Oslo, Norway Report of what it's like to live there - 12/11/22
Personal Experiences from Oslo, Norway
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, this is our second time in Oslo.
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?
All over US. Direct flights to New York, FLL/Miami, Orlando, etc. It's easy to get home.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
There are apartments in the city (mainly an area called Frogner) and houses outside the city center (mainly in Jar, Bekkestua, and Roa).
Our apartment is in an incredible location, easy walk to downtown, many restaurants and parks. It's absolutely beautiful with lots of character, tall ceilings, renovated kitchen and bathrooms. Our apartment is open, very big for city standards (around 2100 sq feet) with beautiful views, lots of light, and wonderful neighbors. Commute time to embassy is a quick 15 minutes drive or 30 minutes by public transit.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Availability is very good. Some items are a lot more expensive and the quality of produce can be hit and miss. Choice and variety is less than in the US but you can find what you need.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
None. You can order anything.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
So many. Oslo has a great food scene and multiple food delivery services. People complain about prices but we eat out often and don't see it as an issue. Services in general are pricier in Oslo because everyone here makes a livable wage, but we like that.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO mail. The post office at the embassy is excellent.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cost of services is overall high and the availability is not as good as in other countries but we have an amazing cleaning lady who owns her own company. She's reliable, hard working, detail-oriented, and an overall great person. We pay her $35-42 hour depending on the exchange rate.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Lots of gyms and fairly-priced. Sports are very popular in Norway.
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?
Norwegian Debit cards, yes. ATMs are not common and cash is rarely used. All very safe to use.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are several.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Just the very basic grocery items. Pretty much everyone speaks perfect English in Oslo.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I think so but it's easier than in most European cities. They do try here.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Very safe, but more expensive than most places in the world.
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?
Small to medium-sized all wheel drive SUV is best.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, easy to install.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
In country plans are high quality and affordable.
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?
Yes, but vet services are very expensive. A friend's dog broke his leg and it was around $6000. We got pet insurance but can't speak to how good or not it is because we haven't had any large vet bills.
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?
There are some jobs at the embassy but the pay is low for how expensive the city is and the fact that local salaries are quite high.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
People dress very well in Oslo but it's more of a city chic look than formal. Embassy is currently operating at business casual.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
No. Bad things can happen anywhere but, overall, Norway is one of the safest places in the world.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The urgent care here isn't treated so urgently until it's very serious, but the quality of care then is very good.
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?
Great! The air is very clean here.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Norwegians take food allergies very seriously so it's a good place for someone with those needs.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
This is not a good post for someone who suffers from SAD. No one in our family has it so it's not an issue for us, but even then, there are times that we find ourselves craving the light and warmth of sunshine. A quick trip away solves that for us.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The weather is perfect, sunny and not humid from May to September, iffy in October, bad in November (cold, dark, and rainy), snowy in December to February, hit and miss in March, and good in April. Our family spends a lot of time outdoors and as long as you dress properly for the weather, you'll be just fine :)
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are multiple international schools and our experience at both Frogner International Preschool and OIS has been excellent.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Unfortunately, we haven't heard positive things about this in the international schools. Norwegians schools, however, do an excellent job.
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?
Yes, incredibly well-priced! The best value out of anything in Norway. We've had an excellent experience at a local barnehage.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, there are many.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Quite a few expats in the diplomat corps, and oil/gas and tech communities.
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?
Join a running, biking, or ski club to socialize with Norwegians.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Incredible post for families and couples. Singles may have a bit more of a challenging time but most have left the post with a Norwegian girlfriend or boyfriend so I'd say it worked out :)
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
For us, it has been, but I think we got very lucky meeting wonderful people quickly who we know will be in our lives long after we move. We live in the city so I also think the people we come across are more open to being friends with foreigners. With that being said, a lot of people say it isn't easy to make friends with locals.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, very good. Norwegians are very socially progressive.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Everything. The best experience has been the wonderful friends we have made followed by many travel experiences and time outdoors.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Tons of great hikes that are only 10 minutes outside of the city center. You can take public transportation directly to the cross country ski trails with all your equipment. There are so many beautiful fjords and islands to explore.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Not really a "shopping post" but you can find some neat things.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Great access to the outdoors.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Norwegians are friendlier than we were told they'd be and it's not that cold as long as you dress appropriately. It's more important to have multiple layers (especially wool) than a thick parka, etc. Wool hat, scarf/neck warmer, gloves, and layers, and you'll be set!
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Absolutely 100%! It's an amazing place to live!
3. But don't forget your:
Layers and good boots
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
NRK show "Side om Side". Very funny and good insights into Norwegian culture.
5. Do you have any other comments?
We have absolutely LOVED our 2 tours here, and plan on coming back here often even after we move!