Life in Norway – a beginner’s guide

After a long, exciting, probably somewhat exhausting move, you’ve made it to Norway. The toughest part is behind you. However, there are still a couple of things that can make or break the atmosphere of your further stay. Life in Norway might sound like a bit of a challenge right now, but with these tips and tricks, you’ll breeze through the experience just in time for the next ski season!

Get to know your surroundings for a better life in Norway

Whether you’re a student moving to Norway or a full-time employee, you’re going to want to meet some new people, if anything so that they can show you all the good coffee shops and bakeries. The thing is, Norwegians aren’t what you would call the most social humans you’ll stumble upon. Luckily, there are quite a few occasions on which you can make your Norway life more of a social one. Here are some of them:

  • skiing, hiking, going to a cabin with friends
    If there’s anything Norwegians love, that’s being active and enjoying nature. Let’s face it, anyone who has access to their fjords and mountains is bound to go overboard on vitamin D as well. Therefore, get your gear ready and go for a hike or just a light walk alongside the beach coast, you won’t regret it.
  • courses
    There is a great number of different activities you can tackle in your free time. You can learn how to paint, style interiors or, for instance, play chess all while meeting new folks. You are sure to enjoy it and it will make your Norway stay that much more pleasant.
  • workplace or school

It is always a good idea to search for new friends at the places you go to anyway, such as school or your workplace. Going for a cup of coffee after work is very usual for Norwegians anyway. They tend to be very social in these sorts of public atmospheres. However, they will probably steer clear of inviting you to their homes until you’ve become the best of friends. This isn’t because they are rude or anything of the sort. They just consider their homes very private.

Get over the language barrier easily

Even though you can manage everyday activities going off of only your knowledge of English without any major problems, it is still a good idea to dabble in the Norwegian language a little bit. I know that learning a language when moving to Europe can sound like a bit too much, but bear with me, it’s not nuclear metaphysics.

A girl sitting on books and reading.
Learning the language will make your life in Norway easier.

There’s no need to sit for hours on end while trying to remember fifty words a day, but some light reading would be a good place to start. Norwegians appreciate it if they see that you have made an effort to learn their language and are interested in their culture. Who knows, it may even result in a promotion or a raise. Living in Norway has never sounded more appealing, has it?

Layers, layers, layers

Taking into consideration that you have begun residing in Norway, I’m going to presume that you are aware of the fact that it can get pretty cold out there. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to mention that you should be prepared. And I mean really prepared, especially if you’ve moved from somewhere warm and sunny. Since the weather is unpredictable as a consequence of global warming, it’s best to have a more layered wardrobe.

Later, when you become used to life in this country, you won’t have any trouble remembering to bring loads of backup clothes. Fashion-wise it can be difficult, but there are many different sources you can use to get inspiration for how to layer your clothes like a pro.

A simple sandwich representing a customary lunch box that is a staple of life in Norway.
Life in Norway is all about those simple meals that make you think of the old times.

Stand out by fitting in

You may have started living in Norway for various reasons such as financial benefits or a better and safer every day. Presuming that the reason isn’t sheer love for Nordic culture and folklore, you might want to consider gaining some knowledge in these areas. Norwegians love an interested newcomer and will be very positively surprised if you manage to mention ski tour or perhaps lutefisk (one of their best-known dishes).

There’s a lot of ways you can learn about these things. Aside from many courses and a well-read friend, there’s always the good old trusted Internet. Here are some things you can do to impress a Norwegian person:

  • mention May 17th (Norwegian Constitution Day) and the importance of it’s impact
  • talk about their traditional costumes (bunads)
  • bring a mat pakke to your workplace (two pieces of bread and a little something on the side aka their traditional lunch box)
  • don’t try to pay for everything when sharing a meal with someone
    While living in Norway it’s important to remember that Norwegians are very specific with paying their restaurant bills. They tend to split everything in proportion to what they themselves had, even the tip.

Life in Norway can get expensive

As you may have already heard, life in Norway is anything but cheap, especially if you’ve moved with kids. Now, don’t let this scare you into thinking you’ll need to cut out any luxury that you are used to. Presumably, you have a job in Norway that is going to be accordingly well paid for the standard of life.

A piggy bank representing that saving money will make life in Norway much easier.
Life in Norway can get pretty expensive, so start saving and spending wisely right away.

However, you need to start thinking smart, not hard. One of the majors when it comes to life expenses is surely food. Consider swapping your eating out habits for staying in and cooking, seeing it is quite a difference economically speaking. If you’re not careful of this, residing in Norway could soon become filled with debt, and nobody wants that.

Enjoy your stay

You’ve followed all of the steps and are ready to just relax and soak in the beauty that surrounds you? Great, you’ve made it! There’s only one more step to go. Put on a pot of coffee and cozy up by the fireplace. Life in Norway is an adventure you are ready to take on like a pro!

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