The cost of living in Norway is high, but there is some consolation for expats in that high salaries offset some of these costs, as do the public services offered by Norway's welfare state. Expats should carefully calculate their budget for Norway before moving, and take a look at a cost of living index to gain a better idea of comparative costs of specific goods and services.

Oslo, Norway's capital city, ranked 76th out of 209 countries in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2020. But while many things are expensive in Norway, the social benefits such as education and healthcare make up for it.

In Norway's egalitarian social system, the margin between low and high salaries is fairly narrow. Executive-level expats may find that, due to the tax structure, they won’t have much more disposable income than someone working in a trade. Making more money is not necessarily as advantageous when someone ends up paying higher taxes on that income. It is also challenging to save money in the short term, and unless new arrivals have secured a good expat relocation package, they may find that they will need two incomes to get by comfortably.


Cost of food in Norway 

There is very little that is considered 'cheap' in Norway when compared to other European prices. Expats from countries with a low cost of living may be overwhelmed at first when comparing prices to their home country. On an expat stint, it's often best to compare prices against one's earnings rather than against costs elsewhere.

Fresh seafood is generally reasonably priced, but most food is imported and there is a high VAT charge on food items. That is why many Norwegians drive over the border to Sweden on a 'harrytur', which is basically a shopping trip to stock up on food staples at a much lower cost. In fact, this cross-border industry is so big that several shopping centres have been built just over the border to accommodate Norwegian consumers.


Cost of housing and transport in Norway

Housing is expensive in Norway, but gets cheaper the further one travels from the larger cities, and accommodation is certainly more affordable outside of the capital. In cities such as Bergen and Fredrikstad, for example, rent is much cheaper than in Oslo. Owning a home provides several tax benefits, so if someone can afford it and they plan to stay in Norway long term, this is the way to go.

Cars are expensive as well, as are entertainment, eating out and local travel. However, it can be cheap to fly out of Norway on budget airlines and charter trips. Norwegians frequently take advantage of this opportunity and can often be found at any sunny and warm destination in the world, especially during the cold months from October through April.


Cost of living in Norway chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Oslo for January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NOK 13,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NOK 10,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NOK 20,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NOK 16,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

NOK 39

Milk (1 litre)

NOK 18

Rice (1kg)

NOK 26

Loaf of white bread

NOK 30

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NOK 127

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NOK 135

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NOK 110

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NOK 30

Cappuccino 

NOK 43

Local beer (500ml)

NOK 90

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

NOK 900

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

NOK 0.90

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

NOK 455

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

NOK 1,300

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

NOK 14

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

NOK 37

Petrol (per litre)

NOK 16