Norway is ranked as a country with a high standard of living and as one of the world’s best countries in which to live. With a total size of 387 000 km2, Norway is the 7th largest country in Europe, sharing borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. A population of 4.6 million gives a population density of 12 pr km2. The country is divided into 19 counties and 430 municipalities. The landscape is characterised by high mountains, deep valleys, fjords and a long coast line. 25 % of the country is covered by woods, whereas around 4 % is cultivated land.
The government is the executive political body. Today the government is a coalition of The Labour Party, The Centre Party and The Socialist Left Party.
In Norway people usually own their own home. Prices vary. If you wish to live in Oslo, centrally in the eastern part of the country, or in one of the larger cities, you must be prepared to pay more than if you live in a smaller place.
Remember insurance, both for the residence itself as well as for your belongings. You will find contact information for insurance companies at gulesider (Yellow Pages).
Some commonly used terms:
Since the common thing in Norway is to own your own home, the number of houses available to let is somewhat limited and more easily available in the larger cities. Search on the Internet, look in local newspapers, check out message boards at the grocery shop etc, or go to an estate agent. You may be well advised to put in an advertisement yourself. Some employers may help you find a temporary dwelling.
You should not let a dwelling without using the standard contract. You find it on the Internet, or by contacting Leieboerforeningen (International Union of Tenants) or Huseiernes Landsforbund (The National Federation of House Owners). The contract specifies the length of the letting period and a mutual agreement of three months notice.
When letting it is common to pay a deposit of three month’s rent. The deposit should be put in an escrow account in the name of the tenant.
When buying a dwelling, the sensible thing is to get in touch with an authorised estate agent. They take care of all formalia, i.e. settlement and official registration. You find them on "Yellow Pages". Most banks offer loans with the dwelling as mortgage, equal to the size of the loan. You will also find houses for sale on the Internet and in newspapers.
If you bring your family to Norway, they must to go through the same procedures as you. Children below the age of six may attend kindergarten. At age six they start mandatory school in Norway, which takes 10 years. Get in touch with the local government where you will be living for information about schools and kindergarten. See the chapter on education for more information.
Norway is a good country for activities out of doors. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, is an expression all Norwegians are familiar with. Popular activities that may be exercised throughout the country are skiing, football, hunting and fishing, hiking and boating. You will also find teams, groups and clubs, both regionally and locally, which may function as nice meeting places and useful, social networks.
Many Norwegians are very taken up with their homes, using quite a bit of their time and resources on both maintenance, remodelling and interior décor. They will therefore spend much leisure time at home; especially in smaller communities you will find that it is less common to visit restaurants and cafés than in other parts of Europe.
Initially, some will react to the cost of food, housing, car and alcohol as being higher than at home, but so is most often the pay you will receive. The value-added tax on food is half of the general value-added tax, making the expenses for this part of existence relatively small compared to income. SIFO (National Institute for Consumer Research) has constructed a standard budget, showing common living expenses for different types of households.
All members of Folketrygden (The National Insurance Scheme) have the right to a regular general practitioner(Fastlege). It is simple to choose one and register as a patient. As a rule you need a referral from your doctor in order to see a specialist or be admitted to hospital. Without a referral you will have to pay full price. Hospitalization is free in Norway. Treatment by a doctor is free for children below the age of 12, and dental treatment is free for all below the age of 20. Most doctors and specialists are contracted by the local authorities or a regional health trust. Being their patient, you will only have to pay patient’s charge. If you choose a doctor or specialist without a contract, you will have to pay the full fee. The Norwegian health service is mainly public, but there are some private hospitals, private practitioners and specialists.