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How do food prices in Norway compare to the rest of Europe? 

Known just as much for its high prices as its stunning scenery, Norway doesn't have a reputation as a cheap place to live. But how much does food cost, and how does it compare to the rest of Europe? 

How much more expensive is food in Norway compared to the rest of Europe?
How much more expensive is food in Norway compared to the rest of Europe? Pictured are groceries. Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Famously known for being on the pricey side, Norway has many factors that draw foreign residents, such as the scenery, wages and work-life balance. 

However, one common complaint is the high prices. Is the cost of food and groceries as bad as everyone says? 

Unfortunately, according to the statistics, Norway lives up to its reputation for expensive food and groceries. 

Eurostat, which monitors price levels across the EU, EEA and EU candidate countries, has ranked Norway as the country with the second highest price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Out of the countries monitored by the stats agency, only Switzerland had a higher price level index. A price level index measures the price levels of a given nation relative to other countries. This means that compared to the rest of the other countries measured, food and non-alcoholic beverages in Norway are the second most expensive overall. 

According to Eurostat’s data and price level index, prices in Norway were 49 percent higher than the EU average in 2021. Norway also had the highest price for fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and ‘other food’ products. ‘Other foods’ consist of chocolates, sugars, jams etc. 

READ ALSO: Why food in Norway is so expensive

In addition, non-alcoholic beverages in Norway were also the most expensive found among 36 European countries. The price of alcoholic drinks in Norway lived up to their reputation for priciness, with the cost of alcoholic beverages being 160 percent higher than the average and the second most expensive after Iceland

Scandinavia as a whole has a reputation for high prices, so how did Norway compare in this regard? 

Finland had the lowest overall food prices out of Scandinavian countries when measured by the price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages. This was followed by Sweden, which had a score of 117, Denmark with 120 and Iceland with 139. 

This highlights that even among the Nordics, Norway is an expensive country for food. 

One noticeable trend is that the food prices in Norway are becoming less expensive compared to the European average. In 2018, food prices in Norway were 63 percent higher than the European average. Three years on, this had fallen to 49 percent. 

Even though the prices are high, is it really that expensive when considering wages? 

While food is certainly more expensive in Norway than in most countries, wages are also considerably higher. 

For example, the average monthly salary in Norway was 50,790 kroner per month in 2021. This equates to just over 5,000 euros. In 2022, the estimated monthly average wage in the EU was around 2,570 euros. However, it’s worth pointing out that large differences exist between EU countries. For example, the average monthly wage in Bulgaria was estimated to be around 852 euros, while in Denmark, it’s estimated to be about 5,979 euros (44,514 Danish kroner). 

Therefore, a more accurate way of measuring the true cost of food would be to measure how much of a household’s monthly income is spent on food. 

In Romania, food made up more than a quarter of household expenditure, making food more expensive there for households as it eats up a larger chunk of consumers’ budgets, despite lower prices than the EU average. Across 36 countries measured by Eurostat, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up around 13 percent of total consumption expenditure by households. 

In this regard, Norwegians actually spend less money on food than other European households. Food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 11.3 percent of households’ total spending in 2022, according to Statistics Norway

Typically, someone aged 31-50 years will spend between 3,100 – 3,660 kroner per month on food, according to the Consumption Research Norway’s (SIFO) Reference Budget for Consumer Expenditures

So even while Norway spends more money on food, it’s less expensive overall as it takes up a lower portion of household expenditure. fra

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MONEY

Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in Norway but have income in pound sterling?

The value of the British pound has fallen steeply against the dollar in recent days but also against the Euro – and the krone. So what should you do if you live in Norway but have income – such as a pension, rental income or a salary – in pound sterling?

Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in Norway but have income in pound sterling?

Exchange rates might sound like a spectacularly dull topic, but if you live in Norway (where, naturally, your day-to-day living expenses are paid in kroner) but have income from the UK in pounds, then the movement of the international currency markets will have a major impact on the money that ends up in your pocket.

This is not an uncommon situation – Norway-based Brits may work remotely as freelancers from British companies and be paid for invoices in pounds, while retired Brits might be receiving a British pension.

Others might have income from rental properties or investments.

So a big loss in the value of the pound against the euro – and by extension, the krone – can have a major impact on Brits in Norway.

The most recent fall in the value of the pound was sparked by the UK government’s new mini budget and has already seen a relative recovery. 

But while this one-time fall is spectacular, it’s also part of a longer-term trend in the fall of the value of the pound, especially since Brexit, that has seen people such as foreign-based pensioners lose a big chunk of their income.

So if you have income in pounds, what are your options?

Income in kroner – obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone, especially pensioners, but the best way to protect against currency exchange shocks is to make sure that you’re paid in the same currency that you spend in.

While the krone is traditionally weak against the pound, it is known as a safe and stable currency as Norway has no net debt, and the Norwegian krone isn’t pegged to another currency. 

Alternatively, income in euros: the advantage of the euro is that for those being paid from abroad, billing in euros means you could work in any EU country – including the anglophone ones like Ireland – and get your salary in euros.

Depending on your employer, it might also be possible for you to ask to bill in euros. 

Work in Norway – if you’re currently not working or want to switch to local currency income, then an obvious option is to take up some work in Norway.

Depending on your work and residency status, as well as the field you work, the practicality of this option ranges wildly from one person to the next.

READ ALSO: What is Norway’s job market like for foreigners at the moment?

Exchange rate – if your income can only be paid in pounds, it’s crucial to ensure that you get the best exchange rate possible and that you don’t waste money on international transfer fees.

The best options here are online banks or money transfer services, which compete on the rates that they offer, so usually have the most advantageous rate.

Some online banks also have the option to set up accounts in both pounds and kroner, so that you can receive money in pounds and spend it in kroner without having to make bank transfers, which can attract fees.

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