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Country Facts about Norway

What You Should Know about Living Costs and More in Norway

Norwegian country facts and practical information are important for any family to know if they are newly relocated to Norway. Things you will want to know include that Norway has twelve public holidays so that you can plan your time outings in this beautiful and scenic Nordic country. Planning on flying into Norway once you arrive? You have more than 90 different airports you can choose from. The busiest airports are Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, among others.

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The cost of living in Norway is quite expensive. However, this is offset with the high wages paid to staff and working people. This section covers this along with other practicalities such as public holidays, main airports, emergency numbers, main embassies, and more. In the event of a fire, you will want to have the emergency number 110 saved in your phone. For general emergencies, call 911.

This section also covers communications, cultural tips, and social etiquette to help you avoid a social faux pas in this country. For example, Norwegians value their personal space and do not usually break the touch barrier.

Driving and public transportation are both options in this country. Driving is the better choice if you plan on going off the beaten path a bit. However, if you plan on staying mainly in the city, you can use the very reliable public transport network.

Practical Information

In the event of an emergency, you will need to know some useful information about your new home such as where your country’s embassy is, where your nearest airport is located, and how to contact police or ambulance services. We provide all this practical information and more in this section.

Emergency Numbers

The following numbers are accessible via landline or mobile phone and can be reached free of charge:

  • Fire emergency—110
  • General emergency—911
  • Sea help—120
  • Police—112
  • Ambulance—113

It is a good idea to have these numbers written down somewhere, where everyone can see. You should also have these numbers saved in your cell phone.

Public Holidays

These are the country’s public holidays for 2020:

  • January 1—New Year’s Day
  • April 9—Maundy Thursday
  • April 10—Good Friday
  • April 12—Easter Sunday
  • April 13—Easter Monday
  • May 1—Labor Day
  • May 17—Constitution Day
  • May 21—Ascension Day
  • May 31—Whit Sunday
  • June 1—Whit Monday
  • December 25—Christmas Day
  • December 26—2nd Day of Christmas

Main Embassies

The country’s capital, Oslo, is home to 70 embassies from countries around the world. Most of Norway’s immigrants come from Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Germany, and Iraq. If you are an expat from one of these countries, here is your embassy information:

Embassy of Poland

Olav Kyrres Plass 1, 0273 Oslo, Norway

Embassy of Lithuania

0244, Dronningens gate 3, 0152 Oslo, Norway

Embassy of Sweden

Inkognitogata 27, 0256 Oslo, Norway

Embassy of Germany

Oscars gate 45, PO Box 4010 AMB, 0244 Oslo, Norway

Embassy of Iraq

Tidemands gate 9, 0244 Oslo, Norway

Main Airports

These are the country’s busiest airports:

  • Oslo Airport (OSL)
  • Bergen Airport (BGO)
  • Trondheim Airport (TRD)
  • Stavanger Airport (SVG)
  • Tromsø Airport (TOS)
  • Sandefjord Airport Torp (TRF)
  • Bodø Airport (BOO)
  • Ålesund Airport (AES)
  • Kristiansand Airport (KRS)
  • Haugesund Airport (HAU)

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Cost of Living

Is it expensive to live in Norway? Yes, Norway is extremely expensive. However, higher salaries offset these prices. The average cost of living in Norway will depend on the lifestyle you lead and where in the country you choose to settle. Generally, though, you can expect to spend between 20,000 to 40,000 NOK (2,176–4,352 USD) per month to live in this Nordic country.

Cost of Living in Norway by Cities

The most expensive cities in Norway are Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim.

The following are the monthly costs of living (without rent) in Norway’s main cities.

City Four-person family (NOK) USD Single person (NOK) USD
Oslo 38,136 4,149 10,545 1,147
Bergen 37,598 4,091 10,360 1,127
Trondheim 37,449 4,076 10,310 1,122
Stavanger 38,460 4,186 10,546 1,148

 

The most affordable cities in Norway are Hedmark, Telemark, Oppland, and rural Østfold.

Living Expenses in Norway

Food is expensive because a lot is imported into the Scandinavian country. Norway’s food and alcohol prices are as follows:

Norway’s Grocery Prices
  • one liter regular milk—18 NOK (2 USD)
  • loaf of fresh white bread (500g)—27 NOK (3 USD)
  • one kg of white rice—26 NOK (3 USD)
  • a dozen regular eggs—37 NOK (4 USD)
  • local cheese—105 NOK (11 USD)
  • one kg of boneless, skinless chicken breast—120 NOK (13 USD)
  • one kg of beef round—247 NOK (27 USD)
  • one kg of bananas—23 NOK (3 USD)
  • one kg pf apples—28 NOK (3 USD)
  • one kg of oranges—25 NOK (3 USD)
  • one kg of tomato—33 NOK (4 USD)
  • one kg of potato—20 NOK (2 USD)
  • one kg of onion—22 NOK (2 USD)
  • a head of lettuce—20 NOK (2 USD)
  • one and a half-liter bottle of water—21 NOK (2 USD)
  • bottle of wine (mid-range)—150 NOK (16 USD)
  • half a liter bottle of domestic beer—31 NOK (3 USD)
  • .33 liter bottle of imported beer—37 NOK (4 USD)
  • cigarettes (20 pack)—120 NOK (13 USD)
Eating Out

The service industry tends to be pricey in this country. This is because the wait staff is paid high wages in comparison to other countries. For this reason, Norwegians do not make a habit of eating out as much as other European countries might.

Average restaurant costs for Norway are as follows:

  • meal (inexpensive restaurant)—180 NOK (20 USD)
  • three-course meal for two (mid-range restaurant)—800 NOK (87 USD)
  • McDonald’s meal—110 NOK (12 USD)
  • half a liter draught of domestic beer—89 NOK (10 USD)
  • .33 liter bottle of imported beer—80 NOK (9 USD)
  • cappuccino—41 NOK (4 USD)
  • Coke/Pepsi—30 NOK (3 USD)
  • .33 liter bottle of water—24 NOK (3 USD)

Rent Prices

Here are the average rent prices according to the main cities in Norway:

  • Oslo and Bærum—11,240 NOK (1,227 USD)
  • Bergen—8,880 NOK (970 USD)
  • Trondheim—9,070 NOK (990 USD)
  • Stavanger—8,100 NOK (884 USD)

The average rent across the entire country is 8,740 NOK (952 USD). Keep in mind that when renting in this country, you will be required to put down a large security deposit. This can be between three to six months’ rent! This often comes as a shock to many expats and it is something you will need to budget for in the beginning.

Utility Costs

Basic utility costs including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and waste services for an 85 squared meters apartment in Norway cost an average of 1,571 NOK (171 USD) per month. Internet with 60 Mbps or more of unlimited data will cost an average of 473 NOK (51 USD). A minute of a prepaid local tariff, with no discounts or plans, is nearly 1 NOK (approximately 1 USD).

Healthcare Cost

Norway’s public healthcare is free for people 16 and younger, and for pregnant and/or nursing women. Everybody else pays an annual deductible equivalent to an average of 2,040 NOK (222 USD). After paying this, you receive an exemption card which entitles you to free health care for the rest of the year.

There is a very small market for private health insurance. In fact, it is so small it is virtually nonexistent. Nevertheless, you can find some local insurers with monthly plans of an average of 508 NOK (56 USD).

Cost of Education

Public school is free in Norway, and this even includes higher education. Even international students can study at a Norwegian university tuition-free. There may be a small fee to pay, but it is roughly only 300 to 600 NOK (33–65 USD). This fee covers things like your student card, student union membership, etc. Conversely, while public school is free, private and international schools do have tuition fees associated with them which vary per school. For a look at some examples, read our International Schools section.

If you have young children and need to place them in preschool daycare or kindergarten (known as barnehage in Norway), there are fees associated with these facilities as well. Yet, the government does an excellent job of subsidizing a great portion of the costs. There is also a cap to the fee which cannot be passed by any barnehage: in 2019, this fee was capped at 3,040 NOK (333 USD) monthly. The cap is subject to change yearly. This amount also does not include food costs, which can amount to an additional 200–800 NOK (22–88 USD) extra per month.

Travel and Transportation Cost

The following is the average cost of certain transportation and travel across the country:

  • one-way ticket (local transport)—36 NOK (4 USD)
  • monthly pass (regular price)—750 NOK (82 USD)
  • taxi start tariff—95 NOK (10 USD)
  • taxi tariff per km—14 NOK (2 USD)
  • a liter of gasoline—16 NOK (2 USD)
  • airfare between Norwegian major cities (advance booking)—under 1,000 NOK (109 USD)
  • train fare between Norwegian major cities—over 1,000 NOK (109 USD); 300–600 NOK (33–65 USD) for advance booking

Clothing

  • a pair of jeans (Levis or similar brand)—859 NOK (93 USD)
  • summer dress (Zara, H&M, or similar brand)—386 NOK (42 USD)
  • a pair of sneakers (Nike or similar brand)—927 NOK (101 USD)
  • a pair of men’s leather business shoes—1,285 NOK (140 USD)

Culture and Social Etiquette

Norway is an extremely open, accepting, kind, tolerant, and welcoming nation, so expats from all over the world should feel at home here. While most Norwegians are members of the Church of Norway, religion does not play an overt role here.

Norway’s culture is egalitarian meaning they value humility, respect, simplicity, and equality. There is no distinction between socio-economic classes. They do not talk down or criticize other people, countries, or systems. Peace and progress are mottos in this country. You will find that Norwegians do not boast about their achievements, wealth, intelligence, or material goods. They are turned off by people who brag about these sorts of things. They are also not impressed by job positions or job titles. Instead, people are valued more for their honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, reliability, respect, and goodness. Norwegians also value volunteering and community work.

You may find that people in the south of Norway are more outgoing, while those in the north are more reserved. Some “unwritten” social rules include not staring or striking up conversations with strangers and respecting boundaries and personal space. But no matter where you go in Norway, you will discover that people are always helpful.

The outdoors and nature is a large part of the culture and way of life in Norway. Norwegians enjoy sailing among other outdoor activities. For example, many kids in Norway learn to ski before they can even walk. Children are also taught to be independent and self-sufficient at a young age. While in some European countries, children live with their parents well into their early adult years, this is not the case in Norway. They are encouraged to provide for themselves as early as possible.

Introductions

When meeting or being introduced to someone new, Norwegians shake hands (both men and women). They also shake hands when leaving and saying goodbye. When meeting someone for the first time, it is polite to refer to them by using both their first and last name (e.g. Mr. John Doe). Skip the “Nice to meet you” and “How are you” as Norwegians are not big on small talk. They find these sorts of surface statements to be unnecessary with no real meaning or sincerity.

Body Language

Norwegians do not really touch unless among close family and friends. For example, do not stand to close to a Norwegian and do not jokingly slap or put your arm around people.

Dinner Parties

In social settings, Norwegians are very punctual, so be on time if invited to someone’s home for dinner. It is polite to bring a gift to thank your host/hostess. This could be flowers, a plant, pastries, liquor, chocolates, or wine. If bringing flowers, do not bring an even number of flowers as this is considered disrespectful in ancient tradition. Do not gift white flowers such as lilies, carnations, or wreaths. These types of flowers are only given during funerals. Do not talk about work or business during a social gathering. Norwegians separate work and play.

Expect for the dinner party to run long. Meals are usually three-course meals accompanied by a lot of conversation. People do not immediately leave after the meal is over as this is considered rude.

Food is eaten with a knife and a fork. Table manners are formal. Do not start eating until the host/hostess begins. It is polite to finish all the food on your plate as Norwegians do not waste food. If you want to make a toast, do not do so with a beer. Look into the eyes of the person being toasted and give a subtle nod. Say “Skål” before setting your glass down. In more formal settings, the male guest of honor will tap his glass with a knife and give a toast thanking the host/hostess on behalf of all the dinner party guests. Toasts may be accompanied by a small joke or story.

At the end of the party, always reciprocate the invite and extend an invitation to your host/hostess. However, do not casually invite someone to dinner or for a get together if you have no intention of following through with it.

Night Out

Norwegians do not make it a habit to drink during the week. They usually wait to do so on Fridays and Saturdays. Once the weekend rolls around, your new Norwegian friends and colleagues may invite you out for a drink as early as 17:00 or 18:00. Do not be surprised by this. This is because bars and clubs close at 2:00. Be aware that drinks are also expensive at bars. Therefore, do not take it personally when people order a drink only for themselves and not for you. This is because independence is such a big part of the culture here and it is at the core of friendships in this country. It is also their way of being polite so you do not feel like you owe them anything.

Clothing

Unlike how the social custom can be at times, the dress code in this country is actually quite casual. Since the weather in the Nordic country can be a bit harsh, it is not uncommon for people to layer their articles of clothing. Day-to-day, they will dress rather sporty and ready for the outdoors. However, they do like to dress up for an evening out or a fancy dinner with friends.

Food

Every Friday night, you will find Norwegian families devouring some…tacos. That is right. Surprisingly, the traditional Mexican dish is extremely popular in the Nordic country. Studies show that it is the most popular dinner on a Friday night in Norway. You will find a taco section in every grocery store in Norway.

Sundays

Sundays are reserved for going outside and spending time with family. It is common for Norwegians to plan a picnic and have lunch on top of a mountain.

Other Tips

  • Do not confuse Norwegians with Swedes or Danes.
  • Take time to comment on the Norwegian landscape as they are very proud of their outdoors.

Driving in Norway

Driving in Norway is possible with a foreign license but certain rules and limitations will apply. The legal age for driving in Norway is 18 years old.

Driving in Norway with a UK/US/Europe License

If you are wondering how to use your current driving license in Norway, you may be able to! It just depends on the country you come from. If you are the holder of a valid EU/EEA license, you can drive in Norway.

If you come from one of the following countries and become a resident of Norway, you must exchange your foreign driver’s license within one year of becoming a registered resident, and after passing a practical driving test:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • San Marino
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • USA
  • South Korea

If you do not exchange your license within the year, you will be subject to the practical driving test along with mandatory training plus a theory test.

If you have a license from Japan or Switzerland, you can simply exchange your license within a year of being a registered resident and forego the practical driving test.

If you come from any other country, you are not eligible to exchange your license. You must take compulsory training at a driving school, and pass both the theory and practical driving test to receive your Norwegian driver’s license.

Driving in Norway: Rules

  • Do not drink and drive as there are extremely strict laws for impaired driving. The limit for blood/alcohol content is 0.05—meaning that even just one beer can put you over the limit.
  • When driving, you must have on you: your valid license, vehicle registration, a warning triangle, and safety vest somewhere in the car.
  • Seat belts are mandatory for every person in the car.
  • Do not use a handheld cell phone while operating a vehicle.
  • Lights are mandatory at all times when driving.
  • Tires must have an appropriate tread depth for the season: 1.6 mm for summer tires and 3 mm for winter.
  • The maximum speed limit (unless otherwise indicated) is 50 kph in built-up areas and 80 kph elsewhere.
  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Renting a Car

Driving a rental car in Norway requires you to be at least 21 years old. You must also have had your driver’s license for at least twelve months. If your license has no photo or is written in a language that does not use the Latin alphabet, you will require an international driving permit.

The average cost of a rental car in Norway is 3,341 NOK (363 USD) per week or 479 NOK (52 USD) daily. Of course, this also depends on the type of car you rent:

  • standard—276 NOK (30 USD) per day
  • compact—193 NOK (21 USD) daily
  • economy—175 NOK (19 USD) per day
  • SUV—239 NOK (26 USD) daily

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Public Transportation in Norway

How is public transportation in Norway? Public transportation in Norway is easy and reliable to use. It consists of a comprehensive network of long-distance buses, trains, and ferry lines connecting the entire country. Therefore, the best way to travel within the country is whatever is most comfortable and best for you. However, flying tends to be the most common method. There are more than 90 airports in Norway, the main ones being:

  • Oslo Airport (OSL)
  • Bergen Airport (BGO)
  • Trondheim Airport (TRD)
  • Stavanger Airport (SVG)
  • Tromsø Airport (TOS)
  • Sandefjord Airport Torp (TRF)
  • Bodø Airport (BOO)
  • Ålesund Airport (AES)
  • Kristiansand Airport (KRS)
  • Haugesund Airport (HAU)

The main governing body of public transportation in Norway is the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications. Public transportation in this country is subsidized. On average, Norwegians spend 70 minutes per day commuting.

The central train station in Oslo takes people across the country via domestic routes. Central Oslo also started offering self-driving buses this year between Vippetangen and Kontraskjæret. The sites en-tur.no and ruter.no can help you plan your trip across the country.

For long-distance bus trips, you can rely on two companies: Norway Bussekspress and Vy. These are the two largest long-distance bus companies in the country.

Cost of Public Transport in Norway

While the cost of public transportation is relatively inexpensive if you are on a tight budget, many locals cycle. You will find cheaper tickets if you book in advance. The easiest way to buy certain tickets is online. Here is an average breakdown of costs of some of the most common ways of traveling throughout Norway:

  • one-way ticket (local transport)—36 NOK (4 USD)
  • monthly pass (regular price)—750 NOK (82 USD)
  • taxi start tariff—95 NOK (10 USD)
  • taxi tariff per km—14 NOK (2 USD)
  • a liter of gasoline—16 NOK (2 USD)
  • airfare between Norwegian major cities (advance booking)—under 1,000 NOK (109 USD)
  • train fare between Norwegian major cities—over 1,000 NOK (109 USD); 300–600 NOK (33–65 USD) for advance booking
    • Oslo to Bergen—300–1,000 NOK (33–109 USD)
    • Oslo to Trondheim—400–1,200 NOK (43–109 USD)

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Updated on: November 08, 2019
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