Human Development Index – Standard of Living
Some people don’t understand what the ‘Human Development Index’ really is.  As Norway has one of the highest indexes in the world people often think life is more luxurious than other places.  But what the Human Development Index really looks at is: how many people per capita is educated, how many people per capita live to a ripe age and the quality of income and healthcare services.  This index has nothing to do with the lay idea of ‘standard of living’ which actually is perceived as quality of living judged by lifestyle, convenience, richness and happiness.  In fact, the US, UK, France, Australia and Canada practically have the same ‘colour’ index of ‘quality’ as Norway.

However, the ‘qualities of living’ in Norway are different to the other countries with the same ‘standard of living’ colour index.  In general, most normal produce needs to be imported and therefore fresh food tends to be second class.  There is not much fresh meat available – a lot of things are still frozen or canned.  Practically no organic and it is really hard for diabetic diets.  In a lot of cities and regions facilities are at a minimum, for example, there are long waiting lists for children activities (Lilu has been on a waiting list for two years just to do a baby gym class).  A fair amount of teachers are unqualified because there aren’t enough in Norway.  (And I know what you are thinking, ‘Job! Job! Job!’ but to be employed as an unqualified teacher you have to speak Norwegian at an advanced level.)  Norway is not big on ‘convenience’ – shops are closed on Sundays, there is no such thing as 24 hour shopping, over Summer a lot of businesses run at half mask (don’t even think about getting cable at this time) and regular transport schedules reduce dramatically,  limited food products, limited speciality stores and products (such as maternity wear, books, shoes etc), very limited customer service, limited activities (no rugby football, baseball, cricket or netball – not seen even on TV), extreme limit of employment options (no fashion gurus, mobile dog washers, landscape gardeners, wrestlers,  – people who make life fun), no real ethnic restaurants or food – just Norwegianized versions, no ethnic celebrations or festivals, and the list goes on.  Now, of course there are always exceptions, one-off here and there, and I am certainly not talking about Oslo, but most of the rest of the country.  Consider Norway as a bare minimum English or American country town with 50,000 people and you will get a good idea of the conveniences, services and offers.

Social Health Index
Social Health doesn’t have anything to do with physical or mental health.  It’s related to the health of the country in terms of: the rule of law, equality in the distribution of wealth, public accessibility of the decision-making process, and the level of social capital.  These standards are in most top western countries but the two that are controversial in Norway to the international arena are:

1. Norway is a Social-democratic society.  Norwegians are constantly told they are rich and therefore are expected to give more.

2. Feminism is at its peak here so much so that it is frowned upon for women to take on traditional roles such as ‘home-maker’.

Environmental Performance Index
This index refers to the quality of drinking water, sanitation, pollution, disease etc.  Norway is a Western country and has all the normal performance features as other Western countries but the reason why it does particularly well in this index is because of population.  Norway has less than five million people spread over the land.  The largest collective population is in Olso city with only 5oo,oo0 people.  Most of the environment is untouched because of continuous mountain ranges.  It is closest to one of the most ‘purest’ places on the planet – the Arctic.  This has a relatively large impact on the index’s stats as it is only indexed according to the norm of other countries such as the US and UK which don’t enjoy such low human footprints.

Moving to Norway for Lifestyle:

‘New-movers’ have heard a lot of rumours about the Norwegian lifestyle.  Norway is certainly a breath taking country to live in when it comes to scenery.  It is also famous for healthy outdoor activities in the Summer and Winter seasons.  But one thing is always overlooked by ‘new-movers’ when it comes to ‘lifestyle’ in Norway and that is the ‘social living’.  Norway can be a lonely place to live if you are used to big cities, lots of people and English speaking.  When you move to Norway you can’t rely on Norwegians to help you out, become your friends, give you advice or even talk to you.  Norway is very hard on single ‘new-movers’, however, couples and families can have a slightly easier time.  All activities are in Norwegian, all courses are in Norwegian, all National broadcasts are in Norwegian, all theatre, all newspapers, all websites, all information is in Norwegian.  There are no community celebrations accepted except for Norwegian traditions and holidays.  If you do not know Norwegian you can become isolated from society very easily.

A lot of ‘new movers’ who are used to the sun find the long dark Winters particularly hard and even Norwegians get depression.  During the dark season Norway lives indoors.  It is often sludgy, slippery and very wet on the walking paths and streets and the amount of work that is involved in daily life just to get somewhere – trudging through a metre of snow, very slippery ice paths, no footpaths, darkness, sweeping cars for a metre of snow every day – can make a lot of people stay indoors.  Many strategies need to be followed to survive the Winters like drinking fish oil, exercising every day and getting out of the house every day.  Even Oslo has a long ugly Spring and requires some getting used to.  If you are not a nature-loving, active person who enjoys the cold and wet then Norway certainly isn’t the place for you.

What you need to move to Norway:

The first thing you will need is a backup plan.  If you want to move to Norway you should have at least two of the things below (one being either a good job or money):

A good job
Work will give you much needed money and social contact.  It is the only way to survive in Norway.

A good Norwegian family
The support of family is vital in Norway.  A Norwegian family can teach you how to live, how to eat and how to be happy.  A Norwegian family makes life so much easier.

Knowing the language will give you much better employment options.  You will be more accepted in society and be able to communicate with everyone.  It will establish you in your new life and you won’t have to go through, the sometimes unpleasant, ‘immigrant’ stage.

Having at least a Bachelor Degree will be very beneficial.  Employers these days look for people who have Master Degrees.  Your education is vital to good survival in Norway.  If you are uneducated then expect to get jobs in child care or cleaning.  Even people with Bachelor degrees work these jobs because their chosen degree doesn’t qualify them for Norwegian jobs and they do not know the language.

If you have a good amount of savings that you are willing to use then it is much easier to move to Norway.  Do not come to Norway unless you are financially stable and can support the family you bring with you.  If you do not have a job, a good amount of savings – a years worth of living expenses x 2 (for Norwegian value) to support everyone will be a great help.  Life can be very hard for new movers if they don’t have a jobs.  It is also very hard for a family to live off one income.  A three bedroom house/apartment will take about 50% of your wage.  Add in the 36% tax and there is not much to play with.

Climate Adaptable
If you like the darkness and not seeing the sun or not having sun-warmth for 6 months of the year, then Norway is the place for you!

Still interested in moving to Norway?
If you still want to live in Norway after reading all the above then there are some other qualities that you will need to be a survivor of Norway.  You need to be resilient.  Physical life in Norway is a lot harder than other countries.  Just walking to the shops here will be twice as much effort – through snow, ice, long grass, hills etc.  You need to shrug off all nuances of discrimination and racism.  Norwegians don’t care for immigrants who complain and in fact, immigrants have developed a bad reputation as complainers.  You need to enjoy your own company, especially if you move to Norway by yourself.  You need to know how to physically look after your health because health services are very minimal.  You have to learn the language whether you want to or not, whether you have a talent for it or not.  You have to adapt to the Norway system of doing things.  Going against the grain, complaining and thinking your way is better will only frustrate you.  You shouldn’t get angry or ‘smart’ or bossy or be a know-it-all otherwise you will alienate yourself.  If you are ready to be pleasant, humble, carefree and no bother than you are ready to be loved by Norway.

An example of a new mover surviving Norway: me!

(The first time.) I moved to Norway with post graduate education in a field where Norway doesn’t have these type of qualifications in their workforce so I was considered highly educated and employable.  It also helped that I was a self-starter and initiated projects.  I had a strong Norwegian family base with a Norwegian husband.  I didn’t know the language but my Norwegian family helped me greatly with language and culture.  Even though I didn’t have a job when I came to Norway my husband worked full time in a good job and could support me.  As soon as my residency was accepted by UDI I found employment.  I have lasted a lot longer than the people in my Norwegian language immigrant class.  Most of them have packed it in and gone home.  I was very active in the community, dedicating my time and talents, and created a good network of associates and friends.

Norway is one of the most wonderful places in the world.  The people, culture and landscape are captivating.  If you are willing to sacrifice much, then there are great rewards.  Norway is certainly for those who like change, challenges and earn their stripes.  Anyone can fall in love with Norway.  The trick is to get Norway to fall in love with you.

The stat information above was correct at publishing.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, differences from place to place, and changes.  This post is in reply to many emails we receive about immigrating to Norway.  This post is about giving a personal overview for people who want to know how it really is to move to Norway.

PRAY and seek God's face in the name of His Son who died for us to KNOW where to go!