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Work permits, property and living costs: 12 essential articles for life in Norway

The process of getting a residence permit, the lowdown on the property market, the social norms foreigners struggle with most and how much money you'll need to earn to call Norway home. Here are 12 must-read articles about life in Norway. 

Pictured is a hiker in Norway.
These 12 articles are essential for life in Norway. Pictured is a hiker in Norway. Photo by Filip Toroński on Unsplash

If you are not a national of the EEA or a family member of one, you will need a residence card to live, work and study in Norway legally. 

The two most common types of residence permits are for workers’ or family immigration reasons. Work permits are primarily handed to skilled workers and seasonal workers. Meanwhile, you will need to either be the partner, spouse or close family member of someone living in Norway legally to be granted a family residence permit. 

READ MORE: How to get a work permit in Norway

Permits aren’t typically granted for extended family members like cousins, aunts, uncles or grandparents. Additionally, the rules make it difficult for parents to join adult children or adult children to join their parents. 

You can read more on the specifics of permits in much more detail below. 

Whether you are in the process of obtaining a residence permit or are a long-term resident with an eye on your next move, then you’ll need to have one eye on the Norwegian property market to avoid missing out on your dream home or being ripped off. 

You’ll also need to know what to do in the event of any unforeseen problems cropping up, be that a difficult landlord or a noisy neighbour. 

Norway often tops, or features at the business end, of lists ranking citizens’ happiness and their overall quality of life. However, while some of the best things in life are free, only some things come for cheap in Norway. 

This leaves many questioning how big of a pay packet they need to enjoy this fabled quality of life in Norway. It also begs the question of how much money you need to get by in each of Norway’s biggest cities like OsloBergenStavanger and Trondheim and whether there is much difference between them. 

How much money do you need to earn for a good life in Norway?

While these articles cover living in Norway legally, finding a place to call home and how much cash you’ll need to live a decent life, they don’t offer any insight on fitting in socially. Gelling and fitting in socially are necessary to get the most out of life in Norway. 

Furthermore, no matter how well you prepare, there will be culture shocks, both big and small, waiting for you and social norms that may leave you scratching your head. 

READ MORE: Five Norwegian social norms that may be strange to newcomers

Learning the local language can also help you feel much more gelled and comfortable in your new surroundings, even if it is expensive. Finding out how much it will cost you is essential. However, finding cheap hacks on how to learn the language on a budget is perhaps even more important. 

READ MORE: What are the cheapest ways to learn Norwegian?

If you settle in Norway, you may even end up thinking about the possibility of becoming a permanent resident or even a citizen. Should you have kids, you’ll also probably wonder what the rules are for them becoming citizens. 

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Can you start your job in Norway before your work permit is granted? 

To be eligible for a work permit in Norway, you will need a solid full-time job offer, among other things, on the table. Can you start your new role and hit the ground running while your application is processed? 

Can you start your job in Norway before your work permit is granted? 

The wages, work-life balance and office culture, are the key calling cards of working in Norway. Unless you are from the EEA or qualify for a family immigration residence, you will likely need a work permit to move to Norway for your career

Before you start, you will need a solid job offer of either full-time or 80 percent of full-time work. This is in addition to your qualifications being relevant for the job and the pay and working conditions being in line with industry standards. 

Putting in the work permit application after being offered the job can feel like you are stuck in limbo, waiting to start your new role, as work permit applications can take months to process. 

If you want to get an early start and dive into your role and are wondering whether you can start while you wait for your application to go through, you will need to be aware that, typically, this isn’t allowed

“Normally, work immigrants from countries outside the EU/EEA cannot start working until they have been granted a residence permit,” the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes on its website

However, there is an exception to this rule. Employees and workers can obtain permission from the police force, where they hand in the application documents for the applicant to start their job before they receive a decision on their work permit. 

Permission for an early employment start is issued by the police rather than the UDI. When the employer or applicant hands in their documents to the police, they will need to ask for an early employment start. 

If the company is handling the application on the employee’s behalf, it will also need to submit a written power of attorney from the prospective worker

Once the request has been lodged, the police can confirm whether the employee may start work early and work for the employer until their residence application has been decided. During this period, the worker cannot change employer or clients. 

Should the employee require a visa to enter Norway, they can get this by heading to their nearest embassy and handing the early start confirmation to embassy officials. 

The application for early employment can only be made before the police send the work permit application for the police for processing. After the documents have been forwarded, it will not be possible to get permission to start the job before the permit is granted. 

Those with other residence applications lodged will need to wait until they receive a decision on their case before they can work (if their permit allows them to work). 

What else to be mindful of

In some rare cases, you can receive an early employment start confirmation but have your work permit rejected. 

This will be because the authorities will determine whether you meet all the criteria when your case is processed. Therefore, you can have your work permit denied because you don’t have the relevant qualifications for the role (for example)

You will be required to leave Norway and likely lose your job when this happens. 

Furthermore, being permitted to work doesn’t mean that you can start work immediately. You will also be required to have a Norwegian identification number. Some employers will also require a Norwegian bank account for the salary to be paid into. Setting these up may take some weeks.