You’ve been reading all the articles about the high quality of life in Norway. You’ve been browsing Instagram looking at all the wonderful Norwegian nature porn of the northern lights. Perhaps you know someone who knows someone who won’t stop raving about their great life in Norway. And like many who move to Norway, you’re probably also looking for a fresh start or at least an upgrade to your current life. However, before you jump headfirst into the fjord there’s something you should know. Moving to Norway is not easy. In fact, it’s quite difficult! Especially for Americans or others not located in the EU/EEA.
Before Moving to Norway
Before moving to Norway from America you absolutely should do a few test visits just to be sure. There are many little challenges that add up when it comes to adjusting to life in Norway. Best to be both prepared and certain that you’re ready for such a change. It’s also recommended that you do one of these trial visits during wintertime. Because if you can make it through even a single brutal Norwegian winter, you’re probably already half the way to surviving Norway. As an American, you can typically visit for up to 90 days at a time on a tourist visit.
Navigating UDI (Norweigan Immigration)
As you prepare to get settled in Norway, you’ll no doubt be spending some time with UDI, which stands for the inappropriately long Utlendingsdirektoratet, aka the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. It holds all the keys to immigration, work or resident permits, and Norwegian citizenship.
Your best bet is to read through its entire website for the articles that pertain to your situation. They are rather clear and easy to understand, and the majority of them are available in English and several other languages.
There is only one important thing to know when dealing with UDI, and that is it does not make exceptions. The requirements to obtain residency are spelled out quite clearly in its materials. You either check all the boxes and get approved or you do not. In a country with extreme equalitarian views, no one skips the line or steps ahead in the process. Regardless of who you are, where you came from, or the wealth you have, everyone is treated equally in Norway.
Moving to Norway for Love
Norway’s greatest importer of foreigners is not immigration or job placements but love itself. And there’s no shortage of ridiculously good-looking people to fall in love with found in Norway. Should be lucky enough to find one to call your own there are family immigration and reunification options for this. Especially if you plan to get married in the near term.
Finding a Job in Norway and Moving to Norway for Work
Truth be told, as an American, having a job will typically be required before you can even consider relocation.
And it’s a bit of an uphill battle finding a job in Norway. In a small country, there are not that many open jobs available overall. At the same time, Norwegians tend to hire other Norwegians over foreigners. This is partly due to the language barrier, even though most Norwegians speak English very well. But it really comes down to the fact that Norwegians simply trust other Norwegians more than other nationalities. It’s not to say Norwegians aren’t inclusive, because they are. It’s just that in Norway trust is everything, and this can only be built over many years. As a newcomer, you are essentially starting at a negative trust level, so your first job will be difficult to obtain. Each job role after that will be progressively easier to find.
To get started and very importantly, referrals are how many Norwegians find new jobs. This comes back to the point of how trust works in Norway. If you can get a referral from a friend or previous colleague into a Norwegian organization, you’re much more likely to make it to the interview stage.
To see what companies are hiring and for what roles the largest job site in Norway is Finn.no.
Getting help moving from America to Norway
As the saying goes, “misery loves company,” and you won’t find any better company than your fellow countrymen and women. Not only do they speak your language (literally), they can really help you as you adjust to life in Norway. And the best place to find them even before you make the move is on Facebook, specifically within Facebook groups. There is an “expats in Norway” Facebook group for just about every country of origin, and they tend to be very active, not to mention full of people who are willing to help a new arrival. They, of course, were in your shoes at some point and understand some of the challenges of moving to Norway.
To find them, simply open Facebook on the web or mobile app and search away. There are several Americans in Norway groups you can find. Join the groups and don’t be shy. However, before you ask a question to the group it’s recommended to search the group for previous posts that might cover your own question. Thanks to this book, you should also already know most of the basics.
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Living and Working with Norwegians?
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Working with Norwegians is the guide to work culture in Norway.
Living with Norwegians is the guide for moving to and surviving Norway.