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COSTS

These are the hidden costs of living in Norway

Norway is expensive. You’ve probably heard that buying alcohol and owning a car is pricey, but some of the more hidden costs may come as a surprise. Here are a few.

These are the hidden costs of living in Norway
Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

NRK tax 

Before January 2020, residents of Norway were required to pay a yearly TV license tax. You had to pay a fee for every TV you owned. Since we now receive our news on different types of screens other than our televisions, the government has introduced a new tax model.

As of January this year, the TV license tax has been converted to NRK tax. NRK is the public broadcasting network in Norway, and residents are required to pay their “contribution” or tax, for being a viewer.

The new tax system is based on an individual’s income. So depending on what income bracket you fall into, you will be charged anywhere between 200 to 1,700 kroner per year. Remember, this is per individual — so if you and your live-in partner are both in the highest tax bracket, your shared budget will see a withdrawal of 3,400 kroner per year in NRK tax. 

Imported foods

Finding the ingredients to make an authentic meal from your home country can set you back. If you are wanting to make a holiday pumpkin pie, for example. A can of pumpkin puree at the grocery store MENY will cost you 90 kroner, or 10 US dollars, in comparison to the 2 dollars you would pay in the US. 

A mango at the same grocery store is often priced at 38 kroner (3.50 euros), and an avocado can cost up to 40 kroner (3.75 euros).

The current weak level of the Norwegian krone against currencies such as the euro, dollar and pound are likely to make it even more expensive to import food to Norway. This will lead to the consumer paying an even higher price on imported foods. 

Luckily, the possibility of finding the ingredient you need is more probable than in the past, as Norway’s residents have greatly expanded their cuisine from traditional Norwegian food in the past two decades.

READ ALSO: Five odd Norwegian delicacies you might think twice about trying

The price of sending or receiving goods abroad through the post

If you have ordered an item to be sent to you from a location outside of Norway, then begin to brace yourself for the price you might have to pay when picking it up from the post office.

On more than one occasion, I have gone to pick up a package from an online clothing store and paid up to 600 kroner (56 euro) in taxes.

Here is a list of the prices you may have to pay when you receive a package at the post office. 

You must pay VAT (Value Added Taxes) on goods you buy online through foreign websites, according to the tax authority, Skatteetaten.  If Norwegian consumers shop online with shops that are not registered, then a VAT and any customs duties will be added when the goods cross over the Norwegian border.  

You must pay VAT on food items including candy, tea, and spices. Most commonly, couriers will pay the duties on your behalf, but may charge you a fee beforehand. 

Depending on what the package weighs and how large it is, the stamps you will need for sending a package outside of Europe can cost anywhere between 32 kroner (3 euros) to 280 kroner (27 euros) according to Posten Norge’s price list.

Organised sports

Want to join a climbing gym or begin golfing on the weekends? No problem. Norway has a wide range of sport facilities, but there are added costs other than the membership fee to consider.

You might need to pay for a permit for these activities. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional rock climber, if you want to be a member of a climbing gym you need to take the safety and learning courses to receive your brattkort, or climbing card. This is required in all climbing gyms in Norway if you want to both climb and belay others. 

The basic course you will need to take to receive your climbing card at Sørlandsklatresenter in Kristiansand, for example, will cost you 990 kroner (92 euros). This is in addition to the 5,500 kroner (516 euros) you would pay a year to become a member. 

According to a 2013 Aftenposten article, Norway is the most expensive country in all of Europe to play golf in. You pay the highest yearly fee and the highest in green fees.

The airport train

The airport train, or Flytoget, may be one of the first surprises you find in the cost of living, traveling, or moving to Norway.

Norway’s airport, Gardermoen, is the closest to the capital city Oslo. An adult ticket on the airport train running from Gardermoen to Oslo’s city centre will cost you 198 kroner (almost 19 euros). This is a steep price to pay in comparison to a neighbouring Scandinavian hub: The airport train in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, used to get to and from Copenhagen airport and the city centre costs only 36 Danish kroner (4.80 euros). 

A few helpful tips! There are trains besides the Flytoget that take you to and from Gardermoen and Oslo’s city centre that cost less than half the price of a seat on the airport train. It will take you an average of five to ten minutes longer as there are stops along the way,, so make sure you have allotted enough time to use this option. 

Check to see if you are eligible for any discounts before you purchase a ticket for the airport train. Students and seniors receive a discounted price. 

Going to the cinema

You might think of a casual night out at the cinema as an affordable activity. In Norway, you typically will really want to check what’s on before you accept an invite to the movies.

A standard movie ticket in Norway is 140 kroner (13 euros). This is double the cost you would pay to see a movie in France. Not just ticket prices, but high concession stand prices attribute to making going to the movies in Norway considered more of a special occasion than a casual activity. Two sodas and a medium popcorn purchased at a movie theatre will cost you  around the same price as the movie ticket. 

Bakery bread

Bread is a staple of the Norwegian diet. Of course, purchasing goods from a bakery will cost more than in a regular grocery store, but the price of some breads in a bakery will make you wonder if you have heard the cashier correctly.

Typically, a loaf of bread costs around 35 kroner (3.2 euros) in grocery stores, but some artisan breads make this seem like a budget option. Salt and Pepper bread at Edgars Bakery in Kristiansand costs double the price. Even more astonishing, a loaf of sourdough bread at Ille Brød Bakeri in Oslo costs 98 kroner (9 euros). 

Bakery breads are delicious, but the quality of grocery store bread in Norway is so high, it’s not necessarily worth paying double, sometimes triple, the price at a bakery. 

The high prices of bread in general in Norway can have to do with the fact that there are only two mill groups in the country, as previously pointed out by TV2. They are able to mark-up the price they charge to grind the wheat as there is little competition, and the demand for bread is so high. 

If you are looking to cut down your grocery budget, you can also make your own bread. Dinside has broken down the price for the amount of ingredients needed to make a simple ‘everyday’ bread in Norway. The cost for making a loaf of basic bread can be as little as 3,34 kroner (0.31 euro).

Useful vocabulary

  • inntekt: income
  • billett: ticket
  • idrett: sport
  • postkontor: post office 
  • utenlandsk mat: foreign food 
  • kino: cinema 

Did we miss any of the hidden extra costs of life in Norway? Is there anything else you’d like us to write about? Let us know.

 

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For members

MONEY

How and where to get the cheapest fuel in Norway

Norway is leading the pack when it comes to the sales of new electric vehicles. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all new car sales in this country are electric. But for petrol and diesel car owners who have yet to make the switch, knowing when and where to find the cheapest fuel can end up saving you thousands of kroner.

A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs.
A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs. Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

Why is it so expensive to fuel up?

Fuel – gasoline, petrol and diesel — is an expensive monthly bill for many. Norway typically has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government, as well as the usual international market factors.

The Norwegian Competition Authority or Konkurransetilsynet recently stated that it is perhaps now more important than ever before to be aware of the ever changing fuel prices.

We have registered price differences of 2-3 kroner in the same local area. There is undoubtedly money to be saved by following along,” said Marita Skjæveland, deputy leader of the Norwegian Competition Authority’s energy section to broadcaster TV2.

The average price to fuel up between the months of July to October this year was 18.8 kroner per litre (2.26 dollars or 1.94 euros). 

READ ALSO: Five things that are becoming more expensive in Norway (and why)

Does it matter which day you fuel up?

As of writing, routinely fueling your vehicle on a specific day of the week will likely no longer save you money. 

“We see that the players in the market still raise prices two to three times a week, but that it happens on different days from week to week,” Skjæveland told TV2. The competition analyst added that by the end of the year, fixed price increases may also happen over the weekend. As such, it’s important to stay updated not only on the weekdays, but on the weekends as well.

Previously, Sunday evenings and early on Monday mornings used to be known as the cheapest time to fill your vehicle’s tank with petrol or diesel.  This is now a practice of the past. 

Where can I find cheap petrol prices online?

Hunting for the cheapest fuel prices in Norway is quite common. It’s also a normal discussion to have with your neighbours and colleagues. So don’t be worried about appearing ‘cheap’ if you want to talk about the high price of fuel. Or share which local petrol stations you have noticed to be less expensive. 

You can check Facebook for groups that are committed to informing the public on where to find the cheapest petrol stations. 

For Oslo and its surrounding areas, you can try here, and if you live in or are driving through the south of Norway, check here.

Drivestoff is an app designed to compare prices of petrol stations you will drive by on your journey so you can plan ahead to get the cheapest fuel. You can find more information and download the app here.

You can also save money by looking for a queue of cars at a petrol station. Yes, it may be just busy. But oftentimes, a queue is a signal for cheaper petrol prices. 

Memberships and credit cards can save you money on fuel

If you’re in the market for a credit card, look for one that might save you money on fuel. Credit cards such as 365 Direct and Flexi VISA will give you good discount options at all petrol stations. If you have a particular station you always fill up at, such as a YX, you can sign up for the company’s credit card to receive discounts on fuel. 

There are also benefits to be had if you sign up for a credit card or a drivstoffkort or “fuel card”.

A drivstoffkort is a special credit card which you use to pay when refuelling your vehicle. The cards generally only work at the stations run by the company to which the card belongs. Different deals and types of card are available, depending on the company.

Specific deals on credit card and drivstoffkort discounts can be found (in Norwegian) here

You can sometimes use membership cards with grocery stores or real estate organisations to give you discounts on fuel. For example, the Coop Medlemskort will save you 45 øre when filling up at Circle K petrol stations. Trumf kortet, which is associated with the chains Kiwi, Meny, Joker and Spar, gives you bonuses when you fill up at Shell stations. OBOS members receive a 27 øre discount on petrol and diesel at both Statoil and 1-2-3-Automat stations. 

Where can I get the lowest priced petrol?

Petrol stations in Norway are extremely competitive. There is no one company that is known to sell gasoline or diesel cheaper than the others

Like many other goods, fuel prices around Norway will rise and fall with demand. Typically, fuel stations located in mountainous towns or areas that heavily rely on tourism will have more expensive fuel. If you’re on holiday in such a town or area, and can wait to fuel up when you get to a more trafficked motorway, it will likely save you money. 

Petrol stations that don’t have employees on location tend to be slower at increasing their prices to match the competition. So if you know you’ll be passing by an ubemannet or “unstaffed” petrol station on your trip, it may be cost-effective to wait and fill up there. 

Consider how much time you want to invest

Joining the hunt for cheaper fuel may not be for everyone. It is time consuming, and admittedly hard to achieve due to the ever-changing prices. If you are not dependent on your vehicle for your daily commute and don’t often drive long distances, fueling up at your local gas station may be the best choice. 

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