Many students dream of moving to Norway for a semester (or more) as an international student, and get a feel for Norwegian culture, nature and education all at the same time.
The only problem is just that Norway is incredible expensive, especially for non-working international students! So, are there any cities in Norway that are cheaper for international students than others?
The cheapest cities for international students in Norway are Volda, Evenstad, Bø, Førde, Gjøvik and Tromsø. Generally speaking, any town is far cheaper than the big cities like Bergen, Trondheim and Oslo.
These towns are considered some of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway, and we’re going to take a closer look at each one of them, and their pros and cons. So, let’s get to it!
What makes certain cities cheaper than others for international students?
Norway is generally an expensive country, buy many of the costs will be the same no matter if you live in Volda or Oslo. This includes things like food, entertainment and to a lesser extent, transportation and electricity.
The number one thing that will affect how cheap or expensive a city or town in Norway is, are the prices you need to pay to rent an apartment.
For instance, a small 1-bedroom apartment for a single person in Oslo will on average cost over 10,000 Norwegian kroner per month! That’s the equvialent to over $1,000 USD, so it’s very expensive to most people.
The very same apartment in a small town like Volda, Bø og at Evenstad can cost around 4,000 to 5,000 NOK, meaning that’s its half the price.
Over a year, this adds up to a lot of money, and can even be a big factor when choosing where to study in Norway.
A quick look at the different cheapest cities for international students in Norway
We’re going to take a closer look at the 6 cheapest cities for international students in Norway below, so you can get a rough idea of what each place is like, and how it’s to be a student in the city.
Volda is always the number one stop whenever the Norwegian newspapers research and rank the cheapest cities for international students in Norway, so it’s a great choice!
The other towns and cities on the list tend to be changing a bit, but Volda is just overall super cheap compared to a lot of other places.
But what’s Volda like? The town itself is beautiful town in western Norway, not far from Ålesund. It has a fjord literately in the town center, and beautiful, steep mountains wherever you look!
The town has almost 5,000 students, but only 9,000 inhabitants. As you can imagine, this makes it a perfect “student town” where over one third of the population are students.
There’s a good cultural scene, and as you can imagine, a lot of the businesses and stores in the town caters towards the students.
What you can study at Volda: The college university is called Volda University College, and they offer degrees in journalism, teaching, history, literature, health care and more.
Evenstad is a pretty small town located in the Innlandet region of Norway. This is a place known for its thick forests, incredible nature and cold winters, and it’s perfect for those if you who want to experience the forested regions of Norway.
The university campus at Evenstad is a rather small one with only 220 students. This has both pros and cons.
And the town of Evenstad is not much bigger, with it’s 2,700 inhabitants. It’s a rural, small-town, which can make for a unique experience.
This town in the “middle of nowhere” has very cheap housing, both on-campus and privately, so it’s easily one of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway.
And not only are there cheap housing in Evenstad, but the remote location has few attractions and entertainment options for you to spend your money on, so it’s not like you’re going to be spending lots of money on concerts and things like that at Evenstad.
That said, there is a lot of fun to be had at Evenstad if you like nature. The people who study at this small town are known to enjoy spending a lot of time out in nature, so it’s the perfect choice if you want to focus on being out in nature instead of in a city.
What you can study at Evenstad: The campus at Evenstad is part of the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, and they offer degrees in biological sciences.
Bø (in Telemark)
I actually did my bachelor’s degree in Bø, so I have a lot of experience with the town that has about 6,000 inhabitants, as well as around 3,000 students living there.
Bø is a pretty big town, but not big enough to make it a city. It’s known for being centered around the university, since one third of the people living in the town are students, and many of the other part are working at the university.
It’s a great place to be a student if you want proximity to nature, and it’s just a short bus or car ride away from the mountain Lifjell. This is a popular mountain for hiking either day trips or multiple day hikes, and a perfect place to go picking cloudberries or just experiencing Norwegian nature.
There are lots of international student who chooses to study in Bø because of the surrounding nature. There are international students from all over the world at the campus, and it used to be a great place for international students (at least back when I was a student there).
Bø itself is a pretty small place with just a few shopping centers and a small town center.
It does have a great cultural scene though! It’s a good choice if you want to go to the theater, concerts or shows without living in a big city.
And if you want to get to a bigger place, the city of Skien is just 45 minutes away with bus or car, while Oslo is a 2 hour train ride.
What you can study in Bø: The university in Bø is part of the University of South-Eastern Norway, and offers degrees in IT, natural and environmental sciences, business administration, cultural studies, and more.
PS. the reason why we call it Bø in Telemark is because there’s also another town called Bø in Vesterålen, so don’t mix these two places up.
PPS. make sure to ask me in the comment section if you got any questions about Bø or being at student there!
Førde is a pretty big town with around 10,000 inhabitants, on the western coast of Norway.
As with Volda, Førde is a great choice if you dream of living right at a Norwegian fjord and experiencing the climate and ecosystems of the western part of the country.
Førde is usually ranked among the cheapest cities for international students in Norway. The campus in Førde is pretty small with about 900 students, so the university itself is not the biggest one.
You have plenty of opportunities to go out and experience the Norwegian nature, but you need to drive for around 3 hours to get to a big city with a cultural scene (which would be Bergen in this case).
But if you’re after a laid-back student environment with focus on nature, Førde can be a good choice for many of you. It’s right in the middle of the fjord region, with an insanely beautiful nature just around the corner!
What you can study at Førde: The campus at Førde is part of Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and offers education in health sciences, engineering, and maritime sciences.
Gjøvik is a city located a few hours north of Oslo. It is located in the Innlandet region of Norway, so expect a lot of forest, valleys and pristine nature.
There are roughly 5,000 students at the campus in Gjøvik, and about 30,000 regular non-student inhabitants in the city.
This makes it a good mix of students and non-students, and it’s easy to find a young crowd in the city if you want to.
Gjøvik is big enough to have all the commodities you expect from a Norwegian city, while also being small enough that you get to know the local people.
It’s among the cheapest cities for international students in Norway, and the housing prices are very decent, although not as low as in the small towns like Førde or Volda.
However, it’s a good option if you want to live in a real city, and not a town.
What you can study in Gjøvik: The campus at Gjøvik is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and offers degrees in engineering, IT, mathematics, health care, economics and more.
Tromsø is probably the most well-known of the cities on this list, especially to foreigners, but it’s actually a pretty cheap place to live.
Being a student in a city in northern Norway is a bit different from in the southern part of Norway. Tromsø has 64 days of midnight sun, and about two months of polar nights (with no sun at all).
You are guaranteed to see the aurora borealis many times if you stay the entire winter, and will experience the harsh and unforgiving Norwegian winter firsthand.
There are over 77,000 inhabitants in Tromsø, and by far makes it the biggest cities in the list of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway.
There are also about 12,000 students in the city, many of them from other countries across the world. The city is known for having a young population, and a thriving cultural scene.
Want to try northern Norway when studying in Norway? Great, Tromsø is the place for you!
What you can study in Tromsø: The campus in Tromsø is part of The Arctic University of Norway, and offers courses and degrees in biological sciences, engineering, maritime sciences, languages and literature, economics and administration, teaching and more.
The cheapest cities for international students in Norway might not be the best choice
While it might be tempting to move to one of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway, you need to think about the bigger picture. Are you really prepared to live in Evenstad, a rural town with less than 3,000 inhabitants when you come to Norway as a student?
Some might be, but you should consider which option is the best for you. You might find that it’s not too bad to pay a few thousand Norwegian kroner per month to be able to be a student in one of the bigger cities like Oslo, Trondheim or Bergen.
These bigger cities will have many more students, a much better cultural scene, more options for entertainment, and a all the amenities of a big city that you might not find in a small town in rural Norway.
Most international students who come to Norway to study does so for a semester (5 months) or two (10 months or a year), and it’s going to be a costly adventure no matter if you live in Førde or Oslo.
A few things to consider when wanting to rent a cheap apartment in Norway
I recommend all international students who come to Norway to apply for renting an apartment from the student housing. It might sound a bit boring to live in these student apartment blocks, but trust me, it’s going to save you a lot of money!
This is especially true for bigger cities, and you might find decently priced student housing even in the big cities. The big problem is that the student apartments owned by the local student groups are far less than the number of students, so it’s not like everyone who applies will be able to get one.
But if you can get a student apartment, seriously consider getting it.
Make sure to check out our guide to renting an apartment in Norway, no matter if you’re moving to one of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway, or one of the more expensive options.
There are a few “unspoken rules” about renting apartments in Norway, and you are better off if you already know of these when getting into the process.
Are university degrees really free in Norway?
University degrees are kind of free in Norway, but not really. What this means is that you need to pay a small semester fee, typically between 600 and 900 NOK ($60 to $90 USD) per semester.
You absolutely do need to pay this fee, but that’s pretty much it. There are no tuition or additional fees to getting a university degree in Norway, no matter which nationality you have.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.