Retire to Norway

A Norwegian fjord retirement

How to retire to Norway: The rules and regulations you need to know.

I get many emails from people all over the world asking if they can spend their last years in Norway. I completely understand! The image many people have of Norway is as above, of relaxing fjords on sunny days.

The reality is of course quite different and I would urge anyone considering moving here late in life to research the realities of daily life.

In this article we'll outline the rules and regulations for retiring to Norway (it's not as easy as you think) along with some considerations as to whether life in Norway is what you expect. Ready? Let's go!

How to Retire to Norway: The who and the how of retiring to Scandinavia.

For example, did you know that many Norwegian pensioners relocate to Spain, Portugal or other Mediterranean countries where their money goes a lot further and they can enjoy a far better and more stable climate.

Start with this post which will help you answer the question: are you sure you want to move to Norway?

Can I retire to Norway?

The answer is actually relatively simple. The question should be split broadly into two sub-questions. Firstly, do you already have or can you earn the right of residence? Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, can you afford to live here?

Lofoten tourism

The right to live in Norway

Unlike some European countries, there is no specific retirement permit available. To live in Norway without working, you must either already have permanent residence, or have enough money to sustain yourself.

Anyone with Norwegian citizenship or permanent residence has earned a permanent right to live in Norway. This generally requires you to have been born in Norway, or lived here for a minimum period of time, generally five years for EEA citizens and seven years for everyone else.

At this point, if you meet the requirements (which include language ability and income), you can apply for permanent residence, which would give you the right to live in Norway during your retirement.

Without a permanent residence permit, European citizens would need to register under the EEA registration scheme, and be able to prove an income of at least NOK 179,748 per year, which can come from private funds and/or a pension.

White houses in Flekkefjord, Southern Norway
Flekkefjord, Norway

You must also hold an EU Health Insurance card, or take out private health insurance. You can read more about immigration to Norway in our complete immigration guide.

There is no equivalent registration system for non-EEA citizens. To learn more about your options, you can use the English language translation of the Immigration Service website, which takes you step by step through the process relevant to your own personal circumstances.

The cost to live as a retiree

This is the most important factor, because many Norwegians actually retire abroad to make their pension income go further.

Spain is a hugely popular choice, but some choose to retire in Sweden or Denmark for a similar lifestyle at a slightly more affordable price.

No matter which country you're planning to move from, a life in Norway will almost certainly require increased spending on the basics such as energy bills, food, and so on.

Norwegian krone coins

However, if you have money to invest, property in more rural areas of the country can be snapped up at a surprisingly affordable price.

As tempting as this sounds, understand that life in rural Norway is unlikely to be the picture postcard existence you expect.

Access to basic services can be difficult, a car is absolutely essential, and learning Norwegian is a must if you are to make friends and feel at home.

To cut a long story short, unless you have substantial savings and/or an ongoing source of income, retiring to Norway on a state pension or relatively small savings is unlikely to be feasible.

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

You might like

About the Author: 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 freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.


  1. Thanks for a very interesting article.
    I was born in Bergen Norway and came to the states in 1959 with my parents when I was 10. Having served in the US Navy in the late 60s, I became a US citizen.
    I have been back home at least a dozen times over the years, and am now retired, and living in Northern California.
    I still speak and read fluent Norwegian, but do not write as well in Norwegian. I am very stable financially and in very good health, and considering moving back to Bergen for at least six months per year. I would more than likely rent or lease a Bergen residence each year.
    Can this be done, and to whom should I address my questions of how I would qualify to do this.

  2. After President Trump referenced Norway…. I checked it out, found your article and wow…what a nice country. I will have to plan a vacation there now… when is the best time of the year for hiking.

  3. Thanks so much for the timely and valuable reality check especially for us Americans. Photographs are beautiful, the culture is lovely -idyllic from my Sunny porch in California. Visiting as a tourist does not really approximate the experience one would have as a resident.
    Until you’ve spent a good bit of time in a country, you certainly cannot remotely know what it would be like to actually live there.

  4. My father was born in Bergen as well as my grandparents. I have a lot of family there — seems to me I heard I lost my “automatic” ability to become a citizen once I turned 21 years of age. True? Dang. I’m 72 now and would LOVE it……….

    1. Hi Margo, to apply for citizenship you generally have to have been living here on a valid residence permit for at least seven years, and have documented proof of fluency in norwegian. You can read more about Norwegian citizenship here.

  5. As an American of independent means who just wants to enjoy your beautiful country in retirement, and not a refugee who will abuse your generosity and become a permanent ward of the state, am I right in thinking you have no visa for me?

  6. Joel,

    If you have enough income to provide for yourself I am sure Norway would at least accept an application from you. You should come over and visit Norway. I have been here for 6 years. We have 5 hours of sunlight during the winter and its really dismal then but we do get a lot of sun in the summer with no A/C needed. So lots of swimming in the fjords, hiking, picking berries etc… . You should really try a vacation here first and see if you like it. It is very hard to make Norwegian friends unless you are really outgoing though but if you can get by without a lot of friends you will be just fine.

  7. My family moved from Norway to the Americasin 1635. We hailed from an island bearing our name. How would the government recognize meifi applied for citizenship?

  8. I would be interested in living in Norway. I am a retired teacher since june 2018. I have a good friend who lives in Oslo Norway. Would it be possible for a retired Canadian to retire in Norway ?

    1. No. You would need to have a family member, who is a Norwegian citizen (or Nordic citizen), living in Norway. And by family member, Norway doesn’t mean a cousin, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, etc. They mean close family members, like a spouse, partner/cohabitant, parent, or child. A “good friend” who lives in Norway is not a suitable grounds for immigration to Norway…UNLESS you are cohabitants (from the UDI website: “You must have lived together for at least two years and neither of you can be married to someone else.”)


      Also from the UDI website:

      “It is very difficult for other types of family members to be granted family immigration. You can only be granted family immigration if the UDI believes that strong humanitarian considerations apply in your case. We make a concrete assessment of this in every individual case, so we cannot say anything in general about what is required for other family members to be granted family immigration.”

  9. I am a Brit and have children and Grandchildren living in Oslo. I would like to retire to Norway. Regards the cost of living, I would manage. I have paid into the British and German health care for most of my life. Can I assume the big problem is the health care system in Norway, which I assume is out of bounds for me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *