Cost of Living in Norway


Consumers outside a restaurant in NorwayThe cost of living in Norway is known to be one of the highest in the world. Oslo is especially recognised in a variety of surveys as being one of the most expensive cities in the world.

High salaries offset some of these costs, as well as the public services offered by Norway's welfare state. It is a good idea for expats to recalculate their budget for Norway, and to look at a cost of living index in order to gain a better idea of comparative costs of specific goods and services.

Due to the egalitarian social system in Norway, the margin between low and high salaries is narrow. Expats may find that, due to the tax structure, they won’t have much more disposable income than someone working in a trade such as plumbing. Making more money is not necessarily as advantageous, when someone ends up paying higher taxes on that income. It is also challenging to save money in the short term, and unless they have secured have a good expat relocation package, new arrivals may find that they will need two incomes to survive.

There is very little that is considered “cheap” in Norway when compared to European prices. Fresh fish and shrimp is reasonable, but most food is imported into the country and there is a 14 percent VAT on food items. That is why many Norwegians drive over the border to Sweden on a harrytur, which is basically a shopping trip to stock up on food staples at a 20 percent lower cost. This cross-border industry is so big that several shopping centres have been built just over the border to accommodate Norwegian consumers.
 
Housing is expensive in Oslo, but gets cheaper the further one travels from the city. Housing is affordable outside of the capital, if that is any consolation. Owning a home provides several tax benefits, so if someone can afford it, and they plan to stay in Norway long term, this is the way to go. Cars are very expensive as well, as is entertainment, eating out and travel inside the country. However, it can be very cheap to fly out of Norway on charter trips, so Norwegians take advantage of this opportunity, and can be found at any sunny and warm destination in the world, especially during the cold months from October through to April.

According to The Economist’s Big Mac Index for 2014, a Big Mac in Norway costs 48 NOK, or almost 8 USD. This means that the world famous burger is 68 percent overvalued in Norway.

When eating out, expats should expect to pay between 90 and 100 NOK for a cheap meal at a fast food outet and 200 to 300 NOK per dish at a nicer restaurant. Many of the country's better restaurants offer set menus that can charge between 750 NOK and 2050 NOK for several courses.

Alcohol brings up the cost significantly. A glass of beer (varies between 330ml and 500ml) costs between 60 and 80 NOK, and a mid-range bottle of wine will cost at least 100 NOK. Tips are not expected in restaurants, as a service charge is normally included in the price. However, it is normal practice to leave a few krone for particularly good service. Expats will find that in Norway, they won’t eat out as much as they would elsewhere. Outside of the main cities, there aren’t that many dining choices, anyway.
 

Cost of living in Norway chart (2014)

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)

Accommodation 

One bedroom apartment in the city  NOK 10,000
One bedroom apartment outside of the city NOK 8,000
Three bedroom apartment in the city NOK 18,500
Three bedroom apartment outside of the city NOK 13,700

Shopping

Dozen eggs NOK 31
Milk (1 litre) NOK 15
Rice (1 kg) NOK 19
Loaf of white bread NOK 25
Chicken breasts (1kg) NOK 100
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) NOK 94

Eating out

Big Mac meal NOK 90
Coca Cola (330ml) NOK 70 
Cappuccino  NOK 34
Bottle of beer (local) NOK 70
Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant NOK 500

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) NOK 0.96
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)  NOK 310
Basic utilities (Average per month for standard household) NOK 1,841

Transportation

Taxi rate/km NOK 15
Bus fare in the city centre  NOK 34
Petrol (per litre) NOK 15

Our Norway Expert

Evelyn Perrin-Sand's picture
USA
Norway
I come from rural Kentucky, USA to suburban, coastal Norway to be with my husband. Long story short, we met as international...
Evelyn Perrin-Sand


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