-Where were you born?
-In which country and city are you living now?
-Are you living alone or with your family?
With my Danish husband and three children, 6,4, & 7 months
-How long have you been living in Norway?
Since Oct, 2004
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Norway?
We have been moving with my husband’s job since 1998 so we move to where the job is. We lived in Scotland, the US, Singapore and the Philippines before moving to Norway.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
As an EU citizen, married to a Scandinavian, I must renew my work permit annually.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
There is a very well-funded public healthcare system in Norway so although we have private health insurance through my husband’s employer we have not used it.
-How do you make your living in Norway? Do you have any type of income generated?
There is a very comprehensive kindergarten system in Norway so the majority of women work. However as global nomads we have chosen to send our two elder children to an international Montessori preschool so they can keep in line with education in the UK and Ireland. Children here don’t start formal schooling until age 6. Because of the children, and our preschool choice, it isn’t possible for me to work full-time so I write freelance in English. It can take time to get a job but with intensive language training and extensive networking I believe it to be possible for foreigners.
-Do you speak Norwegian and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I can speak Norwegian fairly well and can read the local newspaper and magazines. I highly recommend that anyone thinking of moving to Norway commits to learning the language as although many companies operate through English, Norwegian is still required. Many Norwegians speak good English and insist on using it with foreigners which can make learning Norwegian difficult. However, it’s worth persevering.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I have my family with me but I do miss the friendliness of Ireland. People in Norway are very reserved with strangers and can often appear rude. It is simply a case of them respecting others’ space and not wishing to intrude but sometimes I long for some idle chat! Norwegians tend to be very active, spend a lot of time outdoors; skiing is an essential part of staying sane through the winter months. I love walking in the area where we live which is beautiful and rural despite being only a 20-minute drive from the centre of Oslo.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
We expect to stay in Norway until mid-2009.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
My husband’s employer pays our rent.
-What is the cost of living in Norway?
Norway is very, very expensive; around 25-30% more expensive than Ireland for grocery goods. Sports equipment, baby equipment and books are worth buying online although the customs duties (except on books) are high too so it doesn’t always work out cheaper.
-What do you think about the Norwegians?
As I said earlier, Norwegians can appear cold. However once you get to know people they are very friendly and welcoming.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Norway?
Norway feels very safe for children, with low crime rates and an excellent social welfare system. It is also a well-run country where services work very well. I hate the winter weather though and the fact that shops are closed on Sundays.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Norway?
If you love the great outdoors, don’t mind learning a new language and can stomach the prices, you’ll love Norway.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Norway?
Irish Nomad in Norway. This is my own blog on life in Norway from an Irish point of view.
www.aftenposten.no. A Norwegian newspaper which has an English page.
visitOSLO. A comprehensive tourist site listing all local attractions.