Living in Norway?
Living in Norway
At a Glance:
- The nature and scenery in Norway is undoubtedly beautiful. Expats living here can look forward to summer holidays in the remote fjords and skiing every day during the colder months.
- Urban hotspots Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim make Norway an attractive prospect for city-loving expats, also offering diverse job opportunities.
- The quality of life is higher than most countries, as a result of a thorough and generous welfare system. Public healthcare is almost free and is guaranteed to cover you once you are living in Norway.
- Although the search for an apartment is difficult, it isn’t impossible! Be reassured that while housing does not come cheap in Norway, it is usually of great quality.
A relocation to Norway can be more than just an exciting professional experience. The country has a lot in store for those who value nature and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or skiing. Although the climate may be a little rough at times, life in Norway is worth your while.
Norway is particularly famous for its fjords, narrow and steep-sided inlets which have been carved into the land by glacial activity. Expats living in Norway enjoy the highest concentration of fjords in the world, with the longest fjord, Sognefjord, measuring 204 kilometers in length. Despite Norway having the same latitude as places like Siberia, Greenland, and Alaska, the climate here is comparatively mild, due to the warm Gulf Stream, and many wild animals have declared Norway’s fjords their natural habitat.
While the Sognefjord is one of the deepest fjords, dropping 1,300 meters below sea level, it’s the Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord which are the most beautiful and popular. They have also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not hard to see why, considering that this dramatic scenery is completely natural. If you are planning on living in Norway, any one of the thousands of fjords is an absolute must-see.
Oslo: Norway’s Cosmopolitan Capital
Norway’s capital city, with a population fast approaching 700,000, is just the right destination for those who enjoy the balance of urban hustle and bustle and outdoor pursuits. Located between the large Oslofjord and woodlands, Oslo offers an easy-going atmosphere and an exciting mix of historic and modern architecture, as well as open air art. It is quite easy for expats living in Norway to explore Oslo on foot and stroll from one museum or gallery to the other, or walk right onto the famous roof of the Oslo Opera House.
But don’t let that small-town atmosphere fool you! Oslo is the cosmopolitan business center of life in Norway. It offers a buzzing nightlife, with numerous clubs, bars, and restaurants. For example, Oslo is home to the internationally recognized restaurant Maaemo, the only one in Norway to be awarded three stars in the Michelin food guide.
If you don’t want to choose between urban and rural life, Norway’s capital may be the perfect choice. Expats in Oslo will find it easy to leave the city for some sailing, hiking, or the chance to explore the Oslofjord, such as the popular weekend activity: island hopping. Yet even within the city limits, there are lots of opportunities to pursue outdoor activities, for example, the Oslo Summer Park, as well as Winter Park: Oslo’s largest ski resort.
Bergen: Gateway to the Fjords
If your life in Norway has taken you to Bergen, you will find yourself right at the gateway to the fjords. The city holds a rich cultural heritage and tradition. You’ll be happy to learn that, despite being the second-biggest city in Norway, with 280,000 residents, Bergen does not lack a certain small-town charm. This is mostly due to the old streets and alleyways, the cobbled pavements and multicolored wooden houses. As a designated UNESCO World Heritage City, Bergen’s picturesque area Bryggen is a great attraction, and the old Hanseatic wharf and colorful buildings are a well-known destination in Norway.
From the city center, it is easy to access Mt. Fløyen or Mt. Ulriken, which offer a great view of the city and the surrounding area, whether by the popular Fløibanen Funicular, bike, or the more adventurous option: hiking.
Situated between the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord, Bergen truly lives up to its reputation as the gate to the fjords. This is also why Bergen has a well-established cruise port for visitors and expats who wish to explore Norway’s fjords. The Hurtigruten line, for example, begins her voyages from Bergen’s port twice a day. Bergen’s harbor, with its lively outdoor fish market, is a buzzing and magnificent cultural location, so approaching the city by sea is a special and memorable experience.
Trondheim: Center of Technology
The Old Norse name of Trondheim means “home of the strong and fertile ones.” Trondheim has long played a special role in Norwegian culture and ecclesiastical history. Living in Norway’s first capital means living at the heart of Norway’s heritage.
However, Trondheim is also widely recognized as a center for technology; Trondheim has recently become host to the Starmus Science Festival, as well as hosting the annual Technoport conference. Today, it is an industrial and commercial center of trade for Norway, as well as an education and research hub, home to around 30,000 students.
Trondheim is also considered Norway’s center of trade, handling most of the country’s imports and exports. Innovation and new developments are ensured by the extensive research facilities at the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Scandinavia’s largest independent research institution is also based in Trondheim.
Aside from the rich history, contemporary cultural life in Norway is thriving in Trondheim, enjoyed by locals and expats, as well as the large portion of students. Expats in Norway’s first capital benefit from the city’s many events, like Olsok (St. Olavs Festival) in July, with the dramatic Nidaros Cathedral around the grave of St Olav serving as an important historical site for Christianity in Norway.
Tromsø and Svalbard: An Arctic Adventure
The modern city of Tromsø is situated within the Arctic Circle at a latitude of 69 degrees north and is the largest in Northern Norway, with a population of around 70,000. Tromsø prides itself on being the gateway to the Arctic, historically serving as the starting point for many polar expeditions, particularly during the 1900s.
Today, the city is vibrantly multicultural, containing a diverse community with over 100 nationalities, and is bustling with visitors, especially during the annual Tromsø International Film and the Northern Lights Festivals. It is known to be a very lively city with a youthful presence, thanks to the 17,000 students attending Tromsø’s university: the Arctic University of Norway.
Beautiful scenery, steep mountains, and the arched bridge connecting Tromsø to the mainland frame the city. Options for reaching Tromsø include long-distance bus services (as there is no train station), ferry, and flying. If you are an expat craving the more extreme polar wilderness, direct flights from Tromsø will take you to Svalbard, Norway’s northernmost area.
Svalbard, at a latitude of 78 degrees north, is extremely remote: no roads connect the main settlement, Longyearbyen, to the rest of the island. Despite a small population of just under 3,000, some employment opportunities in mining and polar research nevertheless attract expats to spend their life in Norway’s arctic reaches. Upon moving, expats will quickly understand why this archipelago is named Svalbard, which means cold coasts. The coldest temperature recorded in 2017 was -23.5⁰C in March, and the months from November to February are characterized by near total darkness.
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