Moving to Norway

As I passed through this experience myself and I help few others doing the same, I think it’s easier to put ‘on paper’ few of the main things I consider relevant and good to know, or some howtos related to moving to Norway, Oslo. Note that it’s all from the point of view of someone who already had a work contract at the moment of moving, so the below doesn’t speak about job searching in much detail. If I don’t forget, I will mention what I heard from others.
So, you are supposed to move to Oslo. Guess the first thing you need is a place to stay. Best place I used and still use to look for a place (and 1001 other things) is finn.no. Cliking on eiendom, and selecting the ‘leie’ (to rent) apartments, you probably end up here. Alle områder will show you the apartments all around Oslo, but if you know which area you want to live in, click on its name.
If not, here is a pdf where you can get an idea about the position of each area. I personally live in Grønland and I love it being so close to everything, but I liked Tøyen, Gamle byen (all parts of Gamle Oslo) and St. Hanshaugen. Many recommend Grunerløkka but I don’t like the fact that theres no subway. Anyways, back to finn.no. You clicked on a region or on all of them and end up on a page with results. The site is smart enough to allow you to customize your search results. You can select a price range, the size (in sqm) of the apartment, number of bedrooms (note that 0 bedrooms is a place where the bedroom,living room and sometimes the kitched are all in one), furnishing (full, partially=delvis, none), floor (the higher, the more expensive), facilities (balcony, elevator, parking, etc) and apartment type. For apartment types you have leilighet (block apartment), enebolig (one house or so), bofelleskap or hybel (shared place, not sure what the difference is exactly. Think one is inside an apartment and one inside a house).
I rented twice myself so far, and the ‘issues’ are:

  • Every place needs a deposit. Which is not an advance payment. It’s some money placed into a newly created account, at the bank of the apartment owner, and they can’t be touched by any of the parts without th agreement of the other. They are used at the end of the contract in case something needs fixing in the apartment. You receive interest form the bank for them and you get them back at the end of the renting period. So it’s not wasted money.
  • Most places include the warming and warm water and water in general in the rent. Some include electricity as well. Some don’t. So you need to find yourself a provider. In order to do that, you need to do a reading of the value on the, uhm, whatever you call that. And you need its ID which you either get it from the owner or you call Hafslund, the main electricity provider. On this link they end up recommending you the cheapest provider for your area and level of usage. I think it was that page. I ended up ordering from Gudbrandsdal Energi which I heard to be one of the cheapest. If you’re lazy, like some people, use the default provider, Hafslund and no need to change the provider.
  • Most apartments that I saw with ‘Delvis møblert'(partially furnished) include the main electrical appliances for basic living. Fridge, oven, washing machine, dishwasher (plus/minus). But might not include any other furniture. Make sure to check what it is.
  • Internet. Some rents have it, some don’t. I prefered to get my own subscription. First one was at GET, which was also the default cable provider. They brought me the router in 1 or 2 days and all was fine. Now I am waiting for NextGenTel to set up a cool fiber connection to the new place…and I’ve been waiting for more weeks and aparently it will last some more. So they have a minus for quickness. Or even two.
  • TV Cable, can’t tell you much. Where I live, the complex of buildings has a contract with GET and we have the basic programs included in the rent. BUT pay attention to one thing. In Norway, you have to pay TV license to NRK if you have a TV in your house. And it’s some 1500 NOK or so per half a year. And in order to send you a receipt for that, they send somebody at your place, who checks to see if you have a TV and if you do, you get a bill. And you’re forced to pay.
  • There are many old houses in Oslo. I have been in the kind of old buildings without elevators and those tiny stairs, and worse, they go up in a spiral. If you consider moving with a lot of furniture, you might want to pay attention to how you carry it.

Now, if you need to furnish your place or equip it with various stuff and you wanna make some savings, finn.no is your saviour again. Go to Torget, there you have some categories of stuff. Møbler is for furniture and from there use google translate to find what’s what. We bought most of our living room furniture for some 2k NOK and are quite happy with it. Dunno, I consider that when you start living in a new country and not sure you’re gonna spend the eternity there and especially in that one place, it’s useless to invest thousands of euros in stuff like furniture. So buy basics, cheap, and use the savings to learn the place, the country, the activities to be done there and that the locals have been doing since before they could walk. And after few years when things start settling, start gathering debts for fancy stuff.
One thing to mention is that Norwegian law is pretty indulgent with the renter. So it’s not easy to be thrown out of the place. But it’s a matter of being humans, not taking advantage of some common sense law.
But after 3 complains from the neighbors, I think you can be thrown out.

Also from finn you can buy what you can think of and even what you canæt. I found llamas for example. But enough shopping for now.

For administrative stuff. UDI is your friend. Their website. My second day here or so I went to them with the copy of my work contract, my passport and a copy of it…and some photos but I don’t think they’re needed any longer. But there’s good info on their website. And there they are divided in like 3-4 parts. Population registry, taxes, police and something else. Initially you pretty much need to fill a form for each of them, but they have people at the reception who tell you whih forms to fill. Then, after you only need to renew your permit, you only need to visit like the police or so. I got a reply in 2 days, though I heard of people with issues and with long waiting time. Anyway, you need to get a paper from the police allowing you to stay and work in norway for X amount of time (this needs to be renewed if you go on. It is not YET the residency permit, but it helps getting it at some point. Click around to find out how). Then from the tax office you will get a tax card (the tax office is called Skatteetaten and if you lack white hair, try to figure out the Norwegian taxes on their website). I am not sure if the Personal Number (like Security Number, CNP in Romania) from tax or from police, but you get an 11 digits number which is your identifier in Norway. And from the population registry they send you some paper acknowledging your arrival. All these are sent by mail. So it is VERY IMPORTANT to have your name on the mailbox. Else you won’t get the letters.

After you become a legal tax payer in Norway, you get a letter being nicely asked to go and take a tuberculosis test. Maybe it differs if you come from outside Europe, but I wouldn’t know. Also for women they invite you to be checked for breast cancer. Nice of them.

When you get your tax card, you would probably get a paper with some PIN codes. These codes are used to register yourself with a personal doctor on the NAV portal. http://www.nav.no There check for Helse (health) and in order to find yourself a doctor, go here. You select it by proximity criteria I guess and then you see how many patients are registered with them. Or flip a coin. You can change the doctor 3 times a year I think. Expect to wait a LOT, since it’s an almost free service (though you have to pay a little for a consultation).
With the PINs from that page you can login to miniid.norge.no for information and access to public services.

For a bank account. First you need the paper with your personal number. Then pick a bank and open the account. Some of the big banks in Norway are DNBNor, Spareank, Skandia, Nordea. Or what I heard and saw in commercials. I know there are many others but I can’t think of their names now. I use DBNNor and I am happy with them. They give you the kind of card with a photo on it which you can use as ID. Btw, in Norway, the valid IDs are passport, bank card or drivers license. So if you use a bank that doesn’t offer such a card, you need to carry your other IDs with you. BUT, Skandia could be a wise choice as well. They don’t have physical offices, hence they don’t need to pay employees, hence lower charges. They don’t charge for ATM withdrawal in Norway nor abroad. They pay you interest from the very first moment. Well, google to take a decision of your own. But remember you can’t get a bank account without the personal number. And you might like to talk live to someone for such important services.

Transportation. Inside the city, it works quite well. Most busses and trams have a schedule displayed in stations and in most central stations you will be told when the next one arrives. http://trafikanten.no/ is a very smart page imo. You can see the routes and such, but most important you enter the departure place, the arrival address and it gives you the way to get there and the times and the walking time and the distance and so on. So smart and handy.
For outside the city, I took a train few times…had no problems with it. I heard something on the news about people complaining that there were delays. No shit, it’s f*kin winter outside and tons of snow. Go figure. But at least I haven’t experienced trains nor busses nor anything else where you have to hug the 4 persons surrounding you since the only place to lay your hands is on their ass or legs. I must add that Norwegians are rather impolite when it comes to removing their backpacks. I think they’re attached to them during their travel.

Bringing your car to Norway, or not. Well, I didn’t do that with my matchbox but I was recently asked if it worths the effort. I asked around myself and I was told that for some sort of estimation of the taxes you pay in Norway (and about which I heard it doubles the value of the car) you go to finn.no, bil, for salgs or something like that and check for your car model. The difference between what it costs in your place and what you see in Norway, can be considered taxes. In the city it’s not the most useful thing. You need a parking place for it and everywhere in the center you need to pay for parking and streets are narrow and, meh. I wouldn’t like spending time finding a spot there. Plus the fine is ot easy for one’s pocket as far as I heard. Then the taxes, insurance and whatnots. If you live further from the center though, now that’s another story. And if you know you like to go outside the city often. But it’s up to you to realize the advantages vs. the amount of money you pay for it.

Learning the language. I wouldn’t call it a must if you have a job where you can speak english. But it’s a nice to do thing in a new country because you get to understand people differently. Norwegian is a mix between English and German. I heard that if you’re German or Dutch you can learn it in few weeks. Plus, I like how it sounds, with their singing intonation. The main providers for classes in Oslo are Folk Universitetet and Oslo Voksenopplæring. I found a class through the later, and I am going to Rosenhoff school. You need to go, pass a test so they see your Norwegian level and also your literacy level. Then, after few months, you get accepted into a class. It takes a lot because there are quite many who study it and I think those married and with asylum might have priority. There are some tests you can pass and they would be useful if you want citizenship later.
For citizenship, you may google if that’s your goal. All I wanna mention is that, from what I heard, Norwegian state doesn’t accept dual citizenship. So you’re Norwegian or whatever. Can’t be both. Farewell mommy land.

For weather, www.yr.no. Yea, it might be colder, but you might want to consider a map if you thought differently.

For food and clothes. They have some brands from abroad (esp with clothing). But with food, you will probably have to find replacements for a lot of stuff. I personally don’t mind as the products have mainly been of good quality and I find a relief that they don’t import all the shit from abroad. But, especially in Oslo (I haven’t really seen them in other cities, and not even in the whole Oslo, but mainly in the center) there are these ‘Turkish’ shops as I call them. They sell a really wide variety of fruits and vegetables and products from Asia and Middle East. With a bit of imagination, you find a replacement for everything.

For places to visit in Oslo, tourist wise, I put together this page.
For other portals with what to do in Oslo, use visit Oslo. And I subscribed to this group called New to Oslo group on yahoo. They made a homepage but I can’t find it. Yet, there’s a lot of people there able to help you with your queries, because many of them have passed through a similar experience and can at least give you some guidelines.

More to come if I consider anything else of interest. Good luck with your life in Oslo and be sure to enjoy it!
Skål!

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. normog said,

    April 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Good post, Andrea! Very useful for people moving here 🙂
    I have blogrolled this blog.

  2. Kristina said,

    November 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I like your post too, it is really useful. At least you can find all needful info in one place by the same person experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: