How expensive is Norway, really?

When I tell people I live in Norway, I often get this question: How expensive is Norway? 

I have been living here for nearly 20 years, yet I do not think it is that expensive. It depends a lot on each person’s priorities. I believe that everybody can get everything they need when it comes to material things, especially if one is not fussy about brands. Those are expensive everywhere. 

If someone has a place to live, which means a roof above the head and the walls around, running water and electricity, and can afford that, the rest can quickly come very cheap, even for free. 

Let’s see what a human being’s basic needs are to survive.


It is free and cleaner than in many other countries since Norway is very keen on keeping a clean environment. You find out as soon as you learn the rules in your town about sorting out the garbage and such. The expensive electric cars are bought mostly because they are environmentally friendly. Corona has made the air even cleaner since the travels by plane stopped. Of course, the virus was spread through the air, yet the rest of the polluting factors were reduced considerably. 

We’re out of Corona now and have been for a while. It may be that will affect the air, since airplanes are on again. Yet they have become much more expensive. That makes people think twice when they book a flight.


It is free. Tap water in Norway is good to drink. The same from the rivers and lakes on the mountains, for those who are fond of hiking and not only. Nature is very accessible in Norway. The human body is 90% water; therefore, water is the best liquid to drink. I heard once a wise man saying that water is for the brain what air is for the lungs. It is not my intention to speak here about the importance of water for our health. A simple google search can tell you more than me. We die faster without water than without food. This is also why nutritionists say that the first thing we need to do when we are hungry is to breath because we most likely don’t have enough oxygen. The next thing we need t do is to drink water because we ‘re probably dehydrated, and only after that should we think of food. Therefore, I think it is a good thing that water is accessible in Norway. In many other countries you need to buy drinking water, or to boil the tap water, because it can be damaging other wise.

Where I live, I get water straight from the mountain, from a well about 400 meters up my house. I cannot imagine the work people who built that house did so they can bring it all that way to the house. My neighbors told me that they dag those plumbing ditches by hand.

As far as I know, all the water in Norway comes from natural sources, very close to where people live. If there is anything people are paying for is the building and the maintenance of the plumbing system the municipalities are doing. Unless they live in the countryside and have access to own wells, like I do.

Even in coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants, the water is very often offered for free. Of course, it also depends in how fancy the place is. 

Sodas and juices are available in grocery stores, and also on sale sometimes. Many locals prefer to prepare their own “saft”, which is concentrated berries or fruits (they pick themselves) with some sugar. They add water, and it is a great refreshment. 

If you are fond of alcohol, beer 4% or less, you can find them in the grocery stores only until 18:00h. Stronger stuff is available at special stores called “Vinmonopolet,” and it is expensive since alcohol is a state monopoly in Norway. However, that does not mean people cannot produce some at home, for their own use. If it is not commercialized and in moderate quantities, it is perfectly ok. Many people have beer and winemaking as a hobby, and loads of experiments are conducted at home. A lot of fun for those genuinely interested. 

I guess you can choose what you want to drink according to how much money you have. It can be cheap or expensive. 


The standard prices may look high (they’ve got higher after corona and the war in Ukraine), yet there are many sales due to the expiring date and not only. Few people know that Norway has stringent rules when it comes to food, and the expiring date is set on products about a week earlier than the product gets bad. And if you cook what you buy the same day, you end up with cheap and healthy food.

Another trend that I see happening among young people in Norway is “Dumpster Diving,” which concerns the environmental movement. It means that all the grocery stores must throw away what they do not manage to sell before the expiration date. They get huge fines if they do not respect this rule. As I said earlier, the food is still good after the expiration date. People spot where the dumpster is and go and collect what they think they can use. It is free. Some shop managers encourage this trend and leave the dumpsters open; some don’t and put locks on them. Depends on the person. 

It is good to have a freezer because one can end up with a lot of free food that needs to be stored. 

Organizations that work for the environment have deals with the shops and go and pick up the food before it gets out to the dumpster. One of them is called “People’s kitchen”. The food is brought to a place where it can be prepared and then shared. Whatever is left is taken home by those who have shared the cooking and the meal and whoever else is there. The important thing is that the food is not wasted. You need to ask around in your town do a google search, or just go and speak with people working at the grocery stores in your neighborhood. 

In the countryside, farmers have deals with the stores, picking up the old bread. The animals love it, and it is also good in the toaster, even if it is a bit old. Same with carrots or other vegetables that can be good for animals. They are not ashamed of using it, even if they live in “the richest country in the world”. 

Some farms need help with the harvest, and they offer accommodation, food, and some money in exchange for labor. If you’re interested in a short-term adventure, check out “work away” concept, for instance. 

If you miss food from your country of origin, there are also a good deal of international shops where you can find exotic products as well. Check out what is available in your town.

Worth mentioning here is the fact that Norwegians, in general, are fond of eating at home with family and friends. Dinner is not about the food, as it can be in many other countries. Instead, it is about getting to know each other: people spending time together, mostly around the coffee and tea, and of course, some wine, at the end of the meal.

If you already live in Norway, perhaps you’ve experienced that most Norwegians are very fond of food. Yet, even if they enjoy it, many of them consider it “fuel.” Something that our body needs to keep us going. You may have noticed if you are familiar with the “matpakke” (work lunch brought from home). It is simple, mostly bread and cheese, and just enough to keep the blood sugar in shape.

The fashion of food has increased in Norway in the past 10 to 15 years since people started to travel more. Since the internet has spread, people can also see more of what food means worldwide, and also started bringing it to Norway.

They don’t have a very long tradition of eating out either, or just going out for a drink like we see in many other countries. When I moved to Norway nearly 20 years ago, I could not find a proper place to have lunch. The few restaurants in town were opened only for dinner, which was very expensive for a student like me at the time. Lunch places have flourished only after 2010, and I could enjoy a proper European lunch or breakfast. Therefore, complaining that eating and drinking out is expensive does not make sense for many Norwegians. It is not something they are very used to.


When it comes to clothes, you find the same chains and brands as everywhere else, with the same prices, sometimes even cheaper. But, again, there are sales most of the time and significant sales in January and August. 

There are also plenty of second-hand shops (Fretex, Salvation Army, Gjenbruk), which are quite fashionable. So you can find expensive brand products at a small price, and you take care of the environment simultaneously. 

On and FB, there are many clothes to be bought second-hand or even new because people buy them and then forget about having them. Other people give away lots of clothes. I have noticed there is a trend when it comes to small children. At least until they know what it means to have new or brand clothing or not, they inherit clothes from older children in the family or a group of friends or colleagues at work. Yes, Norwegian people also practice this because they are people too and need to take care of their budget. 

Another big trend in Norway is making own clothes at home, tailoring but mainly knitting. Everybody seems to know how to knit or has someone in the family who is knitting. Many people wear homemade sweaters with famous Norwegian patterns, mittens, or socks. It is a fashion that never wears out, and it is pretty cozy seeing it, and wearing it. Although I must say, I did not catch this knitting bug. Therefore I am delighted when I get something knitted as a present from my friends. 

Otherwise, you may notice that people in Norway are very casual, except they have high positions in politics, the banking industry, etc. 

Shoes you can also find second-hand, if you don’t mind that, and if you do not have trouble with your feet. Then, you need to visit an orthopedist who can see what is best for you to wear, recommend a sole designer and particular shops where you can buy them. Unfortunately, these shoes are really expensive, yet, happy feet are essential for the rest of the body. 

You may also notice that not many women in Norway are fond of high heels. Even if they are wearing dresses, they would still go for comfortable shoes. They are very conscious about how high heels can hurt the spine and how uncomfortable that can be in the long run. They don’t put external beauty and/or pain above health. 

Another thing worth mentioning here is that the only occasions Norwegians dress up for are Christmas dinners and weddings. Therefore it is not worth investing in a “gala” wardrobe when you have no place to wear it. 


If you have the house/apartment/student house, then you can find everything you need for it in the same way you find clothing. I would say it’s even better because you find a lot of stuff people give away for free. I know Norwegian people who were patient enough to use, Facebook, and friends. They furnished whole houses with free furniture and electrical utilities (fridge, washing machine, etc). They didn’t see the need to buy new stuff when they knew that what they could find is just as good. People are giving it away because they move out to other parts of Norway, and buying new ones (or finding them cheap or free) would be much more affordable than transporting them to the new place. 

New stuff people buy a lot from IKEA, online, and then they use the assembly projects as family or friends bonding time by doing that together. 


You do not need a car if you live in a place with good transport facilities. Buss, tram, and metro are cheap if you have a monthly or yearly pass. It may be a bit expensive when you buy it, but it is affordable if you divide that amount by the number of days and travels you use it for. The prices also vary if you are a student, a young person (up to 30 years old), an adult, or retired.

Many people prefer to invest in a good bike because it is a cheap way to move around and work out simultaneously. The same goes for walking. This is also the reason they prefer comfortable shoes.

Yet, a car is handy if you have children. You can find good vehicles, that can take you from A to B very cheaply, depending on your needs and your budget. It also depends on what that car does for you and how it fulfills your needs (necessity, comfort, status). Some people prefer to rent a car for weekends or holidays. 

What is expensive in Norway? 

Services. Hiring people to do something for you: cleaning, cooking, building (carpentry, plumbing, electricity), fixing, or driving cars, transport. For instance, if you’re good at building, you have an advantage in the housing market. You can buy an old house, restore it and then sell it with profit or not. Depends on what you want.

Dentist. It is considered plastic surgery. Therefore, it is really expensive.

Private health care. Norway has a really good health system, yet, there can be a long waiting time to get appointments for surgeries and so on. If you can’t wait, private hospitals are an option, yet they are expensive. For a psychologist, there are even 1,5 years of waiting time. If you need help quickly, you can get help from private therapists (like me).

Gass and car maintenance. Gas for the car has passed 20 NOK per liter. Car service, if you don’t know how to do it yourself, then is really expensive. Parking as well can be between 25 and 50 NOK per hour, especially in cities.

Electricity. Even if there is a lot of production in this country, from the gas, waterfalls, and wind, getting it to the people seems to be a big hustle. Therefore, the prices went up a lot in the past 10 years. During the Corona pandemic, they hit the sky, especially in the South of Norway.

Taxes. We pay high taxes because that money is distributed to education, roads, health care, people who cannot work anymore due to illness, retired people. Some roads could get some maintenance though, especially in the North of Norway.

Hobbies. Buying the stuff you need in order to perform your hobby can be expensive unless you find what you need in the same way I described above – through the internet and people who are selling cheap or giving away stuff (; FB). Joining various clubs where you could meet other people with the same interests as you can be a challenge. It depends a lot on how aware are you about what you like and how much you are willing to pay for it. There are memberships and eventual classes you may need to pay for. Just find out what is available in your own town.

NB! This article is meant to give you an idea about what one could afford in Norway and what one should expect in terms of money. But, of course, like in any other country, there is an elite who can afford the most expensive of the most expensive concerning everything. Yet, you choose yourself, how you want to live and which are your priorities. In my experience, there is a place for all lifestyles.  

If you want to know more about life in Norway, culture, and written and unwritten rules, feel free to sign up for my newsletter on this link. You’ll receive more insights every week.

Or, if you need to think some more about what you need before you move to Norway, or in any other country, you could check my free course with details to think about before you make the moving move. You find it on this link.

Best wishes from Norway

My week of quarantine in Sandefjord, Norway

Sunrise captured in one of my early morning walks around town – well, more of outside town 🙂

Yes! I have been visiting my family in a red zone. Red for Norway, because people ruling this country are cautious and prefer to take extra care measures than risk people’s health. Therefore I have been in quarantine for 9 days. 

I arrived in Norway via Torp airport. It was a long queue at Passport control, and then we were taken inside a room where we were tested. The test was free of charge and the result came in about 15 min. After that, we were distributed to places of quarantine. For me, it was Scandic Park Hotel in Sandefjord. We were taken there by taxi, that too, free of charge. 

The quarantine rules were handed out together with practical information, which was also about meals. They were supposed to be placed outside our doors, at 08:00 for breakfast, 12:00 for lunch, and 18:00 for dinner. They were to be accompanied by a knock on the door, except for breakfast. The staff didn’t want to wake us up at 08:00 in the morning if not necessary. I was impressed by the care and respect for people’s sleep. We were getting three meals a day and overnight for 500 NOK a day. A good price for Norway to be and for this significant hotel in Vestfold area. 

The room I’ve got was big, with a beautiful view of the park in front of the hotel. Fresh sheets and towels, clean. 

The mades weren’t allowed to get into the quarantine rooms. For their protection and ours; therefore, we were expected to help with the cleaning if we felt the need. That was logical to me, and it seemed fair for the price as well. 

With the characteristic smiles and politeness, the staff was helping in any way they could. Most of the quarantine guests would respect the rules and be polite and behave. At the same time, some did not.

Nobody wants to stay in quarantine, yet if that is the case, at least to make a good experience out of it, I thought.  

I have never been to this little town in the South of Norway before. But, we were allowed to walk outside, which gave me the chance to look around the small city center with cozy houses and crossroads on every corner of the tiny streets. 

I returned to the hotel from my walk one afternoon, and I passed by two of the hotel employees. One man from security and one woman were talking on their way home. The woman complained to her colleague about how some of the quarantine guests picked on her long legs. 

«That was not nice,» said the man. «Do you want me to do anything about it?» he asked.

«No, let them be,» she answered, showing the group of men who were walking towards the end of the corridor, inside the hotel. «I just don’t understand how they cannot know that this kind of comment is rude,” she said, with a sad expression on her face. 

Pity I was thinking. Perhaps no one told the men (I don’t know which country they were from) that this kind of comment is considered “sexual harassment” in Norway and illegal. This time they’ve got away. Next time, they may not. 

For me, the experience of quarantine was not at all a struggle. On the contrary, I took it as an extra week of holiday. I did not feel in any way that my liberty was too much constrained. During the whole week, I’ve got some messages on my phone to remind me that I was on quarantine and got one phone call from the people in charge of this procedure. Mostly to check on me and see if I knew the rules of quarantine.

I was getting food every day, which I didn’t have to think of buying and preparing myself. Some shortened, in terms of vegetables, since the good old Norwegian “kost” (cooking) does not include too many of those. Yet, I knew it was only for a maximum of ten days, and I didn’t have to eat what I didn’t like. 

We were allowed to walk around town and take the typical hikes you can find everywhere around the small towns in Norway. 

We were not allowed to get into the shops or other buildings or visit people in the hotel (if we knew any). I didn’t think it was such a terrible restrain. I didn’t know anyone and shops can one find everywhere. 

I like walking and hiking and discovered really lovely pats and corners of the town that were quite charming. Just look at the pictures underneath the article. The days I stayed in quarantine went on fine since I was determined not to let it ruin my mood. I also had my computer with me, which allowed me to write and work. I would have done that anyway, no matter where I was. And here even more since I had no care of daily hustle. 

At the same time, every time I went in and out of the hotel, I would see and hear angry people. Angry for feeling trapped. Angry for having to pay for the quarantine themselves. Angry for wasting time. Angry for finding out that some of the other guests have tested positive on the 7th day of quarantine and moved to another part of the hotel called “isolation”. It happens everywhere, I thought. Nothing is perfect.

It was not a pretty sight. I was grateful for the time I took to learn to enjoy my own company and look at the full half of the glass instead of the empty one. What could I have solved if I would have gotten angry? Who would have cared, and how would that have changed the situation? 

Did I lose time? Yes and no. I still did a lot of stuff, and I have tried another version of the concept “working remote,” which was a good experience. Now I know what it’s about in another sense than just having a home office.

Did I lose money? Yes. Some flight tickets which I booked thinking that I may get out before I did. One of the reasons would be that the machines that were supposed to analyze the test I took on my 7th day of quarantine broke, and the result was delayed by a day. Since there were so many people testing, that was not a surprise, yet some moments of irritation accompanied it. I am human. And of course, I have paid those 500 NOK a night for 9 nights altogether. 

I’ve got home safe and sound and, most importantly, healthy. That will allow me to work and replace the money I “lost”. Yet, I do not necessarily consider them “lost”. Just that MY need to see my family and some few dear friends I haven’t seen since long before the pandemic was more expensive than predicted. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I would not be without it. 

If you decide to travel, look thoroughly through the regulations of traveling and the places you’re supposed to do the quarantine. Take it as an experience rather than as a restriction. Health is essential, and some governments take extra care, like the Norwegian one, which is only a positive thing.

In case you need to talk with someone neutral, feel free to register for a free call here. One good talk with someone trained as a coach or therapist can solve a lot, and can put a different light on whatever issue one may have.


Random view of the harbor in Sandefjord, Norway
The lake on the top of “The priest’s hill” (Preståsen)
View from my hotel room
Anders Jahre’s estate on the top of “The middle hill” (Midtåsen). The park of the estate is open to the public every day.

I wish you build Resilience!

The Child King : food for thought

Child King Emma

The concept of children as “Kings” and “Queens” is a special one. We do not often come across it, even if it makes sense. Children are our future. The way we take care of them shows how we take care of our future. Therefore, the way we raise our children is important. Norway and Scandinavia are generally very aware of this and are known to be countries where children are raised in particular ways.

We, who grew up in former communist countries, need to keep in mind that our cultures were deliberately held back in many areas of study such as psychology and parenting, for instance.

Following the Second World War, Western Europe and Scandinavia rebuilt their societies in freedom while our countries experienced communism almost like a form of social experiment. We also experienced the Cold War too.

In 2004, as I arrived in Norway for study, I quickly noticed the difference in mentality and way of thinking between students from the former Communist Bloc, North America, Latin America, Africa, and those coming from Western Europe and the Nordic countries. At the time, it felt to me that many of the Western and Nordic students seemed waaay too sensitive. I couldn’t quite grasp what it was.

Later, once I made Norwegian friends, I asked them questions that helped me understand why everything was so different from what I’d known before. With time, I realized that it was linked to the way they were brought up. My friends explained the Norwegian Law and the child protection system which are well developed. When they are ten years old, children find out at school about their rights. They also know that the law protects them if something wrong happens at home. Children are told about sexual abuse, physical violence, addiction, alcohol consumption and many other issues.

Moreover, teachers and educational staff are obliged by law to inform the authorities if they believe that something of concern might happen in a child’s family. At that point, the Child Protection gets involved with the family and sometimes this might lead to the children being removed from their parents. Child protection is an aspect which is taken very seriously in Norway.

In my communist childhood, I have witnessed violence, both at school and in people’s homes. The socio-political system often used violence to keep people under control, and being silent meant “being good” and staying safe, for fear of the system. Although Nordic countries have their ways of keeping people silent, direct and blunt violence is not something people are silent about.

Here the “fear” is about other people’s opinion about you, or being left out of social groups. In a country with a few million people, social isolation is an important issue, unlike in other countries with tens of millions of people who live and work in the same space. Another Nordic way to maintain silence is by giving everybody a roof over their head and a full stomach. As long as everybody has their primary needs met, the need to protest is not that urgent.

As I was getting to understand why the culture here was so different in this particular aspect, (child upbringing, and sensitivity), I came across one of most prominent child psychologists in the world and some of the books she wrote. As I read some the books and her personal story, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for me. Her name is Alice Miller, and she is the first psychologist to write about how it is like to be a child and about the various feelings a child experiences.

I remember growing up with the notion that “children should be seen, but not heard,” with violence and bullying at school and at home. It felt as if children were not human beings, but just “something” with no feelings, “something” born only because the system required it. During the Cold War, abortions were illegal in Romania, while mothers who had given birth to at least four children were acknowledged as “heroine mothers”. It was the way women contributed to growing the country’s labor force. This was a different kind of “baby boom” from the rest of Europe; ordered by the communist state in 1966.

Scandinavia was not much different either. If you talk to people older than 60, some even younger, and if they open up about their lives, you can hear many stories of child abuse, domestic abuse, oppression, and colonization of indigenous people. These things are part of history and we cannot deny nor avoid them.

However, the difference here is that, during the ‘80s, people in the medical system came across Alice Miller’s books and took them seriously. The newfound knowledge and understanding were implemented and embedded into the social system. It resulted in a child protection system that puts children first. This can confuse many immigrants for whom children’s rights are a foreign notion.

For those curious to find and read Alice Miller’s books, you will find research she did on people who shaped history. Hitler and Ceausescu are among them, and Alice Miller explains how their childhood trauma had influenced their behavior as adults. If you understand Norwegian, you can search for a TV show produced by the Norwegian National Television (NRK) about Alice Miller. Her experience as a survivor during the WWII determined her to study psychology.

In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.

I wish you build resilience!