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The verdict: Is it easy to settle in Norway? 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
The verdict: Is it easy to settle in Norway? 
The Local Norway's readers have had their say on whether it is easy or not to settle into life in Norway. Pictured is Trolltunga. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Is it possible to take to Norway like a duck to water, or will life in Norway require a tough bedding-in period. The Local's readers had their say. 

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One of the biggest challenges when moving to another country involves settling in and adapting to your new surroundings. 

Norway has been ranked as one of the most challenging countries for foreigners to settle in by the Expat Insider 2022 survey published by InterNations

The Scandinavian country finished in the bottom three when it came to the index that measured how easy it was to settle in, with only neighbouring Sweden and New Zealand performing worse. 

We asked The Local's readers whether they had a tricky time bedding in or if they found life in Norway a breeze. 

Readers got in touch in their dozens to share their experiences (thank you to those who took part!), and overall more than 80 percent of those who responded to our survey said they thought it was hard to settle in Norway.

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Hard to make friends and overcome the language barrier

Those who shared their experiences said there were several reasons foreigners may find it hard to adapt to Norwegian life. 

Peter, originally from the USA and who lives in Stavanger, said that while Norwegians were good-natured, there wasn't as much of a culture of socialising in Norway. 

"Norwegians are nice, but don't prioritise making new friends. There also isn't as much of a culture of going out and hanging out in public spaces," he said. 

Many others also wrote that Norwegians reserved nature also made it hard for them to gel with the locals and feel settled. 

"(The) Norwegian cultural value of respecting others' privacy makes it difficult to establish bonds and create a network," Elizabeth from Canada, who has lived in Norway for seven years, said. 

Another respondent to our survey said that not speaking the language made it difficult to adapt, and quipped Norwegians could be pretty shy unless they've had a few drinks. 

"Not speaking the language (can make it hard to settle), Norwegians are only really friendly when drunk," Pedro from Guatemala but living in Skien wrote when responding to our survey. 

Sanjeev, who lives in Oslo, described learning the language as "a prerequisite" to feeling settled in Norway. 

It can be challenging to get set up 

Others said that the cost of establishing themselves in the country being so expensive made it difficult. 

"It's expensive to get language lessons, and getting a driver's license is very expensive. Language and cultural differences are also challenging," Peter, who has lived in Norway for ten years, said. 

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Alyse said the immigration process and cost of living also made it hard to get used to Norway.

"It's hard to find friends. It's hard to navigate the immigration process. It's hard to enjoy the work-life balance when you can never afford to go out," she said. 

Sara, from the USA but living in Adger County, had an easier time with immigration but said getting everything else in order took a while. 

"Family immigration was easy. Getting set up with all the little things like banking, driver's license, and schooling took longer than I expected," she said. 

A reader from Oslo who didn't want to be named said that the difficulty in finding a place to call home made life in the country hard. 

"Finding accommodation is very difficult, and costs are too high as well. Alternate options are very few," they wrote. 

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Getting a job that meets work permit requirements was another frequently mentioned issue.

READ ALSO: What is it like to rent in Norway as a foreigner?

Not everyone thinks it's tough to adapt though

However, not everyone found it difficult to settle in Norway and just under a fifth of those who moved to Norway and participated in our survey said they thought it was easy to fit in with their surroundings. 

Katriina, who lives in Bergen, but is originally from Finland, said that it was easier to bed in if they already had a job or place to study in place when they arrived. 

"If you have a job or a school place ready here when you move, it's a lot easier to settle in. If you have neither and, for example, only move for a Norwegian partner, it can be much harder to make friends and (live) life of your own outside the relationship here," she said. 

Unlike Katrina, who said moving just with a partner could make it difficult, one reader from Fredrikstad noted that having someone in Norway made it easier to integrate.

"As I followed my Norwegian boyfriend, it was easy for me to integrate. But, I understand (why) people who come here knowing no one can feel lonely," they wrote. 

Dipankar, who has lived in Oslo since 2013, said having a job and being willing to put in the hours to pick up the local language could make it easy to settle in Norway. 

"I think it's easy to get settled in Norway if one has a permanent job and (is) willing to learn the local language. If not, it's gonna be difficult," Dipankar, who has taken up Norwegian citizenship since moving from India, said. 

Additionally, Kimball who originally comes from the Netherlands, but lives in Møre og Romsdal, said that making an effort with the language helped make it easier to find friends. 

"If you make an effort to learn the language then I found people were very friendly and open. I had no issues with making new friends," they said. 

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