Known as 'the fjord capital of Norway', Bergen is celebrated for its gorgeous, lush natural landscape, but the city offers its residents so much more. Home to numerous world-renowned musicians, Bergen is a centre for arts and cultural excellence in Norway.
Expats moving to Bergen will find themselves completely enamoured by the connection with nature and the excellent quality of life in 'the city of the seven mountains'.
Living in Bergen as an expat
Bergen is Norway's former capital, and it currently serves as the main landing port for North Sea oil and gas. Consequently, Bergen enjoys a diverse and flourishing job market, where most expats work in the energy, shipping, higher education, tourism and media industries.
The lifestyle in Bergen is one of the most exciting aspects of living in the city. Bergen is a cultural hub with many museums, galleries, and theatres. Around 10 percent of the city’s population comprises students, so the nightlife and live music scene in Bergen is thriving. Gourmands moving to Bergen will be in foodie paradise. The city boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants and is particularly renowned for its innovative preparation of seafood.
Expats will be glad to see that getting around Bergen is painless and mostly comfortable. The city is compact with a pedestrianised city centre, making getting around on foot or by bicycle easy and cheap methods of transport. Otherwise, public transport in Bergen is comprehensive and reliable.
Cost of living in Bergen
While the cost of living in Bergen can be quite steep, expats will find that the quality of life in the city is exceptionally high and many residents feel that the trade-off is well worth it. Due to a competitive housing market, accommodation costs in Bergen continue to rise. Fortunately, Bergen is a university city, which makes it possible for thrifty expats to find reasonably priced housing through house shares. Expats can also look for accommodation in neighbourhoods away from the city centre, as homes in these areas and suburbs are usually the more economical choice.
The cost of food, public transport and entertainment is also high. Nonetheless, there are bargains to be found in various supermarkets around the city, and expats can purchase monthly passes for Bergen’s bus and light rail systems. When the weather allows, expats can engage in budget-friendly outdoor pursuits such as hiking, fishing and sailing.
Families and children in Bergen
With a plethora of family-friendly attractions, including Bryggen Wharf, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bergen is a wonderful city for expat families.
Although the language of instruction is Norwegian, public schools in Bergen offer top-notch facilities and the standard of teaching is generally excellent. Admission is based on catchment areas, so expat parents will need to carefully consider their choice of where to base themselves.
Bergen only has one international school, which offers the globally recognised International Baccalaureate curriculum in English. Parents who would like to send their children to the International School of Bergen will need to apply in advance and have a realistic budget in place, owing to the high fees often associated with international schools.
Climate in Bergen
Named the rainiest city in Europe, Bergen has an oceanic climate. The weather in Bergen is characterised by mild summers and cold winters. Although rain patterns vary somewhat throughout the year, Bergen experiences a staggering average of 230 days of rainfall annually.
With a little patience and planning, expats moving to Bergen will find the city a truly magical place to call home thanks to the stunning scenery, rich culture and friendly locals.
►Read Areas and Suburbs in Bergen to get you started on the house hunt in your new city
►See Healthcare in Bergen for information on hospitals and healthcare practitioners in the city
"I love almost everything about Bergen, especially being able to live so close to the centre of town and yet still be so close to nature. Being able to wake up and see mountains from your window is truly one of life's blessings."
Read our expat interview with British expat Selina to find out more about moving to Bergen.
Are you an expat living in Bergen?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bergen. 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.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.