Moving to Stavanger
When Norwegians think about Stavanger the first thing that springs to mind is oil. The city with a population of around 130,000 is the oil capital of Norway, but there is much more to the city than just oil.
Stavanger is kind of a stereotypical Norwegian city. The economy is good and you have beautiful nature surrounding it, including 16 inhabited islands, mountains, fjords and beaches.
The weather in the city is much like the weather in England. With a lot of rain and wind all year around it really suffers in that respect from its location on the west coast, open to the wet ocean weather and storms coming from the North Atlantic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea. Temperatures in Stavanger are among the highest in Norway during winter, with January as the coldest month on average. Temperatures there rarely drop way below zero, as it tends to do elsewhere in the country, but a few minus degrees isn’t unusual in the coldest months.
Summertime brings warmer weather and temperatures up towards 30 degrees in July, though the average for the summer period is just below 20 degrees. The summers are quite short in Stavanger, but when the sun is shining it is an absolutely beautiful place to spend some quality time outdoors.
The beauty of Stavanger
Stavanger is a very peaceful city with gorgeous nature surrounding it. The fjords, ocean, mountains, countryside and walking and cycling paths all invite to an active lifestyle where being outdoors is key.
While having a car isn’t a necessity as such if you live in the central part of Stavanger, it will be helpful to explore the area surrounding it properly. With just over an hour drive away from Stavanger you will find Preikestolen (Preacher’s Pulpit), which is a hugely popular tourist attraction. In fact, it is one of Norway’s most visited tourist sites. With its flat top the cliff rises over 600 metres over a fjord and you will have a beautiful view from the top. When parking at the bottom of the mountain the only way to get to the top is by hiking, which could take you a couple of hours. The effort however is well worth it when you reach the top.
Another stunning sight is the 92-meter drop of the Månafossen waterfall. That is also just over an hour’s drive away from Stavanger.
In addition, you can always test your surfing abilities too by going to Jæren. Many surfers travel there from all around the county to test their skills in the waves and there is a real community among them.
Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) is a part of Stavanger city centre that consists of 173 small wooden houses build in the 18th and 19th century. The architecture is cute and you will get a cosy feeling walking around in the narrow streets of the old-fashioned part of the city.
In Stavanger there is no tubes but the buses and trains are reliable and will take you around the region.
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Working in Stavanger
As the Norwegian oil industry’s main area is located in Stavanger it is the main source of work in the city. Statoil, one of the country’s biggest companies, employs almost 23,000 people in Norway, of which the majority of them work and live in Stavanger. The company operates more than 71% of the Norwegian oil and gas industry, which is the main source of the country’s wealth.
Because of Statoil, many foreign workers come to live and work in Stavanger, which makes it easier to get a network of friends that speak English and that are in the same position as you if you choose to move there from the UK.
A company of that size always looks to hire people, so if you’re experienced in that business you will always have a shot at landing a job there.
The Stavanger region is very similar all over in terms of safety, standards and opportunities. Wherever you go in the region you will find a peaceful and safe place to either visit or live. Sandnes is a city nearby with almost 70,000 people, and many people who work in Stavanger choose to live there.
The property prices in Stavanger and Sandnes are among the highest in the country, much due to the oil industry. On average you would have to spend about 40,000 NOK (about £4,000) per square meter in Stavanger, while the prices in Sandnes are slightly lower at about 35,000 NOK.
Some agencies refer to the property market in Stavanger and Sandnes as “active”, meaning there is a lot of competition for every property. In 2012, a Norwegian national paper awarded Stavanger and Sandnes 7th and 8th place on the list of where it’s best to live in Norway.
Renting is also a possibility and the prices are lower than in London. For a decent-sized property (between 80 and 99 m²) the average price is about 7,500 NOK per calendar month according to reports from 2012. The prices may have changed slightly since then and should be considered an estimate.
Schools and education
There are plenty of good elementary schools in and around Stavanger. In fact, there are 41 of them educating almost 15,000 pupils. The school year starts in mid-August and finishes towards the end of June, when the eight-week summer break starts for the kids. A normal school day starts at 8:30am and finishes between 1pm and 3pm, depending on the day, the school and the age of the pupils.
All public schools in Norway are of good quality and are free throughout the 13 years of education. Compulsory education is only ten years, but most kids choose another three years of high school before starting higher education or becoming working professionals.
Stavanger also has an international school where kids from 45 different nationalities attend, including Brits, and there is also a British International School in Stavanger, with facilities to educate 550 pupils up to the age of 16. Many foreigners in Stavanger choose to live near the international schools.
Shopping and prices
Everything costs more in Norway compared to the UK, whether it’s food, clothes, shoes or taxis. Eating at restaurants will be expensive compared to the UK, but then again the wages are higher.
There are plenty of shopping centres in the Stavanger region but the high street brands from the UK are not as common in Norway. You will obviously find the biggest brands, but you may struggle to find the likes of Topshop, Uniqlo etc. Kvadrat is the biggest shopping centre of them all with its 160 shops and 18 restaurants.
Shipping your belongings over the North Sea and to the oil capital of Norway will cost you in the region of £400 from London and up to £2,500 from the east coast of USA. From Sydney it can cost between £4,500-5,000 and from Ottawa between £3,500-3,700. These however are just estimates, and costs may wary.
Stavanger has a lot of nice restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s a lively nightlife with two main clubs in the city centre and the morning after you can cure a potential headache with a coffee at one of the city’s many cafés.
You can also explore more in Stavanger with the range of museums there. The Norwegian Oil Museum is popular, as well as the Norwegian Printing Museum.