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Six things foreigners should expect if they live in Oslo

Six things foreigners should expect if they live in Oslo
Somebody riding a bike in Frogner. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash
The capital city of Norway has a lot to offer its residents. And as a foreigner, you're in good company. If you're new to the city, take your time to walk around and familiarise yourself with all Oslo has to offer. Just keep an eye out for the scooters whizzing by.  

Planes, trains, and boats. They are all a part of one system 

The capital city of Norway has multiple methods of transportation to choose from. And they are all a part of the same transportation system called Ruter. The most effective way to purchase a Ruter ticket is by downloading the Ruter app. The app will also help you map out your journey and offer multiple routes to choose from. 

As long as you have a ticket while travelling in the same zone, you can change from a boat, to a bus, to the subway and not have to worry.

The cost of using public transportation in Oslo is quite reasonable. An unlimited monthly pass costs 795 kroner (or 92 dollars). It is recommended to purchase a monthly or yearly pass if you plan on using Ruter often. One-time tickets expire after one hour and cost 38 kroner (around 4 dollars). 

Sunday Closures

It doesn’t matter that Oslo is the biggest city in Norway. If you’re new to the Norwegian capital, you may be shocked to find out that the city shuts down on Sundays. It’s not a full closure. Restaurants and smaller grocery shops keep their doors open. But the city’s overall atmosphere on Sundays is much quieter and slower-paced than the other days of the week. 

Note there is an exception. In December, all shops stay open on the last three Sundays leading up to Christmas to accommodate the increased consumer demand. 

Using cash as payment may raise some eyebrows

Norway’s progression towards a cashless society is far ahead of many other countries. Especially in the country’s capital. Even using a debit or credit card is considered old fashioned. Many places of business accept Vipps (Norway’s largest mobile payment app) and MobilePay.

Using cash is an option. Though there are stores in Oslo that have signs in their shop politely requesting customers to use debit or Vipps over kontant, or “cash”. 

You might avoid having to learn Norwegian

Learning Norwegian is an excellent way (some would argue the best way) to integrate with the locals in Norway. It opens up your range of job opportunities, allows for new relationships, and an overall feeling of belonging. That being said, if you live in the capital city of Oslo, the pressure to learn the native language is a little less than if you were living elsewhere in the country. This can be both positive and negative. 

Oslo is a culturally diverse city, resulting in a higher likelihood of making friends with other native English or fellow speakers of your native language. It also feels as if most Oslo residents don’t mind switching to English if they hear your foreign dialect. It’s definitely encouraged to make an effort to learn Norwegian. Just know that in Oslo, your motivation may be waning as it is possible to live in the capital without needing to know Norwegian.

READ MORE: Do you need to speak Norwegian to make friends in Norway?

You can expect nature to be at your doorstep

Even if you choose to live in the city centre, you are one short bus ride or T-bane or “subway” ride away from being able to go for a hike in the forest or take a swim in the sea. Oslo is positioned right along the Oslo fjord and nestled between Oslo Marka (the forested and hilly areas on the city’s edge). 

With all of this nature so easily accessible from the city, many locals enjoy spending their weekends walking around Sognsvann, bird watching around Østensjøvannet, or meeting friends for an afternoon of snowboarding in Tryvann. 

You don’t even have to leave the city. There is an abundance of parks sprinkled around the city to enjoy nature as well. Spending a full day in Frogner or Ekeberg is a completely ‘Norwegian’ way to spend a Saturday. 

READ ALSO: Five great places to go on a hammock trip in Oslo this summer

Watch out for the scooters

One of the first things you may notice as a new resident in Oslo is the number of electric scooters lying around in the city. In fact, Norway’s capital city has the most electric scooters per inhabitant than any other big city in Europe. In July of this year, there were a total of 25, 734. 

Yes, they are a fun and effective way to scoot around the city. But they have become a sensitive topic for locals as accidents and complaints have started to pile up. So be aware when you are roaming the city by foot or in a car when you first arrive, as there may suddenly be a fellow local or tourist flying by in a scooter. Luckily, this may change in the future as the city’s government has pledged to reduce the total number of electric scooters. 

Useful Vocabulary

T-bane stopp – subway stop

ny i byen – new in the city

søndagsåpen butikk – A shop that is open on Sundays

el sparkesykkel – electrical scooter

en naturopplevelse – a nature experience 


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