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Moving to Oslo

Expats moving to Oslo find themselves in Norway’s cultural and financial center, its metropolitan heart, so to speak. With its close proximity to hills and forests, the city shows you the best of two worlds. Learn more about Oslo, its districts, visa requirements, and public transportation with the InterNations Expat Guide!
Moving to Oslo has become more and more popular in recent years.

At a Glance:

  • Oslo is a prime location for expats who want a great career, as well as a chance to explore forests and the Oslofjord on weekends.
  • Expats from the EU may begin working in Oslo immediately after moving; to stay longer than three months, they need to register with the police and get a residence permit
  • Traveling around Oslo is incredibly easy; choose from bus, train, metro, tram, or ferry. The city is even small enough to walk around!


Moving to Oslo does not restrict expats to a purely urban life, giving you a taste of Norway’s natural beauty, too; namely the Oslofjord and the vast wilderness surrounding the city. Certainly, outdoor enthusiasts will not regret moving to Oslo. Fjords, green hills, and endless opportunities for adventure and outdoor activities are what make Oslo a unique expat destination.

Oslo’s History: From Vikings to the 20th Century

Oslo looks back on a roughly 1000-year history. It has been Norway’s capital since 1814, the same year as the signing of the Norwegian Constitution on 17 May (a national holiday in Norway). Its name roughly translates to “the fields of the gods”, paying tribute to its rich Viking heritage. After a fire had destroyed the city in 1624, King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway rebuilt it slightly to the west, under the Akershus fortress walls, and named the city Christiana. It wasn’t until 1925 that the capital — by then more heavily populated and industrialized — was renamed “Oslo”.

A Rather Enjoyable Climate

You will be pleased to learn that, despite the city’s northern latitude of 59 degrees, the climate is comparatively mild and even hot at times, thanks to the warm stream from the Gulf of Mexico. In 2017, the most recent summer, for instance, temperatures rose up to a yearly high of 27.3°C. However, the best time for a move to Oslo is between April and May if you prefer a balanced day-and-night ratio. During these months, temperatures usually tend not to rise above 16°C.

If you plan on arriving in Oslo in the winter, prepare yourself for temperatures as low as -12⁰C (January 2017) and lots of snow. The winter season ordinarily lasts from November to March and offers lots of opportunities for winter sports and activities, such as skiing at Oslo’s Winter Park or ice skating in the centrally located “Spikersuppa” rink. Make sure not to miss out on the icy Oslofjord and snowy hills surrounding the city, which make for beautiful winter scenery.

Living on the Oslo Fjord

A move to Oslo takes you to the southeast of Norway. Located right at the northernmost end of the long Oslofjord, the city is nestled amidst forests and mountains, which provide Norway’s capital with an exceptional location. With just under 700,000 inhabitants, Oslo is a city with a relatively small population compared to its size (circa 455 km²).

About 40 islands of various size are located within and around the city limits. The largest of them is Malmøya, which lies to the east of the Oslofjord and is linked to Ormøya, its twin island. Ormøya connects to the city by a wrought-iron bridge. Both Malmøya and Ormøya are populated and have beautiful sandy beaches. Part of Malmøya is even a nature reserve.

Approximately two-thirds of Oslo (307 km2) are covered by protected forests, hills and lakes. This part of the city is called the Marka, and it is home to a diverse ecosystem —  with moose and elk easily spotted in the winter months, not to mention 343 lakes and two small rivers, Akerselva and Alna. The city is also situated in close proximity to Kirkeberget: a hill in Nordmarka and the highest point in the greater Oslo region.

Oslo’s Districts

Oslo is divided into 15 districts (bydeler). They deal with decentralized administrative issues and are run by locally elected district councils.

After your move to Oslo, you should try to figure out which district you belong to. You can then turn to your local district council or district administration for information on any of the following areas of interest:

  • care for the elderly
  • daycare facilities
  • youth clubs
  • mental healthcare
  • treatment and care of substance abusers
  • health centers
  • services for people with mental disabilities
  • integrating refugees and immigrants

Explore the City Center

Moving to Oslo’s center (sentrum) gives you the chance to explore the city’s restaurants, including Maaemo, Norway’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, its bars, concert venues, and historical highlights. The area around Karl Johan’s gate is Oslo’s main street, and it is always crowded — even more so on Norway’s Constitution Day, 17 May. On this national holiday, people dress in national costume and meet around the city center for the street parades.

Kvadraturen is the area between Akershus Fortress, Karl Johans gate, Jernbanetorget, and Egertorget, which got its name from its rectangular street patterns. This is also where Oslo’s historic city center is located, with some of the oldest buildings in the city, as this area served as the site of the new city, Christiana, after the large 1624 fire.

In Kvadraturen, expats moving to Oslo can not only find numerous museums and art galleries, but also quite a few shopping centers, such as Byporten and Steen. The Harbour Promenade is also a great place to see Oslo’s sights, such as the busy Oslofjord, its islands and ferries, and the unusual architecture of Oslo’s Opera House.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

David Hicks

"Thanks to my network on InterNations, I already had some contact persons to ask for support on coming to Oslo. "

Amelie Barreau

"Enjoying the great spirit of our InterNations’ Oslo Community for the last few months, I am absolutely convinced of the vision to bring people from different nations together."

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