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.

Oslo, Norway’s capital city, was ranked 60th out of 227 countries in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2023. 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 groceries 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 accommodation 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 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 plans to stay in Norway for the long term, this is the way to go.

Cost of transport in Norway

Cars are expensive as well, as is local public transport. 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 entertainment and eating out in Norway

As is the case with most things in Norway, eating out in the country is expensive, and it is often a luxury. That said, expats can usually find a wide range of cuisines on offer in the major cities, and in more rural areas, the cost of eating out will be slightly lower. 

Much of the entertainment and leisure activities in Norway centre around nightlife and outdoor activities. The latter is much more affordable, while visiting Norway’s clubs, bars and cafés can cost a pretty penny. Most locals often offset this cost by doing pre-drinks at home. 

Cost of healthcare in Norway

Norway boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and legal residents in the country are entitled to heavily subsidised public care. Expats will need to pay a small fee following GP visits, but this amount cannot exceed a government-mandated annual limit, after which patients will receive an exemption card. 

Some expats may choose to purchase private health insurance to avoid long waiting times and choose their healthcare practitioners. While the cost of these policies varies according to lifestyle habits, age and coverage level, they are generally pricey in Norway. 

Cost of education in Norway

Similar to healthcare, public education and schools are free for all legal Norwegian residents and citizens. Schools in Norway offer exceptional teaching standards and facilities, but most expats with older children enrol them in private or international schools, as the primary language of instruction is Norwegian in public schools. Those with younger children can easily send them to public schools, as they are likely to learn the language and assimilate into the local culture faster. 

International schools are limited in Norway, meaning parents will contend with limited placements and high costs. Once they overcome these challenges, they will find the teaching standards, curricula and extracurricular activities at international schools excellent. 

Cost of living in Norway chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Oslo for September 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NOK 14,150

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NOK 12,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NOK 22,400

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NOK 17,800


Eggs (dozen)

NOK 41.80

Milk (1 litre)

NOK 21.92

Rice (1kg)

NOK 31.20

Loaf of white bread

NOK 36

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NOK 141

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NOK 150

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NOK 125

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NOK 31


NOK 44

Local beer (500ml)

NOK 100

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

NOK 1,100


Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data

NOK 426

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

NOK 465

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

NOK 2,231


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

NOK 15

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

NOK 40

Petrol (per litre)

NOK 22.45