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Should you move to Norway to retire?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Should you move to Norway to retire?
In this article, we will go through the key things you need to know if you're seriously considering Norway as the country where you want to spend your retirement. Photo by Sandro Kradolfer / Unsplash

Norway is a beautiful country, full of awe-inducing scenery and cultural monuments. However, don't let its raw beauty get in the way of sober retirement planning – here's what you need to know if you want to move to Norway to retire.

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It's easy to become enamoured by Norway's numerous pull factors, such as its generous welfare system, the overall sense of safety in the country, its uncompromising commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, and its fantastic nature – to mention just a few.

However, there are several considerations that people considering moving to Norway must seriously ponder. Among these, the cost of living in Norway, its climate, and the regulatory requirements for moving to the country are among the most important.

In this article, we will go through the key things you need to know if you're seriously considering Norway as the country where you want to spend your retirement.

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Norway is very expensive

Even before the current inflation crisis hit Europe, Norway was well known for its high prices.

Basic life expenses such as accommodation, food, fuel, and a modicum of social life (going out for a coffee or beer) usually shock tourists visiting the country.

Tourists are not the only ones who've taken note of the high costs of living in Norway – Norwegian retirees often move away from the country to leverage their high pensions (that is, get more value for their money) in southern Europe (Spain is particularly popular, but Croatia is gaining in popularity in recent years) or even other Scandinavian countries (you guessed it – Sweden is the preferred choice).

Regardless of the country you plan to leave in order to transfer to Norway, you'll likely have to spend more on necessities after your relocation – and it's not just the everyday consumer items that are expensive.

Anything considered even slightly luxurious (for example, eating out or most hobbies) will come with a notable price tag.

So, unless your savings match those of a typical Norwegian pensioner or a source of income that will continue to provide you with money even after you retire, think twice before moving to Norway.

Can you handle the weather?

While Norway is not cold or wet year-round – in fact, it has somewhat of a temperate climate for its northern location (especially when it comes to the coast) – the weather cannot be counted among the benefits of living in the country.

It is also one of the reasons why Norwegian pensioners tend to vacation in warmer southern and southeastern European countries en masse whenever they get the chance – with some even opting to relocate there permanently.

Note that there are substantial variations in the weather between different parts of the country. Generally speaking, as the state-funded travel guide Visit Norway points out, coastal areas enjoy relatively mild and wet winters. In contrast, inland areas suffer from cold winters with a lot of snow.

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If you decide to relocate to a truly northern Norwegian region, expect to face the complete package of winter weather conditions. Don’t forget that dark winters make some people feel down and low on energy.

So, if you’re cold-averse, southern Norway (Kristiansand, anyone?) and eastern Norway (for example, the Oslofjord or Telemark regions) might be a better fit for you, as you’ll be able to experience warmer summers.

Regardless of the area you end up relocating to - you’d do well to live by the two famous Norwegian mantras: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!” and “Those who wait for good weather never leave the house.”

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Can you legally relocate?

Norway doesn't have a retirement visa program in place. That means you will need to have - or qualify for – the right of residence to live in Norway.

The Local has a detailed explainer on the immigration requirements for pensioners or workers approaching retirement age who are considering Norway as the country where they want to retire.

You can find it here.

Should you move to Norway to retire?

So, you’ve done your homework and familiarised yourself with the costs of living in Norway, the weather and climate in the area you’d like to relocate to, and the legal requirements for spending your retirement years in the country. Should you move to Norway to enjoy your newly found work-free life?

Do you have the funds to sustain yourself (and your family) in Norway? Are you okay with the aforementioned downsides of Norwegian weather? Do you meet the requirements for legally residing in the country? Do you have a burning wish to spend your old age in a safe country with a robust healthcare and welfare system, which is also famous for its unique nature?

If you’ve answered all of the above questions affirmatively, then the answer is likely yes.

However, if you’re not sure whether your financial position can handle the costs associated with life in Norway or if you’re not a big fan of volatile and, at times, wet and cold weather, or if you expect to encounter difficulties in securing residence rights in the country, you should also examine other options.

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