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Living in Norway: Can you get by without a car?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Living in Norway: Can you get by without a car?
If you choose to live in a rural area in Norway you will likely need a car. Pictured is a car wing mirror on a Norwegian road. Photo by Anton Khmelnitsky on Unsplash

Whether you choose to live in one of Norway's largest cities or dream of life in a more rural area, you will likely have considered how dependent you are on having access to a car.


Cars can be an expensive investment, and picking an unreliable one can be a costly mistake. That’s without having to consider insurance, fuel, tolls and being afraid of driving on a different side of the road and driving in the unpredictable Norwegian weather. 

On top of that, not everyone has learned how to drive, or they may belong to a group of nationals who are unable to swap their driving licence for a Norwegian one.

For many, cars represent freedom, being able to get where you need to be on your own terms. For some living in the cities, not having a car will be liberating in its own way – namely, shedding a significant cost.

READ ALSO: The best sites for buying a used car in Norway

The question of whether you can survive in Norway without a car or driving license will depend mostly on where you live. 

In the cities

For starters, in the big cities and specifically Oslo, you will be able to get by without a car. The city has a decent public transport network with good coverage of the entire city across its buses, trams and metro lines. 

Decent rail connections also connect the capital to several smaller towns and cities. 

On the days that Oslo’s public transport system isn’t reliable, such as days when there is extreme weather, you may not be able to get to where you need to be with a car either. 

Furthermore, having a car may, in some cases, be more of a burden. There are a number of tolls, and finding a place to park can be difficult.

The fact that parking spaces are regularly listed for anything between 300,000 and 1 million kroner on property listing site should tell you everything you need to know. 


Much of the same, with the exception of million kroner parking spaces, could be said for some of Norway’s other big cities.

Transport in Trondheim and Stavanger mostly revolves around a bus network (although commuter rail is also an option), and if you live and work centrally, you can walk or use public transport to get to everywhere you need to. 

Bergen’s public transport offering could be considered better than in Stavanger and Trondheim, and there is even a funicular connecting the city to the surrounding nature

However, there are still several reasons why you may still wish to have a car living in the cities. 

Firstly, not all cities are the same. In smaller towns, like Ålesund, with large suburban areas, you will need a car if you live outside the centre. Similarly, while Tromsø has a decent bus network, if you live on the other islands in the area a car would be handy.  


Even in cities where you can reach work and the other essentials by public transport regularly, there are reasons you would want a car. 

If you have children, you’ll know all about needing to ferry them around for the various activities, clubs, parties and events they are invited to. Depending on their hobbies, getting all their gear around won’t be easy via public transport. 

Given that the majority that end up moving to Norway with kids or having their children in Norway do so because they have ended up with a Norwegian, a car will likely make family visits a lot easier. 

Outside the towns and cities

This is where things will be much, much more complicated. Having lived in both the capital, Oslo, and a rural village of about 2,000–3,000 people, getting by without a car isn’t feasible in the long term. 

There are ways around it, like trying to live close to stores and schools, but your life will be significantly more challenging without regular access to a car. 


Buses are a lot more infrequent, so they can’t be relied on to get between towns or to and from work. 

Things are also a lot further apart in more rural areas, so attending things like doctor’s appointments may be a struggle. With things tens of kilometres apart, solutions that might work in a city, like a bike or e-scooter, won’t quite cut it. 

Trying to access nature may also be harder in rural areas without a car than even in a city. At least in cities like Oslo and Bergen, there are options you can take directly to nature spots. 

In rural areas, many of the best gems are found by driving to them. 


Are there any alternatives?  

In many cases, it will simply be a case of needing access to a car rather than owning a car. Several short-term rental schemes in Norway let you borrow a car for a few hours or a few days cheaper than a typical rental company.

Those living in Bergen can use the Dele service. Their service comes with an upfront payment that sets users back around 8,200 kroner to join (7,000 kroner security deposit and then six monthly payments of 600 kroner). The deposit is returned when your membership ends.

There are other options, too. Bilkollektivet is Norway's largest car-sharing scheme and is based in Oslo. They are a non-profit with several membership tiers depending on how often you need car access.

Getaround (formerly Nabobil) is another example of a car-sharing service. Getaround is the most widespread across Norway, although they can be a lot more expensive than other companies.

However, these companies are only helpful if you only need access to a car once a week or a few times a month. Anymore, and buying a car may make more sense.

In addition, these services cover most towns and cities, but those in rural areas may still end up being left short.


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