High Swedish prices put Norwegians off cross-border shopping trips

Norwegians are spending less money cross-border shopping in neighbouring Sweden, the latest figures from Norway's national data agency show. 

Pictured are Norwegian and Swedish flags.
Norwegians are going on less cross-border shopping trips to Sweden. Pictured are the Norwegian and Swedish flags on Svinesund bridge. Photo by Petter Bernsten / AFP

Locals in east Norway have long enjoyed the tradition of heading to Sweden for cheaper goods and a more varied product selection. Last year, they spent an estimated 10.4 billion kroner on cross-border shopping trips, figures from the national data agency Statistics Norway show. 

However, this is still significantly lower than the previous record set in 2019, Statistics Norway reports. 

“When all the travel restrictions were removed on February 12th last year, cross-border trade picked up again, but Norwegians traded less across the border than was usual before the outbreak of the pandemic. Compared to the record year 2019, the trading amount was 35 percent lower in 2022,” Kristin Aasestad from Statistics Norway said of the figures. 

Additionally, the data shows that Norwegians went on fewer trips across the border for shopping in 2022 compared to the record year of 2019. Overall, the number of trips decreased by just over 40 percent between 2019 and 2022. 

One explanation for the decline in Norwegians heading across to neighbouring Sweden to stock up on groceries is a sharp increase in food prices, meaning that Swedish food prices are no longer significantly lower than in Norway. 

According to Statistics Norway’s figures, food and non-alcoholic beverages in Sweden increased in price by 14.2 percent between 2019 and 2022. Meanwhile, the cost of food in Norway increased by 7.2 percent during the same period. Furthermore, the average spend on a shopping trip abroad has increased from 1,690 kroner in 2019 to 1,835 kroner last year. 

“One explanation for why Norwegians spend more money on each shopping trip may be related to the sharp increase in the price of groceries in Sweden and not necessarily that Norwegians put more in the shopping basket,” Aasestad. 

Just under 97 percent of all shopping trips abroad by Norwegians were to Sweden last year, with Strømstad and Charlottenberg being the two most popular destinations with Norwegians.

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How much money do you need to live on a single income in Norway?

Norway is known just as much for its high wages as its steep cost of living, so how much money do you need to live a decent quality of life on a single income?

How much money do you need to live on a single income in Norway?

Depending on your situation, getting by on a single income in Norway can be difficult or relatively straightforward.

This is because if you are the sole provider for a family, you will need to stretch your money further with childcare costs and larger accommodation with extra  bedrooms.

Meanwhile, if you have received a work permit and your partner has a family immigration permit and plans on starting work once they are a bit more settled, then you may not feel as much pressure to get by on a single income as you know more money will be coming in soon.

If you are a single, young professional, you won’t have children to consider, and you could save money by living in a house share rather than your own apartment.

Still, without another person to split the rent and food bill with, you may find it much harder to save for a home in the long term or build up savings.


The average monthly wage in Norway in 2023 was 56,360 kroner. Workers covered by collective bargaining agreements are expected to receive an average pay rise in excess of five percent this year.

Immigrants earn less than their Norwegian counterparts, with the average wage among foreign nationals being 50,270 kroner. All wage figures collected from the national data agency Statistics Norway are pre-tax.

Even among foreigners, wages vary. The highest earners among immigrants tend to come from North America and Oceania, while those with the lowest average salaries hail from Africa and countries that joined the EU after 2004.

READ MORE: How much money do Norway’s different foreigners make?

Obviously, there are large differences in earnings between occupations. Foreigners in senior leadership positions had an average pay packet of 74,170 kroner per month, compared to the 38,270 kroner monthly salary of a cleaner.

Those in the top one percent of earners made around 150,000 kroner per month.

Regional differences can affect your needs

Where you choose to live will likely impact how easy it is to get by on a single income. Your location could end up affecting your wage, with those in Oslo earning around 10,000 kroner more than residents in most other counties.

The higher earnings in Oslo are just as well, as according to figures from rental agency, the cost of renting in the capital ranged from 7,535 kroner for a room in a shared flat to 20,483 kroner per month for a 3-room apartment.

In Bergen, the cost of a room was 5,751 kroner each month, while an apartment was 15,119 kroner. The prices in Trondheim and Stavanger were somewhat similar.

If you are living more rurally, you will then need to consider additional costs such as running a car. You may even wish to have a car if you live in a city but have kids to ferry around.

READ ALSO: Can you get by in Norway without a car

What typically goes into a budget in Norway?

Norway’s National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) has a calculator that crunches the numbers on how much you can expect to spend in a month before rent and expenses.

Their budget shows a single man aged between 31 and 50 should expect to spend between 12,167 kroner per month. This includes money spent on public transport, groceries, clothing and leisure.

This budget isn’t set in stone because, depending on your hobbies and interests, you may have much higher leisure costs.

Still, when you consider this and the average cost of renting, then a single professional earning close to the average wage should be able to get by either in a studio apartment, renting a room, or in a 1-bedroom apartment.

When earning an average salary of around 56,000 kroner per month, you can expect to take home 40,810 kroner after tax each month.

Things are a bit tighter for a couple aged between 31 and 50 with two young children (one of whom goes to kindergarten). The monthly outgoings for a family in this situation would be 30,474 kroner. The figures include childcare, leisure, personal care, food, and equipment for the kids.

If this family had the same earnings of 56,000 kroner each month or 40,810 kroner after tax, then you may struggle as the budget doesn’t account for rent or mortgage payments.

Without kids, the couple’s monthly outgoings would drop to 20,154 kroner per month, making surviving on the monthly average much more achievable.

How much money do you need for a good life, then?

The average earnings in Norway should allow most people to lead a decent quality of life, depending on their expectations.

Single earners should be able to cover all their essential costs and still have money to save. How much household income is left over will be determined by several factors such as where you live, whether you have children and what kind of expenses you have overall.

Other things, such as how often you want to eat out, go on holiday will affect how comfortable you will be on this salary.

Those with a family to support will have a much harder time of things unless they are earning well above the average wage.