My inbox has recently been flooded with questions about moving to Norway that I simply haven’t had time to answer, so I decided it would be easiest to do so in one big blog post.
I’m not an expert on how to relocate to Norway, but I understand that it’s probably preferable to hear from people who live there rather than simply Googling information about life in Norway – especially when those searches lead you to a really scary forum (unless Google led you here – oh hey!).
I’ve been in Norway for over four years, so I’ve been through many different stages of the relocation process.
I remember how exciting and overwhelming it was to first move to Norway, how the excitement eventually faded and living in such an expensive country felt scary, and how much I now love it!
However, this post is really intended as a response to all of the questions about immigrating to Norway that I’ve received since moving to Norway myself, because I was once in your shoes as well! So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to move to Norway (especially from the United States), here you go:
I’m sorry I can’t be of more assistance, but I’m also a Norwegian citizen, so moving to Norway was a breeze for me.
My mother is a Norwegian citizen, and I was born in the United States, so I was born with dual citizenship.
There are very few circumstances under which Norwegians can have dual citizenship – usually, if you become a Norwegian citizen or a citizen of another country in addition to Norway, you must give up one – but being born a dual citizen is one of the exceptions.
Having said that, I know several people who decided to immigrate to Norway from the United States and have had a great experience. One came as a student and then found work here, while the other two came as tourists and quickly found work in their fields. So it’s a possibility!
Oh, and I know an American woman who obtained a visa by marrying a Norwegian, so there’s that as well.
Everyone who moved to Norway has one thing in common: they were persistent. There will be a lot of paperwork, hassle, questions, and even confusion in the process, but if you truly want to immigrate to Norway, you should not give up.
Moving to a new country is never easy, and while Norway is an easier place to move to because the language isn’t too difficult to learn (at least for English speakers) and there are plenty of jobs here, Norway has a very small population, so it’s strange to be on the outside here.
Making friends and feeling a part of the community can be difficult at first, but once you do, you will truly feel a part of something, which is wonderful. In fact, I’ve never felt more a part of a community in any country I’ve lived in than in Norway. It’s a wonderful sensation.
The specifics of how to move to Norway from a non-EU/EEA country will depend on your country of citizenship (more information here), but in general, you will need to apply for a residence permit in one of the following categories: family immigration, work immigration, study, au pair, and permanent residence.
Family immigration allows someone who works in Norway to bring their spouse or children with them. So, if you have a distant relative living in Norway, you will most likely be unable to obtain a Norway residence permit through them.
If you are an adult, even if you have a parent who lives here, you will only be granted a residence permit if you can demonstrate that you earn a certain base salary.
Generally, if you come to Norway under work immigration, you must have found work before arriving (though often people will come to Norway on tourist visas and then quickly find a job before their visa expires).
The specific type of residence permit you’ll apply for will be determined by your country of citizenship, as well as your specific skills and the type of work you’ll be doing in Norway. More information about your citizenship and field can be found here.
To obtain a study permit in Norway, you must have been accepted to a full-time study programme (lasting more than three months) and be able to demonstrate that you have enough money to live on (I believe it is around 100,000 NOK per year).
A study permit also allows you to work up to 20 hours per week while studying (and full time in between semesters).
There are various paths to obtaining permanent residence in Norway, but in general, you must have held a residence permit in Norway for at least three years and demonstrate a certain level of Norwegian language and social understanding.
And, unfortunately, three years of having a study permit will not count towards permanent residency.
Many of the people I knew in Trondheim had au pair residence permits. You can only get an au pair permit if you are between the ages of 18 and 30, do not have children of your own, and can demonstrate that you will most likely return to your home country after your time as an au pair is up.
Do I need a special visa to move to Norway as an EU citizen because Norway is not a member of the EU?
No, all you need to do is find work within six months of moving to Norway (and apparently even that rule is super lax). And because Norway is a member of the EEA, you can work in any field as an EU citizen.
I moved to Norway with my ex-boyfriend, who is an EU citizen, and while some things, such as opening a bank account, were nearly impossible for him before he got a job in Norway, moving here was a relatively simple process for him.
If you have any further questions about moving to Norway as an EU citizen, I’d be delighted to try to answer them!
I have many friends who are EU citizens, and the most difficult part for them was learning the language. If you know basic Norwegian, you should be able to get a job at a supermarket, as most Norwegians do not want such jobs.
Except for the managers, all of the other employees at the supermarket where I worked in Norway were foreigners. It was amusing and created a nice sense of community.
If you want to advance in your career, you must become fluent in Norwegian. The good news is that Norwegian is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.
The grammar is simple and straightforward, and the vocabulary is surprisingly straightforward.
The only difficulty is that Norway has many different local dialects, which can vary greatly. According to my Telemark friends, people from Oslo don’t always understand what they say – even though they’re all Norwegians!
People told me two things about finding work in Norway when I first moved there: it’s all about networking, and jobs are easier to find in small towns or villages.
Dan and I both got jobs through someone who read my blog, and we ended up living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere for several years (read how we ended up working at a supermarket in the mountains here).
It appears that getting to know people and asking around (or even hanging out at places you might want to work, such as restaurants or bars) is the best way to find work in Norway.
And, of course, knowing at least basic Norwegian is required – fortunately, basic Norwegian skills are not difficult to acquire.
Dan had learned enough Norwegian after five months of living in Norway to work at a supermarket, and Norwegian is his first foreign language.
no. StudentConsulting hired him to work for Dekkmann changing tyres on cars, and the majority of the people he worked with there were immigrants who didn’t speak Norwegian. So networking, language skills, and living in a small town aren’t everything.
If you are willing to do any type of work and apply for every available position, finding a job in Norway should not be too difficult for you.
In fact, if you can speak some Norwegian and are completely flexible about where you want to live and what kind of work you want to do, you should have no trouble finding work in Norway.
It appears that supermarkets in Norway are always hiring! At least, as long as you’re not in a big city or a student neighbourhood, where students always seem to get all of the supermarket jobs.
Of course, this is entirely up to you, but as I previously stated, it will be much easier to find work in a small town or village than in, say, Oslo. Furthermore, the cost of living in smaller towns is significantly lower than in cities.
According to what I’ve heard, Oslo is the most difficult place for an immigrant to find work, but it also has the most immigrants, whereas in a small town you might be one of only a few foreigners.
Personally, I think that’s a good thing, because it’s been much easier for me to integrate into a small town than it was in Trondheim, where I was tempted to just hang out with other foreigners and only speak English.
If you want to get a better sense of the various regions of Norway, click on the map below to read more about each region (I’ve only coloured in the regions I’ve personally visited and know very well).
Is Norway truly such a wonderful place to live? Should I relocate to Norway?
So many people ask me this, and it’s a difficult question to answer!
There is so much to appreciate about life in Norway. It’s beautiful, the government isn’t terrible, the wages are insanely high if you’re willing to start out with low-skilled work, and Norwegians are generally really nice to each other (at least in Rauland!).
I mean, I never thought I’d enjoy working at a supermarket, but having super laid-back managers, colleagues who feel like family, and the sweetest customers makes me appreciate living in Norway’s mountains. Furthermore, Norway appears to be a very safe place to live.
Education is free in Norway, so I could easily return to school and earn a master’s degree without incurring any debt, and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with the healthcare system here.
For example, coming from the United States, I believe my quality of life in Norway is far superior to that of the United States.
Norwegians are an odd bunch, and I believe the culture in Norway may feel cold or frustrating to some people; the weather may not be appealing if you don’t like snow, and getting things done here requires a lot of patience and persistence.
For example, getting a straight answer on important questions like taxes, visas, and so on can be extremely difficult.
It can also take a long time to feel like a part of the community here because Norwegians are notoriously shy and reserved.
They won’t often offer to assist you or approach you to talk, but if you need help with someone, Norwegians will do almost anything for you if you ask. In fact, it appears that Norwegians enjoy being able to offer assistance; they are just too shy to offer until you ask. So simply inquire!
If you live in a small town here, it may feel as if everyone has known each other for a long time, and they most likely have. As a result, it can be difficult to join in as an outsider because everyone has their own set of friends.
However, if you try to join activities or clubs, you should be able to start meeting people.
It took me a year after moving to Mosjen in northern Norway to really make friends. People were just slow to open up, and I had to work hard to keep making plans with people and feel like I was a part of their lives.
In an effort to meet new people, I also enrolled in a dance class and a yoga class. Again, it was a slow process, but Norwegians take belonging to a group seriously, and I eventually felt like I truly belonged here.
Personally, I believe it is worthwhile, but many others may not. In fact, I’ve received a number of comments on this blog from long-term expats who appear to despise Norway (I guess they’re still here because of their families? ), so I believe it’s safe to say that Norway is not for everyone.
However, if you enjoy nature and peace and quiet, don’t mind the cold, enjoy boiled potatoes and tinned fish, and are patient, then immigrating to Norway could be a great choice!
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to live here, and living in Norway has provided me with a wonderful sense of security. Not only is it a very safe country in general, but as a resident, you have the impression that you are well taken care of.
Health care and education are both free, and even unskilled labour pays well, so as long as you’re willing to put in the effort to learn the language, you should be able to live comfortably here.