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In Norway, where one lives is especially significant to other Norwegians. Although they won’t judge a person by their income or profession, the area of Oslo where one lives is used as a kind of gauge to determine social status.
The Akerselva River splits Oslo into the western and eastern districts. Officially, the city is divided into 15 boroughs or municipalities, which are largely self governed. Each is responsible for its own clinics, kindergartens and other public services.
The west is where established Norwegian families, the wealthy and most expats live, especially diplomats. Neighbourhoods in the west include Marienlyst, Majorstuen, Frogner, Bygdøy, Torshov, Ullevål-Hageby, Sankt Hanshaugen, Vinderen and Kjelsås. In the east are trendy, colourful and diverse neighbourhoods such as Grønland, Grunerløkka, Tøyen, Tveita, Grorud, Stovner, Hellerud, Nordstrand, Sagene and Ekeberg.
An expat's lifestyle and status will influence their choice of accommodation in Oslo. For young and single expats, Majorstuen, Grønland or Grunerløkka might be good choices as they are all relatively central. For families, Frogner in the centre or the suburbs are suitable for accommodation with more space. Those moving to Oslo for work should find out where their colleagues live. The school an expat plans to send their children to will also determine their choices.
Suburbs in West Oslo
Majorstuen, behind the Royal Palace in the city centre, is an established neighbourhood with many brand-name stores and exclusive nightlife spots.
Frogner and Briskeby, further west of Majorstuen, are among the most affluent areas in the city and feature luxury apartment blocks, art galleries, interior design stores and several good restaurants. Nearby, Sankt Hanshaugen has a younger crowd as the College of Oslo is based there, with numerous small cafes and pubs.
Bygdøy is a peninsula to the southwest of the city centre with leafy, spacious properties. It is considered the most affluent area in Oslo. The area features good museums as well as beaches and parks for nature enthusiasts.
To the far north of the city and into the hills lies Holmenkollen, Oslo’s famous ski jump and one of the city’s most exclusive neighbourhoods with views of the fjord.
Suburbs in East Oslo
Grunerløkka, a former working-class suburb, lies to the east of the river, near the historical industrial district. It is a trendy area with numerous cafes, coffee shops and bars as well as small boutiques, independent design and jewellery stores, and vintage shops.
Torshov, just north of Grunerløkka, is close enough to the restaurants and bars in that area while remaining a quiet, leafy suburb with large parks. Soria Moria and Trikkestallen are also here, both considered cultural centres of Oslo.
Grønland, Tøyen and Kampen are historical areas full of traditional wooden houses, old pubs and medieval buildings next to cheap markets, textile stores and hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Areas and suburbs on the outskirts of Oslo
Moving further afield, one finds areas such as Bærum, Lysaker, Snarøya, Høvik, Sandvika and Bekkestua, all of which are popular with expats. Expats might also consider living on one of the many islands in the Oslo fjord that is inhabitable all year. Another alternative is Nesodden, a large peninsula in the Oslo fjord that can be reached by a fast and convenient ferry.
Are you an expat living in Oslo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Oslo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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