It should not come as a surprise that it’s a bit difficult to make new friends and become a part of the local community in Norway, but a brand new survey has shown just how bad it really is!
The Expat Inside 2022 survey found Norway to be in the top 3 worst countries to move to when it comes to “The ease of settling in”. Expats who moved to Norway notes that it’s difficult to make new friends, many don’t feel welcome, and a high percentage find it difficult to get used to the local culture.
This is good proof that the Norwegian “coldness” that we often talk about is a real issue for many foreigners who move to Norway, and that it’s something that really affects the everyday life of expats here in Norway.
The Expat Inside 2022 Survey
The Expat Inside 2022 Survey is a big survey where people who have relocated to a new move answers a lot of questions about their new life in a new country. By having the same questions asked to people who move to different countries, it’s possible to compare these to each other.
It’s a big publication that you can read for free here, and includes over 100 different countries all over the world and how expats are feeling when it comes to different things in these countries.
The survey gives a lot of cool information about what life really is like for expats all over the world, and the pros and cons of settling down in different parts of the world.
Norway scores high on many things, but not anything related to social interactions
Many people dream of moving to Norway for various reasons, and it’s reflected in the stats from the survey. Norway scores high on things like the feeling of safety, job satisfaction, work-life balance, living standards and healthcare.
But when it comes to the “ease of setting in” category, Norway scores in the bottom 10 on all categories! It’s in an overall position of the bottom 3 (out of all the countries!) along with our neighbor Sweden and the Middle-Eastern country Kuwait.
Norway scores among the worst on things like:
- Difficulty of getting used to the local culture (40% unhappy compared to 19% worldwide).
- Feeling welcome (29% unhappy compared to 16% worldwide).
- Feeling like the general population is friendly towards you (34% unhappy compared to 16% worldwide).
- Making friends (61% unhappy compared to 37% worldwide).
- Having a support network (35% unhappy compared to 24% worldwide.
- The general happiness of their new home (20% compared to 13% worldwide).
It’s not only expats that are lonely in Norway
While this survey uncovers how expats feel after moving to Norway, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a “Norway problem”, not a “Norway’s view on expats problem”.
Loneliness is a huge problem in Norway, and it’s becoming a big issue. Many Norwegians and expats alike find it extremely difficult to find new friends as adults, even when trying their hardest.
Norwegians are known to be pretty cold towards people they don’t know, and it’s pretty common to have a group of friends that you have as your friends for life. It’s extremely difficult to get accepted as a new member for a group of friends, and some will even say that it’s impossible.
We’ve previously written a guide on making friends in Norway. This is worth reading if you are an expat in Norway or plan on moving to Norway in the future. This guide won’t make it easy (it never is in Norway), but it will increase your chances of finding new friends in this cold country.
How Norway is compared to other Nordic countries
The Expat Survey included lots of different countries, including all the Nordic ones. There are some interesting finds, such as the fact that Sweden pretty much shares the bottom place with Norway when it comes to integrating and making expats feel welcome. So our closest neighbors are pretty much just the same as us Norwegians in this regard.
The other two Nordic country, Denmark and Finland, are a bit better. Both Finland and Denmark score much worse in the “ease of settling down” category than the worldwide average, but much better than Norway or Sweden. So it might be a bit easier to get accepted into the local community in either Denmark or Finland, but it’s still considered very difficult.
This shows that the coldness that is often associated with Norway can be found in all the Nordic countries, so none of the Nordic countries are easy to move to.
How this should affect people who want to move to Norway
I want to stress how important it is to be aware of this phenomena when moving to Norway. Many foreigners move here and expect to get a good social life easily like in other countries, but this is almost never the case. Even extremely extroverted people often struggle finding friends in Norway, and you need to be prepared to do a lot of hard work if you want to get accepted into a social circle in Norway.
I’m not trying to scare anyone away from moving here, but I think that it’s very important to be aware of this potential issue before moving to Norway, because it will be challenging and lonely for most people. But hopefully it will be a bit easier to handle if it doesn’t catch you by surprise.
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.