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Ten things in Norway that are actually quite cheap

Norway is more expensive overall than any country in the EU, but some things are surprisingly good value.

Ten things in Norway that are actually quite cheap
Nappies are cheaper in Norway than almost anywhere in the world. Photo: Shutterstock

We asked our readers what things they are think are, if not a bargain then at least fairly reasonable in Norway. Here is what you told us. 

1. Diapers/nappies. 

Whatever you call them, Norway has some of the cheapest in Europe. “Diapers are way cheaper here than in the states,” says Mehgen Jean. “Diapers are the cheapest I've seen anywhere!!” agrees Molly McDonald.

Rather than being the result of a government program, this is mostly down to the free market. 

After the Kiwi supermarket chain 20 years ago started to heavily discount nappies to draw in families, an on-and-off price war between the chains has led to some of the cheapest nappy prices in Europe. Nappies continue to be supermarket's favoured loss-leader.

Someone even wrote a Masters' Thesis on it, and the resulting 'diaper-smuggling' gangs. 


2. Electric cars 

Researchers for the International Council for Clean Transportation found in a report last year that the Norway's generous tax breaks for electric cars make them 27% cheaper to buy and run over four years than a diesel car.

This compares to the UK, where electric cars are only 5% cheaper, Germany, where electric cars were 11% cheaper, and The Netherlands, where they are 15% cheaper. 

A lot of this came down to the higher taxes on diesel vehicles.

But after VAT and registration tax, the researchers found that a VW e-golf sold in Norway for about €34,000, compared to  €36,000 in Germany and the UK,  €39,000 in The Netherlandsm and €40,000 in France.

Some of the tax advantages for electric vehicles are set to expire next year, so snap one up while you can! 


3. Salmon and sushi

As the source of much of the world's farmed salmon, it would be surprising if salmon was not cheap. But foreigners living in Norway seemed divided over whether it actually is. 

“Sushi is like half the cost of LA,” claims Sean Stordahl Percival. “Is salmon cheap though, really? I'm sure Salma's more expensive than in the UK,”  questions Russell Morgan, while Ivete Leite Magalhaes claims she's seen Norwegian salmon sold cheaper in Portugal. 

4. Electricity 

“Norway wouldn't be the same without its cheap electricity,” says Viktor Šafář. In the second half of 2019, power in Norway, at €0.1744/kWh, was cheaper than the average in EU countries of €0.216/kWh and a lot cheaper than in Denmark, which at €0.2924/kWh has the most expensive power in Europe. 

5. Gyms and sport

“Going to the gym is pretty inexpensive.. a little more than an hourly wage for a monthly fee,” says Johan Gerdin, from Sweden. “In the US we pay so much for gyms,” agrees Aslan Williams. 

Football pitches are free and sports clubs for squash, tennis etc are usually cheap. 

6. Mooring a boat 

“Renting a mooring for a boat in central Oslo through a båtforening,” says Ben McPherson. “Less than £300 a year, for something that would cost you thousands in the UK.” 

7. Renting (or buying a cabin). 

“Renting cabins and really cool Airbnb’s are often cheaper than they would be somewhere else!” says Aslan Williams. 

8. Housing

“Actually, weird as it may sound, but houses!” argues Mark Courtney Francombe, a graphic designer from the UK. “I know many folk in the UK who rent, houses/or apartments at about the same price as in Norway, they just cant get on the ladder. Here… if you have any kind of OK full time job, you will, with careful planning, and a good relationship with a bank, afford to buy, something, somewhere. Maybe not Oslo Sentrum, but somewhere.” 

“Rent in Oslo is much cheaper or the same price as towns or cities in he UK and I’m sure London is much much more although I’ve never lived there,” says Madeleine Hill. 

9. Internet and mobile phone contracts 

“Mobile service and home internet is insanely more affordable here,” says Alex Macdonald from Canada. “We pay up to 4x more at home and have to pay long distance fees usually for anyone you call who lives more than an hour away.” 

People from countries in Southeast Asia, or indeed from many countries in the European Union, might disagree however. 

10. Second hand sports equipment 

Norwegians love flea markets and buy a lot of sports equipment, meaning that its easy to buy cross-country skis, mountain bikes and other outdoor sports gear second hand, either on the website or at flea markets all over the country.  

Other respondents' suggestions 

Other things that foreigners suggested weren't too pricey included: canned tuna, tinned mackerel, public transport, electronics, milk, instant coffee, almonds at Christmas, McDonalds cheeseburgers, supermarket sweets, motorbikes, vegan skincare, knitting wool, Maille Dijon mustard, Tacobox, coop frozen pizza, loff bread, baked goods through the Too Good to Go app, disposable barbecues, tap water, and fresh air. 

Things in Norway that are free. 

It's probably worth remembering that many of the best things you can do in Norway don't cost anything at all.

“Being able to camp two nights more or less wherever you like as long as its 150m from a house,” is, says Simon Orchard, a former British army soldier, worth quite a lot, particularly when so many of the places you can camp are so stunning.

Then there's the cross-country skiing trails, mountain tracks and subsidised ferries. 

And OK, so it's mostly funded by your taxes, but cheap, high-quality kindergartens are one of the best things about living in Norway, as is the high-quality healthcare, libraries and everything else laid on by the country's generous welfare state. 










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For members


EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

That the cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high is hardly a surprise — though it may still shock some people. There are several reasons why this is so.

EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?
Life in Switzerland is expensive. Photo by Claudio Schwartz, Unsplash

Besides chocolate, cheese and banks full of other people’s money, Switzerland is perhaps best known for being expensive. 

The country is especially pricey when it comes to food, beverages, hotels, housing, restaurants, clothing, and health insurance – or pretty much everything you need. 

While Switzerland is expensive for its residents, for people coming from abroad, high costs here are the ultimate culture shock.

READ MORE: Why Zurich ranks as the world’s most expensive city once again

Various studies have shown time and again that Swiss consumers pay much more for basic goods and services than their European counterparts, with the exception of Norway and Iceland.

For instance, one such study found that people in Switzerland have to pay 168 francs for a basket of consumer goods costing on average 100 euros in the EU.

Why is this?

Many reasons have been given to explain this phenomenon. Some of them however are based on popular beliefs rather than economic facts.

One such explanation that is making rounds in Switzerland is that prices in Swiss supermarkets are high because employees in Swiss supermarkets are paid more than their European counterparts.

While Swiss salaries are indeed higher than almost anywhere else in Europe, this explanation does not hold water.

Cost of living in Switzerland: How to save money if you live in Zurich

So what is the real reason for the high cost of consumer goods in Switzerland?

Among the most often cited ones are protectionism and lack of competition, which are inter-related, as the former invariably leads to the latter.

Trade protectionism is a policy that protects domestic industries from foreign competition.

A case in point is milk.

Milk can only be imported if it is in short supply in Switzerland, which is not currently the case. This means that Swiss milk has no foreign competitors vying for the consumers’ attention, and forcing it to lower its price.

This kind of protectionism extends to many other products as well.

But sometimes it works the other way too.

study by the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland shows that foreign producers and suppliers impose large price increases in Switzerland, exploiting high salaries and consumers’ purchasing power.

This means that Swiss buyers are overpaying for their purchases by more than three billion francs, the study found. 

This is the reason why so many people living in border regions go shopping in France, Italy, and Germany, where the same items are considerably cheaper. 

Cross-border shopping: Vaccinated Swiss can now shop in Germany again

This practice is widespread in e-commerce as well.

Anyone who wants to order something online from a foreign store is often redirected to the supplier’s Swiss site, where the prices are often much higher.

This is called ‘geo-blocking’.

This practice finally spurred the public and politicians into action.

READ MORE: ‘Fair prices’: Switzerland moves one step closer to referendum on cost of living

A popular initiative tag-lined “Stop the expensive island” , which aims to fight against overpriced goods in Switzerland, was presented to the parliament in 2017.

It has been stagnating there for four years because PMs couldn’t agree on how to tackle this issue.

But in March, the initiative was revived and is heading toward a referendum (no date has been set yet).

If passed, geo-blocking’ will be prohibited. In the future, consumers and businesses based in Switzerland will have to be treated by foreign online shops the same way as domestic consumers

It is difficult to predict whether Swiss prices will drop significantly as a result of this initiative, but at least there is hope on the horizon.