- Download our Moving to Oslo Guide (PDF)
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is situated at the head of the Oslo Fjord, which is 110 miles (177km) long. Regardless of which direction it is entered from, whether by air, sea or road, expats will likely be struck by the profusion of nature surrounding the city. Nestled between water, islands and forested hills, Oslo's physical layout is closely linked with its natural features, and the city's surrounding scenery is simply breathtaking with a quality of life to match.
Living in Oslo as an expat
Expats moving to Oslo will discover that, even in the city centre, the nearest park is never more than a few blocks away from their accommodation. There is so much to see and do here. A mere 10-minute boat ride from Oslo's main hub, lovely beaches await on the Oslo Fjord islands. In winter, the city has hundreds of miles of cross-country trails within its boundaries, in addition to eight ski centres.
Oslo is the biggest city in Norway and has been the Norwegian capital for 700 years. King Harald III of Norway founded the city around 1048. After it was destroyed by a fire in 1624, the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV rebuilt the city as Christiania (briefly also spelt Kristiania). In 1925, the original name Oslo was restored by law, a decision that caused much debate at the time. Even now, there is much disagreement as to the meaning of the name 'Oslo'.
The city is the cultural, scientific, economic and administrative centre of Norway and contributes almost a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. The government and parliament are located here, and at the end of Oslo's main street, Karl Johan’s Gate, is the Royal Palace, home to Norway’s royal family. The city is also a hub for Norwegian trade, banking and industry, as well as an important centre for maritime industries and trade in Europe.
For several years, Oslo's population of around 650,000 has been growing at an annual rate of around two percent. A large portion of this growth stems from immigration, which is in turn changing it into an increasingly cosmopolitan city. The immigrant and expat share of the population in the city now stands at more than 25 percent.
The largest groups of immigrants are Pakistanis, Chileans, Somalis and Swedes, while large numbers of British and American expats work here, primarily in the oil, gas and shipping industries.
Cost of living in Oslo
Oslo is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the city's relatively high cost of living is balanced by high salaries and the exceptional quality of life enjoyed by its residents. Its public transport is excellent but also quite pricey.
Expats will have to pay a pretty penny for accommodation in the Norwegian capital, as the city is experiencing a housing supply shortage. Many residents often choose to journey to neighbouring Sweden to purchase goods, especially alcohol, at cheaper prices. Fortunately, life in Oslo is mostly lived outdoors, meaning expats will have no problem finding some free or budget-friendly activities.
Expat families and children in Oslo
Expat parents moving to Oslo with children will find that it is an ideal city to raise a family in. Norway offers extensive support to parents through innovative social programmes and progressive labour legislation, making Oslo a family-oriented city. There are plenty of excellent schooling options in the city, including government-funded public schools, private schools and international schools.
Parents with young children can send their children to Norwegian barnehages, or day cares, to help them integrate into their new communities and prepare them for entering Norwegian public schools. There is also an abundance of things to do during weekend breaks, and kids and families in Oslo will never go without suitable entertainment.
Climate in Oslo
Despite Norway's reputation as a cold country, Oslo's summers are pleasantly mild owing to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. Winters do live up to the country's reputation, though, with below freezing temperatures.
Expats who make the move to this stunning city often stay far longer than originally anticipated, and with its stunning vistas, myriad things to do and highly efficient welfare system, it's no wonder why.