SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

QUALITY OF LIFE

Settling in Norway: Five places to meet new people and make friends 

Making new friends can sometimes be easier said than done in the socially reserved country of Norway. Here are our picks of the places where you can meet new people in Norway. 

Pictured are hikers in Norway.
These are our picks for finding places to meet friends and new people. Pictured are hikers in Norway. Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

Friends can improve everything, whether it’s having someone to enjoy a hobby or interest with, grab a bite to eat with or lean on for support when times feel tough. 

Unfortunately, making friends in Norway can sometimes be challenging. This can be for a few reasons, whether it’s not knowing anyone when you move, the reserved nature of the locals (with Norwegians sometimes closed-off nature being more a sign of them respecting your privacy, rather than being antisocial), or simply being a bit shy. 

However, while it’s unlikely you’ll make a friend for life in Norway (or most places for that matter) trying to strike up a conversation at a bus stop, there are still plenty of places where you can make friends and meet new people.

READ ALSO: The best tips to help you settle in Norway 

Clubs/activities

Finding and joining a club of any kind, whether it’s a lifelong hobby or something you’ve always wanted to try, can be a great way to meet new people. 

“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, told The Local previously. 

Sharing a mutual interest or passion will give you and the other members something to bond over and discuss. 

While it may take a while to become friends with other members, you may have a friend for life when you do make a breakthrough. 

“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 to The Local in an earlier survey.

There are plenty of groups and activities comprised of both other foreigners and Norwegians. In Oslo, for example, there are several groups for international residents looking to find others to play football with. 

Norwegian courses 

Learning the language comes with many benefits, from being able to help you land a job to helping you qualify for permanent residence or citizenship later down the line. 

However, one often overlooked benefit is being able to make friends with your fellow coursemates if you attend one in person. 

Additionally, it’ll help newer arrivals meet one another and set up support networks to help with the bedding in process. 

However, even for those who have been here a while and are just now learning the lingo, the shared experience of picking up Norwegian will give you something to chat about with your coursemates.

Språkkafe

This is great for somebody who speaks a language in addition to English and will give you more chance of mingling with the locals than a language course. 

There are several språkkafe, or language cafes, in Norway’s big cities. For those who don’t know, a language café is where a group of people who speak different languages meet up to teach one another. However, as so many people in Norway are highly proficient in English, other languages are in much higher demand. 

Sharing your language with somebody and teaching them about your culture could help spark a friendship based on cultural exchange. 

To find language cafes across Norway, click here

Expat groups 

A go-to for anyone new to Norway should be to join a social media group of other foreign residents. The group could be open to all foreign residents or just those from a specific country. 

These groups will regularly hold meet-ups, allowing you to meet people in real life. Foreign resident groups have a number of purposes, too, whether you have a burning question, want to vent about something, or need help tracking down food that reminds you of home. 

Making friends with people in these groups can be a big hand if you’re feeling homesick and want to socialise or talk to your fellow nationals.

Volunteering

Spending your free time helping others can be rewarding in more ways than one, beyond knowing that you’ve done something to help someone else. 

You could be networking with others and establishing friendships. 

“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 told The Local in a survey when they were asked about the best tips for settling in. 

With more than 100,000 different volunteer organisations, there’s plenty for you to get stuck into. You can look for volunteer groups here

Making a serious time commitment isn’t a must either, for example, taking part in a local dugnad may only take a couple of hours a few times a year, but it will help you to connect to people in your local community. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

QUALITY OF LIFE

READERS REVEAL: Is Oslo a good city for international residents? 

The Local asked its readers whether the Norwegian capital, Oslo, was a good city for foreigners to live in. Here's what they had to say. 

READERS REVEAL: Is Oslo a good city for international residents? 

Oslo is the city in Norway with the most foreign residents. Over a quarter of its residents were immigrants or born to foreign parents as of 2020, figures from Statistics Norway show. 

As Norway’s capital, it makes for a logical place for foreigners to live when they first come to Norway due to the job opportunities on offer. 

But, is it a good place for international residents to call home and maybe settle down, or should they steer clear and consider somewhere else? 

Yes, is the resounding answer The Local’s readers gave when asked by us in a survey. Of those who responded, just over 80 percent said the city was a great place for foreign residents to live. 

Residents listed many things when asked by The Local what the best things about Oslo were. 

One of the most common was how easy it was to get by with just English when they first made the move. 

“Nice restaurants & bars, international environment, literally everyone is an English speaker. Beautiful city, good weather (Norwegian weather-wise),” Alizera, who has lived in Oslo for three years, said when asked to list the things that made the capital a good city for international residents. 

Sonia from Portugal, who has lived in Norway for one year, said Oslo was the perfect city for families. 

“Perfect for families with kids, many green places and playgrounds,” Sonia wrote. 

The close proximity to the great outdoors was noted by other readers too. Abby, who relocated to Oslo from the US recently, said that the ease of getting to nature spots without a car helped make the capital a great city. 

“Job opportunities, access to different cultures and languages (restaurants, English speaking churches, friends from different countries), public transport for those without a car, access to nature for those without a car,” Abby wrote about the positives of life in Oslo. 

No city is perfect, and this rings true for Oslo, where not everything was plain sailing for our readers. 

Marcello from Italy said adapting to the Norwegian culture could make Oslo a tricky place to get used to. 

Being a city of just over 630,000, Oslo is on the smaller side compared to other European capitals. Something that readers themselves picked up on as a downside. 

“(Oslo is) expensive, maybe a little small and low population. It doesn’t give you the big city feel, there’s not much going on all the time, and usually post 8pm, there’s nothing to look forward to,” Alizera said.

Although not everyone was put-off by Oslo’s small size, John from Ireland wrote that it was actually one of the city’s positives.

“Safety (is a positive). (Oslo is) Small enough to walk around. Great transportation. Great place to raise children,” he wrote. 

And while many people find the level of English proficiency in the city welcoming, others pointed out that it may hinder their ability to settle in the long term. 

“It’s easy to get by in Oslo without ever learning Norwegian. I see this as a negative instead because you aren’t being pushed to integrate,” Abby wrote, adding that finding an apartment in Oslo could also be difficult. 

Finally, it wouldn’t be a survey on the quality of life in Norway without people bringing up the high prices. 

The cost of living was the most common answer listed when readers were asked either what could be better or what made Oslo a difficult place for foreigners to settle. 

Tathagat, from India, wrote that the cost of language courses, rent and food was a problem in the city. 

“Dark winters can be harsh for some, home rental prices, food prices, not enough seats for the language tests, not enough adult language schools (and language classes are not free for most immigrants planning to work),” Tathagat wrote. 

SHOW COMMENTS