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How much money does it cost to live in Norway? 

Norway is equally known for good wages and a high cost of living. So, what is the typical budget for a family, couple and single person in Norway, and how does it change based on your circumstances? 

Pictured is a couple with a dog in barcode in Oslo.
Here's how much it costs to live in Norway. Pictured is a couple with a dog in barcode in Oslo. Photo by Lawrence Chismorie on Unsplash

Generally known for being expensive, Norway has seen the cost of living in the country increase over the past 18 months thanks to high food and energy prices driving inflation. 

For example, the price of the most important food and drink products has risen twice as much as general inflation, according to SIFO, an institute for consumer research. 

Their figures are based on the cost of the average shopping bill, which allows for a well-balanced diet with essential everyday products. 

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) in Norway, which measures inflation, shows that prices have risen 6.4 percent in Norway over the past year

Whether you weigh up moving to the country, already live in Norway or are simply curious about how much of the oft-talked-about high salaries are eaten by salaries, SIFO publishes annual reference budgets, which crunch the numbers on living costs in Norway

SIFO uses a robust calculating method to figure out a rough reference budget for someone based on their age, earnings, whether they have a partner or children and what kind of car they drive. 

For example, a single man aged between 20-30 years old with no partner or children and who doesn’t drive a car is expected to have monthly outgoings of 12,293 kroner (excluding tax) if they earn the average salary of 53,150 kroner per month

The budget also does not include rent either. Rent prices in Norway vary between cities. In Bergen, it costs roughly 9,500 kroner a month for a one-room apartment compared to 11,950 kroner for a place of the same size in Oslo. Renting a room in a flatshare is also popular among younger people and is significantly cheaper than renting an entire apartment. 

The budget does include food and drink, clothing, personal care, leisure and media use, travel, furniture, other groceries and household items. Food is the most considerable expenditure in this example budget, costing 4,540 kroner a month. Meanwhile, the clothing and travel budget cost 900 and 853 kroner respectively. 

Social activities and media use were the next most significant expense after groceries, costing 1,650 kroner a month in the individual-specific section of the reference budget. Regarding household-specific expenses, media use and leisure were the biggest expenses, with an estimated expenditure of 2,160. 

Somebody of the same age in the same situation but earning around 20 percent less (43,150) kroner per month would have the same total expenditure, excluding taxes and rent. Therefore the main difference would be disposable income after expenses, taxes and rent. 

Meanwhile, a woman earning the average salary in Norway would have a lower monthly expenditure than a man, spending 11,623 kroner per month. The main differences between the two are a higher grocery bill for men and the woman spending more on personal care. 

Should the man and the woman meet, fall in love and move in together, they would spend on average 23,271 kroner per month, according to the reference budget. The food bill rises to 7,890 kroner per month for two people living together. The clothing, personal care, and travel budgets are essentially double compared to a single person, dealing a death blow to the old saying “two can live as cheaply as one”. 

Money spent on free time, leisure and media would total more than 5,000 kroner, while it would cost the couple 3,000 kroner to run a car. However, if they chose to run an electric vehicle, the cost of running a car would drop by 1,000 kroner a month. 

The expenditure in the reference budget mostly stayed the same if the earnings were pushed up to reflect both people in the relationship earning close to the average wage. 

Provided the relationship is going well, and the woman were to fall pregnant, the expenditure for the couple would increase by over 4,000 kroner to 27,801 kroner. This is because the couple would begin spending around 3,880 kroner a month on stuff for the baby. At this point the ages of the two people has been moved to being between 30 and 51. 

Once the baby is born, the monthly budget would swell to 30,871 kroner by the time the baby is between six and eleven months old. The couple’s food, clothing and personal care budget would see the largest rises. The food bill for a family with a baby is 9,620 kroner a month compared to 7,890 kroner a month for the couple when they’d just moved in with each other.

For a family with an annual household income of a million kroner (which means both parents earn close to the national average) and one school-age child signed up for after-school activities (SFO), and a toddler with a full-time kindergarten place who uses a car, the monthly reference budget is 37,826 kroner per month

The food bill would total around 13,000 kroner each month, while clothes, personal care, leisure time and media use would set the family back just over 10,000 kroner per month. Travel for the family (excluding car running costs) comes in at a hefty 2,133 kroner a month, while equipment for the toddler would set the family back around 3,880 kroner a month. 

After-school activities would cost 1,108 kroner per month, and money spent on other groceries and household items would be 1,350 kroner each month. Meanwhile, leisure and media use for the household would set the family back an additional 2,300 kroner. 

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Why immigrants in Norway are less likely to own a home

Norway is a nation of homeowners. However, its foreign residents are less likely to have a place of their own and more likely to live in smaller, cramped homes, according to new research. 

Why immigrants in Norway are less likely to own a home

 As many as 81.8 percent in Norway own a home, according to the national data agency Statistics Norway. The number of those with an immigrant background who live in a home they own is just 62 percent. 

Statistics Norway defines an immigrant background as either being a foreign resident or the child of two non-Norwegian nationals. 

Statistics Norway’s report said the reason for the high homeownership numbers among the general population is the “Norwegian housing model”. This is a set of policies and market regulations to ensure as many people as possible can afford to buy and own their own homes. 

“That people can buy and keep their home is seen as essential both to prevent housing social problems in general and to promote the integration of immigrants in particular (Ministry of Municipal and District Administration, 2020). Thus, the housing market is an important arena to monitor when assessing the integration of immigrants and their children into Norwegian society,” the report from Statistics Norway said. 

Such is the difference in homeownership between international residents and Norwegian is that when foreigners are removed from the figures, home ownership jumps to 86.3 percent. 

One factor as to why fewer immigrants own a home has to do with where they choose to live. Many immigrants settle in Norway’s capital, Oslo, where it is harder to get on the property ladder. 

“Many immigrants live in Oslo, where the percentage of owners is the lowest and house prices are the highest. This may help to explain why relatively few immigrants own their own home, why they have smaller homes on average and more often live in cramped conditions compared to non-immigrants. At the same time, there are big differences between immigrants and non-immigrants, regardless of how central they live,” the report said.

READ ALSO: How many immigrants does Norway have and where do they all live?

Another factor has to do with residence length in the country. Homeownership rates increase among those with an immigrant background the longer they spend living in the country. The exception was nationals from countries where a high number of refugees come to Norway. 

One thing stopping non-Norwegians from getting on the housing ladder, according to the research, is that foreigners were more prevalent in low-income groups, which are less likely to own a home. 

Even those in higher income groups are less likely to own a home, though. This may be due to immigrants returning home rather than laying down roots in Norway. 

“They may also have plans to move out again after a certain time, and therefore choose to rent a home to retain greater flexibility. This may be a contributing factor to the fact that even in the highest income class, ownership shares are somewhat lower for those with an immigrant background, and to the fact that we find low ownership shares among groups of immigrant workers,” the report said. 

The figures also showed that immigrants were likelier to live in a block of flats than in a detached house. This may be due to immigrants living in parts of the country where apartments are much more common. 

Statistics Norway found that one in four homeowners with an immigrant background were living in cramped conditions. Cramped conditions were defined as less than 25 square metres per person living in the home or there being less rooms than people. 

While 25 percent of those with an immigrant background lives in cramped conditions, just 6 percent of the rest of the population lived in similar conditions.

Typically, the rest of the population had around 10-20 square metres more space per person in their home than those with a foreign background, depending on where the non-Norwegian national came from.