I’m slowly resurfacing to the real world from the depths of newborn baby smells and sounds, a very happy place to be indeed here in the happiest country of the world. Or one of the happiest, you could also say that Norway is only in the 2nd or 29th place depending on how and when the statistics were conducted.
But what is life really like in this happy place, all the way up in the northern corner of Europe, faced by the Atlantic and Arctic seas and stretching way past the Arctic Circle, and where the winters are dark and cold and summers sunny and chilly? And would you be up for it?
I thought what better way to explore that than to have a look at my Instagram gallery, the one place that is full of snapshots of our daily life in Norway, slightly glorified with the fancy filters available and most, if not all crappy days neatly edited away.
This is me on a sunny April day at work, exploring the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Here the work days might have extended to seventeen hours, but at least we had fabulous views!
If you fancy working in Norway you need to get used to the 37,5 hour work week. I mean a 37,5 hour work week that really is 37,5 hours. Or if it isn’t, you will get your time back or extra work done paid, minute for minute. I would assume that you, like I will have no troubles with this one especially as it comes with the statutory annual holidays of five weeks.
Raising a family in Norway can be tricky. Your children will probably learn to ski roughly the same time as they learn to walk, and if skiing is not your cup of tea you might have trouble keeping up!
That aside, families are well supported by the state and from personal experience I can say that the one-year long maternity leave is heaven. Just like the first time around I am loving the possibility to spend this time at home or traveling with the little ones, postponing the possible separation anxiety coming from putting the kids in a state-supported day care which costs roughly NOK 2500 a month (that’s approximately €300 / $420 / £270).
For you to-be-fathers out there, paternity leave is currently three months, and if the mother wants to return to work early, father can stay home instead.
Don’t move to Norway for the food. But cherish the possibility to travel abroad to taste all your favorites. It’s not that there is no good food in the country, it’s just that you might not be able to afford it, especially if you are thinking of eating out.
However, there are some things I wouldn’t change like the waffles. Waffles that are available almost everywhere and can be enjoyed as a snack, dessert or the main course of the meal.
The food in the picture above is from Lofoten also, where the season to dry cod was just kicking in when I visited in early April. Most of the cod will not end up in the Norwegian plates though, but in southern Europe’s kitchens and especially in Portugal and Italy.
When me and my husband made the trek up to Norway’s highest mountain the Galdhøpiggen, a journey which included being tied to a rope in a long line of other hikers to cross a glacier, we were surprised to see that lot of the other hikers where families with children of all ages. That quickly destroyed our illusion (or daydream) of being hardcore explorers conquering a new mountain, but it demonstrates the point that the outdoors in Norway is for everyone, from infants to grandpas and grandmas and this is something I hope will rub in our kids too.
Maybe the most used word in Norwegian?
Koselig can be translated as “cozy”, and the Norwegians are masters of coziness. Our hometown has a whole host of cafés and little boutiques that could only be described as cozy, and what could be more cozy in the darkness and coldness of the winter time than to curl up on a sofa and read a book by the fire? I find it also quite cozy to pass an evening by an open fire in the summer time.
Don’t be put off by the darkness of the winter time, it is not that dark in the southern parts of Norway, especially when the snow hits the ground and reflects even the little light that goes around. That said, go beyond the Arctic Circle and you will be engulfed by the dark season for few months every year. However, come February, March and you could ski in the fabulous conditions above. With a baby in the sledge behind you of course!
High Cost of Living
Is Norway really that expensive?
Yes and no. Yes, it is expensive, but no it isn’t if you earn Norwegian income. Taxes that are deemed high, according to my British husband, are around the same ballpark as the taxes in the UK. And you get so much more for it (take the one year paid maternity leave for example!
Or maybe not…
I’m part of the team co-hosting the Instagram Travel Thursday Linky, an initiative started with Skimbaco Lifestyle online magazine to connect travel and Instagram enthusiasts across borders and I would love if you joined us! Read the guidelines on Skimbaco’s site and get to know us co-hosts better by hovering your mouse over the interactive image below. And once you are ready with your own post, please add it to the Linky in the bottom of the page and check out some of the other participating bloggers! All images except the feature image are from my personal Instagram gallery, you can find me there at @todestinationunknown. The “Lesson in Norwegian” has been making its rounds online and I have no idea who to give credit for the image above. If you know, let me know!