Many of our readers have longed to move to Norway for years. But sometimes, reality is quite different from the dream. We take a look at some of the worst reasons to make the move.
People move to Norway for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s for love or a job, for others, it’s to find better opportunities or flee a conflict.
But there are bad reasons to move to the land of the Vikings. Many people have misconceptions about Norway and may end up feeling underwhelmed after moving here.
Get the straight facts and avoid the pitfalls by reading our factual but not-too-serious list of reasons not to move to Norway.
“Norway is the happiest country”
But let’s not be unfair. Norway still topped the ranking quite a few times, and seems to have consistently earned a spot in the top 10 in most rankings.
You want self-realisation through a job that links your skills with your passions, with money to boot? While they also like money, Scandinavians highly value work-life balance.
In short, finding happiness in the Scandinavian way is about making the best of your situation with little moments of bliss here and there, instead of pursuing the never-quite-attainable goal of “happiness”.
“Norway is a socialist country”
Norway sometimes gets painted as a socialist (or even communist) country. It is, in fact, capitalist, with free trade having a high priority and a set of property rights that are much more in line with capitalism than with communism.
Some economists have referred to the Nordic economic model as a form of cuddly capitalism.
It has low levels of inequality, generous welfare states, and reduced concentration of top incomes, contrasting it with the more “cut-throat capitalism” of the United States, which has high levels of inequality and a larger concentration of top incomes.
In short, you may want to come to Norway because of the country’s public health care system or social safety net, and that’s fine. But the “socialist” label just does not apply.
“It’s the country of my ancestors”
Your great-grandparents may have come from Norway on a steam ship in the late 19th or early 20th century, but the truth is she would barely recognise the country she left if she came back.
In 1900, Norway was still largely a farming and fishing nation. The country’s major cities weren’t even linked by rail yet. Staple dishes of today such as Grandiosa pizza and Norwegian taco did not yet exist!
Today’s Norway is a very different country than the one left behind by boatloads of emigrants. The stories they passed down are now just a distant memory.
“Salaries are high”
While it’s true that salaries in Norway are typically higher on the low end, things tend to equalise a bit more once you climb up the scale a bit.
Add to that the fact that the Norwegian krone has gone down in value in the last decade, and salaries in Norway are not as impressive as they used to be.
What is remarkable about Norway is the lower levels of inequality. The income gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% is smaller in Norway than in the United States, and The Global Gender Gap Index 2021 places Norway (in 3rd place) far ahead of the US (in 30th place).
Even more important than all that is the fact that finding a job in Norway is hard.
Unless you have particularly sought-after qualifications or a good network of local connections, chances are you will struggle for a few months – maybe even a few years – before you get a position you are satisfied with.
“I love black metal”
While black metal undeniably put Norway on the map for many people, most Norwegians are only vaguely aware of that fact. Black metal bands will attract a loyal following of concertgoers, but they certainly won’t get much airtime on the radio.
Black metal remains a niche segment of the heavy metal scene, which itself is dwarfed by other more mainstream genres such as pop, rock, hip hop or even country.
If it’s packed concert venues you’re looking for, you may find larger black metal scenes in other countries – that have larger cities.
“I love Lutefisk”
It may come as a shock if you come from one of North America’s Norwegian-heavy areas, but lutefisk really isn’t that big a deal in Norway. Sure, it appears on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus during the holiday season, but it’s really not that popular.
When it comes to Christmas dinners, a recent survey found that ribbe (roast pork belly with crackling) and pinnekjøtt (dried mutton ribs, steamed for several hours) are the clear leaders, being eaten by a total of 85% of survey participants at Christmas.
In contrast, lutefisk is found on only 3% of Christmas tables. And let’s face it: given its odd smell and jelly-like texture, is that really surprising?
A Norwegian once told me that even lutefisk lovers eat it for the trimmings (it is famously served with bacon but also sometimes with other sides like brown cheese or mustard). Mmmhhhh… lutefisk with brown cheese and mustard. Now that’s an idea for a new horror franchise.
“I love beer”
First, there’s the obvious question of the price. A single half-litre of beer (about a pint) will set you back 25 NOK at least if you buy it at a supermarket (that’s about 2.85 USD).
In a bar, beers tend to cost around 90 NOK (10 USD) for a half-litre and premium brands can easily reach 150 NOK. That’s enough to make you reconsider that round you were going to order isn’t it?
Another less shocking but ever present fact about beer in Norway is how heavily regulated alcohol is. You can get it in supermarkets but only before 8 PM (6 PM on weekends, and forget about Sunday).
Regulations state that beers above 4.7% ABV are only available from licensed premises (bars, restaurants and clubs) or from the Vinmonopolet, a state-run alcohol retail store. As a result, your favourite beer bought from the supermarket might not exist in its original version, but in a slightly weaker (dare I say watered-down?) version.
Tell us what you think
What’s the best reason you can think of for wanting to move to Norway? Can you think of others that we haven’t mentioned? What would it take for you to make the jump and move to another country? Let us know in the comments!