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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Move to Norway

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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.

Foreign person living in Norway on a hike

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”

Norway is often considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world, if not the happiest. Well it turns out that it's not anymore, and hasn’t been for a while.

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.

To be happy in Norway, you have to approach the concept of happiness like a Scandinavian. You have seasonal affective disorder in Philadelphia or Leeds? Try making things a bit more koselig.

Relaxing koselig Norway

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.

Norwegian flag full of a conforming population

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!

Since then, Norway discovered oil, exploited that resource for many decades, becoming very rich in the process, and even started making plans for what would come after the oil.

Old Norwegians from 1900 in Loen
Life in Loen, Norway, circa 1900

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.

Range of engineer jobs in Norway
Finding a job in Norway can be a challenge.

“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”

Norwegian beer certainly is delicious, and craft beers have exploded in numbers and in popularity over the last two decades. That being said, drinking beer in Norway has a few drawbacks.

Beer sampler plate

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!

About Daniel Albert

Daniel was living a perfectly normal life as a journalist in Canada until he was swept off his feet by a Norwegian. He now lives in Trondheim where he still works in communications.

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10 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Move to Norway”

    • I disagree. Belgian beer is brewed far too strong and has all kinds of odd flavours added just for the heck of it. British craft beer is by far superior. It doesn’t get the publicity but try it and you’ll soon see!

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  1. Alcohol is not my choice of drink so cost of beer is not a problem. My favorite seasons are fall, winter and spring (live in Wisconsin) so climate is good. As a licensed Clinical Social Worker, finding work may have been difficult. As a retired person I could only move if my whole family moved with us which is not likely. When my Norwegian relatives left Ringebu they brought whole extended families with them. When we visited Ringebu, I do not know how they could leave such a beautiful country.

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    • I second time that. 7 reasons not to move to Norway has still not convinced me the contrary. I love black metal. And very clement summers would relieve me of suffering intense humid hot summers that we Canadians are cursed with. I’m from Montréal by the way. And the inequality gap, have you considered that factor?

      Reply
  2. I have always felt misplaced. After many visits in Norway your 7 reasons why not move to Norway are 7 reasons for me to move to Norway.

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  3. My son does his work online so he can do it anywhere that internet is available. He’s dating someone from Norway and they are talking about living together there. I’m quickly approaching retirement age soon I could draw social security and my retirement if I wanted to retire and come with them. I’d love to do that but I’m not ready to retire yet & I’m unsure I’d be able to work at my age. They’ve both asked me to consider moving to Norway with them, honestly there’s nothing to keep me in the US and I think I’d enjoy Norway from what I’ve seen and read so far. I would like to visit first as you suggested but I’m unsure if I would be able to get a Visa being so close to my Golden years. Does a satisfactory retirement package qualify as income for someone of my age group? As mentioned I’m really not ready to retire and am an accountant by trade but I’ve always wanted to write and my son wants to foot the bill for both of us for the most part. (I just can’t see myself not working at all!) Are entrepreneurial endeavors acceptable for immigrants in Norway? I have so many questions. I know I need to start language classes right away if there’s any chance I’ll be accepted. My son is all the family I have and it tears at my heart to think we won’t be able to spend at least some of our time together sharing meals, new adventures and perhaps growing our little family a bit. I love his partner as much as if he were my own son as well. That’s another thing I wondered about, are the people in Norway accepting of less conventional relationships? I’m so tired of the close-minded mentality of some that are stuck in a loop of “one man and one woman is the only way!”

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  4. Kay, my mother said the very same thing when we visited. But you know they had to eat! I suppose one was fortunate to be employed as a fisherman or a domestic.

    Reply

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