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The common pitfalls you need to avoid when you move to Norway

Viewed from afar, Norway can look like the perfect place to call home. However, there are some common pitfalls that you can fall into that will shatter this illusion somewhat.

A house just by a bridge and waterfall in Norway.
These are common issues people run into in Norway that can make life in the country a drag. Pictured is a picturesque house with a water fall in the background. Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

Norway is a great place to live and making the move can be a gratifying experience.

However, the key to making the move a success is being well prepared for challenges that come with moving to the picturesque Scandinavian country and making sure you avoid making a few common mistakes that can really dent your quality of life.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls you need to avoid to hit the ground running and make the most of life in Norway.

Not having your paperwork in order

Assuming you already have the right of residence, there are three essential things you need in terms of paperwork to make the most of life in Norway.

These are an identification number, electronic ID, and bank account. Without these, you could essentially be left locked out of essential services until you have them.

READ ALSO: How to get an electronic ID in Norway without a ‘personnummer’

This is not only incredibly frustrating but can leave you feeling a bit like an outsider given the time it can take to get these things in order and the hoops you may feel you are being forced to jump through to access basic services.

Identification numbers are issued by the tax authority when you are granted residence, and you will receive this between two to six weeks after meeting with the police to order your residence card.

Electronic ID’s are used to identify yourself when using digital services. You will need an identification number to order an e-ID.

To open a bank account in Norway, you’ll typically need an ID number, passport, proof of address and proof of employment or study. This means that it’s best to start with the ID number when getting your paperwork together.

Setting expectations too high

This could apply to many areas of life, but especially to moving to Norway. Don’t be swayed by the cliches and stereotypes of a picture-perfect country.

It’s better to keep your expectations more modest rather than let them run away and build up an image of Norway that no country could live up to.

Not everyone here lives in a cottage by the fjord or a stylish Scandinavian pad, you can’t ski to the shops, and that mountain top you’ve always dreamed of clambering up will likely be teaming with other people, and the weather is unlikely to cooperate when you get round to seeing it.

With that being said, some things about life in the Nordic can completely defy expectations in the best way possible.

For example, while the country is more often covered in grey sleet and ice rather than fresh, crisp snow (especially if you live in the cities) during the winter, most parts of the country actually have a great summer with decent temperatures, long days and lots of opportunities to get out and active.

Expecting to live extravagantly on a Norwegian wage while not having to work too hard

Two significant factors help pull people towards Norway and Scandinavia in general. These are high salaries and an excellent work-life balance. Getting a job that offers both is also extremely viable.

However, while the wages are undoubtedly high, so is the cost of living. For example, groceries in Norway are the second most expensive in Europe.

READ MORE: What wages can you expect when working in Norway?

So while you may be able to live like a king on a Norwegian wage elsewhere, that probably won’t be the case here. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t live a good life on a lower budget.

READ MORE: Five great things that you can do for free in Oslo this winter

The same applies to the workplace and ties into our point on expectations. Stereotypes of the much fabled work-life balance can leave some with the expectation that they’ll be in a super trendy office full of casually dressed workers sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs, and people can come go and go to work as they please.

Thinking learning the language won’t be important

Some, but not many, can fall into the trap of thinking, “everyone speaks English there, I’ll be alright” when moving to a country with a high proportion of proficient English speakers.

And while you can certainly get by with just English for the most part, a lack of Norwegian language skills can leave you hamstrung in the long term.

This is because a lack of language skills can be a barrier to obtaining citizenship, connecting with people and employment opportunities.

READ MORE: Do you really need to speak Norwegian to work in Norway?

Believing it’ll be an easy transition 

Even if you have a general idea of what to expect from living in the Scandinavian country, you’ll still need to assimilate to life here regardless. And that might be a steep learning curve.

READ ALSO: Seven things foreigners in Norway struggle with when trying to settle in

Everything from figuring out what makes a good co-worker or neighbour to learning the country’s social norms and what makes the locals tick will need an adjustment period of some kind. 

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