Oslo, Norway Report of what it's like to live there - 05/30/21

Personal Experiences from Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway 05/30/21

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have also lived in ten other countries.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

NYC. It has been 25 years.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What years did you live here?

2019-2021.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Position with an international organization.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments and houses generally high standard - Oslo is small and not busy - so getting from one bit of Oslo to a suburb is easy. If you like to walk to everything, stay in Frogner area or down by the sea harbour ( akker brygge). You can get gorgeous houses on the ocean - depends on budget.

Not much available for rent. Alot of people buy and then sell when leaving.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you have the budget you can get everything (Jacob’s). Otherwise, pretty damn expensive and fruit and vegetables are not very varied ... quality is best in immigrant neighbourhoods or at top end shops. Norwegians have good cheese. Meat is okay.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Vitamin and mineral pills; enteric baby aspirin; nuts and dried fruit. Beauty products, shampoos, hair products

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

A lot of restaurants do take out especially during Covid lockdown; Asian and pizza most popular
restaurants bars and alcohol are all astoundingly expensive. Expats mostly do home dinners/ dinner parties

Norwegians love BBQs and do mini grills in parks

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local easy efficient and all speak English.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many, as in the US.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You never need to touch cash here. Literally you can use your card or phone pay for everything.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

several Christian churches and services in English. Not sure for other religions

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe and affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Electric car as the tolls (for the moment) are free for these. As soon as you leave the immediate “Oslo” you pay a toll and it is expensive (and automatic.. no toll booths).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

A week. It's reliable efficient.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Home country as it is much cheaper but you need a Norwegian number for a lot of things (ordering groceries, take out and stuff) we have the cheapest possible plan for this reason but use our home phones for all else.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No pet shops here as you buy from people directly only.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Very, very hard in particular if you do not speak Norwegian.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

American Women Club; international schools.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Very, very casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good health care via Volvat and Aleris systems. National health is good but very slow.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good though very fine particles are an issue die to a lot of diesel and wood-burning in fireplaces.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Yes, winter blues.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very cold and snowy in winter. Summers can be glorious and between 20-35 or full of rain....
but if you like to ski and sail.. you are in the right place

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The Lycee francais is good for francophones.
There are a couple of international schools that go through MS.
We know Oslo International School. Teaching is very standard and does not go beyond the basics. It is a British school that does the IB diploma. The school has little focus on the arts and very little sports clubs. There is a serious issue with toxic environment among kids in elementary middle and secondary ... too many wealthy Norwegian kids who are there their whole life, not international. Norway is very homogenous and white. It is a consensus society and people tend to want to be all alike and like each other. The kids are like that too. Bullying is a real problem. Teachers are dedicated and deliver good results.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

OIS has no ability and even had some challenges dealing with food allergies in elementary school.
Not sure about other schools.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Available, and they are good.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes but hard to get into. Tennis is quite available.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Oslo is nice but a bit boring. US expat are pretty active - other expats scattered across the city. Diplomatic functions are like in any European city.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

American Women Club
Sports clubs
School
Diplo functions

Norwegians are not outgoing

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for families and very family friendly, but maybe boring for teens.
Good for sporty families who like snow and ocean.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

No, and racism is relatively present. (I am white so Norwegians “talk” in front of me. In my opinion, it is shocking.)

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender equality is high. It seems South Asians, Persians, Arabs are not well-integrated or looked upon’s’d even Latin Americans seem to find it tough.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great sailing.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

No.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Quiet, clean, easy, safe.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The high costs.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ball gowns.

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4. But don't forget your:

winter boots.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

No

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