The Downsides of Living in Norway

Kong Øysteins veg in the winter

Living in Norway is fantastic in so many ways, but it's important to understand the whole picture.

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!

The Downsides of Living in Norway: The weather, the cost of living, the darkness in the winter, the difficulty of finding a job and lots more.

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.

Getting a job

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.

Norwegian krone coins

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.

Work-Work is a coworking office and gaming bar in downtown Trondheim

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.

Rental cars in Norway

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.

Driving through Rondane National Park
Rondane National Park (Photo: Helge Stikbakke / Statens vegvesen)

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.

The UDI Office in Oslo, Norway

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.

Learn Norwegian

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.

NTNU in Trondheim, Norway

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.”

Norwegian paper money
Want to know how much your coworkers earned last year? No problem in Norway!

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.

Shopping mall at Leirvik

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.

Traditional foods of Norway

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.

The challenge of making friends in Norway

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.

Marit Bjørgen Winter Olympic Athelete

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.

The active outdoor lifestyle in Norway

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.

Local beers from Røros, Norway

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.

American politics in Norway

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.

The Downsides of Living in Norway: One American in Norway tells the other side of Scandinavian lifestyle after a few years living in Trondheim. Is Norway really such a happy place to live?

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: David Smith

Dave Smith is a former US Marine and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He is an avid adventurer, backpacker, and volunteer with travel in over 40 countries. Dave moved from the USA to Norway in December 2014 to pursue a serious relationship with his beautiful Norwegian girlfriend.

100 Comments

  1. 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 ?

    1. 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.

      1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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. 😉

  3. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.
      ?

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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…”

    2. 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.🙂👍

  7. 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.

    1. 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 😉

  8. 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!

    1. 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!!!

  9. 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.

    1. 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…

    1. 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 🙂

  10. 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

    1. 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 🙂

  11. 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!!!

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. 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 😉

    2. 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!

    3. 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

  12. 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

  13. hello dave,
    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.
    thanks renee

    1. Hi Dave:

      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
      Not Norwegian?
      Not fluent?
      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……

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

      2. 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 $$$.

        1. Hi Sara:

          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?

        1. 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…

        2. 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!

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

  15. Hi Dave,
    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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  16. Hi Dave,
    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…

  17. Hi Dave.
    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.

    1. 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 🙂

    2. 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

  18. 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. ????
    Heidi

    1. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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.

    Good luck,

    Dr. Cole
    A global traveler

    1. 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.

  21. As an Australian who has been living in Norway for almost 2 years, everything said here is almost 100% correct.

  22. 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!

    1. Hey Venetia,

      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.

  23. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. Hello Dave

        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)”.

        1. 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.

  24. 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 .

    1. 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.

      Living expenses

      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.

  25. Hello Dave,

    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.

    Best regards

  26. Hi Dave

    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.

  27. Hi Dave,
    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.
    Cheers!
    Bruce

  28. 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.”

    1. 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! ☺

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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…*

  32. Hi
    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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. Hey,

    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?

  36. 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.

  37. Hey 🙂

    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 😉

    1. 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.

  38. I think Dave went back home folks. He would have if he had any sense. Leave Norway to the flag-waving Norwegians.

    1. 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.)

      1. 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 😉

        1. 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.

    2. 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 😉

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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,
    Dakota

  43. 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 🙂

  44. 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.

  45. 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

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

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