Living in Norway?
Housing and Education in Norway
Finding an Apartment: Estate Agents and Newspapers
Most expats living in Norway prefer to rent an apartment or a house, instead of buying one. You can hire a real estate agent to help you with the apartment hunt. Keep in mind, however, that real estate agents often charge a very high fee, and ask yourself if it is in your budget. You can find an agent in your region by contacting the Norwegian association of real estate agents (Norges Eiendomsmeglerforbund). Alternatively, you can simply refer to the Norwegian Yellow Pages or the online company directory.
However, if you decide to do the apartment hunt on your own, there are still ways to go about it. Online resources are usually the easiest and fastest way of finding an apartment. Refer to the real estate section on finn.no for up-to-date posts on available apartments. Most big newspapers, like Oslo-based Aftenposten, have online listings as well. Many smaller Norwegian newspapers will also have apartment listings online.
Hurdles and Costs
Top destinations for both Norwegians and expats naturally include the big cities like Oslo, which offer varied employment opportunities and larger cultural opportunities or events than small towns or rural areas. Cities are trendy and constantly developing, while still offering the nature and peace and quiet at a short distance away. As a result, rents have increased significantly in Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen, and it has become harder and harder to find a place to live. To illustrate, an average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in these cities totals 10,200 NOK, 8,440 NOK and 8,460 NOK respectively.
Many experts also mention the quality of housing as a reason for the high rents. After all, the construction of most houses is quite solid and very well insulated. Most rooms are also equipped with excellent heating, due to the low temperatures. It is the high living standard and the demand for high quality that causes rental prices to rise. However, in big cities it is high demand that raises the rents — more people want to move there for jobs and a more buzzing lifestyle.
While you are on the apartment hunt, you will find that the closer you are to the city center, the more expensive housing will become. It is also common for apartments to be rented extremely quickly, due to the number of applicants.
In terms of universal schooling, Norway can look back on a 250-year history. Universal schooling was introduced in 1889 with seven years of compulsory education. In 1969 this was increased to nine years and in 1997 to ten years of schooling.
Kindergartens and pre-schools in Norway are optional and must be subsidized by parents. Schooling begins at age 6 and is comprised of primary and lower secondary school, and an optional upper secondary school for ages 16 to 19. Other voluntary education options include vocational schools or folk high schools (folkehøgskoler).
All schools adhere to the national curriculum, which includes subjects like Norwegian, Mathematics, Religion, Physical Education, English, Music, Science and the Environment, as well as other compulsory subjects. Learning a second foreign language, choosing in-depth language studies or practical project work is also part of the curriculum.
Students can choose whether they take in-depth language studies in Norwegian, English or Sami. The history and culture of the Sami people is taught as well to familiarize children with the heritage and culture of the Sami community.
Upper secondary education, for ages 16 to 19, is dominated by general studies or vocational education and training, both lasting for three years. Vocational training leads to a craft certificate after two years in school and one year in service training. General studies, on the other hand, is the road to receiving a university admissions certification. It is also possible for adults to enroll in continuing education programs for a fee, which is not uncommon in the Norwegian education profile.
Despite Norway’s excellent state-funded education system, you may decide to send your children to a privately run international school instead. This can be a smart move if your children are in their teens and/or are not fluent in the Norwegian language. Norway also has private schools at every educational level, which is a good option if you have young children who do not speak any Norwegian.
However, keep in mind that most international schools charge hefty tuition fees — Oslo International School, for example, exceeds 200,000 NOK in annual fees. Some well-known international schools in Norway are:
- Birralee International School Trondheim
- International School of Bergen
- Oslo International School
- Kongsberg International School
- Skagerak International School
- The International School of Stavanger
- International School Telemark
- Arendal International School
- The Children’s House
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