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READER INSIGHTS

READERS REVEAL: The best tips to help you settle in Norway 

Norway has recently been ranked as one of the hardest countries for foreigners to settle in. The Local's readers have shared their favourite tips and tricks to help you feel more at home in the Scandinavian country. 

This is what you can do to feel more settled into life in Norway.
This is what you can do to feel more settled into life in Norway. Pictured is somebody enjoying the Norwegian scenery. Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash

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

For some foreign residents, Norway can be a tough cookie to crack as it has been ranked as one of the most challenging countries for foreigners to settle in by the Expat Insider 2022 survey published by InterNations

Thankfully, The Local’s readers have been in touch in their hundreds and provided us with their favourite tips, tricks and advice for feeling at home in Norway. 

 Getting to grips with Norwegian is a must

There’s no way of getting around it, according to our readers, you will have to roll up your sleeves and get good and stuck in with the language. 

Learning the language was the most common suggestion from those who shared their advice on settling into Norway. 

“Learn Norwegian and keep on learning every day. It will be easier to find friends, understand the culture and feel integrated in the society,” Dianna, from Romania but who has lived in Norway for six and a half years, said in response to our survey. 

Learning Norwegian by going to language classes also comes with other perks, such as meeting potential friends. This is especially beneficial as in an earlier survey, having trouble making friends was a common reason our readers thought it difficult to settle in Norway. 

Norskkurs (Norwegian language class) is a good place to make friends,” Marie, who lives in Trøndaleg but comes from England, said. 

Given that Norwegian courses can be costly, one reader shared a piece of advice on getting around splashing out for tuition.

“If you have a job, make them pay for a government-approved Norskkurs if you can,” one reader who moved to Norway from the USA five years ago said. 

Staying active and joining clubs

As well as learning Norwegian, many of The Local’s readers suggested joining clubs or volunteer groups to help you meet others and feel at home. 

“Find organisations with specific interests and volunteer there. It will still be as hard to befriend locals, but you’ll start building a network (mostly foreigners),” Raf from Mexico suggested. 

“Learn the local language as quickly as possible and try to be a part of social groups where you can help people that need help. This way you make professional connections and friends,” Gaganmeet from India said. 

Some, unlike Raf, felt that being part of a club helped them connect with locals. 

“Look for local groups, for example, I subscribed to a dance class where there were only Norwegians, and I made friends with them,” Timea, who lives in Bergen but hails from Hungary, said. 

Some said taking up Norwegian pass times and getting stuck in could help you form lifelong friendships with the locals. 

“Take up common local activities like hiking, cycling, skiing, swimming etc., enjoying nature. Attend various activities around the city- get involved in dugnad. Most importantly, show up, and once they get to know you, they are really good friends that you will have for life,” Taiyeba, who has lived in Norway for seven years, said. 

Have kids? 

This may not be the best way for everyone to feel settled, but for our readers from the UK, it seemed like having children was the answer. 

“Have children,” A British national from Oslo said. 

“Learn the language. Learn the language. Learn the language. Get a job. Have kids. Get involved with fritidsklubber,” one Brit living in Halden responded to our survey. 

Meanwhile, another reader, not from the UK (we think), stopped short of saying that you should have kids to feel at home but said finding a smaller community and activities for your kids could help you feel content with life in Norway. 

“Don’t settle in Oslo or Bergen. Choose a smaller town where you or your children can join a local sports club and do volunteer work,” Toke from Telemark said. 

Fix the practical stuff as soon as you can 

Many readers suggested that getting practical affairs in order, in addition to other things, was a key part of bedding in. 

“Get a job first, don’t job hunt after coming here, then work on other aspects like language etc,” Sanjeev, who has lived in Norway for four years, said. 

“Get a BankID and Vipps asap and invest into a language course, make friends at work, go to interest clubs and organised social events, explore hiking and winter sports,” Alexy, who moved to Oslo from Russia, said. 

“Whatever you can organise visa-wise in advance, do it. It takes six months minimum for a family visa to be approved in order to work. Have a good chunk of change available in case you can’t get a job,” Annora from Kløfta, suggested. 

Don’t be afraid of relying on other foreign residents

Many made a point of getting yourself out there and doing your best to mingle with the locals and adapt to the culture the best you can. 

But that doesn’t mean you should be put off from leaning on your fellow foreigners now and again. 

“Join a group even if it is a group of predominately your own nationals,” Elizabeth from Stavanger said. 

“Try to find potential friends among ex-pat group members,” Sandro from Croatia advised. 

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote. 

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