So why do so many people from around the world want to move to little old Norway?
The egalitarian values which are at the heart of Norway’s welfare state manifest themselves throughout society in many ways. Gender equality is more prevalent in Norway than almost any other country in the world. Norway was one of the first countries in the world to elect a female Prime Minister, and as of 2016 the leaders of both parties forming the coalition government (Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of Finance Siv Jensen) are female.
Norway is very liberal when it comes to LGBT rights. Same-sex marriage, adoption, and IVF/assisted insemination treatments for lesbian couples have been legal since 2009.
Outside of the cities, Norway is mostly very rugged terrain. From north to south, the scenery is spectacular and Norwegians make the most of it. Many own or have access to cabins in the mountains or on coastal islands. They constitute the very core of Norwegian recreation but are often very basic, with simple bunk beds and no running water or electricity. They are used as weekend getaways for family and friends, and shelter for long, multi-day ski trips.
Skiing, hiking, cycling and a love for the outdoors truly are key to successful integration into Norwegian society.
On a per head basis, Norwegian expenditure on healthcare is the highest in the world. Every resident of Norway has the right to access healthcare services, and although treatment is not free, there is an annual limit on how much any one individual has to pay for healthcare.
Perhaps a better phrase than good pay would be to say fair pay. Jobs at the senior level don’t actually pay that well when compared to executive positions in the UK, USA, Middle East and elsewhere. But at the lower end of the scale, all workers in Norway earn a living wage.
Of course, it’s widely known that Norway has one of the highest costs of living in the world. You are likely to experience a lengthy period of adjustment after moving to Norway, until you can fully understand the balance of higher pay, higher costs, and better public services, and how that affects your personal circumstances.
Many foreigners find it difficult to make good friends with locals, so instead form social circles with other foreigners. While it can be challenging to break into a Norwegian circle, it is an important step to integrating into society.
Image: Peer Gynt Festival