Norway is often referred to as one of the best places in the world to live, and it’s not hard to understand why.
From its stunning natural scenery and progressive society to its high standard of living and excellent public services, Norway has something for everyone.
If you’re considering moving to Norway, read our comprehensive guide for British ex-pats to make life a little easier during your relocation.
Moving to Norway after Brexit: Is my right to live and work affected?
British citizens moving to Norway after Brexit must apply for a residence permit to stay longer than 90 days.
Ex-pats should note that Norway does not participate in the EU Blue Card system for skilled workers. Instead, there are several different residence permits, including one for skilled workers.
The two most common types of visas that ex-pats moving to Norway apply for are:
- The skilled worker visa
- The family reunification visa
There is no visa specifically for those retiring to Norway. If this is your aim, applying for a family reunification residence permit is the main route. Retiring to Norway can be challenging if you do not have family connections.
Skilled worker visa
To obtain a skilled worker visa in Norway, you must prove that your education and employment history meet specific requirements.
To obtain a Norwegian skilled worker visa, you must have:
- Completed a vocational training programme lasting at least three years, or;
- A university degree, or;
- Qualifications obtained through long work experience.
You must have a concrete job offer from a Norwegian employer before applying for a working visa. The job must also fulfil the following:
- The position must be full-time;
- The position must require qualifications from you as a skilled worker;
- Your salary and working conditions must match those which are standard in Norway.
When applying for a skilled worker visa, you must also submit relevant documentation such as a completed visa application form, a valid passport, proof of your accommodation in Norway, details of your CV and qualifications and proof of your job offer and salary.
You will also need to pay Norway’s visa fee, which is 5,400 NOK (around £450).
Self-employment visas in Norway fall under the same category as the skilled worker visa and have the same educational requirements. However, the issue of a self-employment visa is dependent on some additional conditions.
Those applying for a self-employment visa with a company in Norway must:
- Earn at least 246,246 NOK gross annually (around £20,700 per year);
- Be in a position which requires their qualifications as a skilled worker;
- Work only in this business, without taking on other work;
- Have a license if their job is a regulated profession.
Those applying for a self-employment visa with a company abroad must also be able to prove that:
- Their business has a registered address in Norway, and;
- They are in a contract with an established business abroad to carry out specific activities in Norway.
The self-employment visa is subject to the same visa application fee as the skilled worker visa.
Family reunification visa
Holders of a skilled worker visa can also apply for their families to move to Norway with them.
The primary condition for this is that the skilled worker visa holder must earn at least 300,988 NOK gross, annually (approx. £25,300 per year).
Visas for spouses and partners
Spouses and registered partners can obtain a visa based on a relationship with a skilled worker visa holder. However, both parties must be at least 24 years of age, and their marriage or engagement must not be forced or for the sole purpose of a visa.
Unmarried cohabitants can also obtain a visa on these grounds but must again be over 24 years of age and:
- Have lived together for two years, or;
- Have or are expecting a child together.
Visas for children
The main requirement for children under 18 moving with their parents is that if only one parent is living in Norway, the other must consent to them living in Norway.
Children over 18 must meet one of the following requirements to be granted a visa:
- They must be between 18 and 21, unmarried and have previously held a residence permit in Norway for several years, or;
- They must be entirely supported by their family, who are all living in or moving to Norway, with no independent life outside the home established through work or studies, or;
- They must have significant health problems, necessitating their parents’ care.
Skilled jobseeker residence permit
Thanks to the UK’s visa-free travel agreement with Norway, UK citizens who qualify as skilled workers can pay an application fee to stay in Norway to look for employment for six months.
To be granted a residence permit, a jobseeker must:
- Have sufficient money to live on, i.e. 22,167 NOK (approx. £1,860) per month, for a total of 132,999 NOK for 6 months (approx. £11,170), in a Norwegian bank account, and;
- Not be otherwise employed while searching for a skilled job.
This is a helpful choice for those emigrating to Norway from the UK without already having a job contract.
Working in Norway
Norway is known for its high standards of working conditions and high wages. This is no different for ex-pats working in Norway, but if you are moving to Norway after Brexit, you might be concerned about the state of the job market for British citizens.
Thankfully, with only five million citizens, Norway continues to have a high demand for skilled workers and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. British citizens don’t need to worry; you will still be able to find work in Norway after Brexit.
Finding work in Norway after Brexit
After Brexit, foreign job seekers may find it easier to find work if they have skills that are in high demand in Norway. Sectors with high demands for workers include:
- Healthcare and nursing;
Although 90% of the country speaks English as a second language, learning Norwegian can make your job search easier since the local language is used in many organisations.
Norway’s high standards of English education mean that opportunities for English teachers in Norway are generally concentrated in more populated cities such as Oslo and Bergen. However, there are still plenty of jobs, and a working knowledge of Norwegian can help you find those jobs and qualifications.
Work culture in Norway
Although Norwegian workplaces have a hierarchical structure, there is always a great emphasis placed on individual expression of ideas and employee independence and growth. Colleagues in Norwegian workplaces are not seen as competition but as sources of cooperation and support.
Mutual respect is at the heart of Norwegian workplaces. No matter your position in a company, you can expect to be treated with respect.
A key characteristic of professional life in Norway is a good work/life balance. The Norwegian lifestyle prioritises family values, so it is not uncommon to see workers leaving work early to pick up children from school or help a family member in need.
Life in Norway
Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world, partly thanks to its work-life balance. However, the country’s beautiful scenery, good food, excellent healthcare and multicultural community also make it an ideal place to live.
Ex-pat life in Norway
Over 10% of Norway’s population were born abroad, meaning that the ex-pat community is large and welcoming. Additionally, Norwegians are friendly and welcoming, and with such a high level of English spoken in the country, it’s hard to feel far from home.
Norway celebrates international cultural events such as Chinese New Year as well as its own national holidays, such as the Constitution Day on 17th May and the Saami cultural celebration of Riddu Riđđu. For ex-pats moving to Norway from the UK, Norwegian culture feels like an eclectic mix of the familiar and the unexplored.
Food in Norway
Norwegian cuisine is rooted in its fresh, seasonal ingredients from the countryside and traditional recipes that have been prepared for centuries.
The UK buys hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of seafood from Norway every year, so it is no surprise that a lot of Norwegian cuisine uses fresh seafood. One of the best culinary experiences on offer for seafood lovers is eating freshly caught king crab in Northern Norway.
However, Norwegian cuisine is not limited to fish and shellfish. Norwegian meats are internationally acclaimed, with delicious and healthy options such as deer and grouse featuring in both restaurants and home cooking. The national dish of Norway, fårikål, is a simple but delicious stew with slow-cooked mutton, and other classic dishes such as pinnekjøtt (dried lamb ribs) and kjøttkaker (meatballs) also make use of Norway’s high quality, grass-fed meat.
Norwegian brunost, or ‘brown cheese’, is an exclusively Norwegian delicacy that any ex-pat should try. Slightly sweet and caramelised, brunost is typically eaten with fresh bread or waffles. Norwegian cheesemaking is also booming thanks to its excellent blue and Gouda-style cheeses, which are receiving international acclaim thanks to the high-quality milk used in Norway.
Cities in Norway and all over Scandinavia are receiving attention for their thriving culture of vegan cuisine. With fruits, nuts and bread all staples in Norwegian cuisine, vegan food is naturally developing as part of the Norwegian culinary scene, focusing on fresh, raw and high-quality ingredients.
With the country’s harsh winters, warming and soulful food is at the heart of the Norwegian culture and a major draw for anyone moving to Norway.
Healthcare in Norway
Norway has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
While healthcare in Norway is not free, it is subsidised by the state. After you have paid 2,961 NOK (around £250) in healthcare fees in Norway, you will be able to receive an exemption card, which means that you will not have to pay any further fees for the rest of the calendar year.
Anyone moving to Norway can access Norwegian healthcare if they contribute to Norway’s National Insurance Scheme. Private health insurance is also an option, but since most people are covered under the public scheme, this is not a popular choice.
Driving in Norway
UK citizens moving to Norway from the UK must exchange their British driving license for a Norwegian one.
There is no need to take a driving test to do this. You will simply need to fill out an application form, which you can find on the vegvesen.no website. You will also need your original British driving license.
Norwegian roads are generally very well-maintained and of a high standard, although rural roads, especially the country’s mountain passes, can be narrow and winding.
Cold Norwegian winters make driving in Norway more difficult and challenging for UK drivers. You must ensure your car is fitted with winter tyres and allow extra time for longer journeys to avoid rushing in unsafe conditions.
While the snowfall season runs from December to April, snow can settle on the ground almost every month of the year at high altitudes, so be aware of the conditions before setting out.
The temperamental weather and driving conditions in Norway can make removals difficult. Choosing Matthew James Removals’ door-to-door Norway removal service eliminates all the stress of moving, letting you focus on settling into your new life in Norway.
Public transport in Norway
Norway’s public transport system is well-established and efficient.
The extensive Norwegian rail network connects major cities, and you can also travel by train to other Scandinavian cities. Norwegian train routes often pass through stunning landscapes of lakes, mountains, fjords and valleys. The Bergen railway line is one of the most famous for its views, considered one of the most beautiful routes in the world.
Individual cities have their own convenient public transport systems. Many offer money-saving plans such as the Oslo pass, which covers all public transport throughout Oslo and the surrounding areas.
One of the most charming aspects of Norwegian public transport is the prominence of sea travel. Travelling by boat is more than a tourist attraction, with many areas of northern and western Norway reliant on ferries. Not only does travelling by boat allow you beautiful views of the country’s coastlines, but it can also considerably shorten your journey.
Almost everyone in Norway is fluent in English, so if you are emigrating to Norway from the UK, you don’t need to worry about a language barrier.
However, learning the language when you move to Norway is always a good idea. Knowing some Norwegian can increase your job prospects, and locals will be delighted to hear you making an effort to speak with them in Norwegian.
When learning Norwegian, you should be aware that there are two written languages: Nynorsk (“New Norwegian”) and Bokmål (“Book Language”). Bokmål is much closer to Danish than Nynorsk, as Nynorsk was developed to distance the Norwegian language from Danish.
There is no great difference between the two languages, and most Norwegians write primarily in Bokmål, but all understand Nynorsk. When learning Norwegian, you will likely learn Bokmål.
Norwegian is very similar to Danish and Swedish. This makes learning Norwegian even more helpful, as you will likely also be able to understand these languages.
Accommodation in Norway
Ex-pats moving to Norway from the UK often find that accommodation can be expensive but is generally very well maintained and kept to high standards.
British citizens living in Norway might find the Norwegian renting and purchasing systems challenging to navigate. Read on for a helpful guide to renting and buying property in Norway.
Whether you are renting a flat or buying a house, our door-to-door removal service can help you with the logistics of your relocation, meaning that all you need to do is unwind and enjoy your new life abroad.
Renting in Norway
Renting for a few months before buying a property is always a good idea for ex-pats moving to Norway. House prices can be high, so best to adjust to your new life in Norway before deciding to buy.
Finding houses and flats for rent in Norway is much easier in cities than in more rural areas. The urban housing market in Norway is booming thanks to students, young professionals and ex-pats.
The easiest way to find apartments in Norway is on sites such as Finn.no and Hybel.no, but many people find flats and houses to rent through friends and colleagues.
Since listing properties on these sites is generally quite expensive for landlords, you may also find that they choose to advertise in alternative ways, such as on Facebook and other social media.
Buying property in Norway
Even after Brexit, you can still buy property in Norway without restrictions.
The property market in Norway is very stable, and property prices are similar to many areas of the UK. Urban areas are often much more expensive than rural areas, while rural areas are less likely to be well-connected and convenient.
As a property owner, you will have private property rights protected by Norwegian law. However, Norwegian property laws differ from British property laws in that the citizen has a ‘right to roam’. This means that everybody has the right to be anywhere outdoors, even on private property. However, this does not include gardens, cultivated land, courtyards, or similar outdoor spaces.
Where to live in Norway
Norway is full of beautiful towns and cities. If you haven’t yet decided on a destination for your move to Norway, here is a summary of five of the best places to live in Norway.
If you are looking for a smaller, more peaceful town, then Arendal is a great location to move to. As a historic coastal town in the South, it is not only one of the most beautiful places to live in Norway but also a charming and peaceful town with a growing technology industry.
The town is located in the national park of Raet, one of just four marine national parks in Norway. Home to beautiful nature and idyllic harbours, Arendal is a fantastic place for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. Cycling, diving, paddleboarding, canoeing, and many more sports are popular among tourists and locals.
Property prices are more reasonable in Arendal than in many other areas of Norway. Many spacious, new-build homes sell for under £300,000.
If you are looking to rent in Arendal it may be harder to find houses and apartments. However, thanks to its rural location, you can be sure that rent will be low and that you will get plenty of space for your money.
A bustling city steeped in tradition, Bergen is one of the biggest cities in Norway and a great place to live.
Located on the western coast, Bergen is full of arts and music and is home to the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. It is also one of the best cities in Norway for schools and universities, making it a perfect location for families.
Bergen has an incredibly low crime rate and is very friendly to foreigners. It’s a popular destination for many ex-pats, meaning that you will find a large and welcoming community.
The cost of living in Bergen is higher than in many rural areas but cheaper than in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
Rent prices are generous in Bergen. High-quality apartments can cost as little as £370 per month, and wherever you live, you will likely get plenty of space for your money.
The property market is booming in Bergen, and it is not difficult to find beautiful homes for very reasonable prices. A penthouse close to the city centre with a view over the city can cost as little as £195,000.
Said to be one of the most beautiful towns in the world, Ålesund is a coastal town in southern Norway. After a fire destroyed most of the original city in the early 20th century, the whole town was rebuilt in a colourful Art Nouveau style.
The town is home to many trendy bars and unique shops. Situated among some of the most beautiful mountains and fjords in Norway, Ålesund is a breathtaking place to live. Ideally located for skiing and watersports opportunities, this town is perfect for an active lifestyle.
Rent is relatively low in Ålesund, with some beautiful apartments starting at just £410 per month. Property prices are also very generous, with some beautiful city centre apartments starting at around £120,000.
Located in the north of Norway, Trømso is a popular city for its beautiful landscapes and rich culture. Close to the Finnish border and many incredible natural attractions, Trømso is popular with both students and ex-pats.
Winters in Trømso are harsh and long, but if you are a winter lover, living in the Arctic and being surrounded by snow-topped mountains all year round makes it feel easier.
Trømso is also a great place to learn about and understand the rich and beautiful Saami culture. The Saami are the indigenous people of northern Norway, Finland, Sweden and parts of Russia. Their traditions remain strong and are celebrated in Trømso, with hands-on activities such as reindeer sledging, traditional music and authentic cooking offered to guests.
The city is one of the more expensive places to live in Norway, but the views make it well worth it. Rent for small flats is usually around £500 per month, and more spacious apartments can sell for over £500,000.
As the capital city of Norway, Oslo is one of the most popular destinations for ex-pats to move to. With plenty of job opportunities, excellent facilities, convenient transport and breathtaking views, it is a perfect city for anyone to moving to Norway. Oslo consistently ranks among the world’s most expensive cities, but also offers some of the world’s highest salaries. The city has a very high quality of life and is incredibly safe.
There are endless attractions in and around Oslo, from skiing just outside the city to the vibrant Oslo nightlife to Michelin starred restaurants.
The city is also home to excellent universities and schools. Many international schools in the city provide English-language education and are popular among locals and ex-pats.
Rent in Oslo is unsurprisingly high, but thanks to the city’s size, you will always be able to find a property that matches your budget. Smaller apartments in the city centre are usually under £600 per month.
If you are looking to purchase a property, you may be pleasantly surprised by the city centre prices. Many new and renovated apartments near the centre sell for under £500,000.
If you are moving to Norway, Matthew James Removals can help you move your belongings without any complications or stress. We have decades of experience in international removals and a team of experienced professionals who will handle every aspect of the move for you.
Our comprehensive removals service lets you relax and enjoy your new life in Norway knowing that your belongings will arrive safely.
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