- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Norway Guide (PDF)
While relocating to a foreign country is always full of highs and lows, a move to Norway is definitely something to be excited about. Even the rainy weather can’t dampen the high quality of life most people experience in this Scandinavian country.
Accommodation in Norway
+ PRO: High-quality housing
Norwegians take a lot of pride in their homes and that means the market is full of well-taken-care-of houses and apartments for a high standard of living. Many homes are bright with all of the modern-day conveniences that one could want.
- CON: High prices
Renting and buying property in Norway is extremely expensive and this plays a huge part in an expat's budget if they don’t have a company covering their housing costs.
+ PRO: Furniture
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: Outdoor life
If one enjoys the outdoors, Norway is most definitely the place to be. Hiking, camping and fishing are all a part of the Norwegian lifestyle and the opportunities are endless.
- CON: Weather
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 scare anyone.
+ PRO: Active lifestyle
Walking and cycling paths are abundant throughout Norway, allowing residents to maintain an active lifestyle. Sport 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: It’s beautiful
Norway is oozing with beautiful landscapes and it’s near impossible to not be wooed by the picturesque surroundings. Expats will want to soak it all in despite the weather.
Food in Norway
+ PRO: Good selection
While there isn't the massive amount of selection one may be used to in North America, 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: Safe
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 generally doesn’t worry about safety issues.
Working and doing business in Norway
+ PRO: Family first
Family takes a 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 leaves for both mother and father 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 either.
+ 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 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. Almost everything in Norway is expensive.
Education and schools in Norway
+ PRO: Free post-secondary education
Norway offers free college and university education to everyone, Norwegian or not.
+ PRO: High-quality public education
Norway places great importance on education and thus the public system reflects this.
Healthcare in Norway
+ PRO: High-quality 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: Procedures
Because of the national system of healthcare, 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 occasionally wait times are a bit longer.
►Learn more about life in Norway in Expat Experiences in Norway, which features interviews with expats living in the country.
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.
Jay is a teacher who left Canada when her husband was offered a position overseas. They moved first to Gabon, West Africa where they spent two years riding the highs and lows of living in an less developed country. As their time in Africa was coming to an end, both realised they weren't ready to go back to Canada quite yet and signed on for a move to Norway. Currently, they are loving life in Scandinavia, despite the rain.
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