Last updated on Feb 02, 2023
Summary: People often describe Tromso, Norway as a beautiful, vibrant city with stunning views of the mountains and fjords. Expats love the city's unique culture, the friendly locals, and the abundance of outdoor activities. The weather in Tromso is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-50s Fahrenheit in the summer and the mid-teens to the mid-30s Fahrenheit in the winter. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,000 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $1,000 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment is around $1,500 USD per month. The approximate population of Tromso is around 75,000 people.
What do I need to know about living in Tromso?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Tromso, they said:
"Before retiring in Tromso, it is important to research the local cost of living, health care facilities and taxes. Tromso is a northern Norwegian city and has cold winter temperatures, so it is necessary to prepare accordingly with appropriate clothing and heating systems. In addition, as Norway is a country with a high cost of living, retirees should ensure that their pension or savings will be sufficient to sustain them in their retirement. As with any location, it is beneficial to familiarise yourself with the local culture and customs, city layout and attractions. Finally, in order to take advantage of all the benefits of living in Tromso, retirees may wish to learn Norwegian," said another expat in Tromso.
"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," added another expat who made the move to Tromso.
What do I need to know before moving to Tromso?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Tromso, they said:
"Tromso is located in the far north of Norway, close to the Arctic Circle, so you should be prepared for cold weather and long, dark winters. Make sure to bring warm clothes and supplies with you, as well as prepare for the transition to the colder climate. Make sure to research about the cost of living and employment opportunities to ensure you can support yourself when you are there. Also important is researching about education and healthcare options. Additionally, take the time to learn some of the language as this will make most aspects of your move and transition much easier. Lastly, get to know the locals and their culture, as this will make you feel more at home and part of the community," said another expat in Tromso.
"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)," added another expat who made the move to Tromso.
How do I find a place to live in Tromso?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"Finding a place to live in Tromso is easy. There are a variety of options to choose from, including privately-rented apartments and houses, social housing, student accommodation, and more. The Norwegian State Housing Bank offers subsidies and rent deduction options, and rental agencies like Finn.no and Hybelportalen offer an extensive range of rental properties. The websites of Tromso University, student unions, and NGOs such as Frifond are also good sources of information and could help you find suitable accommodation. Additionally, local newspapers and search engines such as Airbnb and Booking.com have listings of accommodation options," wrote a member in Tromso.
"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," commented one expat who made the move to Tromso.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Tromso?
"Expat homes and apartments in Tromso tend to be spacious with high ceilings and large windows that allow for plenty of natural light. There are generally a variety of options for expats in terms of size, style, location and budget. Many apartments offer modern amenities such as decking/balconies, laundry facilities, storage areas, and fully equipped kitchens. In addition, some popular amenities include underfloor heating, whirlpool baths, and secure parking lots. Many apartments also offer incredible views of the mountainous landscape, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. Most expat residences are located near the city center or the stunning Arctic ocean, allowing for easy access to the many activities and restaurants that Tromso has to offer," added another expat who made the move to Tromso.
"We live in a one bedroom apartment that we were able to sublease fully furnished. Typically people live in houses if available," explained one expat living in Tromso, Norway.
What is the average cost of housing in Tromso?
If you are thinking about moving to Tromso, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The cost of housing in Tromso varies widely depending on location and size of the property. However, on average, rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre can range from around 5,000 to 9,000 NOK per month," added another expat in Tromso.
"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," remarked another expat who made the move to Tromso.
How do I meet people in Tromso?
When we asked people living in Tromso about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Tromso is a great place to meet people with its vibrant culture, lively nightlife, and welcoming locals. There are plenty of opportunities to meet people within the city, such as attending events hosted by the Tromso Student Union, or by joining one of the city’s many clubs or cultural organizations. You can also meet people by taking advantage of the city’s great outdoor activities, attending a language exchange, or simply by striking up conversations with the people you meet in cafes, restaurants, and bars," wrote a member in Tromso.
"I haven't been able to find an organization, club, etc.There are no expat clubs to welcome you or anything of that sort. My child goes to an International school so I have met parents (from other countries) who have become good friends. Norwegians are not easy to befriend if you don't know them through someone else. and from what I have heard northern Norwegians are not as welcoming as southern, so we have that up hill battle as well. Its been really hard to find anything if you don't speak Norwegian," commented one expat who made the move to Tromso.
What should I bring when moving to Tromso?
People living in Tromso were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:
"Clothing and accessories suited to cold weather; gloves, hat, scarf, warm coat, quality waterproof boots, snow tires for vehicle, extra blankets, space heater, rain gear, snow chains, winter survival kit, extra layers of clothing, essential medicines, sunscreen, insect repellent, water filter, groceries, flashlight and/or candles, matches or lighter for lighting candles/fire, games and activities for entertainment, extra bedding, blankets and pillows, camping supplies if you plan to go outdoors, toiletries and personal items, local currency, guidebooks and maps of the area, laptop, electronics and chargers, camera and cleaning supplies, sturdy furniture and appliances," remarked another expat living in Tromso, 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," added another expat in Tromso.
Where should I setup a bank account in Tromso?
We asked expats in Tromso what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:
"There are several options for setting up a bank account in Tromso. The two largest Norwegian banks are DNB and Nordea. DNB has branches in both downtown Tromso and in Tromsdalen. Nordea has branches in downtown Tromso and in Kvaløysletta. Other banks with branches in Tromso include Sparebank1 Nord-Norge, SR-Bank, and Eika gruppen. Additionally, there are a number of online banking services available, such as Skandiabanken and Sbanken," added another expat in Tromso.
Will I be able to find a job in Tromso?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Tromso, they reponded:
"Yes, it is possible to find a job in Tromso. The city has a growing job market, particularly in the fields of tourism, science, education, technology, and government services. There are also many jobs in retail, construction, telecommunications and healthcare. By researching job opportunities and networking with potential employers, you can find an job in Tromso," remarked another expat who made the move to Tromso.
"It's a University town, so lots of jobs on campus, hospital, fishery, technology. Its a big little city. I could not find a job since I do not speak or read Norwegian," explained one expat living in Tromso, Norway.
What is life like in Tromso?
When we asked people living in Tromso what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Living as an expat in this area is generally very pleasant. Expats have access to a plethora of activities, restaurants, pubs, and shops to explore. The climate is very agreeable and the people are friendly and welcoming. Traffic is generally not as bad as in other parts of the country, making it easy to get around. The healthcare system is reliable and provides excellent care. The cost of living can be quite high, particularly in some areas like expat-heavy neighbourhoods. Nevertheless, there's no lack of options for housing, recreation, entertainment and so on. Expats can be assured of a safe and welcoming environment to live in," remarked another expat who made the move to Tromso.
"In general, it seems to me everyone for his own. Family is important because no one steps out of the box they live in. Socializing is for who you know. And work ethic is just different from what I am used to. When clock hits 4:00pm the desk is empty if you are Norwegian. All projects take forever to get done due to this mentality. Sports events are rare and again hard to find if you don't speak or read Norwegian, so you really have to be an extrovert to find out what is happening on the island for the weekend. Tourist center helps if you go by once a week," explained one expat living in Tromso, Norway.
What do expats in Tromso appreciate most about the local culture?
"Expats in Tromso appreciate the locals' deep connection to nature, the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly and welcoming people. The culinary scene is also vibrant, with a variety of traditional dishes that feature the local seafood. Additionally, expats tend to appreciate the wide range of outdoor activities available in the area due to its mountainous landscape, midnight sun, and the spectacular aurora borealis, making it a great destination for adventurous souls. Lastly, the city's rich cultural heritage, fascinating Sami culture, and vibrant art and music scenes also appeal to expats in Tromso," added another expat who made the move to Tromso.
What do expats find most challenging?
"Expats often find adjusting to an unfamiliar culture to be one of the most challenging aspects of their experience. Language barriers and understanding the local customs and expectations can be a steep learning curve and navigating a new bureaucracy in a foreign country can be daunting. Building a social network from scratch can be difficult, especially when dealing with limited resources, and finding a job can be difficult when lacking local contacts in the job market. Expats may also find it difficult to adjust to the different cost of living from their home country, which can have a big impact on their lifestyle. Finally, distance from family and friends back home can add to the challenge of expat life," commented one expat who made the move to Tromso.
Is there a lot of crime in Tromso?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"Tromso generally has a low crime rate, with most crimes limited to misdemeanors. The most common crime in the city is petty theft, such as pickpocketing or pocketbook snatching near tourist areas or in unattended vehicles. Other crimes, such as violent or organized crime, are virtually non-existent," said another expat in Tromso.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Tromso accepting of differences?
"Tromso is a diverse city with many different nationalities and backgrounds represented within its population. People in Tromso are generally welcoming and open to those of other backgrounds and lifestyles. It is a multi-cultural and accepting city, where differences are respected," wrote a member in Tromso.
"It's very diverse, however very prejudice towards Americans and color of skin. We have a saying amongst expats here "Norwegians are the nicest most rudest prejudice people you will ever meet." I feel lucky to have white skin cause I pass as Norwegian sometimes, but my friends tell me stories that has never happened to me, nor would I want to be treated as they have," commented one expat who made the move to Tromso.
What are the schools in Tromso like?
"Tromso offers a variety of educational options, including several primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Primary schools in the area offer a range of topics, such as mathematics, science, arts, music, religion, and physical education. At the secondary level, students can choose from vocational, sport and music schools as well as the traditional general studies. Institutions of higher education in the city include the University of Tromso and the Arctic University of Norway," commented one expat when asked about in Tromso.
About the Author
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.