Is Norway Really So Bad For Foreigners?

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A new edition of an annual expat survey has ranked Norway as one of the worst countries in the world for relocation. Let’s take a look at why.

Incredible landscapes, free-to-access nature, and a focus on children are some of the reasons people are drawn to Norway. But what about the high cost of living, difficulty to settle, and lack of cultural activities?

Foreigners living in Norway image

These are some of the factors given by Norway-based respondents in the Expat Insider 2023 survey, which looks at the ease of living and working abroad. Norway placed 52nd of the 53 countries included in the Expat Insider Index.

Norway only ranked higher than Kuwait in the index, part of the survey which has been run for the last 10 years. More than 12,000 people living abroad in 53 countries took part in the survey.

The top ten countries in the index are Mexico, Spain, Panama, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Bahrain, and Portugal.

It’s not a Nordic thing

Norway may have ranked badly but that wasn’t the case with other Nordic countries. Finland (16th) and Sweden (24th) both ranked in the top half, while Denmark placed 41st.

Expat life in Nordic countries graphic. Source: Expat Insider 2023.
Expat life in Nordic countries graphic. Source: Expat Insider 2023.

There were not enough respondents from Iceland for the country to feature in the index.

All Nordic countries ranked high in the Working Abroad Index, although Norway was still notably behind Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Foreigners living in Finland also ranked the country well for quality of life.

Norway: expensive and difficult?

Norway is not only the worst-rated Nordic country in the Expat Insider survey but also second-to-last worldwide. It also comes second-to-last in the Personal Finance Index, only ahead of New Zealand.

More than three in five expats (62%) rate the local cost of living negatively, compared to 35% globally. Perhaps most worrying, 37% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 27% globally).

Similarly to the other Nordic countries featured in the survey, Norway does not perform well in the Ease of Settling In Index (48th). Close to a third of expats (32%) describe the locals as unfriendly towards foreign residents, compared to 18% globally.

Norway cash kroner banknotes
Norway is an expensive country.

They also find it hard to make local friends (51% unhappy vs. 36% globally) and are unhappy with their social life (38% vs. 25% globally). Overall, 37% do not feel at home in Norway (vs. 20% globally) — 17% do not feel at home at all, which is more than twice the global average (8%)!

Read more: Is Norway ‘Safe But Boring?’

Some of the reasons given for Norway’s poor ranking in the Quality of Life Index include the affordability of public transport, the opportunity to travel, and the availability of healthcare. Norway also ranks last for culinary variety and dining options, and badly for culture and nightlife.

However, Norway-based respondents valued the political stability, the high air quality, and the natural environment.

About the survey

InterNations has been conducting its annual Expat Insider survey since 2014. This 10th edition of one of the world’s largest expat surveys is based on data from 12,065 expats representing 171 nationalities and living in 172 countries or territories. They provided information on various areas of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality.

Participants were asked to rate up to 56 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these factors, considering both emotional topics and more factual aspects with equal weight.

The ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up five topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and Expat Essentials.

These indices were further averaged together with expats’ general happiness with their life abroad to rank 53 destinations around the world. To be featured in the indices and overall ranking, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per destination was necessary.

What do you think?

So, is Norway’s placing in the Expat Insider Index fair? What do you think about the pros and cons of living and working in Norway? Let us know in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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90 thoughts on “Is Norway Really So Bad For Foreigners?”

  1. Norway has a very depressing and dark side that no survey can truly convey. You’d have to live in one of their many tiny, isolated, sinister, xenophobic and narcissistic villages to fully understand.

    • Well, why do you stay here then?
      I suppose nobody have forced you to move to Norway.
      Maybe you should consider to move back home, thank you and goodbye!

      • Why respond by telling someone to move back rather than asking yourself how and your country make life better for foreigners. I am baffled by this response. Instead of looking at it as an opportunity to learn and do better, you would rather dismiss a person’s experience and threaten them to go back home. This is the reason Norway is ranking so low in the first place and continuing to rank even lower over the years, because Norwegians are in denial and believe their country is the best in the world.

        • Totally agree Jesse! I was thinking the same myselfes. Stigs answer is a dumb ass jerk answer and a little half brain. I think its important we norwegian go into ourselfes and think why this is.!

        • Why??? Just open your eyes.
          Some Norwegians colleagues tell me that all they really want from us:
          1. so that it is unbearable for us to live here
          2. so that we leave
          3. and told others about this so that the others would not come.

      • Thank you and good bye to you Stig. Its not a foreigner’s fault that this country sucks. Im just using this country for getting enough money and then im saying thank you and good bye

      • And that is exaxtly the reason why we do not like Norway… « we are the best, and If you do not like that : Go home»
        I’ ve been her for 43 years now, and they realy think that Norwegians are worldchampions In all areas. They do not believe the fact that students have 6 times as much severe problems compared to some other EU countries…

      • “Dear” Stig, I lived in Norway for 2 years. It was because of work, so I had to. The first chance I had, I left with no regrets and I will never go back. I suppose that now I qualify to say that Norway has a depressing and dark side that no survey can truly convey, and that you’d have to live in one of their many tiny, isolated, sinister, xenophobic and narcissistic villages to fully understand. Right? Thank you for nothing and goodbye.

        • I can’t say much since I haven’t seen nor been witness to your experience regarding Norway but I will say one thing, even if I get the minimum help from health care in Norway and to some extent ”NAV” despite my Trauma and Upbringing I still find this country to be awfully depressing. While I know I can’t generalize everyone I still feel like there are no true ”bonds” between people here and it’s mostly about status and persona. For me I find Norway an incredibly distressing country to live in due to the poor emotional bonds people have here. No real connections just status and finger pointing.

    • In their defence, England has lost its village character, since everybody moves around for work is practically “homeless”. People don’t know their neighbours. In Norway most families there are intergenerational and are literally part of the landscape (the towns and roads are named after the families who lives there). We can’t expect to compete with that and be welcomed immediately. It will take decades or generations for our families to become a part of the landscape.

      England has lost something that Norway still has, so I do not begrudge them for being skeptical to outsiders and having their own way of doing things. It is their culture and country after all.

    • Maybe it’s not the ‘fault’ of the local inhabitants – but the expectations of ex-pats – with their typical “It’s not like at home” attitude?! You will find exactly the same ‘scepsis’ for strangers in a village in Yorkshire.. Cornwall.. France or Italy!

      • I live in Yorkshire, you know nothing , I live in a little village and welcome people as long as they are not buying houses for holiday lets

    • Why would you expect locals to change their culture to accommodate a foreign person moving in. Instead you should expect to change to fit in. If you don’t want to do that why did you move?

      • I absolutely “love” when people commenting are so hellbent on showing their entire ass in these internet streets that they completely miss the point. People are genuinely talking about their difficulty making friends in a cold (and seemingly very tribal place). No one is trying to change/destroy the Norwegian culture or its politics. Neither are they saying Norwegians are bad people. Try to refrain from the “barbarians at the gate” mentality in this new year, it’s obviously not doing you any favors.

        • I changed to fit in, and learnt the language. I viewed adapting to the culture as something I was obliged to do after moving here, and I don’t have a problem with that. It’s hard to make friends in Norway at first, but it gets easier.

          What I have a problem with is that the government granted me Norwegian citizenship, but also says that I have “svak tilknytning til Norge” for the rest of my life, and that because of this it would be “urimelig” for me to have to same ‘minimum’ rights as other Norwegian citizens now that I have become disabled. I moved here in my early 20s.

          Ironically the people best placed to deal with this are the “expats” with no interest in integrating, who always planned to “go home”.

    • In Sunny Australia, the Hotter the climate the more friendly people are and that is almost a certain although any one individual will be different. If you live in a cold place you will never have the openness of a Warmer climate. So, from the South to North up the East coast, Tasmania: could echo a few of you comments, Sinister, Clanish (seriously) Xenophobic of Main land people & Private. Melbourne, Cool, Organised (Design of the City) Trendy, & Tribal. Sydney: Wacky, Loud, fascinating, disparate (It’s a very diverse City & Metro). Brisbane; Up front, Livable, Easy going & generally the Talk is friendly. Darwin; Laughs a Plenty, Casual clothes & Self Sufficient (Culturally) Crazy at night ( The Heat) I don’t include Canberra or the other Cities.

  2. Norwegian are so lazy and unfriendly not to mention that narcissistic mentally.
    Do yourself a favor and just go there on vacation, that’s it.

    • Definitely I agree, Norwegians are narcissistic, racists and xenophobic.
      Being a Mexican tourist in Norway, most Norwegians were very rude and unfriendly to me in stores, tourist attractions and even on the streets.
      They made me feel uncomfortable in many instances. I would never go back to that country and i would not recommend anyone to visit. If you want to visit a friendly place with more beautiful fjords and outstanding nature, go to New Zealand, where people will make you feel welcomed and appreciated.

      • I would also like to add “ignorant”, “naive” and “unsophisticated” to that list. This country is primed for a real wake-up call once the oil runs out.

      • I have to agree about New Zealand, they are fabulous as a Nation and as a People. They can be a little to self deprecating and hide their light under a Bushel but really they are very smart and incredibly good at Sport. Most Aussies are reticent to admit it as Kiwis may think we are crawling up to them. The rivalry is intense but on a Personal level, very friendly. New Zealand are Australia’s Friend, and I know we have not always acted in a way that honours the Friendship. As far as Scenery and Nature are concerned Norway is no match for New Zealand.

      • I am of Norwegian descent myself and I find this country extremely ”gray” sad and cold, and not because of the weather alone. The people here just seem like they are in a zombie like state wishing to die. I notice on a subconscious level that being around a place like this does affect my mental health, I am not the one to believe in energy and all that but if there really was then they ooze of negative depressive energy. Either that or they flaunt off materialistic goods in order to show that they lead a perfect life(while having hundreds of thousands in debt). It’s all a facade to fit in because the same people that are doing this are insecure as well.

        I doubt most of them are racist because most follow the mainstream politics and frown upon any views that goes against the grain but even if one doesn’t follow the politics that is mainstream it doesn’t mean they are racists either. BUT, they are extremely vary of things that are different in general and you being Mexican probably noticed it as well. In my opinion it is not a race thing but Norwegians in general are vary of things or people that are different.

        As other people mentioned as well, I feel Norwegians are naive cause they do not seem to have the ability to think for themselves. They listen to everything the government says and does. Of course there are people who complain but they then shoddily vote for a party they barely have read on because they mentioned (we will remove x) or (we will do x) when the same people forget these parties are hypocrites and have lied before. I do not trust any of the parties here considering we are under the EØS avtalen, Jonas Gahr Støre (and most likely other high ranking politicians) has ties with the world economic forum and so on. No reason to believe in a government that has sold it’s country out.

        The country doesn’t really have much culture anymore either, we got nature to some extent yes but most people either cope by drinking every weekend or buy materialistic goods to seem like they are happy. So yes, if you want to travel to a country with more positive influences Norway is not one of them, I think Asia would be the better approach as Europe in itself is on a downward spiral.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I haven’t had any experience with people like in Norway, though I traveled to so many countries and always got a very warm welcoming attitude. The thing is when they don’t accept their problems, they can never be changed. Kind of very fixed mindset and over proud

  3. If you move to Norway in your early 20s, naturalise as a Norwegian citizen, and later become disabled you could end up with less than the “minimum” level of uføretrygd until you reach the old age pension, due trygdetid calculations regarding your foreign residency before moving to Norway. You are then reliant on sosialhjelp (which does not exempt your house from the asset test).

  4. Wow! I am an American, and I retired here 3 years ago. I lived and worked here in the 90’s, and I married a Norwegian. I have learned the language, but I’m not fluent. I loved living here then, and now.

    Other than the high cost of living, I just don’t understand the rest. We have good friends in our neighborhood, around town, and in other parts of the country. No family here to speak of. Having a boat and enjoying winter sports helps significantly.

    I think the best decision I made was to not try to be “American” here. If you embrace the culture as much as you can, it is easy to be happy.

    That said, I do understand many of the concerns expats express. I guess I have just been lucky.

    It isn’t all perf

    • Agree with you Mark.
      In order to be fair to any country and specifically Norway, as an expat do not impose your cultural identity or attitude on people you don’t know. Embrace, adapt and adjust but above all respect the natives. After all we are coming to their countries . For cost of living and other matters, it’s purely our choice, if we don’t like it then choose other country.
      It will be always a privilege to be in any country other then yours. The harsh reality, if we don’t like what we see and get then why we go for it ? Just my opinion.

    • You said it yourself, you married one and you stoped been so “American”. Norwegians wants we to assimilate their culture not us to integrate.
      That’s my experience after almost 12 years in this beautiful country.

    • Thanks for a bit of Truth Mark!
      The biggest mistake this “survey” makes, is asking ex-pats; For they will all moan “It’s not like at home”! You hit the nail om the head: ‘Embrace the culture’. I did too, 47 years ago, have never regretted it and would not dream of returning to the UK, with its political chaos, class system, and ‘we are best’ attitude!

    • Mark, it is a bit patronizing to tell other expats “stop trying to be like you were before and embrace the culture”. You lived in the US and the you moved in Norway, where you married a Norwegian. I am from Italy and I lived in the UK, Mexico, France, Norway and Spain. So, it’s not like I haven’t traveled enough and I don’t know how to adapt. And yet, the only country where I felt unwelcome and I had a very difficult time settling and socializing is Norway. The worst years of my life, and I wasn’t event “trying to be Italian”, since I spent half of my life abroad that I hardly consider myself as a “pure Italian” anymore.

  5. Agree with Mark. I too am a US expat and chose to retire to this well-functioning liberal democracy. It’s instructive to compare Norway’s low standing in the expat survey with its consistently high ranking in the World Happiness Index and with surveys of new immigrants and refugees who consistently rate their satisfaction with living here more highly than Norwegians do—see the TV program Sånn er Norge.Yes, there are big challenges—Norwegians can be remote and insular and Norway is expensive even when your source of income is USD$. But the expat survey doesn’t reflect my experience over the last 5 yrs living here

  6. An entire country of people who mind their own business? Good coffees, a few actual Dale of Norway yarn shops, and restaurants with farm fresh food? Where can this Native American sign up? And unless the studio apartments are over $3200USD per month like Seattle, they need to stop complaining.

  7. If you become disabled and end up with less than the “minimum” level of uføretrygd for life, the government says that they are doing this because of your “svak tilknytning til Norge” (weak connection to Norway), even if you are a Norwegian citizen and have embraced Norwegian culture.

  8. Oh wow! so many bad comments- I am shocked. They all talk about the same issues so there must be some truth to these points of view.
    I wonder how British expats find it?

    • I see this as a big problem for Norway

      The brightest and the best can pick and choose where they settle. Nations try and attract clever, fertile, young migrants to grow the economy. It’s generally accepted now that Norway’s good but mainly for Norwegians. Foreigners mainly do menial jobs and have precarious residency statuses

    • Not great. The people I work with are very unfriendly, some even glare at me if I dare to say good morning to them. They look down on non-norwegian speakers, but forget they are exposed to the English language from birth.
      These hypocrites also believe they are a very planet friendly country, despite continuing to exploit their Oil & Gas reserves to the maximum.
      I will go home to UK when my work finishes, which they will be happy about.

      • Come back home and tell me all about your experience living in Norway.
        Im in Uk and my daughter engaged with Norwegian and hoping she can move there soon and persuading me to move there too.

  9. I can’t possibly agree with all the ‘anti Norway’ comments above. We have been going to Norway for 60+ years , and have had a cabin there for the last 20 years, until the start of covid. and found it a most friendly place. Any country that you visit will be different to your original home, and you should realise that, and accept it. If you can’t, go somewhere else, but don’t just run it down! Through the period we have made many friends in Norway, many of whom have subsequently visited us in the UK several times through the years. Some we have known for the whole 60 years, and we still visit each other when in Norway. That can’t be that bad, can it? Every time we land at Gardermoen, the first thing I say is “Home again!”, and knowing what I know now, if I was young again, it’s the first place I would go, and live there quite happily. As they say, “When in Rome, do as Rome does”!, and if you do you will probably get on much better, like we have. Takk for alt!

    • Imagine only visiting a country from time to time because you are highly privileged and have a cabin there, and assuming that your privileged tourist experience is comparable and even overshadows the experiences of the people that actually live there. You have no idea what you are actually talking about.

      • Tammy, I was thinking the same exact thing. I also have noticed that, the people expressing these nearly magical experiences in Norway are substantially older than the immigrants/expats who are joining the work force or have done in recent years. Perhaps younger folks are experiencing the Scandinavian rise in anti-immigrant sentiment older generations were better shielded from.

    • Roger “If you can’t, go somewhere else, but don’t just run it down!” I’m so tired of these comments. Why do you assume that people complaining about Norway only know their own country and Norway? I lived in the UK, Mexico, France, Norway and Spain and the only place where I felt unwelcome and I had lots of troubles settling in was Norway. Is it a coincidence? Or am I just not used to “go somewhere else”? Or maybe I was actually living and working there, not going just for a little holiday in my cabin?

  10. I agree with Mark, Zak and David.
    We recently relocated to Norway to a small-ish town in the south. Yes, the cost of living is high, but we’ve met nothing but welcoming, helpful and kind people here. Strangers at the workplace who were willing to lend us a table and chairs until our furniture comes, or inviting us to their hytte for an afternoon. It’s been nothing but positivity. Yes, sometimes the clerks in shops can just toss the receipt at your shopping and move on, but it’s just who Norwegians are. It’s not personal.
    I think the negative experiences really depend on where people are in Norway, what their expectations were coming in and what their past experiences are from other places.
    After all, we all experience Norway in our own ways based on all that.

  11. I’ve been living in Norway for a little over a year now and the survey justifies my feelings towards the country. While Norway is a beautiful and safe, there is something just not quite right. The culture here is extremely conformist and that expectation is almost immediately placed on foreigners. For a country that claims to be so globalised and progressive, the reality is that it doesn’t quite truly embrace diversity and difference. It is hard to speak your mind here without feeling like you’re stepping on toes. The expectation is to “be like us” in order to be valued and accepted in society. There is a lack of creativity, job opportunities and social spaces. The fact that one can’t find work without speaking Norwegian or that foreigners need to change their names to Norwegian sounding names in order to not face hiring discrimination, is a testament to the exclusionary culture of this country. I recently tried volunteering at a workplace and on my first day was ignored by staff members, at the lunch room they flat out spoke Norwegian with no interest in trying to speak a bit of English so that I could be included in their conversations, I was left out of a meal and simply treated like an outsider. Norway is in great denial about it’s racism and xenophobia and yet these are everyday interpersonal and systemic issues. I believe being a foreigner of colour in this environment is even harder. I truly feel for those who came here alone. This country is simply not the conducive for mental health. For foreigners seeking employment here, would recommend seeking another country to live and work in.

    • I think it is completely fair that most jobs will require you to speak norwegian. How can you move to another country, and then be upset about people not speaking your mother-tounge?

      Most foreigners i know, are actually finding it hard learning norwegian because most norwegians will speak english with them – so they miss out on practising…

      When i traveled in Latin America – i didn’t expect the locals to speak english with me – i prepared, learned some basics, took an extra course when i got there, and had a dictionary with me at all times.

    • Tammy, to be fair, if you live in Norway and you want to work in Norway, you have to speak Norwegian. Similarly, if you want to work in France you have to speak French, if you want to work in Japan you have to speak Japanese, and so on. This, for the working part. When it comes to social life, however, I agree with you, especially if you’ve just arrived and it is clear that you don’t speak the local language. People could try to speak English to you to make you feel welcome and not excluded. I mean, it is just a matter of politeness, really.

  12. Norway is definitely a nice place, but not a nice place to move into. Save yourself the frustration and sadness of living in this cold, expensive piece of land.

  13. I wasn’t lucky enough to be called an expat. Even though I was never a typical emigrant. Unique indeed. I was forced to be a refugee of war Iran/Irak in the late 80s. Within 6 months fluent and within a year admitted to medical school with grade 6 Norwegian high school diploma. I am a white Woman totally integrated in the society so keen as a teenager to be a part of the gang so much so I changed my surname to a Norwegian name! I drank Akevit like fish and killed myself to be one of them. Got my Norwegian passport before anyone else. I will always be grateful to the country to give me a shelter from the war when I needed to be saved. They gave me a good education and a career. However after 13 years of trying these were my disappointments 1) everyday reminded 20 times a day that where I am from ? 2) when will I go home ? ( no home to go to)3) lucky to be there. After my phD moved to uk as many of my Persian doctor friends moved to USA. I had to emigrate to Norway because I had no choice but I didn’t want my child to be judged for the colour of her/ his skin. Utlending even though I broke my back being one of them. Recently met some Norwegians in Spain . Got excited that still after 25 years living in uk , spoke perfect Norsk. Went over and talked to them. First thing I heard was “ but you don’t look norsk”. Rest my case

    • Thank for you sharing this story Soha. I “look Norwegian”, but they still remind me that I can’t expect the same ‘minimum’ rights as them no matter how long I live here, because I’m not “norskfødt”, because I haven’t “bodd i Norge hele livet”, because I’m not “etnisk norsk”. Like you, I changed myself to live here, and even if I can make arrangements to leave, Norway will always be part of who I am. I am a Norwegian citizen, but I can never really be one of them. This place feels like home, and I have a lot of positive memories here, there are a lot of things I am grateful for here, but I will always be inferior; this tears me apart, and I can’t do this anymore.

  14. I believe not all of us have it the same way, due to stereotypes mostly. So I understand that people have it way harder sometimes. But having lived in Germany for quite some years, I feel that Norwegians are quite friendly. But I think the key to enjoy it is to adapt.

    I also can’t agree with the amount of complaining about the country. I found Norwegians to be very polite and friendly. Of course it’s hard to make friends, but if you try to adapt to the country, they seem very welcoming. You can’t expect a country to change for you, when you move to a new country you need to be willing to accept the differences and adapt. Also to have in mind that the population is quite small so of course you won’t have the same amount of things to do as in big cities or countries.

  15. I find Norwegian people rude and condescending. I work part time in a coffee shop and I honestly can’t handle being treated this way because my Norwegian is not up to scratch. It’s a beautiful country to live in, I love the safety and the certainty, our nature is unlike anywhere and I can live with the medical system and bad food but the treatment of fellow humans is terrible. I’m thinking of getting hold of the political parties to suggest an all inclusive immigrantcentric campaign. If I had to leave after nearly four years, the people would be the reason 100%

    • Jane, I won’t excuse any rudeness. You should never permit that behavior and you have the right to ask those people to leave if they are disrespectful to you. Working in the service industry is hard but a bar tender or barista has every right to tell people to leave if they are rude.

      At the same time, if you were in your home country and were forced to speak English or Spanish or some other widely spoken language which was not a national language everytime you wanted a coffee or to buy food in a supermarket you might be a little upset that that relatively simple transaction couldn’t take place in Estonian, Italian, French, etc.

      My advice would be to master the Norwegian vocabulary for your work assignments and use that as a stepping stone to learning the language. You won’t need years to learn the 50 or so Norwegian words and phrases necessary to barista a coffee shop. Then try to build on that with occasional small talk with customers. Soon you’ll not only be the most social barista in Norway but you’ll be building confidence and learning Norwegian 🙂

      Best of luck.

    • I want to admit me being a Norwegian myself has done the same thing (Usually regret it afterwards). While it isn’t an excuse I want to let you know that living in this country does something to your brain considering most people are quite rude. Even Norwegians towards Norwegians.

  16. It’s a complex topic and really depends on where you live, with whom, and where you work. Socializing is generally an issue. My main issue is that people typically don’t hand out in public places (cafes, bars, events) because it is so expensive (no third places). One other major issue is financing as Norwegians typically buy their flats/houses which requires upfront payment of 15% of the price. Most internationals don’t have that financial source (especially with real estate prices being crazy high). Currently, inflation and supply chain issues also let prices skyrocket. Food is also an issue because supermarkets sell the same staff everywhere. Those issues exist also because of national regulations and could be fixed, hence, difficult to understand for internationals.

    Otherwise, I really enjoy living in Norway. It’s a fascinating country with a lot of extremes which makes it very interesting (and new) to live in as an international.

  17. I would recommend reading the original document of the Expat’s Index to fully understand all factors of the topic and how far down drops Norway in the list – https://cms.in-cdn.net/cdn/file/cms-media/public/2023-07/Expat-Insider-2023-Survey.pdf.

    Obviously, ex-pats have options to choose between countries to move in, instead of just accept the unwritten rule “be like us or go home”. No, it doesn’t work like this. Did you know that there are around 20% of people with foreigners backgrounds living in Norway? It means that almost every 5th person on the street in Norway came here from abroad! That’s why Norway can’t blindly continue to behave as a solitary monolith nation of conformists, racists and xenophobes. They need to change their behaviour and be more welcoming to foreigners, otherwise, the trend will continue and skilled workers will prefer Finland, Sweden, Denmark or other countries to Norway.

    I live in Norway with my wife now for around 5 years. It become our second home – we bought here a house, and car and expect a baby soon. But I am not sure wether I want my son to grow up in this society and face all the struggles I experience here as a foreigner..

    • I see this as a big problem for Norway

      The brightest and the best can pick and choose where they settle. Nations try and attract clever, fertile, young migrants to grow the economy. It’s generally accepted now that Norway’s good but mainly for Norwegians. Foreigners mainly do menial jobs and have precarious residency statuses

    • Out of the top 18 countries there, 17 have year-round warm climates, and the first top 15 countries there have warm climates without exception. This makes me think the majority of those expats are retired people living in sunny destinations. That would make the Expat survey somewhat skewed.

  18. Well paid remote tech workers and other short-term wealthy migrants (read Internations members) are not immigrants. Internations is a network for “expats” who relocate to places for work and often do so repeatedly. They are not your typical immigrants. Using them as an indication of what life is like for immigrants in Norway makes almost no sense as they and people like them make up such a small segment of the immigrant population.

    • Read the survey, they define an expat as someone who relocated to a new country because they 1) found work on their own in another country, 2) were internationally recruited and 3) moved for love. The only criteria not included here are those who migrated because of war or seeking place of refuge. So no, not all participants in the survey come from privileged backgrounds and if you live in Norway and interact with foreigners on a regular basis you would actually know that.

  19. I agree with every single negative comment here and the survey makes a lot of sense. I have been in Norway for more than half a year, so one would assume the initial “cultural shock” phase should already be over, but I definitely don’t feel at home here… Yet. Not sure if I ever will. It’s good to live here if you are Norwegian, and it’s a nice country to *visit*. Beautiful nature is the only positive thing I see here. I moved here because of my Norwegian partner, so I would never live here for the country itself. After more than half a year of being unemployed (because it’s almost impossible to find a job here as a foreigner, even if you are educated and have experience) and experiencing all the negatives other people mentioned in the comments here, I am starting to consider moving back to my less wealthy but otherwise much more liveable home country, even if that means breaking up with my long-term partner (who would never move). I have lived in 2 other countries before and both were more welcoming and generally less depressing/frustrating than Norway (yes, one of them was English speaking, which already makes things a lot easier, but it was definitely not the only reason). I know some foreigners who live in my home country (we worked together) and they also had a much easier time settling in, even if my home country has a much lower percentage of foreigners and has the stereotype of being “less open” because it’s not in western Europe.
    Maybe I’m just “unlucky” or there is something wrong with me.. although seeing surveys like this, as well as numerous comments and blog posts and discussions on forums makes me doubt that. Most people mention the same struggles and the same problems with Norway / Norwegian society, so there must be some (or a lot) truth in it.

  20. Unfortunately I have to agree with negative comments about Norway.
    I came here two years ago because of my husband being Norwegian and getting a job here.
    We lived in a few different countries before (in Europe and in Asia), but Norway is the least likable.

    What disturbs me most is the mediocracy and conformism in the society.
    Knowledge and education seem not to be valued as much as in other countries and at the same time Norwegians look down at foreigners and think they live in the “happiest country in the world”
    The healthcare system is also surprisingly bad as for a rich and small population.
    As mentioned before – it’s great to spend holiday here. I wouldn’t recommend it as a place to live though.

  21. Norway’s beautiful and worth visiting but my advice is to never work there. Norway’s famously refused to apply the EEA Agreement, has a “miscarriage of justice” problem imprisoning people who have correctly applied ESA law. Your fundamental rights are not enforceable in Norway

    Working in Norway can easily lead to you being habitually resident nowhere as your native land ceases to consider you resident there and a member of no NI scheme despite being obliged to contribute to Norway’s NI Scheme. Expect complaints to take 11 to 12 years to receive a decision. None of paying tax in Norway, owning a house in Norway, being the parent of a Norwegian minor entitle you to permission to remain in Norway

  22. I’m sorry Stig, but you ARE obliged to try and move to Norway once you become tax liable to Norway. I think, after trygd skandalen, that may have changed since it contravenes freedom of movement rules. Most suspect it was §2-1 of Folketrygdloven which obliged non-Norwegians individuals to move to Norway but, of course, municipalities are not obliged to register as resident in Norway non-Norwegians taxliable to Norway so non-Norwegians end up resident nowhere except in Norway and only “for tax purposes”

  23. I have to fully agree with the survey and the negative comments left by others on this page. I am extremely shocked by how bad the healthcare system is in Norway. I have had some terrible experiences with the doctors who seem to have no time for patients. One doctor consulted with me in Norwegian even after expressing to her that I did not speak Norwegian. I did not understand what was going on in a consultation about own body and where I had legitimate health concerns. After sending an email to the managers to report the incident, I did not receive any response. While I do not come from a first world country, the healthcare service I experienced back home was far better than this. The people here just do not have time for others. Even if you want to travel and experience the country, everything from accomomdation, entrance tickets, public transport, food and petrol is so expensive. Other than the natural landscapes there is not a lot to see in Norway. If you are looking to make cultural experiences, there is lot a lot to offer in relation to history, architecture, art, and cuisine. There is really nothing to do. The country is boring, the food has no variety. The supermarkets have little range and all sell the same things. The winters are long. Norwegians are not welcoming to foreigners and they are difficult to make friends with. In conclusion there is not much that is amazing about this country. Visit but do not come here to live. It must be good for Norwegians who have been led to believe that their country is the best in the world and have not actually experienced anything else.

  24. I’m a British expat, my son was born here in Norway and I moved over to be with them under a family immigration option. Despite the challenges described in so many posts above, I have learnt to appreciate the space, quality and security this country has provided. The main challenge for expats (outside of EU/EEA) is the waiting times for D-Number, approx. 1 year. UDI application volumes are high and turnaround is crazy slow (the same people who answer the phone, deal with the applications).

    You *absolutely* require a D-Number for practically everything. You cannot work or operate without it, nor can you integrate (i.e. open bank account, get paid, buy / rent property etc). You cannot remote work here, it would be illegal and against regulation and law in this country, unless you find a way to do it through the Norwegian system i.e. a payroll company or your own private company. Yes, it’s hard to integrate. Yes, you must have significant savings to live off before getting a job and D-Number, and yes, it is a country of regulation, when you land here you begin to understand, c’est la vie. The costs of all goods and services are high and integration is tricky. You need to be savvy, any Norwegian reading this might appreciate the next comment..

    Norwegians have fantastic English and we are lucky the country widely speaks English and folks do not look down on us nor penalise us for not speaking Norwegian. I cannot comment on the political system, nor healthcare system as I am not accustomed yet but believe me there are other countries with failing systems, long waiting times and degrading healthcare – UK included.

    Be smart before making a move, do your research thoroughly and ensure you have financial security before committing, otherwise you will suffer, go broke and life will soon become depressing for you. Do not believe what everyone writes above, these are all personal interpretations from personal experiences. Be happy, live free and enjoy Norway 🙂 x

  25. Here are a few words on my experience in Norway so far. I was born in eastern Europe but lived in North America for about half of my life (I do have some accent when I speak English). I moved to Norway for a job, no family, relatives, just by myself. The job is paying decently compared to many other places (but yes, Oslo is quite expensive, but not as expensive, by far, as Toronto, at least when it comes to rent / real estate), and I don’t have to speak Norwegian for the job (in fact I don’t yet speak that much Norwegian, but I’m looking forward to learning it). Norwegian is a small language, as a Norwegian language prof has said, but when you learn Norwegian, you also effectively learn Swedish and Danish, to a good degree. One doesn’t seem to have to ask Norwegians if they speak English before talking to them, so that part is easy (albeit it does slow down my Norwegian learning process).

    I don’t find Norwegians rude or inconsiderate. I’m somewhat of a loner by nature, so I enjoy it when everybody minds their own business, and I don’t need to hang out frequently. I’m also ok with the climate (this summer wasn’t too hot or cold, just the right temperatures, and the winter wasn’t extremely cold, and I like it when it rains frequently). So, your mileage may vary.

    Yes, there are upsides and downsides, but practically speaking, I seem to be doing well in Norway thus far.

  26. It i knew then what i know now about how horrible and racist Norway was then I would never have made the move. My kids are bullied every day and nothing gets done properly about it and people think im aggressive just because i come from South Africa and I am a loud person. I wont be staying here for much longer. Thanks but no thanks

    • My daughter experienced being bullied at school and I spoke to the teacher that “in my culture, there is a low tolerance for bullying especially towards female children” and I strongly hinted that if it wasn’t taken care of at a school level, then I found speak the parents of the other child. Luckily, her teacher was from the North, hence, easier to deal with and took care of it right away. Norway is hit and miss, like anywhere on this planet, but I do agree with the comments that native Norwegians will turn a blind eye towards mistreatment, and/ or try to gaslight you that they are the GOAT. Stand your ground, know your worth and *never* let your children suffer being bullied or picked on.

  27. Yes, it really is.

    Society is intentionally engineered in a way that it almost impossible to be happy in this society if you don’t know Norwegian.

  28. The comments are scary.
    I believe in most of them. Of course someone can experience totally different things and have a happy expat life there but no thanks, I am never going to consider Norway again since I am a person of color. Good luck to anyone facing bad attitude and hope you will find your way out of it.

  29. Norway as a country is not good and not bad, it depends on your life expectations and yourself, but as a state ( government is an evil organization😅)
    I spent 2 years in Norway and this is my opinion and my experience:

    Norwegians are nice people in general, hard working ( younger not really 😅); maybe they don’t smile to you on the street but they don’t have ill will towards you for example your car will break and they don’t stop to ask you “ what’s happen? how can I help you?” but when you stop them and say “ man my car broke give me a lift to this place” they will say ok so they lack the initiative but not refuse to help- I treat it as a culture thing.
    Are they narcissistic and xenophobic? Maybe to some point but I am too to some extend as we all are, we all appreciate ourselves but we cannot belittle others, and like everywhere there are normal ppl and assholes.
    My issues with Norwegians was their blindly obedience to the “system” and lack of independent thinking but it’s the state fault, they were raised there so they don’t see it and assume that how it should be.
    Overall I consider Norwegians to be decent hard working people and non invasive and that is a +

    But Norwegian state and the system is completely different story:
    1. If you are ambitious, take as much as you can from life than forget it- “system” already has a place for you ( social status, lvl of life etc) and will make it very difficult for you to go higher ( less tax return, higher taxes etc)
    But If you want to have no worries, no wealth, want to work only full time, have humble but decent life than Norway is for you ( Jante Law or sth like that) It personally bothered me that I do more complex and difficult job but I earn 40% more than a cleaner 😩
    2. “ system of total control” – when I went to the bank to create an account I was asked “ how much money will you transfer abroad” hey! my money and not your business was my answer.
    State has access to your finance data ( pay by card in vinmonopolet many times and see whats happens) they call it “ care for people” but I call it human right violation and criminal activity.
    3. authoritarian government – state and law makers think they know better what is good to me, they know better what I should do etc. and for me is unacceptable. If I do good or bad thats less important to me, the choice is always and will be mine
    4 making people obey – sometimes when I wanted to arrange sth or solve some issue, I saw that a person ( official, company employee etc) would really wanna help but “ system says this, system says that, system doesn’t allow it etc” but the system is outdated and doesn’t correspond with reality or changes.

    5. state getting richer and richer and it’s people poorer and poorer – you have gas, oil, cheap electricity, own currency, low population = In today’ s reality you should prosper like no other but it is opposite. You people had no problem compared to the world so government created them for you – is is like in communist tomes “ create a problem and now we fight with it” that how it was back then

    6. toll ( customs) on everything and too much paperology 😅, that is why foreign companies are not present in Norway, not because they don’t want but because state will make it not worth it. caring for local companies is one thing, but lack of competition led you to the point you are now = limited choices of goods and services, and that is followed by high prices snd questionable quality. give you sn example : Norwegian Posten 😂 I think no further explanation needed.

    I can write more but you should get the point by now. Because of blind obedience of the state, being stuck in the past with values and world view and lack of evolvement Norway is so low in rankings, this lack of will to progress.
    It is nice that you aim equality etc but people weren’t, aren’t and will never be equal and it is not about race, nationality, believe, wealth or social status, It is about the merit, what a person represent with him/her self ( sorry I believe in only genders as nature intended) and forced equality is a naive dream like communist – good in the ideas bad in reality

    All negatives you say about the Norwegians that I read here of course do exist but exist everywhere in every nation. everywhere there are dumbasses and normal people, at my work for 20 Norwegians only one was this “ bad stereotypical Norwegian” but that doesn’t bother me because why? because someone is stupid I should feel bad? be serious people we are all grown up. The rest of Norwegians will first observe you, get to know you and see you actions. I am an honest, hard working ( i don’t work like horse but I always aim to do my job good), responsible and crazy person; I never had personal problem there, my advise is: show your self, din’t look at others and the rest will come on it’s own.

    So people of Norway are like all others, normal people with your own culture but you should get more freedom and that means be less dependent on the system; even a golden cage that provided safety with all nice things is still a cage

    P.S The views I saw there I will remember for the rest of my life, -40 and millions of shovels full of snow too 😅 but in general I had fun, simply I want more from life ( call be Greed) and freedom and privacy are for me things I will never loose, even if because of it life will kick my ass many times 😅

  30. I have lived in Norway as a self employed for nearly 10 years, the first three in and out travelling.

    I’ve lived in Spain, Italy, Andorra and London (uk). I believe al the above comments helped me feel relieved, thinking I’m not the only reason me who feels this way.

    I am good at minding my own business, and being alone too. I don’t think I’d ever expect someone else to change for me. That’s ridiculous. But you need a certain degree of common ground in every society: communication, acceptance of different opinions without antagonising, being good at taking criticism and above all focusing on solving problems, rather than being right.
    There are ofc very good aspects to Norwegian society, but I feel very difficult to find accountability from Norwegian, not often times you’ll hear “sorry” from someone.
    I believe it takes practice to be able to speak, communicate, disagree, and express oneself without feeling attacked. I think that’s one of the lowest points in Norway.

    He’s ya been most alienating is that, I get the feeling the system, core of belief and rules of conduct are extremely closed , yet nobody will explain them to you, and people would rather gaslight, manipulate or even lie. In order to not admit wrongs, collectively and individually.
    This stuff has cost me parenting me kid, having enormous trouble to be taken into consideration as a foreign father, has affected my professional life and ultimately my self esteem.
    The system is way too monolithic, closed, and outdated.
    I don’t live on regrets, and I’m sure everything will make sense from an opportunity for growth perspective… but I feel there are two norways: the one Norwegians tell you there is, and the one it is.

  31. I am danish and understand norwegian language. I lived in Norway for one full year, but I couldn’t wait to leave Norway.
    Very unwelcoming People, thinking they are the Best People on earth. Hated every day there.
    Moving back to Denmark was
    my best choice ever.

  32. My boyfriend has labeled Norway “ADAD” – “another day, another disappointment”.

    I have lived here for 4 years. 3 out of 4 employers have financially screwed me over, so I have learned after the second time that it’s essential to be in a union. My boyfriend just quit his job because the management was plain dangerous, ignoring the basic of safety standards.
    We currently have a van in the garage since 4 weeks, because there is no time to do a 5 hour job. But they blamed it on “people with a weird Eastern European name”.

    It’s just unbelievable what’s happening here.

  33. I have travelled and worked abroad all my life and Norway and working with a Norwegian company is by far the worst I have experienced. Racist, disgustingly greedy, nepotic, mafia of underqualified spoilt, entitled man babies that struggle to do their job properly and most sleep in several days of the week. The “managers” were largely the owners friends and incompetent fools regularly causing issues with the foreign departments cause they can’t do simple tasks like QAQC, inventories, etc and tried their best to drop the blame on the foreigners. The Norwegians would never have any repercussions but foreigners walking on eggshells cause they knew they’d be chopped without a thought. Unsurprising from a country that doesn’t grade it’s children till they’re 13 and zero confrontation so people have no ownership or responsibility. Also see ALOT of managers for “flat structured” companies. I was hoping my experience was unique but it appears many others are experiencing the same. People from the 4 corners of the globe different countries and religions all have the same opinion about Norway. Time to open your eyes guys, foreigners are here to help. Same way the Americans taught you how to find your oil and gas in the 60s.


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