7 reasons why you should not move to Norway

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Many of our readers have longed to move to Norway for years. But sometimes the reality is quite different from the dream. We take a look at some of the worst reasons to move.

People move to Norway for a variety of reasons. For some it’s out of love or for a job, for others it’s to find better opportunities or run away from conflict.

But there are bad reasons to settle in the land of the Vikings. Many people have misconceptions about Norway and may end up feeling disappointed after moving here.

Get the facts straight and avoid pitfalls by reading our list of factual but not too serious reasons do not move to Norway.

“Norway is the happiest country”

Norway is often considered one of the happiest countries in the world, if not the happiest. Well it turns out it’s not anymore, and it hasn’t been for a while.

But let’s not be unfair. Norway has again topped the rankings on several occasions and seems to have consistently gained a place in the top 10 in most rankings.

To be happy in Norway, you have to approach the concept of happiness like a scandinavian. Do you have Seasonal Affective Disorder in Philadelphia or Leeds? Try to make things a bit more koselig.

relaxation koselig norway

Do you want to flourish through a job that links your skills to your passions, with extra money? If they also love money, Scandinavians attach great importance to the balance between professional and private life.

In short, finding happiness the Scandinavian way is about making the most of your situation with little moments of happiness here and there, instead of pursuing the never-quite-attainable goal of “happiness.”

“Norway is a socialist country”

Norway is sometimes described as a socialist (or even communist) country. It is, in fact, capitalist, with free trade having a high priority and a set of property rights that are much more in line with capitalism than communism.

Some economists have called the Nordic economic model a form of cuddly capitalism.

Norwegian flag full of a conforming population

It has low levels of inequality, generous welfare states, and reduced concentration of top incomes, contrasting it with the “cut-and-run capitalism” of the United States, which has high levels of inequality and greater concentration high incomes.

In short, you might want to come to Norway because of the country’s public health system or social safety net, and that’s fine. But the “socialist” label simply does not apply.

“This is the country of my ancestors”

Your great-grandparents may have come from Norway on a steamer in the late 19and or early 20and century, but the truth is that she would hardly recognize the country she left if she returned.

In 1900, Norway was still largely a nation of farmers and fishermen. The major cities of the country were not even connected by railroads yet. Today’s staples like Grandiosa pizza and Norwegian taco didn’t exist yet!

Since then, Norway discovered oil, exploited this resource for many decades, becoming very wealthy in the process, and even started making plans for what would come after oil.

Old Norwegians from 1900 in Loen
Life in Loen, Norway, circa 1900

The Norway of today is a very different country from that left behind by boats full of emigrants. The stories they passed on are a distant memory.

“Wages are high”

While it’s true that salaries in Norway are generally higher at the lower end, things tend to even out a bit more once you move up the ladder a bit.

Add to that the fact that the Norwegian krone has lost value over the last decade and salaries in Norway are no longer as impressive as they used to be.

What is remarkable in Norway are the low levels of inequality. The income gap between the richest 20% and the poorest 20% is smaller in Norway than in the United States, and The Global Gender Gap Index 2021 places Norway (in 3rd place) far ahead of the United States (in 30th place).

More importantly than all this, it is difficult to find a job in Norway.

Unless you have particularly sought-after qualifications or a good network of local contacts, chances are you will struggle for a few months or even years before you get a position that satisfies you.

Range of engineering jobs in Norway
Finding a job in Norway can be a challenge.

“I love black metal”

While black metal has undeniably put Norway on the map for many people, most Norwegians are only vaguely aware of it. Black metal bands will attract a loyal following of spectators, but they certainly won’t get much airtime on the radio.

Black metal remains a niche segment of the heavy metal scene, itself overshadowed by other more mainstream genres such as pop, rock, hip hop and country.

If you’re looking for crowded live music venues, you might find bigger black metal stages in other countries – which have bigger cities.

“I love Lutefisk”

It might come as a shock if you’re from one of the Norwegian-heavy areas in North America, but lutefisk really isn’t that big in Norway. Sure, it shows up on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus during the holiday season, but it’s really not that popular.

With regard to Christmas dinners, a recent survey found that ribbe (roasted pork belly with crackling) and pinnekjøtt (dried mutton ribs, steamed for several hours) are the clear leaders, being eaten by a total of 85% of survey participants in Christmas.

On the other hand, lutefisk is only found on 3% of Christmas tables. And let’s face it: given its weird smell and gelatinous texture, is it really surprising?

A Norwegian once told me that even lutefisk lovers eat it for garnishes (it’s famous for being served with bacon but also sometimes with other sides like brown cheese or mustard). Mmmhhhh… lutefisk with brown cheese and mustard. Here’s an idea for a new horror franchise.

“I like beer”

Norwegian beer is certainly delicious, and craft beers have exploded in number and popularity over the past two decades. That being said, there are a few downsides to drinking beer in Norway.

Beer sample plate

First, there’s the obvious question of price. A single half liter of beer (about a pint) will cost you 25 NOK at least if you buy it in a supermarket (it’s about 2.85 USD).

In a bar, beers usually cost around 90 NOK (10 USD) for a half liter and premium brands can easily reach 150 NOK. That’s enough to make you reconsider that trick you were going to order, isn’t it?

Another less shocking but still present fact about beer in Norway is how heavily regulated alcohol is. You can get some in supermarkets but only before 8 p.m. (6 p.m. on weekends, and forget about Sundays).

Regulations state that beers above 4.7% ABV are only available at licensed premises (bars, restaurants, and clubs) or at Vinmonopolet, a state-run liquor retail store. So your favorite supermarket-bought beer might not exist in its original version, but in a slightly weaker (dare I say watered down?) version.

tell us what you think

What is the best reason you can think of for wanting to move to Norway? Can you think of any others that we haven’t mentioned? What would it take to take the leap and move to another country? Let us know in the comments!

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