Living in Norway is fantastic in so many ways, but it's important to understand the whole picture. An American living in Trondheim clues us in.
In a previous blog, I wrote about 9 upsides of my first year in Norway. While it’s been a great experience, Norway isn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, sometimes it seems like there’s hardly any sunshine at all.
So, to provide a balanced view, here are the nine most difficult parts of my first year here. More importantly, I’ve provided links and advice that I feel will be very useful for those who are interested in moving to Norway.
Ready? Let's go!
1. Finding work
It took me over 3 frantic months and almost one hundred applications to get an interview, and I have a pretty decent CV. That said, using Finn.no is not super effective and I have written more about how to go about the job search process in Trondheim.
Finding work in Norway can be extremely difficult. With such a highly educated and skilled population, it’s hard to carve out a place for yourself.
In addition, Norwegian companies tend to “hire for life” because it is almost impossible to fire someone here, with the exception of extenuating circumstances.
This means that in order to hire you, companies will want to be very certain that you are going to stick around. Hiring and training new people is expensive and they need to be sure they’ll get a positive return on investing in you.
Salary requirements for residency
To add to this, if you are applying as a skilled worker, the companies must pay a minimum salary of NOK 412,600 if you have a Masters and NOK 382,900 if you have a Bachelors degree.
This is to ensure that all immigrants receive equal pay for equal work on the same level as all Norwegians.
This can be a huge obstacle since many people may only receive their first job offers from smaller companies or startups. For more info, check out the complete guide to moving to Norway.
In Norway, 32 percent of the population has a higher education. The competition for jobs is intense and although most Norwegians would deny it, this is a highly nationalistic country.
This is often made even more difficult by the fact that extremely few of those foreigners seeking jobs here have any proficiency in speaking, writing and understanding Norwegian.
Simply put, if you can’t speak the language, it’s hard for most companies to hire you. Language is often the biggest barrier to finding work because even though English is spoken and understood by almost everyone here, Norwegian is the language used in business.
Summary: The odds are stacked against you but not unbeatable if you are committed: speaking norsk is an important skill, most people here are highly educated, Norwegians tend to hire their own and you must meet many UDI immigration requirements for employment.
Do your homework before you move here and be sure to maximize your chances by networking, attending events and volunteering.
Make use of every possible opportunity to get in front of decision makers and hiring managers directly. I will try to write another blog soon about finding work in Norway, since this is a very common question topic from many people.
2. Getting a driving license
Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it… this one sucks.
I have been driving for 15 years and I failed the driving test here… which means I now have to take a written test, a bunch of practical courses and then redo the driving test which will cost me a total of about $2,000 USD.
That’s right, it is extremely expensive to get a license here. Ouch!!! If you are not from an EU-member country, you generally have one year from the date that you receive residency to trade in your driving license for a Norwegian one… and you ONLY get one attempt.
After that first year or first attempt, you must take some very expensive courses and a difficult theoretical written exam before trying again.
To start, you must first sign up with the Norwegian road service Statens Vegvesen and carefully review all pertinent information on their website. In Norway, driving is a privilege and not a right.
You will be graded very carefully. If you take the test in an automatic car, you can ONLY drive automatic cars, which is problematic because most vehicles here are manual.
I failed mostly because I did not have enough practice driving manual vehicles, which led me to be a little nervous and forget some things. So, if you choose to take the test in a manual car, be sure that you are very proficient. There are also lots of roundabouts here, so practice driving on those often.
You can also practice with a local driving school. They are often familiar with people trying to trade in a license. It is worth the money spent for an instructor to pass the test on the first time.
Simply do a google search for driving schools in your area, and shop around for the one that suits you best.
Summary: Getting a driver’s license in Norway can be a very expensive ($2000+) and time consuming process if you fail on your first attempt. Practice plenty and if you are going to drive a manual car, ensure you are proficient.
Driving schools can be an excellent place to get feedback and practice… remember, the real test is one-try only. Start getting your documents in order and begin to visit the Statens Vegvesen near you as soon as you arrive.
3. Clearing the UDI immigration hurdles
UDI is the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and they are initially responsible for all immigration-related matters. To be honest, I have had nothing but great experiences with them. They are polite and helpful.
However, they also have a job to do and they do not like to waste time. If you call or visit their office, have notes on what you would like to discuss and have all of your paperwork neatly prepared in a folder.
Moving to Norway is not easy; however, it is not necessarily difficult either. In fact, my first application for residency was denied due to a minor error on my part and it almost caused me severe problems.
All of the information you will need is clearly provided on the UDI website so be sure to review that thoroughly. If you need to contact and speak with someone, it usually takes about 20-30minutes of waiting but they are generally positive and helpful on the phone.
Whether you are moving here for work, family, study, asylum, or other purposes, these are the folks who will handle all of that.
There is a fair amount of paperwork for immigration so be sure to complete the checklists provided for your specific needs.
Summary: UDI is not bad at all, even though I’m sure many people have had some bad experiences from time to time. They are strict but law is law for a reason. Read properly, learn everything you need, prepare detailed questions, follow the instructions and keep all of your documents neatly ordered and you should have no problems.
4. Learning the language
Learning new languages is never easy. I’ve covered in the “finding a job” section above that norsk is the language of business here. Therefore, it will be important for you to study and learn as quickly as possible. There are several ways to do this.
Visit your local library. The libraries have a wealthy selection of language books, guides, CDs, and other resources. Even as a non-resident, it is easy to get a library card. Just bring a photo ID and ask the librarian.
In addition, many libraries offer free “språk café” courses where you can come and speak norsk with other people who are learning. They generally split everyone up into beginner, medium and advanced groups.
Norwegian libraries also offer free computers where you can use the internet or language software. The big benefit of this is that these courses are free; however, the drawback is that they usually take place during work hours.
NTNU offers a great online norsk course for free. Simply follow that hyperlink, browse around and begin learning. There are several chapters of material, vocabulary, exams, listening exercises, grammar and other useful tools.
The upside here is that it’s free and you can do it from home. The downside is that without a personal instructor, your learning pace may be a bit slower.
The Norwegian Folk University offers language courses from beginner to intermediate and advanced for a variety of different purposes and skills. These are in-person classroom type lessons with instructors.
Simply select your location, find the course appropriate for you, sign up and begin attending classes on your chosen start date at the location given.
Courses generally cost approximately NOK 4750 in Trondheim or NOK 5500 in Oslo. If you want to find out which course is right for you, you can take this online self-assesment exam, which I highly recommend.
Summary: Learning the language doesn’t have to be expensive and it can fit into your schedule. It’s not the easiest language to learn, especially with all the different dialects, but it’s not the hardest either. Get out there and start doing whatever it takes to learn quickly. It will pay dividends in the long-run.
5. The high cost of living
Norway is an expensive country to live in and I’m not going to cover in-depth economics here. However, the disparities in income are also much smaller than in most parts of the world.
As a co-worker of mine likes to say, “In Norway, everything you need is cheap and everything you want is expensive. In the US, everything you need is expensive and everything you want is cheap.”
A recent report shows that Norway has the second highest prices of food in Europe and the absolute highest prices for alcohol and tobacco.
Norwegians commonly travel across the border to Sweden for things like candy, alcohol and tobacco or to other countries, such as the US, to purchase luxury items.
Nonetheless, some things, such as frozen salmon are usually as cheap as about a dollar per filet. So, if you choose wisely and plan healthy meals, it’s not bad at all.
I believe that I spend about the same in a month here on groceries as I did while living in the USA but my food selection is much more limited also.
Keep in mind that salary wages here are generally pretty high to match the cost of living.
Norway is well known for providing a “livable wage” but this also means that for instance a hair cut costs around $50. In addition, about 30% of the average paycheck goes towards taxes.
Going out for dinner or drinks or to the movies is rare, at least for my fiancé and I. But, we spend all of our time hiking, skiing, biking, fishing or otherwise out in nature exploring so it doesn’t bother us.
Likewise, for most people who really enjoy dining out or other things, there always seems to be room in the budget somehow.
Also, I’m not a food critic by any means but it’s fair to say that Norwegian food is relatively bland. It’s hard to find really ripe fruits or vegetables year-round and the selection is smaller.
There are some really tasty traditional dishes but there’s definitely a reason why half of Norway eats tacos every Friday.
Expensive food with a limited selection in most stores is definitely a downside to living here sometimes. In particular, alcohol and tobacco are notoriously expensive, but I’ll cover that below.
Summary: Yes, Norway is very expensive. However, the pay is generally quite good and the income inequality is much lower than in most countries. It is not at all hard to get by on an average wage but you will likely have to be a bit more careful with how many nights a week you go out partying.
6. It's difficult to make friends
I consider myself a pretty friendly guy… I talk to random strangers, sit next to people even when there are open seats on the bus and I pretty much always have an easy time making friends. It’s a bit harder in Norway.
People here are not rude but they’re not outgoing around people they don’t know. It is a very conservative culture in social settings.
Luckily, my fiancé is from here and I have made friends with all of her friends and significant others. I also work at an awesome startup which easily netted me 16 new close companions.
But, to be honest, that’s about it. Since I’m not out partying much, I don’t meet many people in town.
I’m not a student so I don’t make tons of classroom pals either. I don’t play a recreational sport and most of the things I do are kind of loner activities like skiing, biking and fishing. So, I would definitely say that making friends here has been harder.
In the US, it’s common for everyone to go out for drinks together or hold a huge barbecue and invite 20-30 people or have a pool party or setup a beach volleyball tournament but that stuff doesn’t really happen so much here.
Katrine and I try at least once a month to invite everyone over for a barbecue, camping trip, game night or whatever else we can come up with but we usually invite about 20 and end up with 4.
It can indeed be a bit lonely sometimes and I definitely miss striking up conversations with random strangers (that doesn’t work out well here). However, the friends that I have made are really great people of incredible quality and character. So, what more could you really ask for?
Summary: Don’t let Norway change you. Be outgoing, fun and spontaneous. Just like everywhere else in the world, people here want to make friends… they’re just a bit shyer about it. Don’t give up. Be kind, be genuine, share a smile, laugh a lot and it will all work itself out.
You will quickly find that friends here travel in packs, much like grade school… so all you’ve gotta do is find some ones you like and slowly nudge your way into the circle. Bonus points if you like to ski, because that makes it much easier.
7. Adjusting to the rain and cold temperatures
Coming from warm and sunny California to Norway has been a bit of a change in terms of weather. It’s currently August in Norway and we’ve had average temperatures ranging from 7-23 degrees (45-73 degrees F) here in Trondheim for the month.
We get half a year of lots of sunshine and half a year with lots of darkness. It can be depressing in winter if you don’t keep on track with your fitness and with finding things to keep active. I’ve written before about my thoughts on winter in Norway.
The summers can be equally unpredictable with some very warm and sunny days and sometimes weeks at a time with nothing but rain and cold. It seems like summer here never fully comes, it just kind of teases and then turns back into winter again.
For all of the rain and cold, Norwegians have a clever saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Part of the problem though is that clothes are expensive and you need just about one of everything. I’ve got 3 different rain jackets, several winter coats of different thickness, pants for every occasion and everything else you could imagine.
When you live for the outdoors and the weather is unpredictable, it’s worth it to buy what you need and enjoy yourself rather than staying at home complaining because the weather sucks, but it sure gets expensive!
The worst time of year is usually late October to mid-December because it’s just non-stop freezing rain and if you bike to work like I do, that gets a bit old fast. The cold, to be honest, is usually a good thing because it means snow.
Snow not only means skiing but it also means less darkness as the fresh white powder reflects light and creates a beautiful glow.
Summary: It’s always easy to bitch about the weather, no matter where you live. Get the right equipment and don’t let mother nature stop you from enjoying… well, mother nature.
8. The cost and availability of alcohol and tobacco
In the US, I loooove to drink good beer. So many selections, pretty good prices, who doesn’t like to crack a cold one? Well, in Norway it really does get expensive fast and although the craft brewing is on the rise here, the selection is still minimal.
A single 12oz cheap beer in the store will cost you about $2 and in a pub about $6. A nice beer will cost about $5 in the store and around $12-15 in a pub.
In addition, it is not legal to sell alcohol above 4.7% ABV in stores. Anything over that, you have to head to the vinmonopolet (wine and liquor store). The prices there are pretty high as well but the selection is usually decent.
My usual work-around is to pick up 3 liters of wine and a bottle of scotch at the duty free every time I take an international flight.
On the upside, I drink much less beer in Norway and spend much less money on alcohol than I do in the states. On the downside, every time I go back to the US I feel like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and usually make up for all the tasty libations I’ve missed out on here.
As for tobacco, smoking is relatively uncommon but snus (smokeless tobacco) is very common. I don’t do either and I’m not familiar with the pricing but I do know that it’s about half the price in Sweden.
Summary: Norway is the most expensive country in Europe to buy alcohol and tobacco. That’s not to say there’s not lots of drinking but it’ll definitely put a dent in your wallet.
9. Missing the USA
I’m often asked if I miss the USA… for the most part, the answer is no. I enjoy the slower pace of life and the focus on family and nature here. I could easily take a job back in the US if I wanted, but I really do appreciate Norway.
It’s an incredibly beautiful country with almost limitless opportunities to get into the outdoors, which is very important to me.
I certainly don’t miss the politics, the big cities, the poor public transportation, the focus on making money or the seemingly constant divide between people of different beliefs or backgrounds.
However, there are certainly some things I miss.
I miss the open social atmosphere, the warm weather, my truck, the beer and food selections, the diversity of people and landscape, being around my fellow Marines, and probably a handful of other things.
But the reality is that I’m here in Norway for the foreseeable future and I intend to make the most of it.
Summary: I can certainly understand why many Americans miss the US after living in Norway but for me, the benefits far outweigh the costs. I’m thankful to be here and I look forward to each adventure that lies ahead.
160 thoughts on “The Downsides of Living in Norway”
Its fun to read your blog. Its nice to notice your down to earth way of describeing our almost on the northpool country! It had its downs and ups but as you say…its worth it! Yes it helps beeing a viking by birth but I like to read how you have worked us out. You will for sure find friebds for lige ?
Thanks Monica. I’ve found you Norwegians to be very friendly, outgoing and fun… once we break past your outer shell 😉 Well worth it and a great experience indeed.
Hi Dave my name is Barry Fry I live in Pennsylvania n my new wife lived there for 14 yrs n we are moving there Sept 6th to live she has 4 children that live there n 1 in Denmark I’ve enjoyed reading your blog about Norway and just wanted to tell you that I’m excited about the move to say the least so thx for the info
❤😎👍 time and as you point out, dont give up, is a good advice👍
Excellent read. You’ve hit on all points. Anxiously awaiting your next write on the “Upsides of living in Norway”. You still owe me a cup of coffee.
Hey Joe! Thanks. With just “Joe” I can’t recall where I owe you a coffee from but I’m more than happy to pay up. My email address isn’t hard to find. 😉
If I decide to become a secondary school teacher in Norway, what qualifications should I have and what is the expected salary?
Hi Dave, enjoyed reading your blog. Very informative. You touched on just about everything I have been concerned about when considering making the move to Norway. I work for a French company out of their US operations. I work 100% remotely from my home. My wife has family in Norway. They run a successful business and she would be able to secure work with them. Would we both have to apply for work permits? The plan is to work for a few years then hopefully start a business. Thanks for all the great information.
Great blog! Very entertaining and incisive. As an Englishman who grew up in sunny Perth in Australia I can certainly relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I look forward to hearing more from you!
Thanks Richard! I can imagine moving from sunny Perth to the UK has some drawbacks. If you write about any of it, please send me a link 🙂
That was a pretty good read indeed. My story could almost be in reverse to yours. Moved to the US to pursue a serious relationship with my then girlfriend, now wife back in 96. Previous Norwegian military had a bicycle in Norway, now i own a truck…lol. Miss hiking up into the mountains, fishing, and hunting, those long summer nights, former army buddies and family. That’s about it.
Hahaha. I knew there had to be at least one mirror-image of this adventure somewhere. I hope you’re enjoying the USA and I wish you and your wife continued happiness. I miss my Marine buddies in the US a lot, but no complaints about all the wonderful nature up here.
If you’re missing home….
Take a trip to Northern MN, on the shores of Lake Superior.
Many Norwegians settled here back in the day when they immigrated, because it reminded them of home.
Google Grand Marais, MN.
I’m going to be moving from the Bay Area (CA) next year to the Bergen area, so it’s good to be prepared for all this. Thanks for writing such a great post!
Hey Jenn, I also moved from the Bay Area to Norway. It’s a constant give-and-take, but I love my life here and am thankful for all the new adventures that have resulted. I hope the transition is smooth and easy for you. Some of my articles may provide helpful insight, I hope.
Learning the language is definitely the biggest barrier to integrating and living in Norway. I’ve lived here for seven years and while I can have a conversation and get by in Norwegian it’s been a nightmare.
Like you said, the biggest problem is that you never have to speak it. I think I’ve met two people who didn’t speak English and even then they could understand it fine but they were probably too embarrassed to speak it. I’ve lived in France and Spain and in both cases I could speak the language to decent standard after six months purely because I had to.
The other big problem is understanding what people are saying. Norwegian is the only language I’ve learned where I’ve been able to say more than I can understand. The reason for this I think is that Norwegians simply aren’t used to bad Norwegian. They aren’t used to and don’t see the need to speak clearly and avoid using dialect. It often feels like people are intentionally trying to make you feel like an idiot but I honestly believe it’s just because they’ve no idea that the way they are speaking is difficult for a foreigner to understand.
And then there’s the Norwegian courses. I’ve tried to do two courses here and both times the standard of teaching has been appalling. I had five different teachers during these courses and, as a former English as a foreign language teacher, I could see that there had been absolutely no preparation put into any of the classes which is bad enough for advanced level classes but just a complete waste of time for beginner level classes. The first teacher I had used to switch between English and Norwegian mid sentence. With him he had an excuse since it was the first time he had taught an English class; normally he was a history teacher. Another used to spend most of the class explaining the difference between Norwegian dialects (in English of course) which, while it was interesting, was a complete waste of time for beginners who just needed to learn the basics.
This is turning into a real bitch and moan but my last point is to do with the attitudes of some Norwegians towards foreigners speaking the language. I guess it goes back to my earlier point about Norwegians not being used to dealing with people who speak bad Norwegian but someone should really tell them that it’s extremely bad form to laugh at people who make mistakes when they’re trying to speak a new language. If you absolutely have to laugh then it would be nice if you could at least explain what was funny so that you don’t do it again. Instead you’re left feeling extremely self conscious about even attempting to speak the language.
Well, that turned into a bit of a rant. I guess I’ve got some pent up frustration about learning the language.
Hey John, I know learning the language can be hard. I learned more Spanish in 2 months in Chile/Argentina than I did in 4 years of college for the same reason.
I’ve found a trick with Norwegian though… I make sure to answer with enough of an “American” accent that they realize I’m most likely not fluent. Helps cut to the chase of “I only understand about 1/4 of the words that are coming out of your mouth…”
I am so sorry for your bad experiance! If someone laugh its mostly not ment to be a negative thing, more as a “how sweet”… but I would never do it, because I know how difficult it is to talk in other languages. I hope you will have better days🙃🌞 A lot of churches, Frivillighetssentral and red cross has café or groups where you can learn and speak with others, and its for free.🙂👍
Hi David, I really enjoyed your story, especially the part about the food and beer prices. My story is opposite of yours. I have lived in the USA for over 30 years with my dear American husband Terence. It’s fun to hear the experience of an American living in Norway. My husband and I lived in Norway for more than two years (95-98) and I think our biggest complaint was the beer and food prices. I also remember that my husband was never able to speak Norwegian at work, because all the young guys wanted to speak Norwegian. We live in Jupiter, Florida, but we visit Norway every year and my family comes here. I wish you and your girlfriend the best of luck. Looking forward to hear more about your adventures in Norway.
Hey Tove, congrats to you and your husband. Over 30 years of marriage is something to celebrate!!! I’m glad you two get to make it back here so often. I love Norway and would miss it if I left… even the dark, the cold, the rain, the skiing (which I still suck at), I’d miss it all very much.
Learning Norwegian is definitely slow since all the guys I work with like to speak English… So, I suppose not much has changed there 😉
Yes, I can live in Norway; vicariously through your blog! It sounds like you’re having a great adventure. Keep it up, and thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.
We live in greater Seattle and have enjoyed numerous Norwegian cultural events, and had “Viking helmets” at both daughers’ weddings, which would probably be appalling to “real Norwegians”. But your blog seems to tie it all together. Again, thanks!
Hahaha. We’re gonna have Viking helmets at our wedding too here in Norway… I’m not sure how well that will go over but I’ll be sure to take photos 🙂 Skål!!!
I am curious as to if you are no longer a citizen of the US and now have citizenship in Norway. As an older person that will be retiring is it possible to move there to live without having a job and still get your social security from the US because I am sure that it you gave up your US citizenship your social security would stop. Or would you have to leave Norway on a time basis and then return and not be considered a citizen of Norway.
Hey Larry, I am still and will always be a US citizen. I don’t know about moving here as a retiree, but I imagine it may be difficult because Norway’s immigration laws are quite strict…
I loved the fact that you missed your truck!!! Great writeup BTW.
Man, I really miss my truck! I used to roadtrip all over the US, visiting national parks and such. We have the ability to borrow a car from time to time but I loved that truck 🙂
Hi David, Enjoy reading your blog! I am half Norwegian and I live in Pennsylvania. My Dad was a Darby Ranger during WWII and met my Mom my Norway after the war. They married in Sept of ’45 and my Dad had to leave Norway 2 weeks after their wedding. My Mom had to wait for a war bride ship until the following June and arrived in PA July 4, 1946. I was born here in PA but lived in Norway during summers. I still have family in Norway and we keep in touch and try to visit each other as often as possible.
You are totally correct about the prices in Norway! They are horrendous! As my cousin says, “We have become parlor pigs”! When I asked what that means she told me that because they can’t afford to go out and eat and drink all the time they go to each other’s houses and sit in the parlor and eat and drink! LOL!
Linda Saylor Dougherty
Hey Linda, having a father that was an original Darby Ranger is pretty badass. William O Darby is a legend, to say the least. Very cool. Thanks for sharing that story and I’m glad that you keep in touch with your family here… Norway is a pretty awesome country 🙂
Hi Dave- my husband has been assigned to a project in Oslo and we are in the stages of making a decision about the move. It is so helpful to hear about your experiences- pros and cons 🙂 I am wondering if you are aware of social groups or meet ups that may be helpful for new moms? We have a 2 month old and the biggest hurdle to taking the plunge is acclimating to Oslo with a little one. Any feedback or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!!
Thanks Faustine! There are some “Americans in Norway” groups on Facebook that are a great wealth of information… you should check those out. There are also plenty of “meetup(dot)com” groups for whatever your interests may be and they can be a very good way to meet new people here. Norwegians are less socially outgoing than folks in the USA but are extremely friendly once you do break the ice. I wish you and your family all the best!
Thank you so much, Dave! These blog entries and insights into everyday life abroad are so helpful. I am having a lot of apprehension to acclimating with a little one, especially in the winter! We are from San Diego so understand that will be a bit of an adjustment. Ha!
To be honest, winter my be the best time to move here. Get over with the hardest part first, then the rest doesn’t seem so bad. I cam here from CA in winter and wouldn’t have it any other way. I imagine you’ll find that winters here are beautiful and that pushing a stroller through the parks while snow glistens in the streetlights is something you will never forget.
If you haven’t seen this, you should give it a read https://www.lifeinnorway.net/2015/12/love-winter-in-norway/
As always, “life is what you make of it”… focus on the positives and don’t let the little things bother you 😉
Hi Faustine, most local pre-/post natal health clinics organize mother/baby social groups, so this may actually be the best time to kickstart your social network in Norway! Free of charge, of course 😉 Good luck with your adventure!
Sorry; *parent/baby* – fathers also welcome 🙂
Ohhh i can feel you, that’s a very relatable article, experience it for myself, and after 5 years of living here in Norway, i can say that i am very stress and burned out. Mind to share your blog on my IG stories! Thanks! -Kurt
Hey Dave- I love reading your blog- and I feel like I got a special blessing by getting to spend time with you in our house in CA (with JC & Maria). It’s so great to see you taking the world by storm & even greater to see your heart so happy. Big hugs! Jen
this was great info. on the downside to living in Norway.
a friend of mine is native to Norway culture and are next year wanting to move there. so we have a lot if studying to do. ok the car is out bikes is what I plan on bringing and I’ve studied up on Bergen its artsy there so ill fit right in. we already decided to sell everything and we’re both military so between us well be real comfortable.
What you said is amazingly true, except in the “getting a job” area. Let me tell you, I moved to Norway and lived there for 5 years, learned the language ( a requirement ) all for the love of a woman.
Take my advice – you will never get hired. If you recall Jens Stoltenberg, the then Prime minister, he wanted to end immigration – PEROID! Even though UDI approved my application, they checked me out in depth also through the Dept. of State, took 9 months of waiting, and when I got approved, I got a letter of PERMISSION to live AND work in Norway. But there is a “code of silence” among the employers that they will not hire foreigners, as they have a “phobia” of immigrants. I have all information with me which I brought home, I am from the USA and I went on line and came to many who complained about not being able to get job. Dont count on it. All in all, one will have to “know” someone to be hired, knowing someone ( a norwegian ) will get you a job but most norwegians are fearful of immigrants, your chance of getting hired is slim to none. Here is a comment from someone who moved to norway and was frustrated, this is what he says –
I used to follow an ex-pat job website for non-Norwegians living in Norway, and just about every week someone would post how they wanted to follow their sweetheart to Norway, this is what they did for a living, and could they find a job here? And the response from the ex-pats, born of hard experience, was NO. It didn’t actually matter what you did – if you weren’t Norwegian, didn’t speak Norwegian fluently, didn’t have a Norwegian education, and were seeking a job with a Norwegian company, you had almost no chance of finding work.”
“Norway is filled with unemployed and underemployed spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends of Norwegians that have left good jobs in their home countries and cannot find work here. The ugly truth behind this is that deep down Norwegian employers are extremely xenophobic.”
“Norwegian industries talk constantly about importing educated talent and the need for it, but when it comes to putting words into action, nothing happens.”
Nothing like a little self-doubt to fuel a post. To pose the unanswerable questions,
DO Norwegian companies blacklist you if you’re
Don’t have a degree from a Norweigan University?
What a scary thought! But could it be true? The author writes from the perspective of a highly educated professional. I’m guessing PhD. And of course, I wouldn’t know anything about applying for a job as a trained professional. This is, after all, a blog mainly about seasonal work permits, perhaps later moving on to a Specialist permit, which is what I imagine he was in Norway on.
I’ve heard it before- if you’re not one of us, if you don’t look like us or sound like us, we won’t hire you. Heard it, but chose not to put too much stock in it. I’m a firm believer in loopholes, and that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” I heard from many a Norwegian and American friend, the stories about so-and-so who fell in love with a Norwegian, moved to Norway, and found their college degree (or higher) to be completely useless and unattractive to employers. Or, what’s worse than not finding a job, is being forced to take one that is beneath your skills & education. Say, a technician working tech support.
I speak Norwegian fluently, but I am not a Norwegian, nor will I ever be. I do not know if Norwegian employers are xenophobic. Those who I have worked for were most certainly not, but for competetive professional positions, I cannot say that it is impossible to imagine a Norwegian employer favoring a Norwegian candidate over a foreign one, simply because they would feel more comfortable with one of their own.
I have been loath to blame the employer for not hiring me. I have applied for roughly 5 professional positions with NGOs in Norway that required post-secondary education. I recieved no calls, no responses from these organizations. Perhaps I wasn’t the right person, perhaps they couldn’t wait for a foreign employee or perhaps they already had someone picked out for the job. The same myriad of reasons for why you didn’t get the job exists in Norway as it is in your home country, except now you can add “because I’m a foreigner” to the list. Yes, it may be harder to get a job overseas, but one should expect that it would be harder.
I have run across xenophobic Norwegians. It has been offensive and unpleasant to be on the receiving end of their willful ignorance. Yes, it’s annoying, but people can be that way here in the US as well.
It makes sense to me that I recieved many call-backs and offers from jobs in tourism. It’s a sector with high turnover, and the pay is low, relative to that of skilled professionals. It is a sector in which xenophobia is very unlikely to be found. Who ever heard of the museum owner who hated foreigners, or the hotel that beat the competition by hiring only Norwegian speakers, and only published their website in Norwegian? It’s a multicultural, multilingual workplace by necessity, and those who get squeamish around outsiders are unlikely to go to hotel management school.
So yeah, I’ll report back in 20 years when I’ve gotten m PhD and am getting turned down for all the hot jobs.
There! On back of my Norwegian Driver license it “labels” me as USA…..this is a way where employers “know” where you’re from and put you on the “blacklist”. I had my license from back home yanked from me, and needed it to be able to drive in USA but they wouldnt budge, one cannot have a “dual citizenship” with Norway. It is forbidden.
I have an extensive CV, and I joined a “job club” where NAV helps people get jobs, this is all a scam, which I plan to expose. You see, with me, I HAD TO prove myself through job praktis, showing them I CAN DO WHAT I SAY I CAN DO. This is how it works:
Mary ( fictional name ) is my job coach, she sends me to a “potential” employer to “prove to them” I have the necessary skills to do the job, it ranges from a few days up to about 3 months. Mary sets me up with Bob who has work to be done that would take about 2 weeks to finish. So I show up every day and on time, complete my assignment all the while Bob comes around to check on my progress and says “bra jobber” only at the end of my term, my job coach Mary would say such a lame excuse as to why I didnt get hired – the employer loves my work but they are downsizing, or whatever crappy excuse she comes up with, and Mary “feels so bad for me, puts on a display of sorrow for me and with an instant smile and crosses her fingers, blurts out “maybe the next employer will hire you”……so I wait for the next email to meet up with Mary to explain my next assignment, so I show up as usual, on time, work hard, heard “bra jobber” constantly, the sorrow again from Mary with the quick smile and more sympathy, same response: Maybe the next one… I will say a prayer for you….blah blah blah….I started to notice A PATTERN where Norway employs through their job clubs…..EMPLOYERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS TO “PROVE THEMSELVES”, All in all we are working for free……with hardly any pay….my Norwegian wife passed away, and I was ripe to be taken advantage of….. even the dumb immigrants cannot see they are taken for a ride as well.
Let me ask you…..what is the percentage of all immigrants getting hired by a Norwegian employer? You tell me. Just wait until if this goes public, and the Muslims find out they were taken for a ride….oooooh bye bye Norway. Never rip off a Muslim.
I even confronted management in a “collection agency” where they say I owe money in the form of “unpaid bills” ( after the wife died ) I said….you want these bills paid? Yes they said, I blurted out: well how can I pay these bills if I do NOT have a job? They were silent, then I said, Norway will never give an immigrant a job BECAUSE WE ARE NOT EU NATIONALS, CORRECT????? They said yes…. So I found a way to play them, I said can you tell the people I owe money to – TO LAY OFF UNTIL I GET A JOB? They agreed to it, boy how NAIVE these people are. Yes they are very naive. I got away with it…..never got hired….after one year of trying again….I can go on and on with cases of different people, not part of the EU, having it hard to get hired. Norway is huge in oil, ship building, lumber, electric, and yet many Norwegians are DAMN LAZY…collecting NAV….. just like lazy people in USA collect welfare, SSI, SSD… all the same around the world……. Finn.no has thousands of jobs available….. EVEN MY NAV caseworker said I WILL NEVER get a job because I am not of the EU. Think of that…. I am a Permanent Resident but will NOT renew it… FUCK THEM! I will expose the phonies….it is easy to raid the country, one can bring weapons and bombs, angry militants, etc right into Norway they can by pass the Customs check points….so naive……I was living on 5,000 NOK which is about 500.00 USD a month in Norway after my wife died…..and my landlord was the pastor of the church we attended, and after my wife died, I tried to reason with the pastor if he could lower the rent because the present lease is “null and void” because I was the only one alive, since the wife was no longer there, his answer ANGERED ME…he said NO because it is a continuing process, one lease is forever as long as I lived there but it was yearly….they think I am dumb….but I arrived to Norway having acquired legal certification back home….I knew how to dig….he was wrong…. so I refused to pay rent, came up with excuses as to why I couldnt pay…..rent was 5,000NOK a month… my whole NAV money. NORWAY IS GOOD AT TAKING….TAKING…TAKING…. from immigrants to get their money back…Fuck you Norway. Even my wife’s son owes me 35,000NOK for doing a paint job for him and he CLAIMS he paid me…..but I got all paperwork with me and bank statements too….I copied and pasted my monthly bank statements BEFORE Norway closed my bank account with DNB…. how much more stupid do they take me for??? I admit I’d marry my wife’s sister, ( they had different fathers )…. you see even my “step-son” took advantage of me…. there are others too…Norwegians “take” and hardly give…… I will shame them worldly……
I found a job here within 6 months. It was damn hard… and I got sort of lucky… but it’s definitely possible and I have met plenty of folks from USA/UK/etc who have also landed jobs here. Good luck!
I have not found a job after 1 year and tons of resumes submitted directly to companies, and all from jobs that I found via friends, as well as networking. I haven’t done what Dave did (go in person and introduce yourself and hand them your resume) but keep in mind that Dave found a job for the following reasons:
1. He could pass for a Norwegian.
2. He is young. Age discrimination is rampant in Norway.
3. He worked extra hard at networking and again, age played a factor. I’m 60 and everyone in my age group around here is a pensioner, and many of them worked in industries that are fading and no longer viable.
I want to tell job seekers, you are wasting your time with NAV because they are mostly going to find jobs for refugees since the government is paying for them. You are NOT going to easily, if at all, find a job as a non EU immigrant who came here for a family reunion visa unless you want to be vastly underemployed. OR you pound pavement HARD, the way Dave did and then you are only going to be successful in Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim. Smaller cities are extremely cliquey and only hire people they know through their network in town.
I am not wasting any more time looking for a job in Norway, I am looking for a remote job that allows me to work from home whether I’m in the USA or here in Norway. I don’t see any other solution. I find Norway to be a very closed society and even in my own Norwegian family I hear statements like “age discrimination is a fact of life and there is nothing we can do about it, that’s just the way it is”, or “people from the EU get hired first after Norwegians”. They have done much to help me find a job, including my husband who I had to practically beg to translate my CV for me, my in laws are pensioners and also have no clue what I did for a living in the USA. I see many Norwegians here who are really lazy and unmotivated to do anything other than just get by and milk the system, or they rely on help from their families.
One good way to meet people is through the Odd Fellows Lodges, they are hugely popular here in Norway and are for both men and women (separate lodges for each) and it is a great way to network but be prepared for gossip and drama that comes with clubs especially in small towns.
Learning Norwegian is absolutely essential if you want to live here and be taken seriously, classes are free for people older than 55, and not very expensive for those who have to pay. I have had two excellent teachers so far, another that was a flake but a nice guy so it’s been a mixed bag.
I’m going to stick to keeping my US citizenship (for what it’s worth) and going back/forth and hopefully can find a remote job with a US based company.
So very true! You hit the nail on the head John. I can relate to almost everything you say. Although, its only been a few months since i’ve been here. Things here just dont feel right anymore and I know its not that im giving up. Its just tough and almost seems impossible. Especially with the language barrier and social norms. But with my strong observations and intuition, I already know what I’ll be dealing with. I am not going to apply for small jobs here in Norway. Learning the language has been tough for me as well. My Norwegian husband is doing just fine in his professional job. But what about poor little me? What am I to do? I almost cant seem to make friends in this country. Let alone, I feel like I cant breathe in such a small town (Tonsberg). The people here are too snobby and withdrawn for me. As an American woman, who also happens to have parents from an South Asian background, I know for a fact, that finding a job will be really tough for me. Its better that I pack my bags and move back home to the USA. Living here in Norway has made me realize that I need to be selfish with myself. Im still young and I dont have time to play games. Need to further my education, even if itll be costly. Need to work on myself, because I know I wont find true contentment here. Thank you for your truthful comment. This is not a land of paradise, nor home of the free $$$.
Wow, there is almost identical experiences. I suggest you come back to the states, if possible bring your Norwegian husband….but since he has a good job, let me tell you, that English is Norway’s 2nd language and as I was in language school, they admitted most Norwegians speak English as well. Your husband must know someone who can hire you?
Hi sara. As a Norwegian I am truly sorry to hear about your experiances. I know Norwegians are cold on the outside, but we are socially very clumsy with feelings and reserved and shy, but beneath it I can guarantee you lots of us have warm gooey fluff on the inside. Though lots of what you have said are makes sense, rembember that each place has its own culture and it does not surprice me at all that you find people in Tønsberg Snobbish ( allthough its a big generalisation.) What do you like? Do you have any hobbies?
I truly cant get along with people from the east, they are more open superficially, but are very different from the west, down to earth as I am, were Stavanger, Bergen and Ålesund are my favourite cities ( for different reasons)
Hug from Hufsa (google Hufsa and Mummidalen, you’ll get the referance😂😂)
Well said John! I live in Norway and the ‘cold’ racism is much more terrible than words!
Yes I agree, they are so snobbish. It will be funny if all Immigrants and Refugees LEAVE Norway and then Norway will be short of money. All they do is TAKE from us but never give…
There is ‘cold’ racism; but there is also – at least in the work place – quite a “well understood” hierarchy about who counts; Basically, you count most if you are from my street; then incrementally less by: which side of the valley, which area, town, kommune, north/south/east/west… down to foreigners!
Rene de voure:
Prepare for rain! And lots of it!
I lived in Bergen for 5 years. First three weeks were so lovely in summertime, sunshine and warm weather. I started wondering what all the fuss was about Bergen being the rain capitol of Norway..
(Fun fact: its actually a place called Brekke that holds the record: They celebrated 17.may indoors at a community hall one year due to heavy rain)
And then it started to rain….
And it didnt stop,
For 9 months😭(Record year)
(Well it had breaks, but every day it rained at least a little)
But, its an amazing city, charming, lovely mountains, quaint old buildings, artsy, and fun
Dress for every weather with layers, wool is your best friend in winter and never invest in an umbrella.
Why? It rains sideways and the wind wrecks it to pieces in no time. Wrecked umbrellas on the street is not uncommon to see..
Hello Dave. I really loved your blog! I didn’t get to experience Norway to the fullest (one week), but it was definitely added to one of the places that I want to move to. one thing that concerns me a bit is that I feel like I would need to save up lots of money before I do move, just incase I can’t find a job right away. Most of the blogs I have read seemed to have a Norwegian partner. So not sure if that would help, but I guess I’d need to save enough money to last me a while before I decide to move there. Just kinda wanted to see your view on that I guess. Also, Semper Fi! and glad to hear a brother is doing well.
Hi Farn. Finding a job in Norway can be very difficult, especially if you do not speak norsk. Living is very expensive, like on par with NYC or SF. So, yes, you should save up enough money to survive for 3-6 months without income. That’s about $2,000/mo approx. You could get by with less if you want to eat rice and beans. Or bring a tent and a supply of MREs with ya 😉 Semper Fi.
I’m so glad you wrote this post, because now I have someone to relate too almost completely too! Like you, I’m from California but went to Norway to pursue a serious relationship with my Norwegian boyfriend whom I met studying abroad in Bergen. And also like you I miss the weather and the cheap prices in the states but love how un-stressful it is Norway and how it’s not all about making money like how it is in the US. Best of luck!
Every Immigrant MUST learn Norsk. But let me tell you while I was in language school the teachers admitted that English is Norway’s 2nd language and they admitted that it is required that Norwegians learn English as well, now if this were true, and we are forced to learn their Language, while they can get along with us using English, this is discriminating at best. No one can become fluent in Norsk overnight, it takes a lifetime to learn it…. Norsk is the “backwards” language of English. I am pretty good in Norsk, but still they would not give me a job, because I am an Immigrant. This is deception at best.
John, If you are moving to a country where English is NOT the first language and you are complaining about having to learn that primary language then why did you move to Norway in the first place? If you decide to immigrate to another country, then I suggest you have to accept ALL cultural and language changes then don’t move there then.
Well said! John comes across very much as many American/English people do with his sense of entitlement. He also seems to have something of a chip on his shoulder. (I should stress that I know that not ALL Americans/English people have a similar attitude, and that many do the “When in Rome…” bit).
I’m Welsh and the language situation is a little more complicated here than in Norway as only some, (at the moment, sadly only a minority) require fluent Welsh speaking skills. And yet even though the jobs that require the job holder to be able to speak Welsh, because they will be dealing with Welsh speakers, there are those who still scream ‘Discrimination!” because they are excluded from applying for the job because they don’t speak Welsh. Their arguments are usually based on the notion that as all Welsh speakers also speak English, then it’s Welsh speakers who should defer.
Welsh and English have equal legal status here, but obviously it is English that is in the more powerful position culturally by far. However, that said, for about 20% of the people, English is a second language.
But as you said, unless a person is prepared to respect the linguistic and cultural uniqueness of a country, they should very carefully consider why they want to move there.
All it takes is a little respect.
Yepp Karen, agree. John complain and talk about rase a lot. And not having a job, but still say Norway don’t give, just take. How do he live here, where do the money come from? From NAV, he is a freeloader, don’t want to learn the language, or don’t have the stamina to do so. I know a Philippines student here, and she had learnt fluent Norwegian in on year. So it comes down to how smart you to are. John should move home, be satisfied again. Norway is not be the place for him and all the conspiracy theories he presented.
Absolutely agree with everything you say! Spot on! Especially the “everything you need is cheap and everything you want is expensive”.
Love your attitude and thanks for sharing. Will need you Californian sunshine especially in November…
Interesting read. A hint when it comes to making friends in Norway is to take part in various organisations and to be active in a positive way in your local community neighbourhood union or what to call it (“Vel-forening” in Norwegian). Join the local handball/football/Lions/RedCross/volleyball/climbing/biking/geology and so on club and I guarantee you will make friends.
Thanks Ulf. This is very good advice. I’ve recently started to join some mountain biking events and triathlon groups here. As you said, amazing how quickly you make friends in the right places 🙂
Hi there. I did read this blog and its fun to read answerswith quite difference experiences. I live myself in Sweden from 2005 . We both with my wife origin from East Europe. We lived in UK before moving to Sweden. I v noticed that maried mixed couples which moves to scandinavian countries usually inheritage all the partners relatives, but when it comes to making friends outside the “family” it can be a struggle. Myself I do love to meet people and all the friends are foreigners from different countries , but not from Sweden. I started wonder and aproach swedes in different way by going on activities together with kids(as suggested) but it didnt work either. I did some studies on type of personalities, and it apears that scandinavia is concentration of introvert(doesn`t take and doesn`t give) people while Mexico are extroverts(takes and gives). What does it mean, simply: scandinavian societies were created by that type of people with such a social behavior that suits them. I`m an extrovert, but my wife is introvert, and she does fit in here, but not me. I usually find it easy myself for small chat with strangers on public transport or new activities, while it would be a disaster or irational for introverts. I do talk to parents and their kids from kindergarden and have fun together, but if I would`t do it swedes never would start it themselves, they can be reserved for ages, without asking how are you or simple hello. They keep it to themselves and prefers to live alone, they dont want to be disturbed or disturb othes. By the way a good advice to everyone who wants to make a move to new countries do little bit of research on that, which type of personality you are or will you fit in the new society. Here is a part of a list of sufvey 2017 of expats living abroad and ranked by “feeling welcome” Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland ended att the bottom of the list, while Mexico, Romania and few more at the top. Sorry for bothering 🙂 It seems to me that only a lot of alcohol can melt down the bariers of scandinavians, in order to reach top of the list they need to dring 24/7 😉 Have a nice spring time. http://nordic.businessinsider.com/nordic-countries-are-the-worst-for-finding-friends-according-to-expats-2017-9
When I saw the headline on this blog on a Facebook page, I had to read it. I am Norwegian, married to a US Marine I met while we both worked at the us embassy in Oslo. I have lived in the US (Alabama… talk about culture shock) for 36 years now. We tried to live in Norway a few years after we married, but things had changed a lot over there and we moved back.
However, now with the insane political climate here, and me getting older, I have been missing Norway a lot….. I thought it would be good to be reminded of the downsides…. So thank you for that.
We have a son who spent 10 years as a combat Marine, and we would jokingly say he was probably the only Bjørn in the Marine Corps. ????
Hey Heidi, no doubt your son makes a fine Marine. I’ve found that most Scandinavians perform quite well in the military and have the proper “no quit” attitude. Semper Fi!
I love Norway! Lived in Drammen from 1978-1988. Go there 1-2 times a year to visit the wonderful friends I met there. Expensive, yes! Worth every penny…thanks for your blog, look forward to the weekly newsletter
I agree Norway’s gorgeous and the people standoffish. But it’s their way. They’re Outlanders.
I wish you well in Norway but I must warn you of another conundrum of my female colleague that married a Norwegian. The law says Norwegian children cannot be taken out of the country by the American parents and can be a criminal offence.
My friend divorced a Norwegian and she couldn’t take the children to Utah. So she stole them on a vacation. That’s a violation of their Treaty.
So you and your girlfriend are doing well now but Norwegians divorce at a very high rate and if you two have kids, you may have a custody problem ahead?
Otherwise I agree with everything else in your write-up. It’s beautiful but too slow for me. Italy’s better.
A global traveler
Hey Dr. Cole, yes, the Norwegian divorce rate is approx 50%, much like most other places in Europe and North America. I came into this marriage knowing the potentially devastating issues of divorce with children… and I can only say that neither of us have any intention whatsoever of divorce (I know, nobody who gets married does…)
Your insight is important. Cheers to a happy marriage.
As an Australian who has been living in Norway for almost 2 years, everything said here is almost 100% correct.
Wanted to add something here about driving in Norway. If you have a driver’s license from certain countries like the USA, you have up to one year to get a new license in Norway, however you must turn in your old license and it will also involve a driving test. I did not have to take the theory test, I only had to take the driving test AND it is also important to know that you have to rent a special car to take the test, where the tester can sit in the passenger seat and has the ability to stop the car. You can rent them from accredited driving schools in your area.
So first you must get the appointment from Statens Vegvesen and then make sure that you can get a car for that date/time. You can request taking the test in either an automatic or manual trasmission car, you are not forced to take it in manual. If you do not cancel your appointment at Statens at least 48 hours prior to the date of the appointment, you will still have to pay the cost of the driving test (1040 kroners) and reschedule the test. Be sure to arrive a bit early and there is no need to take a number and stand in line, just let someone know you are there to take the test.
If you wait longer than one year, then it costs at least 30,000 kroners and you must take both a written theory test and a much harder driving test.
Moral of the story: Get prepared, and don’t wait! If you don’t plan on moving back to the states it is essential you do this within the one year time frame or pay through the nose to get your license. Good luck!
This is pretty spot-on. I failed my first test… my fault and it hurt in the piggybank to get the license after. Highly recommend anyone to read the book cover to cover and be very familiar with Norwegian driving before taking their 1-chance-only test. I thought I passed the first time, but clearly the instructor thought otherwise. I guess the thing I learned is that they are EXTREMELY strict and watchful during the exams. I trained for a year before re-taking and finally passing but it was still nerve wracking the second time also.
I live in the USA with my Norwegian girlfriend. We hope to marry one day. Do you know if I will be able to reside in Norway without renouncing my USA citizenship if we marry or become domestic partners? Or if she wishes to have US citizenship (through marriage) would she have to renousnce her Norwegian citizenship? Alternatively, can I simply become a permanent resident of Norway while maintaining my USA citizenship and if so,would I be eligible to receive Norwegian healthcare benefits?
Hi Steve, yes, you can absolutely live here indefinitely as a permanent resident without giving up your US citizenship and should you try for it later, you may qualify for dual citizenship (although I’m sure you’ll sort that when the time comes). You are eligible for healthcare benefits after you arrive here, receive a residency permit and receive a tax ID/national ID number (there are various types of permits… marriage, skilled worker, etc).
Likewise, she will not need to renounce her Norwegian citizenship to live in the USA.
Best of luck!
UDI on its website writes:
“You must be released from (have renounced) your original citizenship (if you do not automatically lose it when you are granted Norwegian citizenship)”.
I was told (and I did this ) not to renounce your American Citizenship, you can always renew your Permanent Residency every 7 years, Why a dual Citizenship? Why does Norway expect one to give up the American Citizenship if we want to be a Norwegian Citizenship? If you do, then if you leave Norway and come back to the States, you will be an Immigrant and not a US Citizen.
The ONLY thing about a Permanent Residency is YOU CAN’T VOTE! My Norwegian wife ( who has since passed ) told me to be a Permanent Resident…. this way if we decided to move to USA, it would be much easier for both of us.
Thinking of studying Mechanical Engineering at NTNU or Ostfold University College. Any suggestions/advice? What’s the average living cost for a student in these areas? Nothing fancy, just basic. Also what’s the part time job situation for English speaker? Anything else I should be considering please do mention. Thanks .
Hi Naeem, this info should be very helpful: https://www.ntnu.edu/lifeandhousing/trondheim/practical-information – the NTNU website here gives info on work, costs, etc.
In 2016-2017, the Norwegian government required international students to have NOK 103,950 at their disposal for one academic year. That works out to roughly NOK 10,000 a month, which should cover your living costs if you live economically. Here are some of the expenses you should consider:
Housing: This is going to be your single biggest expense. You should estimate around NOK 3000 to 5000 NOK for a single room with shared bathroom and kitchen.
Food: Around NOK 2400 a month.
Transportation: This can be quite variable, but you should plan on at least NOK 500 a month.
Books and supplies: varies, but expect to pay more at semester start.
NTNU charges no tuition fees.
I have found this blog to be very insightful and I like how you’re very down to earth with your responses. I sincerely wish you all the best.
Please do you have any advise for me, I’m a Nigerian Architect looking to move to Norway to practice. I’m 30 years old with a masters degree from my home country and hope to do a Ph.d in Oslo. I also have some international certifications relating to my profession.
Loved reading this. Funny don’t see any of this as a negative. I’m originally from Scotland and I really miss the mountains, the snow, the dark, the rain, the long summer days the outdoors etc. I’m not sure why but I have Norway in my blood and have always wanted to live there, guess it doesn’t help I’ve fallen for the most amazing Norwegian guy, but want to move there for me not him as he doesn’t feel the same about me. I’ve been there on holiday in the summer and winter and loved both. I’m currently teaching myself Norwegian and hoping to do a summer school in the language next year at Oslo University. I’m also trying to get myself as qualified as I can through work to help get a job. I also have Norwegian friends and find Norwegian to be the friendliest, nicest, maddest and most fun people I’ve met. Every time I’m in Norway I just feel at home. I don’t know if I’ll be brave enough at 47 to leave everything here and move to Norway. I’m hoping I can make it work but knowing where to start or taking that plunge is scary. As you say finding a job is very hard and I want to secure one before I move but living in the UK and applying for jobs in Norway is not the best, I need to be there – catch 22! I hope that after spending the summer in Norway I’ll either love it or hate it and if I feel Norway is my future then have the guts to do something positive about it.
Loved reading your blog. I’m a retired CW5 Army Aviator. I served a total of 35 years. I’m very fortunate to have a good retirement income and most importantly excellent health at the ripe old age of 57! I am however, totally disgusted with the race to the bottom that we are experiencing here now in the US. I will probably never leave, but Norway would be one of my top picks. As a native New Hampshirite, my two passions are skiing and hiking. I’m single so if you know any Norwegian women available in their mid 40s to mid 50s… Lol! Anyway, thanks for your honesty.
Interesting lead story and comments. I lived in Europe for two years. But was glad to get back to the US. One reason is America’s youthfulness, its beckoning horizon of possibilities. The interior feeling of an open space, a place where one can contemplate deep meaning, Spiritual presence, which is something I never found in European societies. The reason is that Europe endured the slings and arrows of history on its own soil far more than did the US. I always felt the stress, the strain, and the profound levels of existential exhaustion as a result. Yes, nations abroad “looked” wonderful and were in many ways, but in this one regard they never “felt” renewed, never “felt” commensurate with their appearances and civilizing acouterments. The “old” world IS “old.”
Hi Paul regarding yor comment I am agree but not everywhere in Europe is like as you saying,. FORGET your prejudices and discover Eastern Europe! ☺
What do you mean they are not rude? How do you define being rude then? They are not rude but they do not feel it is necessary to be polite. They think it is wasting of time or worse it is considered as a weakness. Tomayto, tomahto… All that means rude.
They are rude as in not polite and smug. They may be well educated, but Norway is a cultural and intellectual wasteland. The food quality here sucks! Sure, salmon and other fish are ok, but their beef, pork and chicken are very low quality. They also import grapes from India and corn on the cob from Thailand, two countries I wouldn’t trust for sanitary food. They don’t belong to the EU which would allow them to have a broader selection of quality food. 80% of Norwegians don’t want to join the EU because they’re afraid the EU will steal their trillion dollar oil fund, or even worse make them conform to EU standards and laws. Norway has always been a very small country of conservative fishermen. Oil has just made them rich fishermen.
lol @ rich fishermen
back to trump and never retrurn in EU moron
The one quote about what you need is cheap and what you want is expensive. False. Healthcare in Norway averages to 6700 a head. Making it far more expensive than the states.
Where on earth do you come up with that number? Do you have a link to support this?
Nope, wrong, the cap is nok 2.300,-
I know, live here…
I am totally agree with Dave.Moving to Norway isn’t easy. It is very difficult to adapt to culture, climate,weather,language.. .I am Bulgarian and I love snow and mountains but the lack of sun and 10 months of temperatures between 0°C and – 15°C + the dark period, it may be pretty hard for you not to change your mind. I am living in Tromsø, Northern of Norway close to the polar circle already 3 years and I can say that things getting better with time, just need patience. I don’t know how is in South – Oslo- Bergen-Stavanger but I believe it’s not much difference except the big cities.
Hi! Let me just say that the differences between the different parts of the country is huge! Specially in winter where some parts of the country is completely dark. Where I live we have about a couple of weeks where the days are greyish, like the sun can’t shine through the darkness, but most of the winter we have sun and daylight (while four hours drive from here they have three months with no direct sunlight!). The climate is also very different. Oslo has a dry cold, Bergen a more moist one. Heat in summer can be much higher in the east and South than the rest of the country. I live in the west myself, where, no joke, it’s always raining… In the north you get lots of snow though! *jealous* *but wouldn’t move there. Too dark winters…*
My wife and I have lived in the Oslo area for five years. We also have trouble making friends. Neither of us are very outgoing. It is almost impossible to find a job with oit being fluent in Norwegian. The three month notice for leaving ones job makes it difficult to find a new one. The rent is very expensive for us about 1600 usd each month. We can however get by with no car so thats a plus.
All this talk of not finding a job… I can’t wait to quit working for my employer! I am a California licensed General Contractor. I treat that as a side business not letting it interfere with my current occupation which is slowly killing my soul. I am doing well in San Francisco’s East Bay with the remodeling gig.
So… what about being Self Employed in Norway? Doing remodeling work, handyman, masonry, painting, etc.
Moreover, what about opening your own shop? I bet their pizza sucks in Norway, and I have no doubt their Taco Fridays are gross.
You can be self employed, but you must meet minimum income requirements. You can find more info on UDI webpage.
Interesting post. I have just moved to Oslo, but have lived in Norway a bit before.
Talking to foreigners and from my experience, this is what I would say:
• There’s something slightly curious about the way some Norwegians behave around money. Almost every foreigner I meet will tell you to always take a receipt in a shop or restaurant. Overcharging seems to be a thing and perhaps is a way for some shop workers to make extra money. Even today where the bill was 31kr, I gave 200kr and the guy said ‘kvitteringen’ (of course I said yes!), the coins came out of the machine, but he didn’t hand me back my 150kr in notes as expected and moved onto the next customer. I stood there until he did. I find it nauseating that people routinely try little scams like this. I even came across such behaviour in a school flea market! I’ve begun to see it as part of their culture – we could call it ‘looking for the optimum return – when there is no need’. Maladaptive. No wonder there’s a scene in Hamsen’s ‘Sult’ where the starving protagonist throws his remaining coins into the face of another character. I come from a much more competitive and materialist culture, but maybe because things are more available this sort of thing really doesn’t happen much. With social media and complaints culture, you’d also find yourself fired or their competitor would make them pay in other ways.
• This also goes for contracts. A couple of years ago I was about to go to Tromsø to work. The employer was being vague about start dates and the nature of the contract. I asked for a copy. They didn’t provide one for the current year, but instead gave a previous one. After reading it, I worked out that expectation was you’d use your day off to ‘get better’ if you were ill. I was worried about situations where you might be seriously injured and what could happen in terms of my costs. I was shocked how weak employment law was in Norway in that respect. The employer also came back finally and stated a start date way longer into the future than expected. It seemed they employed people for a 6 week training period and given the delay in the start date I wondered if they hired and fired people routinely to avoid keeping them long-term. I’m glad I dodged that bullet! It was well-respected online but also openly admitted it didn’t employ native Norwegians because they were ‘lazy’. I have no idea how such things are possible in an advanced country, especially where ‘likestilling’ is talked about the whole time. Norway makes a bit PR play and I think half the issue is the disappointment people have when they see the reality.
• The above stuff is unfortunate because I have other examples where Norwegians can be amazing and incredibly trustworthy – in the kind of way that seems unbelievable to cynical city-dwellers. However, I think Norway is changing quite a bit and it wont be long before it will have to become an explicit rules-based urban society rather than a mostly familial trust-based culture. There are bad sides to that as well. Just the other day I read how an experienced maths teacher was fired because he didn’t have the required study points (despite his experience) and that his colleague who did but couldn’t teach maths well kept his job (despite his complete lack of experience in the subject). Sometimes I feel they hide behind ‘competances’ while stating it’s for the sake of ‘fairness’. On the flip side, in my country there are loads of implicit rules and social position still plays a role.
• Tax wise 30% is actually less than you’d expect elsewhere as that usually includes healthcare, whereas in other places thats either an additional tax or an insurance premium on top. However, the untaxed starting ‘allowance’ is very low. You also have to pay a small fee to see your doctor here. Still strikes me as bizarre.
I actually like it that you have to pay a small fee to see a doctor. It reminds us all that healthcare has a cost (even if we only pay a small, and capped) amount. I prefer that to place like the UK and Canada where it is free but becomes more of a national emblem than a functional health system. But I appreciate views differ on this. Some of your other comments are rather sophisticated, and I need to gather more data before forming a view 😉 Many thanks for posting your thoughts.
First of all, awesome write-up!
I’m currently a final year undergraduate student from India and I’m considering a career in Wind Energy. And Norway is an economy with a lot of focus on the renewable energy industry. I would like to know your opinion of studying and eventually settling in Norway. Would it be easy to get a job in this field of study over there?
Folks, come to Canada! You will get your winter sports with you friendly North American warmth. Europe might be ‘cooler’ but Canada is just Kool. It’s a shame many Southerners and West Coast folks have neither experienced the cold US States nor the Canadian provinces. Canada (French Canada more so) tends to be the perfect mix between Europe and North America on account of us speaking French and having crazy winters.
Montreal is the other place I lived! They are both great. Nice post.
Thank you for writing this.
After considering moving back to Norway (I am a Norweigan), I am again reminded why I have lived in England for the last decade….and I think I will stay put. Norway is a beautiful country and it was a great place to grow up. But as a Norwegian, life is so much easier here in beautiful East Sussex 😉
You have your head screwed on, Lisen. Keep it screwed on. I’ve been living in Norway for several years and I really miss East Sussex – UK generally. Norway is awful in reality. Being considered ‘inferior foreign crap’ by mountain monkeys is insane. I’ll move back when the kids are old enough to understand. Norway can truly shaft itself in my absence. Cold and lacking genuine organic culture, on the periphery. Artificial – made up in the 18th century. And folk just don’t seem to want to move on. They insist on looking back and waving a flag at every opportunity. Everything is “Norge! Norge! Norge!”, despite being second rate usually. As for the food! Awful place. Absolutely awful.
The language of business if you work in oil & gas is English, after a while colleagues may expect a basic understanding of Norwegian but that’s it, from someone who has lived and worked here for 13 years.
you’re totally right. nobody wants to feel inferior unjustly. Norway is one of the most inhospitable countries in the world. it’s magnificent nature and some interesting things in the past and in the (past) culture make it a bit interesting and, maybe, good for kids. but, first of all, it’s part of Europe and the West, which to this day denies to pay back for colonizations, inquisitions, etc. In fact, with the help of OPEC non-market oil prices, Norway is one of the most powerful pumps to continue sucking resources out of those countries. Trying to make a nice mine in the dirty game is all-penetrating through its state controlled economy, media, and membership in NATO.
so, unless you need to parasite on the welfare system or to take care of someone, I don’t see big reasons to move there. at times, it’s easier for me to pretend I don’t speak Norwegian to avoid awkward suspicions, ibid. accusations of social parasitism or having to justify at all that it’s not because it’s the (supposedly) richest country on some indeces.
so back to the kids, I wouldn’t want them to feel that their biography is second rate because of what money means to some people. there are so many other great countries, actually most of them, to be a tourist in. so many things in the world that money can’t buy. and having it doesn’t mean your opinion matters more or that you can do whatever you want – unfortunately, the worst thing that spoiled this nation. so, Europe is one, the second comparison that comes to mind is UAE. don’t take all this liberty stuff for what it is – there is little liberty in the West in general. with the author being US American, it’s probably worth mentioning that majority of male population there is circumcized, like in Middle Ages. the world would have been much better with less mutilation, and, in the case of Norway, more honest oil market.
by the way, I also failed the driving test on a very ridiculous pretext. thanks to you, I better understand the premises now.
I think Dave went back home folks. He would have if he had any sense. Leave Norway to the flag-waving Norwegians.
Dave strikes me as someone who was trying to convince himself he “liked” Norway. How he had to re do the driving test (when he’s an experienced American truck
Driver) demonstrates the con trick Norway pulls on new arrivals. I’m British and haven’t had that indignity, actually it’d be a deal breaker for me.
I have been here for too long too and intend to leave but it’s not always that easy. My advice to anyone is don’t come unless you have a permanent job offer . If you fall in love with a Norwegian you will nearly always be better off in your own homeland . I have a great big list of negatives and few positives. The state here is all powerful and sooner or later you will have a serious run in with it. In the meantime they will drain your life by taxes and make your life miserable. Learning Norwegian is a waste of time unless you want to read Ibsen or Hamsun (and in that case Danish would suit one better.)
Hey Rob, I never had to “convince” myself of anything. I know what I like. There have been hard parts of living here, but I love a challenge. By the way, re-read the article… I am not a “truck driver” and never have been. I had a normal driving license in the US.
Sounds like your experience here in Norway did not treat you well, but lets not pretend your shortcomings were shared by me 😉
Sorry Dave, hadn’t realised you replied. I’m sorry if I perhaps caused you offence , but I’ll be frank with you, you followed the Norwegian woman here. Do you love the woman or do you love Norway? They’re not the same thing. I and others have followed the woman here and have children , later on things get even more complicated. I’d read quite a lot of your posts and it seems like you really liked your life in the US. It’s none of my business really why you chose to follow the girl rather than getting her to follow you – but think carefully on what you truly want. What seems ok now may become a big headache and heartache later on especially when children are in the picture. You’ll never be fully in control in a foreign land like this. Don’t shoot the messenger. It’s much easier for a Norwegian to live in the Anglo sphere than for us to live here, they’re brought up with our language unlike us who have to learn from scratch.
Much more opportunities in US / UK etc.
Hi John, actually I am still in Norway and couldn’t be happier. Despite this blog being about the “downsides” of Norway, there are downsides to living anywhere. Read some of my other blogs to find out why I love it here 😉
May I suggest that Rob and John meet up. As long as you are stuck in Norway which you clearly hates (fair enough) you might feel better if you have someone likeminded to moan and rant to. I have the same need sometimes regarding the UK where I live (I am Norwegian), though I actually love the UK in general but believe me it has just as many irritants.
Great blog. Made me laugh at times. But it doesn’t put me off. I love Norway, such a beautiful country, people and culture. Not even rain, snow, hale or lack of reasonably priced gin couldn’t put me off.
Why are there so many Polish who do not speak Norwegian? Are they working in black? But still they send their kids to a Norwegian school. It is actually disturbing to have parents who do not even learn Norwegian. They are just interested in extracting drops of our social welfare. such a poor life.
Sounds like you came to the issue with an open mind 😉 Maybe you could offer to help teach them Norwegian in your spare time? Both sides could benefit.
Presumably you mean Polish people in Norway rather than generally. Maybe because Norwegians are hard-wired to distrust and be unfriendly to foriegners. Your comment sums it up. The Polish are here to work, earn money and go back to Poland. If I wanted a job done, I’d employ a Pole because they do a good job at a sensible price and don’t have that Scandinavian misplaced sense of superiority. Poles may get drops of Norwegian social welfare but Norwegians get rivers of the stuff. Besides, if you were not Norwegian and had the choice of speaking either Norwegian or English, you’d choose English. It’s the second language of the majority of Norwegians and Poles.
I lived in Norway for almost 4 years, and I really liked it. I made life time friends that side. However, I hated their outdated nationalistic mentality. It’s like they are living somewhere between 1800 and 21 century. They remind me a lot of Italians who are psychologically stuck between Roman empire, Renaissance and Fascism. Generally, most them seem arrogant and self righteous: They believe to live in the wealthiest and most beautiful country in the world, which is not objectively true. They insist that foreigners should integrate into their society, only to belittle them in return.The young generations are very Americanized even though they don’t fully understand the depth of the American history and culture. There’s not such thing as an overt racism in Norway, but racism does exist. It’s cold and virtual and very hidden. There other thing I noticed about Norway is that while most the population of the country seem proud to be atheist or agnostic, they are fearful and resent the Islamic traditions. In some way there’s a slow “islamization ” of the country. While the country has a long tradition of Lutheranism, nowadays they make sure the food that they are serving in public space(schools, prisons ect…) conform to the Islamic precepts due to mass immigration from Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and East Africa.
But I must admit that I really like their efficiency. Norway is truly one of the most efficient and organized country in the world from my personal experience, and people there tend to be very polite in the public space.I am currently living in South Africa and would not dream to go back to Norway again. I am very happy here . When I first came to South Africa right after Norway, people really find me very childish mainly because in Norway I was trying to fit in as a foreigner as well as black person in the white man country.Norway is one the most conformist and homogeneous country in the world. You really need to fit in in order to survive, while here no one would ask fit in as long as you respect the public decency. If I could choose a country to immigrate again, I’d pick US or Canada.
Norway is good for sometimes, unless if you are refugee, I would not advise anyone to live there for the rest of their lives. Most of my British, Australian , Dutch friends miss their home-countries badly, but they can’t go back to settle there again because they already have Norwegian wives/husbands and children.In fact they never wanted to apply for Norwegian citizenship even though they are eligible to it. I’m sure without those constraints they would’ve left Norway very long ago.
Hi! Do you have any sources that I could look up for where they might need certain careers? I am an American Herbalist, with a Masters of Science, and I also teach undergraduate level Herbalism. I’m considering relocating to Norway, for multiple reasons. I am still researching, though. Thanks,
Thank you for the article . It was good to read and know about Norway. I’m from India and it’s my dream to visit Norway. Somehow this country fascinates me with beautiful landscapes . I’d love see the Northern Lights .
May be someday 🙂
I’m surprised you didn’t mention Janteloven…. particularly as LifeInNorway has a blog post about it… though by someone else..
So you might not even realise that you’ve been hit by it!
About the social stuff! There’s almost always groups for everything! You like cycling, hiking, skiing, dogs (here here’s different teams for different dog activities), even sowing and “handarbeid”, there will be local groups for it! Or “lag”. Where they often (at least in skiing and cycling) differentiate between skill and wanted speed. Info about these “lag” or “gruppe” is more often than not solely on Facebook. Even in the small towns! Just write city and wanted activity (example: sykkel trondheim) in Facebook search bar (or Google).
That’s a nice way to meet people too, and you won’t have to do it alone. You don’t pay anything to join (at least not where I live), you just meet up at the designated place and join. You don’t have to attend every time, but you’ll be welcome, you know.
I met family in the Fredickstad area last year. We connected immediately via our great grandparents. We looked alike and felt like kin upon first sight. My mother and father had visited in 1988. Set the ground for our reunion. I am going back with my daughter in June to attend a cousins wedding. I was amazed at the reception and complete and total welcome we received. I plan on becoming a member of my Norwegian family as well as my Norwegian USA family. I have not experienced a lot of the responses noted in the comment section. I was invited to BBQs, parties and other events. These were without my family in Norways connections. I feel so accepted with a sense of homeland. I have had job offers without looking for them. May depend upon who you are, how you relate and your mindset. I love Norway. Joel
Thanks, Dave, for you insight. I visited Norway 2 years ago and loved it, especially Bergen. It was a real experience to see my great-grandparents’ homeland. (They came from the Stavanger area.) Just as an FYI, the Sons of Norway, fraternal organization in America, also provides help in learning the language.
My grandparents came from Hjmeland
thank you very much for the personal insights on this socialist hellhole.
you didn’t mention the government runs your entire life from cradle to
grave. the standard of living stinks. norway is probably the most socialist
country in europe after denmark. the weather is unbearable. why on earth
would anyone move there. to submit to Big Government slavery and
poverty? we went there on a north european cruise and hated it. even
the food is terrible. i wish you well, but can’t imagine for the life of me
why you would want to live there.
This is surely just a p*as take nobody can realistically look at Norway like this, bizarre.
Or maybe someone who has some “issues” before they started thinking about Norway 😉
I suspect he’s yet another ignorant American who doesn’t have a clue what *socialism* really is. To be quite clear, Norway’s economy is firmly capitalistm democratic, (and the government has the power because the people give it power) with high welfare standards.
And it’s about as far from being a ‘hellhole’ as it’s possible to get – you’d need to look to the UK, or even more so to the USA for that. Now they are really capitalist hellholes!
The downside of Norway: torture is legal in Norway, lawyers are not available, constitutional rights are “rights” only for norwegians, the hotels will make you pay even the air you breath (since it has the power to freeze you, this is a special effect extremely expensive).
Norwegians (so the western citizens, like UK and USA) don’t feel as other people feel (they don’t have the warm and closeness of the eastern citizens).
I expected more from norwegians, I expected to find a population accountable to the principles set in the old age by the people who founded Norway. Norwegians have not the ability to connect with you, so probably most of the actions they will take for you will not be good even if they think they are. Life there is too easy, so they don’t learn to put the efforts necessary to learn how to “shoot the people you love”.
Norway is known for oil and nothing else, in the world, most people known what makes Germany special.
So to fix that imbalance, they promise you to hire you for life but that is not realistic, I would refuse to work for someone who want to hire me for life because it means he doesn’t want me to grow and especially it means they never experienced life. In fact highly educated population does not mean skilled, education protects you because you have instructions, real life does not give instructions, often you can’t repeat the test an other time. Life is harder if you have the courage to live it, there is not a second chance.
If an employer need so much to train people, I wonder if they hire the good people. The only minimum income I would accept is the one connected to the minimum basic needs, over that should be only performances related. Network remembers me of mafia. The only business that matters in Norway is oil that is traded in english speaking markets and high prices of living increase poverty if they are not driven by positive returns (right now created by oil revenues and great welfare, the government balance was negative).
The upside of Norway: they know how to sell good their country, their english is amazing, so education focus more on being international, travelling abroad is supported in Norway, equality is strong and important, the tap water is good and there is nature and green around. There are not stressed people (until there is oil).
i have visted norway four times and love it in fact i am planning to move there i dont believe in blaming the outside thats projection life is what you make it and there is no utopia
Why on earth would anyone choose to live in this god forsaken country? I’d rather just walk off a cliff.
I love this comment! It’s good to have variety.. and not everywhere is for everyone. Where do you like, and why (ok, you posted a while ago, so we may not hear, but I am curious 😉
Play some local baseball, teach children baseball!!!
yah, i gotta have baseball
I have lived in Norway for 6 years, I am from the US. The language for me has been very hard to learn but almost everyone speaks English. I think the reason that people would want to live here is that you can still send your children to walk to school with no parent. They can ride the bus or train without worry. You can leave your doors unlocked. I don’t own a car. Also the work week is only 37.5 hours with a half hour lunch. So we get about 6 weeks more time off there and I also get 5 weeks vacation. So that’s an extra two weeks there. So about 2 months off more than the same job in the USA. So there are a lot of benefits. If you are somewhat of an introvert then the culture of less interaction is just fine. The fall colors are nice here. The only problem is the costs and the 25% VAT tax on almost everything you buy.
My wife and I just recently became empty nesters in the US so we took our first vacation not including our children in 30 years to Oslo. We spent only a week and visited in the city and traveled to Fredrickstad and Hamar for a few hours each by road. (Those 90 minute journeys were the most relaxing of my life!) We loved the clean air (very different from northeast USA, decent food (My sugar levels collapsed and I stopped medication for sugar for a week). Now we want to connect more. We think buying a small business which would make us an income to cover Norwegian visit costs and keep us coming back over the summer months would be ideal. What do you think? We have successful businesses in the states, and we are not thinking of relocating permanently.
I would say that’s a very big decision to make after a short visit. As you are aware as a business owner, it is rarely so easy to find a profitable business than you can run with such a hands-off approach from across the ocean. Not sure it’s as easy as it sounds there in your post. I would be out of my league to provide any real advice here beyond that. Consulting someone who is fluent in US/Norway tax systems, employment law, finance and small business would of course be a start.
i am not intrested to comment here but i like even if i do not like what guys talking about. The fact is distance relative is nothing for you but near neighbor is your part of your life sharing either you like or not that means just talking about nothing for us to those are here. But when we come there we can talk but i wish you have a nice chat.
That’s definitely an awesome post. I myself am going to move to Oslo soon from San Francisco so this post really helps me to be better prepared. Though this focuses on the downside, it’s pretty easy to follow thanks to your positive perspectives.
Damn! That was well written! I feel the same way too! I love living in Norway! I grew up in Philippines, had worked there but Norway is my home! Thanks for sharing this Dave!
This is so informative. I am a Mexican married to a South African and living in South Africa. We recently became parents and somehow the world got a lot scarier. Specially both of us coming from third world countries we just want to find a safer place for our child to grow. We traveled to Norway a couple years ago and we completely fell in love with the landscapes! Is there a company or website you can recommend for us to find jobs? None of us quality for the skilled visas unfortunately 🙁 but we really want to try our best to find someone to believe in us and give us a job opportunity to try offer a better and safer life for our daughter! Thanks in advance
The biggest surprise (shock actually) is that Norway is such a food desert. Kiwi and Rema sell a lot of junk food and have a limited produce section. The produce stands in Gronland and Torgatta are a joke. There are only 2 or 3 good vegan restaurants in Oslo and eating out is expensive. This seems to be unique to Norway. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, even Lithuania and Estonia have better food. I don’t understand why such a wealthy country has not figured this out.
Grandparents came from Norway. Visited Norway in 2008. Beautiful for sure. I completely appreciate Norway requires learning the language, getting a driver’s license, etc. if you move there. Rules! So I just gotta say “how dare you” fault the USA for not wanting people to come into my country without a passport, learn the language, get a driver’s license & insurance, etc. We have rules too. And now we have a big beautiful wall.
Julie, I would not crow about that “beautiful wall.” The world was hoping the “iron curtain” was gone for good. Now, we have a misfit in Washington who thinks everyone other than a blue-blooded “Trump” is an outcast, so he built his own iron curtain to keep out everyone from the south. Pathetic.
“big beautiful wall” – nice. I mean even if you felt it was necessary, would you really put it in these terms? I think you feel guilty and this is making you act in a way that appears evil. Maybe have a little compassion – whether you feel you have to build walls around yourself or not.
my name is Eness, i’m a nurse and studying a master degree in ”organizing health care system”. i’m very interested in immigrating to Norway, only i would be honert to find somebody who would like to help me speak Norwagian (eg through skype or such). the language seems to be easy cuz i speak dutch and english, but i would need to speak it.
Besides that, is it possible to get in contact with a nurse from Trondheim? I think i will move to there 🙂
And who knows, within a year we will be hinking and camping, cuz i love doing that!
Hope to hear from you soon,
With kind regards,
I have read the blog and way to many of the comments, even I have no time for it. That means this read is very interesting. I could do the rest in Norwegian, even in dialect… The reason why all uses dialect is that we cannot do it otherwise. I have a brother, and parents all of us with 4 different dialect. Of course we all understand each other. In fact, it is important those dialects, as it helps you understand mor people more easily.
Bergen is sort of my origin, although my dialect is not much Bergen if I am in Bergen, but If I’m in Oslo, Kristiansand, Bodø Tromsø Trondheim, those places will put me in Bergen based on my dialect. I have aunts cousins earlier living about 20 min to 40 min away from my parents and again a family of 4 -5 people all also different dialects. I worked in a company in Bergen Norway oil-related. Lets say 10 were from Bergen area, and the rest from everywhere else in Norway (Oslo, Hamar in East to Tronheim, Bodø in North to as far west in Norway you can get. That time few from South but some from south west…
The nearest city from Bergen is Stavanger in south and it takes about 6 hours drive or 20 min by plane. Many reasons for this. Worlds longest tunnels opened these days 26.7 km (road tunnel that is) and much of it is undersea. And it costs way more than a beer to drive through. As you may see I have lots of typos, both in Norwegian and English so bear with me. I try to fix most of them
Now to the other part I want to say. Since I’m Norwegian and have a network it is easy for me to get a job, well wrong. I have Bachelors degree Electronics. I have applied for a bout 2775 jobs in my working period from 94 until today (all resumes and applications individually tailored so a lot of research before application is sent and typo fixing)
I know “all” the rules as I’m native. I’m not good networking, although I have a very big network, 2. degree, 3. degree, but that is in all of Norway and elsewhere. Now I live in Kristiansand and meet some of the issues Dave think of Norway hard to get along and hard to know what someone means, but so what I chose to live here and made a well thought through choices. Getting apartment etc. costs a lot so no need to make to many mistakes. In Norway may own their houses / apartments and I do to.
Anyway 275 applications. The first round in 94 electronics, no jobs whatsoever, even the grades were okay or above average. I always do my best don’t care about grades but want to do the best, that goes along quite well.
Anyway no jobs so I left the electronics path. But at that time, I was also deficient in EDB / IT as another interest of mins was computer. I got my first jo IT tech, no education, after less than a month, always short terms though. And I served in military and worked with IT and tech. I Did not leave military service and stayed another 2.5 years as civilian worker (tech support Novell network I had some certificates (I paid for some myself and got some sponsored) I think of it as an investment in own interest, since there were no other resources.
I had internet in 94-95 with modem. I worked until 2000 and during 94-2000 I studied math, physics to go to university sometime in the future along with working. IT for 6 years, anything you can think of.
Uni, 2000 – 2004 with one year in Germany (i met some of the same as Dave in Norway but the German way. I even had a friend in Hamburg that told he was a foreigner in Kiel (I studied there Electronics communication without knowing Germen language except it is similar to Norwegian) That friend said he felt foreign in Kiel (similar to how Dave describe Norway). Much more outgoing and “friendly” in south Germany Bayern, Austria …
So in 2004 again ok grades. Apply for jobs. It to me about 1.5 year to get one, permanently. about 100 applications. 10 – 15 interviews and came second on 2 or three jobs.. It is easier to get a medal in the Olympics 🙂
But never ever ever ever give up, one of my mantras, although it would be smarter to be a good social networker…
Summary all my jobs almost without connections. Norwegian name. Fluently speaking Norwegian, German and English. German daily language English technical English and less daily English and idioms
To Dave and All If you have English then quite easy to get a job in Norway if a company need you. Language at job mix of English and Norwegian in many subjects, oil, health, tech … electronics etc.
But you miss one and it is a n important part you miss the social part of the work colleagues, since on that are English is not used. I had to learn German crash course in Germany to get friends, otherwise I had almost no one to talk to. I med many from other countries. Latin America, Poland, England, France, Spain, Italy, US, Canada, Japan in Germany and few from Germany (Kiel) Those already have their friend so why need more? We’re the guest so follow our “rules”. But I also found dancing and partying with Latin people were much more fun than German Kneipe 🙂 Anyone see the similarities Norway and this situation.
I finally got the job I had from 2005 till 2017 when I lost it du to financial crisis (crisis mean an intersection in life you now have to choose the next step, carefully similar to todays situation all over the globe. a crisis is not bad, we simply need to think again. In my company I was on the floor as many with masters and PhD. But so what, another chance… This time I used a job application program (payed around 7000 Nok,- and got into networking etc. and got a lot of friends All mentioned so far I still have as regular contacts.
All that freedom activities, hiking, skiing, climbing I share those to and Volleyball of course a passion of life
Right now, broken leg for a couple of moths but improving each day.
This time late 2016 till summer 2017 I applied for 175 jobs, and not complaining. Important part as many foreign would say I have applied for 100 jobs. I just prove since I’m a bad application-sender I do the same. If I had valuable contacts or did the right things It would be faster. I saw that during my application period.
Never underestimate a good and valuable network or your chance to help others when you are in the decision position later…
Anyway I lost my job in Bergen sent applications all over Norway (2004-2005.5 down period in Norway) 2016 another crisis, started around 2012 – 2014, but I was in a part of the industry where it hit us hard in 2015, 2016 and 2017. We went from 25 in the company to around 12 – 15…
I was on 7 interviews out of the 175 applications. I got second on the position. One with the research ship doing polar research for Norway. then I could have lived in Bergen, to another tech electronics, IT in Sarpsborg.
I got tele interview for two jobs in Denmark and one in Germany and I got positive 1st stage interviews in Sweden and, Trondheim, Bodø and Bergen (Bergen was a low employment place in 2014 – 2017 then it changed gradually in 2017.
Anyway I got a job in Kristiansand (teaching electronics and IT students at Electronics Vg1 – VG3) A lot of knowledge from ultrasound, ultrasonic, electronics troubleshooting, HSE or EQHSE where my part was the Q(uality) of the equipment. Did many jobs offshore, outside Norway, used my Germen in Germany, and this did not know I understood German so the workers our company worked with discussed in Germen…
Back to the part again. Now I try to let the students see and understand they have to do what we did, applying for their first jobs, getting craftmanship etc. Semi high education. A 5 year school path so as Dave say, you want to be sure you chose the right path.
In 2017 I received 4 job offers the week after I had accepted this teacher job in Kristiansand so my 175 applications would have resulted in 6 job offerings and about 15 interviews if it had taken 14 more days.
But when I accept one offer I do not change my mind. I simply follow that plan. I promised my self I would give it at least three years. Now that has or is about to pass. And I do not regret. My Neugier helps me learn new things all the time, and that helps getting to know new people. I’m like Dave there (not very social), but compensating that with extremely curiosity in other places cultures, economy, social issues, politics, technology, habits interests and more.
And now I try to use my network to help the students. Many students are not native speaking Norwegian making it even harder, but good connections, hard work from them. Interest in learning culture and language goes a long way.
Neugier helps me learn new things all the time, and that helps getting to know new people. I’m like Dave ther not very social, but compensating that with extremely curios in other places cultures, economy, solcial issues, politisc, technology, habbits interrsts and more.
And now I try to use my network to help the students. Many students are not native speaking Norwegian making it even harder, but good connections, hard work from them. Interst in learing culture and langueage goes a long way.
Never ever give up even more.
Blame no one but your self also helps, since you cannot fix others, only your self…
Ok, now fixing typos. First round fix: (4 long pages in Word) Between 7 – 10 each paragraph
Estimating I fixed about 200 typos before submitting this long comment. I just go inspired by the original article and all your comments.
Now I post with name, email and web site. In case you don’t see the site I write it here vikinc.net
I do like idioms or sayings. I have one my self, that cannot be translated still puzzling me
Hvorfor er alltid det enkle så vanskelig å oppdage 🙂
And this from Goddard:
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow – Robert H Goddard
I ended up on this page due to a simple seacrh for the word dugnad tranlated to English, then ended up clicking on some of the links. An now I have spent about 4 hours on the page including this comment.
That is really Nice work from Dave, maby we bump into eachother one day, we never know. I have friends in
The reason I wort this is to show, being foregner is not always the issue, bu beeing incompatible to the surrounding does not help much. Giving up certaintly do not help.
Being positive, smiling, helpful doe help on the other hand.
More than one time I wished I was a footbal player with my own agent searching for interesting things for me,
so I could concentrate on what I’m doing and want to do, and then if an oppurtunity pops up, investigate it…
Few hav that situation, and it is probably not much better than any others situation.
Nice comment. I enjoyed it. I particularly like that you are encouraging people in the right direction. It’s easy in a new country to believe that if something does not work it is because you are foreign, but things don’t work for lots of reasons, and by assuming it is because one is foreign this creates a negative, undermining world-view which does not help. So I really like your attitude, and wholly agree. Curiosity, and adaptation – these are great approaches… and don’t be sour, just get on with it! 🙂 I’ll do my best myself to keep these things in mind when I face adversity too.
Thank you for posting all of this. I want to move to Norway one day too. I think I would love it just based on who I am as a person. I prefer winter over summer. I’m currently learning Norsk through Duolingo and Drops app on my phone. I absolutely love the quiet time. If I could read and meditate all day in peace, I would. Plus I’ve always had a thing for tall blond girls.
I’m working on a Nursing degree because I read that Nurses are in demand (or were projected to be in demand) in the foreseeable future. Any truth to this?
Hi Dave. I enjoyed reading your vlog about life in Norway. I am a 40 year old man from the Philippines who is planning to reside and work there but I dont know where to start. 🙂
Dave, I hope you wake up everyday & thank God you live in Norway. It’s an hermetically-sealed society that works pretty well for its people, especially if you are married to one. Congratulations on making it in Norway.
cand. mag. ’74
Yeah Great Nation Indeed but it is also a very white Nation where Food Prices Alcohol and Cinema Prices are very Expensive.
Overall also perhaps a Difficult Place for Medical Studies.
However the Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Norway are of Good Quality in Oslo and other Cities of the Nation.
Of course Godd Morgen is the Issue but the language is Cool but somewhat haRd to learn.
Their Women are Beautiful but the downside is the High Taxes,But Foreigners aRe integrated well in their System.
If you are Qualified there is no Problem in getting a Job in Norway.It is a Great Nation.
Norway will become a better nation when she decides to include Minorities in her Social system.
Africans and Asians want to become part of the Norwegian System and enjoy her Social Benefits.
Of course with the Internet the Norwegian Language can be used to explain Certain Matters and issues for the Globe.
On Norwegian TV it Is very rare to see Black Brown or Yellow Faces so The media in Norway would have to become less white to show the Norwegian People a more Diversified World on their TV Screens and Tablets.
you mean it’s not a good nation right now? because it doesn’t let anybody in the country?
arfoasians are well known for want to enjoy what locals earn and still paying for life.
don’t see as many colored ppl on tv? are you serious? in case you disagree move out.
Hi from an Aussie living in Sogn.. I too sat the driving test and didn’t pass, despite 20 years driving experience from busy cities to desert sands. I was so upset and outraged I took up smoking again argh! No worries, back on the wagon. Anyway, overall, I like living in Norway, but really also miss the easy going friendliness of Australians.. I have few friends and don’t see many prospects as I live in a small village where people have close-knit circles. Sigh. As for a job, well, I ended up cleaning, despite having a master’s degree .. though I love the wide variety of immigrant women co-workers, I truly hope to find a job that challenges me intellectually and where I can make a positive contribution. Thanks for the article 👍😊
I’ve lived here for 22 years and come from California too.Sounds like you maybe come from southern California and haven’t lived here for very long? Wow! You have a VERY interesting way of looking at Norway and interesting values…you sound about 99.9% Norwegian already and fit in perfectly! Have you traveled through the entire USA and all of Norway and worked in different places or states yet to come up with your conclusions?
No mention of the extremely important health care system,vacation pay,sick leave,fairness in divorce,NAV,pension,process of buying and selling houses, long term health care, art and culture,less tax in Dec!, rural or international mentalities,air and water quality. Huge diversity in USA not just in food,nature etc..summing up Norway/USA in 9 points?
I like your knowledge of accepting Norway. My husband moved from Norway to Canada years ago. He tries to return to Norway many times but the expense drove him back to Canada. Not many Norwegians of the Scandinavian in Canada. My trip to Norway is postpone for 2021. Stay well
There are pros and cons of every country on the planet-likewise there are pros and cons of living in different parts of Norway. It also depends on what type of person you are, I myself am slightly extroverted-I LOVE meeting people from other cultures and countries, but it still boils down to personal chemistry. Somebody mentioned joining a sports club etc. This may be an excellent idea- you know “birds of a feather”. I myself grew up in a tiny place on the south coast of Norway, then I moved to Oslo for studies when I was 22 yrs old- having stayed here ever since. I DO see the downsides of the country, though, especially for some foreigners who risk being exploited. I wish the country was more open to people from outside of Norway and the EU, especially when they are highly skilled. There are a few places in Norway where I wouldn`t like to live, due to climate etc, but this is the case in many countries; I guess there is a reason why there are relatively few people living in Alaska or some of the states in the Midwest of the US, compared to sunny California or Florida. Another thing; the LANGUAGE BARRIER. While it is true that many Norwegians do speak good English, at least people under 50, it is still a foreign language, it may take some time to “warm up”.. which means that foreigners may see us as not very spontaneous and “cold”. But this is the same in most parts of Europe-where English is spoken as a second language.
An article on Norway that doesn’t mention #navskandalen or barnevernet?
I thought this was really nicely written. I have visited Norway for a couple of months each year for the last few years, and am about to move. This read very truly to me.
Thank you for all your information. My son just moved to Norway with his Norwegian wife and toddler. She was ready to move back to her family and roots. After six years living in beautiful San Diego, they just took the plunge. I’m praying he find happiness there and a job.
Having lived in Norway for just over 2 1/2 years as a university student this article brought up some nostalgic memories, both good and bad! I loved my time as a student in Norway, but I felt by the time I had completed my studies I was ready to leave. There are numerous things I love and appreciate about Norway, but it can be a really challenging place as a foreigner to move to. As a kiwi, I found Norwegians could be quite cold and stiff (at least whilst sober), although I did make some great friends in the end. It does take time to make good relationships, but they are worth it in the long run. But the less than warm nature of most Norwegians was a bit of an adjustment. I can imagine since Covid this has only become more challenging! The long dark winters were also tough, especially if you live in a city and don’t get a nice white winter in the countryside. And as the article mentions, finding work can be extremely difficult as a foreigner.
I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from living in Norway and I have no regrets about my decision to study there. All I would say is that it’s worth doing your research and talking to people who have already moved there.
It is 2022 now. I live in the Bay Area, and I am wondering, did you return home?
Hi Dave, I appreciate the information. I’m in the Midwest of the USA and my ancestors come from the Numedal Valley 60 miles west of Oslo. I’d like to visit Norway and do a motorcycle trip through the country
There’s very little information
about riding motorcycles in Norway. Is this not common? Is the weather too cold? Few people seem to have motorcycles in Norway..
I used to be fascinated with Norway, but as I learned more about that country, especially their various rules about bringing up children and their vague way of handling such cases (where there are lots of scams going on), I have started to lose my interest in that country. And also you have pointed to so many downsides, that it is not worth even visiting that country. It is always better to settle down in any of the countless, beautiful and friendly countries if one wants to than in a cold, unfriendly and also very costly country.
BTW I have 2 very good friends living in Norway for many years now. They seem to love that country. Each to his own, I wish you and all other foreigners who have chosen to settle there, the very best!