Beklager, jeg snakker ikke norsk - EU national moving to Norway?
March 25, 2008 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Moving around in the EU - how about them fjords there?

Another week, another 'how tough would this be?' immigration question.

I'm 26, British, living in the UK, married to an American who is about three or four years away (assuming the UK govt doesn't move the goalposts) from a British passport. I work in communications, she's a journo.

I've been thinking about the future, and in particular the various places in the EU that we might consider living and working, and Norway keeps coming up again and again in my personal wish list. I've always been attracted to Scandinavian culture, and my Dad works for a Norwegian firm and comes back with stories about working over there that make me really excited.

I'm also quite drawn to what I perceive as a pretty liberal, well-run government and strong economy, good education, healthcare and cultural life.

If we were to think about moving to Norway, within, say, five years, what would be the plusses and minuses? Any expats or Norwegian MeFites who have done this or have insights? We live in London at the moment, but may move back to Scotland, where I'm from - how would Norway compare with Scotland in the above terms?

posted by Happy Dave to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not an answer, although it may have some bearing on the ease of moving there: Norway is not a member of the EU.
posted by Bodd at 10:51 AM on March 25, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, yes, mis-phrasing on my part. While not in the EU, Norway is in the EEA, and hence open to EU citizens.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:08 AM on March 25, 2008

Best answer: Brit, living in Norway for 5 years.

Norway is a pretty benign place to live, as a Brit you should have no problems getting a work permit and residency should be straight forward, a matter of walking into the police station and registering.

English speaking natives are very common, most people under 60 speak English in some shape or form and usually to a high level. But do make the effort to learn Norwegian especially if you are planning on staying. The Kommune, or local council, will be able to direct you to the local language school and to aid integration there are a certain # of hours of free language tuition for all immigrants. Learn the language, it's the polite thing to do.

Quality of life here is very high, but you do pay for it in higher taxes. Generally everyone is well paid, unemployment is very low, there is a much reduced differential between the rich and poor compared to the UK. With communications, you should be ok getting a job, your partner will definitely have to learn Norwegian to progress. Long vacations compared to UK/US. Working hours are generally shorter.

Healthcare - honestly overrated in my experience. Like the UK, you may wait ages to see a GP or specialist, I had to wait 10 months to get an oral surgeon for wisdom teeth extraction. Again, like the UK there are patches of excellence and others that remind you of soviet era medicine. But like the NHS everyone is covered.

Education is comparable to the UK and the rest of Europe.

Pluses: Norwegians work to live, not vice versa. Great emphasis on the outdoors and sport. Norwegians are extremely friendly and once you break past the initial reticence will take you into their hearts, we've made some great friends in our time here. Crime rates, although increasing, are about 20-30 years behind the UK/US (or so it feels), I never worry about my wife walking home at night. We know of lots of expats who have settled in Norway permanently and would not move away.

Negatives: You will get sticker shock when grocery shocking. It is tax efficient to be in debt, complete reverse of UK thinking, so people can run up large debt on nice houses, cabins in the mountains, boats etc. Taxes are much higher than in the UK or US - how else do you pay for all the social services? Sometimes it seems as though the system stifles innovation or ambition as society does encourage conformism. Random violence seems to be on the increase, largely due to the hard drinking party culture, which is the flip side of a great social scene.

After 5 years, we love it here, and are grateful for the time we've spent in Norway. Like any country, there are positives and negatives, but most expats would rate Norway favourably compared to the UK. Feel free to MeFiMail me if you have any questions.
posted by arcticseal at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

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