Norway ranked 7th in the happiest countries in the world in the World Happiness Report 2023, making it easy to understand why it is an appealing destination for expats.
If you’re considering a move to Norway, or have recently relocated here, having knowledge of things like the country’s transport networks, climate and healthcare system can be useful. To help you with this, we’ve put together a useful guide to help you navigate life in Norway as an expat.
Norway has an efficient transport system providing plenty of travel options for expats, including high-speed trains, metros, trams, and buses.
The capital city of Oslo, with a population of approximately 700,000 people, plays an important role in Norway’s transport network. It is home to the country’s only metro system, which consists of five lines and services 101 stations, ideal for those who like to travel about with ease.
Oslo’s Sentralstasjon is a vital transport centre, offering excellent transport links to other major cities in Norway such as Bergen and Trondheim, as well as to Stockholm and Copenhagen in neighbouring Sweden and Denmark.
When travelling by high-speed train, travellers can take in the stunning vistas of the Norwegian countryside. For example, the Bergen Railway takes you directly through the beautiful mountains, while using the Dovre Railway means you pass by Lake Mjøsa, which is found in southeastern Norway.
The main language spoken here is Norwegian, but other Scandinavian dialects as well English are widely spoken. Learning the local language can be invaluable when completing everyday tasks, but it could also be a requirement if you’re moving abroad for work.
It is advisable to speak Norwegian as much as possible when you arrive, as this can increase your understanding of the language and help you pick up common phrases. Taking part in language classes can be good for building knowledge of a new language; there are many choices available to you, from face-to-face teaching to online classes that you can attend remotely.
Passing a language test is also requirement when applying for permanent residency in Norway, which is important to bear in mind if you want to follow this path.
One of the most important decisions when moving to a new country is finding a place to live. Take your time when choosing a location, as you will be spending a lot of your time here.
There is lots of choice of locations for expats in Norway, from Bergen in the west at the centre of the fjords, to the bustling capital of Oslo, which is great for those who like to be close to amenities. Where you want to live will depend on your personal needs and lifestyle preferences.
Some factors to consider when searching for destinations are:
Proximity to amenities
Culture and pace of life
Also think about what kind of climate you would prefer, as this can depend on the location. In inland areas of the country, for example, you can expect more snow and colder winters. Whereas in coastal regions, you could experience milder temperatures and possibly more rain, as it is in closer proximity to the Gulf Stream.
Securing accommodation is the next step once you have decided where you’re going to live. If you only wish to stay somewhere for a shorter period of time, then renting might be a better option for you.
There could also be a lot of competition for properties in heavily populated areas, so ensure your documentation, including references, is ready to go if you find a place that you like. Check the listings on websites for the type of property you want and get in touch with a property agent if you would like to go for a viewing.
Accommodation tends to be more expensive in city centres, such as in the capital city of Oslo. According to Statista, you could expect to pay nearly 28 euros psqm for average monthly rent here, whereas in Trondheim this is significantly lower at approximately 22.5 euros psqm.
Alternatively, you might wish to purchase a property if your move is going to be more permanent. Take time when deciding what kind of property you want to purchase, as it is a big investment and it’s important that you find somewhere right for you.
Many property listings can be found online, but enlisting the services of an estate agent can be useful if you don’t speak the local language.
Norway’s healthcare system is largely financed by the national government and is administered by Helfo (the Norwegian Health Economics Administration). The system is not totally free, but the amount patients pay for healthcare services is capped at 3,040 NOK (224 GBP) per year.
It’s important to note that you need to be a resident in order to use the public healthcare system; some of the services you can access under this system include:
Outpatient prescription drugs
Mental health services
Another option available to you to safeguard your healthcare needs is international health insurance. This can allow you to access healthcare services in Norway and other countries so long as it is within your area of cover, providing reassurance that you can receive medical treatment should you need it.
Whether you need a residency permit for living in Norway depends on your nationality. For example, if you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country, then there is no requirement for one.
However, if you’re not from of these countries, then you must apply for a residency permit to stay in Norway for longer than 90 days or to work here. There are different types of residency permits to choose from:
Temporary residence permit: this permit is valid for up to three years, but can be renewed. This covers several kinds of permits, such as those on student visas and working permits.
Permanent residence permit: you become eligible for this visa if you have been living in the country for more than three years.
To find out more information about applying for a residency permit to live in Norway, take a look at the website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.
Overseeing your budget overseas can be challenging, from the big expenses involved in getting settled to managing daily living costs.
The busy nature of everyday life can make it difficult to remain healthy, leaving a lack of motivation for activities like exercising and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Workplace satisfaction is important for retaining employees, with employees wanting to feel looked after by your company.
Making friends in a new country is tough and it can be difficult knowing where to start. But once you have a group of friends you feel comfortable with, you will feel more settled.