Living and working in Norway
Information about Norway at the official visitnorway.com site
Norway’s territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and the subantarctic Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of 385,252 square kilometres and a population of about 5.1 million.
Norway is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with King Harald V as its head of state and Erna Solberg as its prime minister. It is a unitary state with administrative subdivisions on two levels known as counties (fylke) and municipalities (kommuner).
Despite having rejected European Union membership in two referenda, Norway maintains close ties with the union and its member countries.
Work-life balance: the Norwegian way
The country maintains a Nordic welfare model with universal health care, subsidised higher education, and a comprehensive social security system. The basis of the Norwegian welfare state is that everyone has the same opportunities for education, healthcare, childcare, social services and elderly care. Taxes also pay for roads, public transport, the reception of refugees and collective environmental efforts. Norway was also the first country to introduce a father’s quota where 10 weeks of parental leave are reserved to fathers. Since 2001, Norway has repeatedly ranked the highest in the worldwide human development index. In 2015, Norway also ranked the highest in the Democracy Index.
Melvær & Lien
Temperatures in Norway show greater variation than one would expect for such high latitudes. Each season has its own charm and the weather and temperatures differ from the north to the southern parts of the country. Oslo has an average of 165 rainy days. Snow is common throughout the country, with greater amounts in the north, middle and eastern Norway.
Norwegians love to discuss the weather so if you ever find yourself in an awkward moment of silence, you could always introduce the weather topic. A very popular Norwegian saying suggests that ‘There is no bad weather, only a bad way of dressing’.
Norway ranks as the second wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state featuring a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. The income that the state receives from natural resources includes a significant contribution from oil production and the substantial and carefully managed income related to this industry. The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors such as the oil sector (Statoil and Aker Solutions), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminium production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DnB NOR), and telecommunication provider (Telenor).
Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6–16. The school year in Norway runs from mid August to late June the following year. The Christmas holiday from mid December to early January historically divides the Norwegian school year into two terms.
The Norwegian school system can be divided into three parts: Elementary school (Barneskole, ages 6–13), lower secondary school (Ungdomsskole, ages 13–16), and upper secondary school (Videregående skole, ages 16–19). Higher education is anything beyond upper secondary school, and normally lasts 3 years or more. To be accepted in a higher education facility, you must have attained a general university admission certificate (generell studiekompetanse). This is automatically obtained after successfully completing upper secondary school.
Higher education is broadly divided into universities, university colleges and private schools. The latter do not loom large on the horizon, but the proportion of students attending private schools is 10% in higher education compared to 4% in secondary and 1.5% in primary education.
The culture in Norway is closely linked to the country’s history and geography. The unique Norwegian farm culture, sustained to this day, has been shaped not only from scarce resources and a harsh climate but also from ancient property laws. In the 18th century, it brought about a strong romantic nationalistic movement, which is still visible in the Norwegian language and media.
Norwegians are well known for their love of skiing and hiking. During the winter holidays, people flock to the mountains and the cities are left almost completely empty. As soon as the snow has melted and temperatures start to rise, you will witness people gather outside, from early morning to late at night in parks and outdoor cafes.
Constitution Day on May 17 holds a strong position in the hearts of Norwegians. As part of the celebrations, people put on their national costumes and spend the day outside with friends and family to watch elementary school parades and eat ice creams and hotdogs. In Oslo, people gather in front of the royal palace to see the royal family on the balcony. On this day, it is a common saying that children are allowed as many ice creams as they would like. May 17 also marks the last day of celebrations for upper secondary students in their graduate year (‘russ’) who are seen wearing personalised red trousers.
Norwegian cuisine in its traditional form is largely based on the raw materials readily available in Norway and its mountains, wilderness and coast. It differs in many respects from its continental counterparts with a stronger focus on game and fish. Norway’s culinary traditions show the influence of long seafaring and farming traditions with salmon (fresh and cured), herring (pickled or marinated), trout, codfish and other seafood balanced by cheese, dairy products and bread (predominantly dark/darker). ‘Lefse’ is a Norwegian potato flatbread, most common around Christmas. Some traditional Norwegian dishes include ‘lutefisk’, ‘smalahove’, ‘pinnekjøtt’ and ‘fårikål’.
Norway is a small but very special sporting country. Naturally, winter sports like cross-country and alpine skiing are predominant but people also enjoy activities like football, handball, basketball, athletics, swimming and cycling. Over 40% of the adult population are engaged in regular physical activities and Norwegians usually spend Sundays hiking, jogging or simply taking a stroll in the park. Schools also offer a variety of activities and sport clubs for children to join. Norway Cup, the world’s largest football tournament for youths, is held every summer in Oslo. It attracts more than 24,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 18 from over 50 different nations.
Cost of living
- A meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 18.29€
- A three-course meal for two at a mid-ranged restaurant: 89.62€
- 1 Litre of milk: 1.82€
- Fresh white bread: 2.77€
- 1 kilogram of chicken breasts: 15.59€
- 1 kilogram of oranges: 2.74€
- 1 kilogram of potatoes: 1.60€
- A monthly pass for the local transport system: 80.49€
- 1 km in a taxi with normal tariff: 2.24€
- 1 litre of gasoline: 1.81€
- Monthly utilities: 228.37€
- 1 minute of pre-paid mobile tariff: 0.11€
- Internet access (6Mbps, Flat Rate, Cable/ADSL): 43.60€
- The monthly fee for an adult at a fitness center: 65.28€
- 1 hour of tennis court rent at the weekend: 30.41€
- 1 seat in the cinema for an international release: 13.13€
- The rent for a 1 bedroom apartment ranges from 800 to 1000€
- The rent for a 3 bedroom apartment: 1500 – 2000€
(This does not mean that you can’t find a cheaper apartment!)
The Norwegian tax system is based on the principle that everybody should pay tax according to their means and receive services according to their needs. The public sector in Norway is charged with major tasks to serve the interest of the population, including a public health system under which everyone is entitled to treatment, the right to education and major responsibilities in several other areas. Taxation in Norway is levied by the central government, the county municipality (fylkeskommune) and the municipality (kommune). Many direct and indirect taxes exist. Most direct taxes are collected by the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) and most indirect taxes are collected by the Norwegian Customs and Excise Authorities (Toll- og avgiftsetaten). The most important taxes —in terms of revenue— are income tax and VAT.
Income Tax: Ordinary income (alminnelig inntekt), which consists of all taxable income (wages, pensions, business income, taxable share income and other income) minus deductions (losses, debt interest, etc.), is taxed at a flat rate of 28%.
Value Added Tax: The general rate is 25%. A reduced rate of 14% applies to the sale of food and drink, while an even lower rate applies to hotel lodging, cinema shows, public transportation services and broadcasting charges. The 14% rate does not apply to eating at a restaurant.