seasons," remarked another expat in Norway.

"My advice would be to start looking as soon as possible or have someone help you find a place. If you live on the Island it's easy to get around by bus. If you live in Kvolya or Krokken you may need a car, but homes are cheaper to rent. Norwegians speak English so it's easy to get around and communicate. You can buy jackets, shoes, clothes, etc so no need to bring your whole wardrobe or the Arctic clothing you "think" you might need. Tromso is very beautiful and accommodating to expats (except for the Visa and Norwegian # process)," said another expat in Tromso.

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How do I find a place to live in Norway?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"When looking for a place to live in Norway, local real estate agents and rental sites can be a good place to start. Additionally, it can be helpful to reach out to contacts in the area who can help you with finding a place and provide other helpful advice. One should also research areas of the country to understand their unique qualities to determine which may be best suited for a new resident. A thorough search of all available options and patience can help to secure a suitable place," remarked another expat who made the move to Norway.

"We found our place to live off the internet site here in Norway Finn.no. We weren't concerned about neighborhood as much as we were concerned about finding a place to live. Its a University island so places go fast and there's not a lot available," explained one expat living in Tromso, Norway.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Norway?

"Expat homes and apartments in Norway tend to be very spacious, modern, comfortable and well-equipped. They typically will have plenty of amenities such as large and modern kitchens with stainless steel appliances, large bathrooms with both showers and bathtubs, and sizable balconies or terraces with stunning views. Most of these homes and apartments will also have some form of central heating system like a district heating unit or a gas stove which allows for energy efficient and comfortable living. Furniture and decor will often reflect the style of the residence, but generally it will be a mixture of Scandinavian and international style trends," explained one expat living in Norway.

"We live in a one bedroom apartment that we were able to sublease fully furnished. Typically people live in houses if available," said another expat in Tromso.

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What is the average cost of housing in Norway?

If you are thinking about moving to Norway, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Norway varies depending on location and type of residence, but generally prices are high, especially in larger cities. In Oslo, the average price of housing is among the highest in Europe," said another expat in Norway.

"The housing and food costs is the most expensive you will ever find in all of the world. Our small 1bdrm is $1300 and food costs are about $1200/mth for 2 people. Beers are $12/pint if that gives you any indication of food prices," added another expat who made the move to Tromso.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Norway?

If you have not spent a lot of time in Norway, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"It depends on your specific situation. You should consider how long you plan to be in Norway and whether your budget can handle the purchase or rental of a home. If you are staying in Norway for a short period of time, renting may be the more cost-effective option. If you plan to stay for a longer duration, buying a home may be a better option for you. Owning a house can provide you with certain benefits, such as a potential long-term investment and the ability to customize your home. In addition, you should keep in mind the cost of living in Norway and the real estate market before making a decision," said another expat in Norway.

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What should I pack when moving to Norway?

We asked people living in Norway to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Clothing suitable for the climate, including a waterproof coat, sturdy boots, a hat and gloves. Essential toiletries and personal care products. Kitchenware, cutlery and crockery. Bed linen and towels. Electronics, including adapters for electrical appliances. Automobile registration and insurance papers. Travel documents and travel insurance for yourself and any accompanying family members. Important documents and passport. Books, magazines, music and films for entertainment. Personal items and souvenirs from your home country," remarked another expat in Norway.

"First of all, coming from California and moving to the Arctic we figured we needed to dress for extremely cold weather. I would of left all the California Arctic gear at home and waited til I got to Tromso to buy. Bring normal going out clothes, not the mountain gear you would think to wear, people dress nice here. I wish I would of brought US measuring cups/spoons in order to cook american recipes. Cold medicines are just not as strong off the shelf here," said another expat in Tromso.

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Norway?

We asked people in Norway if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"In Norway, it is polite to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home. Refrain from discussing politics or religion in casual conversation as these topics can be sensitive. In some restaurants, tourists may be charged a tourist tax, so always ask the server before ordering if this applies. As in all countries, it is important to be respectful and sensitive to local customs and values," replied a member in Norway.

"The first couple of weeks I smiled at strangers and tried to talk to people on the bus (and got some really strange looks in return). I also realized that female independence is a big thing over here, and that women will gladly pay for their own drinks and do not expect men to pay for them on dates. So bringing my own money when going out is something I had to learn to do. I also had to learn that at parties, the host does not provide the alcohol, everyone brings their own," commented one expat who made the move to Stavanger.

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How are healthcare services Norway?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Norway, they replied:

"Don't. Pay for private. The laid-back laissez faire attitude that seems appealing when talking to Norwegians in coffee shops is quite the opposite when you are ill and need healthcare. There is no accountability and often gross errors," said one expat living in Oslo, Norway.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

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