Norwegian habits For Members

Five useful things to know before you move to Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Five useful things to know before you move to Norway
There are a number of things that are useful to know when moving to Norway. Pictured is a view of Ålesund from above. Photo by Anna Storsul on Unsplash

Moving to a new country comes with plenty of unexpected lessons and surprises. Norway is no different, and here are six things you'll need to know before the move.



While you may presume Norway is an efficient society, and it can be once you get the ball rolling, plenty of patience will be required. 

This is because fixing the essentials can take quite a while. In recent years, long waiting times for residence permits have become common. 

Furthermore, once you are granted residence and given an identity number, setting up things like a bank account could take weeks or months rather than days. 

When it comes to getting a job, interview stages can take a while to get going, especially if periods like the summer holidays or Easter slow things down. 

A shortage of GPs and long patient lists make doctor appointments difficult. Meanwhile, if you decide to make a home in the country, you will likely need to live there for five to eight years before becoming eligible for citizenship. 

READ ALSO: What paperwork do you need to open a bank account in Norway

Norwegian flags 

Norwegians take great pride in their country, and as a result, their flag also features quite prominently. 

If you live in an apartment block, you can normally tell when it's a neighbour's birthday, as they will have the Norwegian flag on display. 

Norway's flag is also featured prominently in other celebrations and festivities. The most famous of these is May 17th or Constitution Day. However, most stores will have year-round sections where it is possible to buy Norwegian flag decorations.

Week numbers 

This one can be frustrating to come to terms with, and for many, it won't make much sense even after living in the country for a while. 

Norwegians use week numbers to refer to points in time, either in the past of the future. It's common for you to hear phrases like "We will be closed in week 32, but reopen in week 33" or "The project needs to be finished by week 42"


It'll be typical for a local to rattle of week numbers and expect you to know exactly where in the calendar they are talking about. 

READ ALSO: Why Norwegians use week numbers instead of dates

Reserved locals can make it hard to make friends

One of the toughest aspects of moving somewhere new is establishing a new network of friends. 

Small talk isn't really huge in Norway, and the locals are known for their reserved and private nature. 

It's unlikely that you'll be striking up conversations on the bus or that you'll progress beyond more than a polite greeting with most of your neighbours. 

This is done to respect privacy rather than to be rude or cold. 


However, this can make making friends difficult as plenty of locals don't make too many more friends in adult life and are content with their circle.

Still, it's entirely possible to form lifelong friendships with the locals, especially if you just give it time and have something like a shared sport or hobby to break the ice. 

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

Festival celebrations 

Norwegians love to celebrate, and that's why you'll soon be marking your calendar with events like sankthansaften or syttende mai

The best thing about these festivals or days is that they come with a whole host of specific traditions or foods. 

Sankthansaften see's people gather round bonfires to celebrate the summer solstice, it's also typical for children to collect wild flowers to put underneath their pillows so they can dream about their future partner. 

Santa Lucia is marked every year on December 13th, and some people make special buns and see children visit old people's homes for light processions. 

Then they are the more individual family traditions that surround New Year's, Easter, Christmas and May 17th. 



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also