In this blog post I thought that I would write something about living expenses in Finland vs Norway. Everybody says that living in Finland is expensive, but living in Norway is waaaaay more expensive. This is absolutely true in some sense, but there are some tips and tricks to save money in Norway and bring it down to Finland’s level.
It is worth to be noted as well that Norway has higher salaries than Finland, especially for the jobs requiring low/no-education (for example, there is minimum wage around 180 NOK/16.5 € for many fields: cleaning, construction, hotel…). Salary with higher education e.g. Software engineer is almost the same as Finland.
I have divided the living expenses in 4 categories that Norway and Finland differ greatly: Transport, Groceries, Housing and Restaurants. Keep in mind that I plan to stay in Norway for a short time, so some of these tricks may not work if you are here for a longer time (12 months+), since you probably need to register your car to Norway if you plan to stay here longer (which is again… Expensive).
I have heard many times that it is very expensive to travel in Norway domestically since trains, buses and other transport is very expensive. We have our own car so I cannot provide much input on public transport. Furthermore, there is road tolls if you travel by your own car. In Finland I was used to just paying the taxes yearly and then just drive everywhere whenever I like and just paying for the gasoline. Here it is a different story. Also gasoline can be very expensive here if you are not careful. Here are my top tricks for living in a city and taking trips to travel:
- Own a car, but do not use it while in a city. Every time I leave with a car from a parking lot it costs at least 4€ in road tolls. Just buy a bike and keep the car for long distance trips.
- Cities usually have great bike roads and are very accessible by a bike.
- National parks and roads far away from the city usually do not have road tolls so you need to pay them only once.
- Without a car you cannot really go to the national parks and the nature, which are the best part of Norway IMO.
- Keep a watch for gasoline prices: they fluctuate a lot. I have not cracked the gas pricing code yet, but they seem to be lower early in the morning and also at some gas stations farther away from the city.
- I saw one gas station to go from 1.2 € / liter to 1.6€ / liter overnight. So gas up when it is cheap.
It is no secret that basic groceries are more expensive in Norway than in most countries. This is also true when compared to Finland, even though groceries are not too cheap in Finland either. Also the selection is little bit scarce than in EU-countries generally. Few tips:
- Look for the store brands in grocery stores: Xtra, Coop, Rema 1000 etc. brands usually are a lot cheaper than other brands and quality is almost the same.
- Do not buy most expensive things, look for the things in sale. If you go to the shop thinking that you need every vegetable on your list, its gonna cost you. Usually some veggies/fruits are in sale so just try those out, if you do not need specifically the one ingredient.
- Visit international shops. This actually I haven’t tried yet, but I heard there is cheaper vegetarian ingredients, fruits and veggies in the international shops.
The most expensive living difference Norway vs Finland: Housing
There is no way around this, housing in the cities is expensive in Norway. It is also hard to get a short-term rental without being a student. If you cannot find a rental it only leaves hotels or AirBnb as your options which would cost you anywhere around 2000 € / Month. We managed to find a perfect accommodation just outside the city for 1000 € / month. In Finland this kind of money would have gotten us our own sauna and two bedrooms in the suburbs of a city instead of one bedroom we have here. Couple tricks:
- Search Finn.no and Hybel.no for short-term rentals. Use google translate if you cannot understand Norwegian. You can send inquiries for rentals in English or google translate-assisted Norwegian. And if you cannot find a short-term rental, do not hesitate to send a question about short-term rental to landlords/landladies offering long-term rentals. It’s better to rent a short-time than not rent at all 🙂
- If you are a couple, do not dream about a big apartment. Settle down for something smaller. Large apartments cost a fortune to rent.
- Travel in the off-season. Everything is cheaper this way. We got a Scandic hotel with amazing breakfast in the city for 60€/night, which usually would have cost 120€+/night. Use Booking.com, especially if you are genius-member.
- Also prepare to pay at least 60€ per night for your accommodation in Norway. Night in your own tent in a campground is already 20€ per night. Little bit different prices than in central Europe huh?
- If you travel to the nature: Bring your tent. Norwegian has a law that allows you to camp in the wilderness for free. More info.
Norway vs Finland – Living expenses: Restaurants
Most important factor in Norway vs Finland living expenses: Beer. A beer in a bar in Norway costs usually around 10€ and a basic meal between 15€ and 30€. In Finland we are used to high cost in restaurants, but not this high. Few tricks:
- I have read many blogs that say that best way to save money is NOT to go to restaurants and this is absolutely true. Save the restaurants for special occasions and do not drink too many beers in them.
- Use google to find the cheapest quality restaurants. Most central flashy restaurants are usually… not the cheapest. A big surprise.
It is expensive to live here, so what? Nature is so amazing that it alone is a reason to stay here a while. Be mindful of your money as in everywhere else and you’ll be fine.
Did you like this post? Leave a comment! And check my other blog posts on this category: https://mostlygoodblog.com/category/travel-nordic/.