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COST OF LIVING

Norway is world’s second-most expensive country this year

Only Switzerland was ranked higher than Norway in a list of the most expensive countries in the world for living costs in 2020.

Norway is world’s second-most expensive country this year
File photo: AFP

The list, compiled by business magazine CEO World, ranks 132 countries in order of living costs based on data from a range of studies and media.

Parameters encompassed by the analysis include accommodation, clothing, taxi fares, utility, internet, the price of groceries, transport, and eating out. The data was used to compile a score for each country within five metrics: cost of living, rent, groceries, eating out and purchasing power.

The metrics were then given a value using New York City as a control: if a country has a score of over 100, it is more expensive than New York.

Three countries did in fact achieve this with their overall score: Switzerland (122.4), Norway (101.43) and Iceland (100.48).

As such, Norway is ranked by the magazine as the second-most expensive country to live in the world this year.

Nordic neighbour Denmark was not far behind in 5th place with an index of 83, with Sweden the cheapest of the three Scandinavian countries in 23rd (69.85).

Japan was the final country in the top 5, in 4th place.

The United Kingdom was placed 27th (67.28), Ireland 13th (75.91), the United States 20th (71.05), Canada 24th (67.62) and Australia 16th (73.54).

Looking at the metrics individually, Norway’s performance was variable.

The Nordic nation was the 12th-most expensive country on the cost of rent index. For groceries, it placed third just behind South Korea and with Switzerland still far ahead as the most expensive.

Norway is also the third-most expensive country to eat at a restaurant – behind Switzerland and Iceland.

For local purchasing power, Norway is lower on the list, in 17th.

READ ALSO: What are the best ways to save money in Norway?

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COST OF LIVING

Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law. 

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