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LIFE IN NORWAY

‘Hyttefolk’: Why Norwegians are so passionate about cabin retreats

There are few things Norwegians are as passionate about as their cabins. In recent years this passion has only intensified further with record sales in 2020. How many cabins are there, where are they, and why do Norwegians love them so much?

'Hyttefolk': Why Norwegians are so passionate about cabin retreats
Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

The history

Originally cabins, or hytter, were a place to host travellers who crossed the mountains on foot or to house fishermen along the coast. They were also living quarters for farmers who lived and worked on mountain farms.

These mountain farms became popular tourist destinations in the mid 1800s and thus marked the beginning of Norwegian cabin culture, also known as hyttekultur.

The first recreational cabins started to appear in Norway after the First World War with a lot of these cabins being hand built by their original owners.

The numbers

There are over 440,000 cabins and holiday homes in Norway today. An average cabin in the mountain’s costs 2.1 million kroner according to Statistics Norway, while the average price of a modern newly built cabin is 4.1 million kroner.

A total of 15,800 cabins were sold on the open market in Norway in 2020, over 30 percent more than the year before.

Trysil and Hol were the municipalities with the most cabins sold last year, home to two of Norways most popular ski resorts.

The most expensive mountain cabins are found in Hemsedal and Øyer where the average price is 4.4 million and 4.5 million kroner respectively.

Cabins by the sea are also incredibly popular in Norway, and also more expensive than those found in the mountains. A cabin in Færder, for example, costs on average 8.7 million kroner. That is a considerably more than the average price of a property in Oslo, which is around 5.9 million kroner.

READ ALSO: Property in Norway: What to expect if you’re buying a home in Oslo

Many in Norway dream of one day owning their own cabin and for many it’s a dream that isn’t realised until later life.

Those under 30 only accounted for three percent of new cabin owners. Additionally, those in their 30’s only made-up 18 percent, while the majority, 61 percent, were people between 40-60 years old.

Where are the cabins?

Cabins are normally found in rural areas, in the mountains or by the coast. On this map you can see how many cabins there are in each municipality in Norway.

Why do Norwegians love their cabins so much?

Kristin Lein and her husband have owned a cabin in the mountain village of Hemsedal, southern Norway, for five years now. After living in Oslo for many years they decided they wanted a cabin so they could feel closer to nature.

Lein says that one of the main benefits of owning a cabin is the freedom to go on a hyttetur, cabin trip, whenever she likes.

“We can travel to the cabin spontaneously without fuss or lots of planning as we have everything we need there already,” she explains.

She also explains why cabins are such an important part of Norwegian culture

“The cabin has had a cultural value to Norwegians for generations now. It is for many where bonds are created and family values such as empathy, caring and loving one another are learned. You find that you have more time for things, for each other and you enjoy and appreciate the days much more than at home,” she says.

Why are they so important?

It’s not just the people staying in these cabins that appreciate their importance. Many cabin municipalities, areas where there are a large number of cabins, rely on hyttefolk or cabin people, for the local economy to thrive.

Richard Taraldsen, managing director of the tourist board in Hemsedal, one of Norway’s most popular ski resorts and cabin destinations, says that ‘cabin people’ make up around 45 percent of all commercial revenue in the municipality.

“It’s a huge impact on the local economy. Cabin owners contribute 900 million kroner and those renting cabins contribute 950 million kroner in Hemsedal,” Taraldsen told The Local.

The tourist board executive doesn’t expect demand for cabins to slow down either.

“The last five years there has been an explosion in demand for cabins. That’s because there has been a good economy and demand has of course increased because of Covid of course. In Hemsedal alone there have been over 1,000 cabins built in the last five years,” he says.

With cabin people generating so much money for local economies, competition to attract cabin owners is tough.

“It so important for Hemsedal to take its fair share of the market because to move people away from the mountains where they already have cabins is so difficult because you have traditions and you have always brought your friends and family there, so you are quite settled. With the population growing and the economy doing well then, we need to fight for a fair share,” he says.

“The whole point of a cabin is to gather family and friends together and to get up into the mountains to escape everyday life. This has always been very important to Norwegians and that’s something that’s going to continue into the future,” Taraldsen adds. 

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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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