Know Before You Go: 6 Tips to Prep For Your Move to Norway

Aloof and somewhat mysterious even to the rest of Europe, Norway is nevertheless a country that more and more immigrants are calling their second home.  With its high standard of living, friendly locals, and breathtaking scenery, Norway can be a wonderful place to live, but as with any big move you’re sure to run into a few challenges and adjustments.  In the months before your trip, make sure you have these crucial preparations out of the way to make your transition to the Scandinavian lifestyle that much easier.

Petr Šmerkl

Photo by Petr Šmerkl

1. Make sure you have all of your paperwork in order.  If you’re a citizen of the EU, living and working in Norway will be no problem.  For residents outside of the EU, you’ll have to apply for either a work permit or working holiday visa, as you will not last long without a steady source of income.

2. Prepare for enormous taxes.  The good news: even at a low-end job, you will be earning 240,000 Norwegian krone a year, which converts to over 40,000 USD.  The bad news: most of that will go towards Norway’s extremely high cost of living.  The good news: you will receive generous medical benefits, free education, maternity/paternity leave, pension, and other services from the government.  The bad news: at least 25% of your salary will go towards paying that, with a sliding scale according to wealth.

Roman Königshofer

Photo by Roman Königshofer

3. If you have any products, foods, or vitamins that you can’t live without, be sure to take them with you.  Norway has a very large VAT tax on imports, making it not worth the cost to order things from outside the country.  Vitamins especially are expensive, and many of them are available by prescription only.  On a similar line, this can make eating out or buying produce out of season very expensive—one meal at McDonald’s can cost roughly $20, so you’d better learn how to eat like a local!

4. Prepare yourself for long nights and cold winters.  If you thrive on snowy landscapes and are an aficionado of winter sports, you will take to the Norwegian lifestyle perfectly.  If frozen stretches of countryside and 20+ hours of night do not appeal to you, you may wish to rethink your move to Norway.  Winters are harsh and seasonal depression is intense; stock up on vitamin D tablets and learn how to ski before the move, as oftentimes that’s the best way to get around once the snow hits.

Petr Šmerkl

Photo by Petr Šmerkl

5. Make sure you’re dressed properly when you arrive.  Winter arrives quickly, and if you don’t have a wide array of woolens to layer, you will find yourself suffering needlessly.  Once settled, you’ll be able to buy more weather-appropriate boots and clothing as you need.

6. Learn Norwegian.  The importance of this cannot be stressed enough, especially if you want an active social life to help you get through the rough period of culture shock.  Take a look at our different levels of Norwegian courses, or send us an inquiry for more information.