Moving to Oslo
Norway’s biggest city and capital, Oslo, is a city of opportunities. It might not be as big and dominant to Norway as London is to the UK but here you will find everything you need and more from a big city. Its population of 640,000 is diverse, something that reflects the city itself very well.
Moving to Oslo might be an intimidating thought. You can absolutely get by with English for the first while but long-term you would greatly benefit from learning Norwegian to better integrate with the locals.
Even if Oslo is just a two/three hour flight away from almost any European capital, there are a few differences in the weather that might daunt you on arrival. In the winter, the sun is out only six hours a day, while in the summer you can enjoy sunlight for 18 hours a day. Wintertime usually means snow and temperatures could drop down to -20 degrees Celsius, though the average during the winter is about -7. During the summer the temperatures can peak at around 30 degrees Celsius and averaging at just over 20.
The job market in Oslo is similar to any other capital in the world. It’s competitive for the best jobs and working in finance or trading will usually give you the best chances of landing a job. Media, technology and engineering are also popular trades in Oslo.
Property and cost of living
Renting flats and houses in Oslo tends to be cheaper than, for instance, in London but many working professionals also buy properties. Oslo is a city with great variety of people, so you get all sorts of people both buying and renting, including students in higher education at universities. Oslo’s property market tends to be considered as competitive. Buying a property in Oslo may cost you as much as 49,000 NOK per m² (just under £5,000), while renting a two bedroom property (estimate 55m²) costs anything from 8,000 to 10,500 NOK per month.
Despite cheaper rent, the prices of “everything else” in Norway are higher than in the UK. Alcohol, food, clothes, cars and utilities are pricey in Norway, and eating out including the taxi fare home could cost you a small fortune compared to UK average. As an example, when you arrive at the airport in Oslo, buying a pack of chewing gum could cost you 20 NOK, which makes out about £2.
Touching back on the taxi fares, the starting prices during the night is often about 80 NOK (around £8), and a ten minute lift home to your flat or house could easily set you back about 300 NOK (£30). On the plus side though, wages in Norway are much higher than in the UK, with minimum wage set at around 105 NOK per hour for untrained workers under 18, while trained professionals could get as much as 150 NOK and above per hour.
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Shipping your belongings to Oslo is not as expensive considering it’s a move across the North Sea. The estimated cost is around £400 from London and up to £2,500 from New York. From Canada the costs average at around £3,500-3,700 while from Australia it will be around £5,000.
Generally speaking, Oslo is divided into two areas – east and west – with central Oslo as the meeting point between the two. Even if the differences aren’t as clear-cut as they used to be, there’s still a split between the two. The eastern part of Oslo is considered the working class area, where the living standard and cost of living are lower and the living space is smaller. Of Oslo’s almost 640,000 residents, 27% are immigrants, and a majority of them live in the eastern or central part of Oslo.
- Up and coming: Grønland - an area in the eastern part of Oslo with offices, flats and small shops.
- Family-friendly: Majorstua, Bærum, Frogner and Holmenkollen - are among the western parts of Oslo that are the most posh. The houses there are much bigger than in the east and the average person works in finance, trading or similar. In general, people in the western part of Oslo are significantly wealthier than people in the east and they are considered a part of the upper class. Overall in Oslo the housing prices have recently stabilised, with slight increases over time.
Schools and education
The Norwegian education system differs slightly from the British system. In Norway the children start school the year they turn six and the first seven years at school are usually spent at the same institution. After elementary school, three years of secondary school follows until Year 10, when compulsory school in Norway ends, though most teens opt to continue education through to Year 13.
In Oslo there are 77 different elementary schools, 24 secondary schools and 21 schools that combine both. From Year 11 to Year 13 – the start of the non-compulsory school in Norway – there are 22 unique high school institutions. In total, including higher education and adult schools, there are 171 institutions across Oslo educating more than 72,000 pupils and nearly 8,000 adults.
The standards of the schools are overall very good and education up to Year 13 – the year the pupils turn 19 - is free in public schools.
Public transport and attractions
Living in Oslo usually means investing in a car, though that isn’t to say that the public transport system isn’t reliable. Working professionals and students rely heavily on trams, trains and buses, all of which usually are on time. If you make a little effort with getting to know the public transport system, you can save yourself a lot of money.
With the public transport on hand, you can start exploring Oslo for what it’s worth. Oslo has plenty of museums where you can get to know the history of the city better. Everything from art galleries to the Viking museum, the history museum and the Henrik Ibsen museum are important to the city and the country.
Besides museums you can explore Holmenkollen, which has ski jumping competitions every winter, the opera house down by the fjord, Frognerparken, which is a beautiful park with plenty of sculptures, and much more. There is always something to see and do in Oslo – which is perfect.
Explore the nature
For a big city, Oslo has a nature that many capitals around the world can be envious of. Within short distance you will find the beautiful fjords, hiking and skiing opportunities in the mountains, and big forests. In the summer you also have loads of beaches nearby, so if you have a Bear Grylls kind of attitude to nature, you’ll love the combination of a big city and nature that Oslo offers.