A quick guide to moving to Norway

So, you’re thinking about moving to Norway. You might have already got a job or have just heard it’s so awesome you have to try it for yourself. Either way, there’s a lot to think about when moving to a new country.

Many people have dreamed about a move to Norway for a number of reasons. The healthy outdoor living, stunning scenery, and quality of life, are attractive. But, as with all countries, there are other things to consider, and moving anywhere shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll be faced with a new culture, language, job, and people. Adjusting can take time and you shouldn’t underestimate it.

The best way to ensure success is if you’ve done your research before you move. In this Quick Guide to Moving to Norway, we cover some of the things you’ll need to think about.

The Rules

The first hurdle to consider is if you’re allowed to move in the first place. Norway has a tiny population of 5.4 million. Even a small amount of immigration has a big impact. The rules depend on your circumstances and the country you’re moving from. And can differ quite a lot.

Moving to Norway from the EU/EEA

If you’re coming from another European country, then things are relatively simple. You’re allowed to live in Norway for up to six months, if you have the money, while you look for work.

Registration is straightforward and does not require mountains of paper. But make sure to book an appointment in advance. Once your six months are up you need to have a job and a permanent place to live if you wish to stay.

Moving to Norway from outside the EU/EEA

If you want to move to Norway from outside Europe, then the standard rule is you must already have a job. Your job needs to have a minimum base salary in order to get a work permit. Certain professions where labor is in short supply are granted job seeker permits, but you will need to research if your profession qualifies.

Moving to Norway from the UK (after Brexit)

For the British, things got a little more complicated with the enaction of Brexit. While there are exceptions depending on family status, the general rule is you will now be treated as a non-EU citizen and must apply following those rules.

Applying for citizenship

To be eligible to apply for Norwegian citizenship you have to have lived in Norway for at least 7 of the last 10 years to be eligible. It can be shorter if you are the spouse or registered partner of a Norwegian citizen. 

Up until recently, in order to become a Norwegian citizen, you were required to give up your previous passport. As of 2020, this changed, and you can now have dual citizenship. 


Finding work in Norway is possible but is not necessarily easy. There are professions that have skills shortages like healthcare and construction. And there are others that are always on the lookout for talent, such as the energy industry or research positions.

But, for those coming from outside Europe, finding work is the hardest hurdle. Not only are you competing against a highly educated multi-lingual native workforce. You are also competing against the entirety of Europe who can arrive and work here immediately.

Norwegians are renowned the world over for their working ethos. 08:00 to 16:00 is standard and few people work weekends. For workaholics or those that must operate outside these hours, it can be frustrating. For everyone else, it’s considered a major reason to live here.


From the outside, the Norwegian lifestyle sounds idyllic. The entire country puts an emphasis on work-life balance and is usually shut for at least three weeks each July. But there are other parts of the culture that take some getting used to.

If you are used to the eating-out vibe of southern Europe or large parts of Asia, where friends and family gather up to a few times a week, then you’ll be disappointed. Socially, Norwegians are quite reserved, and getting inside Norwegian culture can be a long-term task.

Norway is built upon the concept of society before individuals. This concept even has a name, ‘Janteloven’, and in essence means that no one is better or worse than anyone else. In theory an admiral ideal, but in practice, it can sometimes boil down to meaning you must never be (publicly) proud of your achievements.

A lot of Norwegian life is focused on the outdoors. Hundreds of thousands travel to cabins and remote locations each weekend. Often without electricity, water or plumbing. If this isn’t your idea of a good time, it might be wise to find another country to settle down in.


Studying in Norway is possible for international students. It is a popular choice amongst people from all over the world. The level of education is high and there are little or no tuition fees at state universities. This popularity means that competition is high for a limited amount of scholarships.

Bachelor’s courses are mainly only available in Norwegian and require strict language exams for foreign students. Most universities offer various master’s degrees in English, and some courses are available in a mix of languages.


There is no getting away from the fact that the tax burden in Norway is high. The Norwegian model is based on high taxation to pay for generous public services and a fair and just society.

Before you begin your working life you will need to apply for a tax card. And before you get a tax card you will need a work permit.


If you are planning on staying in Norway, you will need to learn the language. In order to receive permanent residency or citizenship you must document your Norwegian language skills. But learning the language is about more than just meeting requirements.

Most Norwegians are multilingual and can at least speak English to a high level. And they are very proud of their English skills. They will never miss a chance to show you and will even answer in English when you try to speak Norwegian. But secretly they are thrilled that you are attempting to learn the language and it is one of the quickest and most successful routes to integrating into Norwegian society. If you wish to stay in Norway, learn Norwegian.

And the good news is, learning Norwegian isn’t hard. It’s considered a relatively simple language and also the easiest of the Nordic countries. With apps like Duolingo, you can even begin learning before you arrive. Online guides provide excellent resources for those wishing to start.


Housing can be expensive. If you’re coming from a European country searching for work, housing expenses will take a significant chunk of your savings. Be prepared to pay three months’ rent in advance.

If you’re coming from outside Europe, then you most likely have a job. Many employers assist in finding housing for the first few months and will at least point you in the right direction.

The largest online marketplace in Norway is Finn.no and the majority of accommodation can be found there, but only some of it will be in English. Short-term rentals can also be found on Airbnb or similar.

The choice of where to live will usually be dictated by where you find work. But if you are lucky enough to have a choice, it’s a good idea to research your prospective homes thoroughly. Even the capital, Oslo, is only 700,000 people and that is by far the largest city. Most towns in Norway are small compared to the rest of the world and have a very small-town vibe. But Norway is awfully long and there are huge differences between the wildernesses in the north and the more cosmopolitan south.

Closing remarks

Those are just a few of the things you need to consider before moving. There is no doubt that Norway is a wonderful place to live for those who enjoy an outdoorsy life, don’t necessarily need the big city bustle, and are happy with a social-democratic rule set. But not everyone is. Ask yourself, What’s truly important to you before you move? That way you won’t end up a year into your new life in Norway and realize it’s not for you.

Photo of author


Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.