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CHILDREN

What you should know about raising children in Norway

Children in Norway are a big deal. In fact in 2018 Prime Minister Erna Solberg urged Norwegians to have more. Here's what you need to know about the Norwegian culture of bringing up kids and the practical and financial help you can receive.

What you should know about raising children in Norway
Photo: Picsea on Unsplash

Support during and after pregnancy

Having a child in Norway is made comfortable for expectant mothers. You can be assigned to a midwife if you prefer that to seeing your regular GP. The hospital stay during birth or for any other pregnancy-related complications is also free of charge. Nursing tutorials and extra guidance is provided right after the birth, and mothers receive an at home visit from a nurse after returning from the hospital to help with any concerns.

New mothers are also encouraged to stay social by being invited to join mothers groups in accordance to where they live and with other women who have given birth around the same time. In the larger cities, baby reading, singing, and swimming classes are also regularly scheduled and affordable. 

The helsestasjon  

After a child is born and registered to the Norwegian social welfare system they are well looked after.

All major cities and most towns have a facility called the helsestasjon. Directly translated, it means “health station”. It is in fact a community health care centre for children up to five years old. The centre arranges at-home visits, free vaccinations, free annual check-ups, and typically has an open-door policy one day a week in case a caregiver needs to talk with a doctor or a healthcare professional.

“I loved visiting the helsestasjon when my son was born,” says mum Elena Misko. “It was so convenient, and it was also a place I could easily chat with other people that were at home with newborns caught in the ‘baby bubble’.”

Work-family life balance

Norway has a flexible work culture that suits parents to both have full-time jobs and still be present for their children.

It is not uncommon for work days to end between 3pm and 4pm so mothers and fathers can pick up their children from pre-school and eat dinner together as a family. Along with their own authorised sick days, parents are also granted a set amount of days to stay home with their children if they were to become ill.

“I remember so well when my seven year-old came down with a series of back to back illnesses a few years ago” says Misko. “I felt so guilty constantly having to call my boss to let her know I couldn’t come in. She was nothing but understanding and encouraged me to take as many days as I needed to be with him.”

Companies also acknowledge special one-off occasions like a child’s first day of school by allowing the parents to take the whole day off. And it’s usually never an issue if parents need to leave early to take their kid to any health-related appointment. 

Barnetrygd 

On top of a generously long and paid maternity and paternity leave, the government also provides parents with monthly stipends in an effort to make sure they are getting the necessities they need for their families. These stipends are called barnetrygd or ‘children’s allowance’. Single mothers and fathers are also permitted an extra amount of money for children up to three years old.

“I had know idea about this allowance until after I had my first born and suddenly noticed the extra money in my account,” says Norway-based mother Renate Bane. “I couldn’t believe it. Not only could I walk out of the hospital after giving birth with no bill. But then I came to discover the government was depositing money in my account for having a kid!”

The payment comes automatically every month in one of the parents bank accounts and is paid per child. So if you had three children you would be given an allowance from the government for each of them. The monthly allowance is paid out until a child turns 18. 

Barnevern 

If you have multiple kids in Norway, that’s considered fantastic! But the Norwegian society is also set up to make sure they are taken care of. Norwegian child welfare services, or barnevern, have many available resources and there is no stigma over reaching out if you need help with a situation. Barnevern is a separate entity from the public school system in Norway, but they work closely together. 

Full time childcare is affordable

Full-time childcare can put a huge dent in your monthly income. “My older brother and his wife chose to become a single income household so one of them could stay home in order to save money on childcare,” says Bane. “That’s not an unusual decision in the United States.” 

In Norway,  preschools can only charge a maximum of 3,230  kroner (€314) a month per child for a spot in full time daycare or preschool. This price often covers a daily lunch at the school as well. 

Healthcare for children

Yes, healthcare for everyone is affordable in Norway, but this is especially true for children up to 16 years old. They are fully covered by the Norwegian Health Economics Administration (HELFO). And like a child’s equal right to education, access to quality health care is also made as open as possible throughout Norway. Norwegian children are the healthiest in the world, according to this survey from Helse Atlas. This could partly be due to the health cares systems accessibility and affordability, from pretty much the time of conception. 

Nearly free higher education 

University is nearly free and doesn’t require a savings account or load of debt. Although students can apply for a loan with impossibly low interests rates for spending money during the time they study. This allows parents to not have to stress about saving for their child’s education from an early age. Norway’s youth have freedom to choose the route of education they truly want to pursue, and not have to base their decision on what is more affordable. 

With the financial burden of university relieved, many Norwegian parents have chosen to replace the popular “college fund” with a “house fund” for their children instead. This plays a large role in why many young adults already own real-estate. 

Useful vocabulary and facts

In Norway, the quality of preschools is controlled at national level. It is the government’s responsibility to oversee all development and management of public preschools. So even if you are living outside of a major city or fall into a lower income bracket, you can expect your child to have the same level of care as all other children. 

Some 92.2 percent of all children between the ages of 1-5 attend preschool in Norway. 

Norway pursues a zero-tolerance stance on bullying. The government has invested a lot of time and money in recent years on anti-bullying campaigns. And the Directorate of Education has set up a site here to find out what children and parents can do if bullying is a problem.

barselgruppe – maternity group

hjemmesykepleier – a nurse who makes home visits

skole – school

barne – children

høyereutdanning – higher education 

mobbing – bullying 

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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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