- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Norway Guide (PDF)
While relocating to a foreign country always has its highs and lows, moving to Norway is definitely something to be excited about, as the positives far outweigh any negatives. Even the rainy weather can’t dampen the high quality of life most people experience in this Scandinavian country.
We've listed a few pros and cons of moving to Norway below.
Accommodation in Norway
+ PRO: Quality housing
Norwegians take a lot of pride in their homes, and that means the market is full of well-maintained houses and apartments that make for a high standard of living. Many homes are bright with all the modern-day conveniences one could wish for.
- CON: High real estate prices
Renting and buying property in Norway is extremely pricey, and this plays a huge part in an expat's budget if they don’t have a company covering their housing costs.
+ PRO: Furnished accommodation is available
Many rental properties come furnished with modern and clean furniture, and they often look like they’re right off the pages of an IKEA catalogue. Landlords are usually willing to replace furniture the tenant isn't happy with, and should they need to buy their own, there are plenty of options.
Lifestyle in Norway
+ PRO: Plenty of outdoor activities
If one enjoys the outdoors, Norway is most definitely the place to be. Hiking, camping and fishing are all part of the Norwegian lifestyle, and the opportunities are endless.
- CON: Weather is hard to bear
Rain and wind often go hand in hand in coastal Norway, and the winter temperatures in the interior and northern parts of the country are enough to give the hardiest of expats the shivers.
+ PRO: Active lifestyle
Walking and cycling paths are abundant throughout Norway, allowing residents to maintain an active lifestyle. Sports teams and gyms are easy to find.
+ PRO: Clean environment
Norwegians care about the environment and their impact on it, so people try to keep their cities clean. Recycling is a part of daily life.
+ PRO: Norway is picturesque
Norway is truly blessed with beautiful landscapes, and it’s near impossible not to be wooed by the breathtaking surroundings. Expats will want to soak it all in, despite the weather.
Eating out in Norway
+ PRO: Good selection
While there isn't the massive amount of cuisines and diversity of eateries one may be used to in North America, for instance, it’s generally possible to find just about everything one might want or need.
- CON: Dining out is expensive
Expats will definitely be saving their nights eating out at restaurants for special occasions, as an average meal for two comes with a hefty price tag.
Safety in Norway
+ PRO: Security is not an issue
Norway is a very safe country with a fairly low crime rate. Kids walk themselves to and from school, and people often leave their doors unlocked. While it’s always good to take normal precautions, one typically doesn’t worry about safety issues.
Working and doing business in Norway
+ PRO: Family first
Family takes the front seat in Norway, and it’s completely acceptable to leave work to pick up children and take them to football practice. There are also generous parental leave times for both mothers and fathers when welcoming a new baby into the family.
+ PRO: Short working hours
Norwegians work 7.5 hours per day and generally no more. It’s not expected that employees will answer emails or work in the evenings or on weekends, and they don't usually expect others to.
+ PRO: Holidays
If on a local working contract, expats will enjoy five weeks of holidays per year, in addition to the few national holidays throughout the year.
+ PRO: Big company perks
A lot of large companies offer many perks to their employees, including company cabins, discounted fees to athletic clubs and golf courses and subsidised cafeterias at the workplace.
- CON: Working pace
If coming from a culture with an emphasis on work, adjusting to the slower Norwegian pace can be a bit of a challenge.
Culture shock in Norway
+ PRO: Little culture shock
The Norwegian culture is fairly easy to integrate into, and the fact that many Norwegians speak excellent English makes it even easier.
- CON: Locals are often misunderstood
Some complain that they find the Norwegian people a little cold and perhaps even unfriendly, but it just takes a bit of time for them to warm up to new people.
Cost of living in Norway
- CON: It’s expensive
There’s no way around it: the cost of living in Norway is extremely high. Almost everything in Norway is eye-wateringly expensive. In fact, locals often cross the border into Sweden to buy affordable groceries and items.
Education and schools in Norway
+ PRO: Free post-secondary education
Norway offers free college and university education to every legal resident. Students usually only take loans for living expenses and boarding costs.
+ PRO: Quality public education
Norway places great importance on education and the public system reflects this, with exceptional student results and an emphasis on inclusion in the public education system.
Healthcare in Norway
+ PRO: Exceptional healthcare for all
The standard of healthcare is high in Norway, and it’s covered under the national system. This means that residents aren’t paying out of pocket for visits to the doctor (except the dentist) and the quality of care is as one would expect in most developed countries.
- CON: Bureaucracy is rife in the healthcare system
Thanks to the national healthcare system, everyone is required to follow the procedures set up by the government. It's not possible to contact specialists without a referral from a family doctor, and wait times are occasionally a bit longer.
►Learn more about life in Norway in Expat Experiences in Norway, which features interviews with expats living in the country
"I love Oslo, and, actually, I love that we live just outside the city. Kolbotn is a lovely community with a large enough shopping centre that you can nearly always find what you need, even last minute (provided it's not Sunday!), and gives us the chance to know our neighbours and kids' classmates in a way that is not common in cities. Our neighbours knock on our door, and climb hedges into our yard when they want to play with our kids. It's not something you can easily find in New York."
Check out our interview with American expat Laura to learn more about the expat experience in Norway.
Are you an expat living in Norway?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Norway. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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