How expensive is Norway?

The best stock image I could find for this topic. Highly accurate.

So, how expensive is Noway?

Make no doubt, if you’re a tourist coming from a country not in Scandinavia (or Switzerland), you might react similarly to the seagull above. Whilst I’ll admit that when I first visited back in 2014, I left with the impression that it was impossible to live in Norway unless you were pulling in an awesome salary.

However after living here for a month, my perspective has somewhat changed. I guess it could be argued that I’m not allowed an opinion on the subject matter, as I’ve not been here that long. Yet the question of living cost comes up time and time again, and maybe throwing in my two kroner might help ease (or frighten) peoples fear.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that a good rule of thumb for calculating NOK to GBP (or vice versa) is to take the last digit away. For example if something costs 100NOK, its pretty much £10. Remember this as the prices mentioned below are in NOK.

Taxes

Addressing the most hard hitting subject first, tax brackets in Norway are a lot higher than I’m used to. Back in the UK my salary fell into the 20% bracket, yet here I’m getting taxed as standard 35%. Outrageous right?

Well…not really. My very limited scientific research on the subject matters leads me to conclude that everyone is quite happy paying the taxes. I might be completely wrong on this matter, but it appears to me that most people feel that they get good value for money on how much money they put in. The money goes into things such as free healthcare, schools and transport.

Norway also has the mentality of equality here. The tax system is designed to ensure everyone pays their fair share. I used to hear grumbles all the time back in the UK about taxation levels, heck I even used to do it myself. Here is a different story.

VAT is also slightly higher here compared to the UK. 25% is standard across most items, with 15% for food. It’s an increase, but not a drastic change.

Rent / House prices

Before I moved to Hamar, I used to live in Reading, and there are a fair few similarities. Both towns are close to the capital city, both have the same transport links to the capital and both have a mediocre football team.

My rent for a 3 bedroom apartment in Hamar is 11000 NOK a month, which roughly equates to £1100. Back in Reading the same amount of money got me a 2 bedroom apartment, so there’s not that much difference.

Source: www.ssb.no

Of course don’t take this as gospel. Oslo is considerably more expensive, and some towns further north such as Trondheim also have extremely high rents, but coming from the UK, the cost of rent was not a surprise nor a shock for me.

Again, I also feel you get extremely good value for money when you rent or buy a property in Norway. I mentioned earlier that houses are very well constructed, and you’d be quite hard pushed to find a house or apartment that does exceed the standards of a similarly priced UK property.

I can’t possibly comment on the Norwegian property market, as I’m not quite at the level yet where I’d be buying a property. If you’re bored you can head on down to finn.no and type in your budget to see what you get, or look at some potential dream houses. The property below is around £460,000 and it looks lovely.

Courtesy of finn.no – https://m.finn.no/realestate/homes/ad.html?finnkode=90135905

Food and drink

The cost of food and drink vastly depends on your lifestyle. If you come with the same mentality I had back in the UK of eating out at restaurants and fast food joints every day, chances are you’ll quickly bankrupt yourself.

However most of the supermarkets are quite reasonable. Meat and vegetables are slightly higher than the UK, for example a packet of minced meat costs around 40NOK, a liter of milk costs 16NOK and a frozen pizza around 30NOK.

I love this store…

Drinks and alcohol (in a store) are a bit more expensive. I used to have a coca-cola addiction, which I’ve not been able to bring with me to Norway due to the price differences, as a 1.5ltr bottle costs 30NOK (double what i’d pay in the UK). Alcohol is also expensive to buy, a standard large can of beer can see you spend around 30NOK too, and a bottle of Bulmers cider could see you spending anywhere up to 50NOK.

As mentioned earlier, eating and drinking out is an entirely different ball game. I think restaurants are seen as a bit of a treat here, and for a decent meal for two you’d probably be looking at spending somewhere in the region of 800NOK.

Fancy a night out? It would be wise to get used to the predrinking culture here (vorspeil), as a pint of beer could cost around 100NOK.

Even a large BigMac meal from Mcdonalds could see you spend somewhere in the region of 110NOK.

Utilities

Thankfully the cost of utilities has not been too much of a shock here. Electricity prices are pretty low here in comparison to the rest of Europe, a factor that could be largely down to the amount of renewable energy Norway produces (over 99%!).

Internet subscriptions and telephony are pretty reasonable too. I am currently paying 299NOK a month for unlimited calls and texts with 3GB of data from Telia, and that’s not the cheapest on the market. Broadband and TV subscriptions set you back around 699NOK a month, but you get solidly good broadband and a pretty good TV package for that.

Summary

The best way to probably sum up this blog post is by saying; it’s all relative. Whilst some of the costs may seem eye-watering, salaries in Norway are high, so it all balances out.

If you do come here from a different country, be prepared to adjust your lifestyle somewhat. Eating out and splashing on nice things is good once in a while, but it’s not something that you can do constantly. Small adjustments to your lifestyle will probably ease the impact on your bank balance.

Above all else, take all that I’ve said here with a grain of salt. The information based above is from my personal experiences, and yours may vary! However don’t let the costs of Norway stop you from visiting or attempting to live here, it’s a truly wonderful country with a lot of delights.

If you have any questions on the subject, leave a comment below or contact me using the “contact me” form at the top!

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