Posted by: Sarah | August 10, 2009

Norway: Expensive But Worth It!

A reader recently contacted me to ask about living in Norway, commenting that a lot of internet sites cover how expensive Norway.  Drinking out can cost you from £6 for a beer and £8 for a glass of wine.  Eating out can cost from £12 for a meal.  Food shopping can cost approx 20-30% more than in the UK.  But surely there’s more to Norway than expense.   The answer is YES!

There’s no doubt that you pay more for things in Norway however, it doesn’t seem to stop the locals from having fun and enjoying the lifestyle here. 

Safe and Clean: The salaries on the whole tend to be higher than in the UK and although taxation is also high, everywhere is very clean and very safe (apart from Central Station after 9pm – it’s not a best “first impression” to get of Oslo).  
Scenery: The countryside surrounding Oslo is stunning.  I can’t think of anywhere in the world where you can find beaches, mountains and forests 10 minutes outside the Capital city.   I do sometimes pinch myself to think we live here and aren’t on holiday.
Cycling: If you decide to move here, bring your bicycle as everyone cycles over here.  If you’re not a really keen cyclist you soon will be.  We’ve already found ourselves buying all sorts of gadgetry for the bikes!  There are cycle paths everywhere and in the summer it’s a great way to see the outdoors.
Skiing On Your Doorstep:  We haven’t lived through a winter yet and I’m told that November is the most depressing month of all…cold…wet…dark.  In December the snow comes and everyone is happy because the skiing season begins and there are a few places to ski just outside of Oslo.
Working:  Everyone tends to work from 8am until 4pm so you often get a full evening of free time – the work/life balance is pretty good.  It feels to me that the Norwegians are very family oriented and make time to be with their families as much as possible which is lovely.
People:  The Norwegian people are fantastic and everyone speaks English so it’s very easy to get by in this country.  However, it helps to make a bit of an effort so learning some Norwegian basics is a good idea. 


  1. Sarah,

    Thanks for this blog and great info you share!
    I’m a software engineer and I’ve been thinking seriously about moving to Norway.
    I’m trying to weigh possibilities Norway offers, with respect to my profession and salary, comparing to other countries in Europe (namely Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany) and world (Canada and Australia) I am thinking of immigrating to.

    I see that you’re working in IT industry so I would be glad to hear your opinion on this subject.
    As far as I’ve been informing about life and cost of living in Norway, I find it quite expensive comparing to the rest of stated countries. On the other hand salaries are higher as well, but the same goes with taxes.
    If I try to calculate how much I could leave aside on a monthly basis I’m not sure I could get more than in other countries.
    On the other hand I’m a fan of welfare state concept and health care system present in Norway and I think it’ll last quite long since there’s a fair amount of money available from oil export rationally spent.
    Also I like the fact that Norwegians have great respect for their leisure time and life is not only about work as in the rest of Western world.
    What do you think about this reasoning and is there anything you would add/subtract concerning you’re own experience in IT industry/General life in Norway?


    • Hi Dragan – so sorry I haven’t replied sooner. We have been on holiday! Glad you like the blog. Yes, working and living in Norway is quite different. Whilst the salaries are slightly higher, the tax is also high. The biggest expense is accommodation. Tou don’t get a lot for your money if you’re renting and that can eat a lot into your monthly salary. That said, you pay for what you get. Oslo is a wonderful city. It’s clean, safe, tidy and the people just love their country. They’re incredibly proud of their country and you’re right, they value your leisure time a lot. Every weekend they’re out sailing or skiing or walking or cycling. It’s an active country with lots to do. I think the benefits outweigh the costs personally. I’m not sure what roles are available in SAP Norway – I think most of our software development is done in Germany – but if you want to send your CV to me I can forward it to the HR chap.

      • Thanks for your reply Sarah. I appreciate your opinion and be sure that I’ll send you my CV when I start job hunting in about a year. I started learning Norwegian 6 months ago and hope that next year it’ll be good enough to start looking for a job in Norwegian speaking company, although I wouldn’t mine finding one in some international company where English is official.
        Take care. Ha det bra!

  2. Hi!

    What about the kids? From wich age would you say they start speaking english?

    • Hi Daniela – I’m not sure to be honest. Lizzie was certainl speaking more Norwegian than English and she was living with two English parents! Perhaps from school age…say 6 years old?

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