Cost of Living in Norway

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Norway has one of the highest costs of living in the world. According to the 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Survey Oslo is the 18th most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live, out of 282 international locations.

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. You may find that due to the tax structure, you 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 you end up paying higher taxes on that income. It is also challenging to save money in the short term, and unless you have a good expat relocation package, you may find that you 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, so there is a 14 per cent 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 20 per cent less 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 farther you go from the city. Housing is affordable outside of the capital, if that is any consolation. Owning a home provides several tax benefits, so if you can afford it, and 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 of October through to April.

According to The Economist’s Big Mac Index (2009 figures), a Big Mac in Norway cost 40 NOK, or over 6 USD. That means it’s 72 per cent overvalued! A fast food meal (per person) costs upwards of 50 NOK.

When eating out, expect to pay between 50 and 100 NOK for a cheap meal (not including drinks or dessert), and for dinner, at least 150 NOK for a dish and 200-300 NOK per dish at a nicer restaurant. Alcohol brings up the cost significantly. A glass of beer (varies between 0.33 and 0.5 litres) costs between 45 and 80 NOK, and wine will cost at least 65 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. You will find that in Norway, you don’t eat out as much as you would elsewhere. Outside of the main cities, there aren’t that many dining choices, anyway.

Cost of Living in Norway Chart (2012)

Food and Drink

25 NOK for 1.75 litres or 15 NOK for 1 litre


34 NOK for sliced cheese

Fifteen eggs

35 NOK

White bread 24 NOK

17 NOK per 2 kilo of generic brand / 35 per 2 kilo of brand name

White sugar

17,50 NOK

Large Coca Cola

23 NOK

Still mineral water

16 NOK

Olive oil

30 NOK


29,90 NOK per kilo



21 NOK

Fresh beef fillet

189 NOK from butcher deli/ 109 NOK from frozen section of grocery

Pork bacon (1 package)

84 NOK

Two whole chickens (1200g)

60 NOK (sale on whole chicken at Spar grocery)

Fresh white fish

159 NOK per kilo

Table salt

8,70 NOK

Milk chocolate bar

20 NOK


6,40 NOK for generic brand / 32 NOK for brand name like Dove or Nivea


15 NOK for basic/ 32 NOK for whitening toothpaste


35 NOK


40 NOK

Purchase of low cost cell phone

699 NOK for Samsung Galaxy Y or Doro Phone Easy 510

Purchase of iPhone


5300 NOK

3 minute call - cell phone

3 NOK prepaid

Cable TV

359 NOK a month for basic cable

Electricity (highly variable)

550 NOK for an 80 square meter house of 2

Water (highly variable)

Part of municipality costs

Petrol per litre

55,50 NOK per gallon

Eating out
Three-course dinner in restaurant

350 NOK per person

Fast-food meal

90 NOK per person

Cup of coffee in bar/café

40 NOK

Spirit (1 tot)

45 NOK

Bottle of wine (moderately priced)

100-120 NOK

Bottle beer

70 NOK

Bar/Club Entry

100-200 NOK, but some are free

Marlborough Lights


85 NOK

Cinema Ticket 100 NOK
Services – health, appearance
Gym Membership (annual payment per individual)

6000 NOK

Average male haircut (Western salon)

350 NOK

Average female cut and blowdry (Western salon)   

450 NOK


400 NOK


700-800 NOK 

Our Norway Expert

Evelyn Perrin-Sand's picture
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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