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How to Retire in Norway: Costs, Visas and More

Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway

Some people dream of spending their retirement on beaches, but others find joy in quaint villages, winter sports, snowy landscapes or dramatic views of glassy smooth fjords nestled between soaring mountain peaks. If the latter is more your style, you may want to consider retiring in Norway. If  are for you, this article lays out everything you need to know, from the cost of living to healthcare to immigration and visa laws.

Cost of Living and Housing

On average, the cost of living in Norway is about 40% higher than in the U.S., not including rent, according to Numbeo, although rental prices are about 15% lower than in the U.S. If you plan to live exclusively off your Social Security retirement benefit, it will be challenging to do in Norway.

Purchasing a home in Norway is significantly more expensive than in the U.S. The average price per square foot to purchase an apartment in the U.S. in a city center is about $292, but to purchase in a city center in Norway costs an average of $610 per square foot. Therefore, your dollar will go much further if you choose to rent in Norway rather than buy.

Retire in Norway – Visas

Unlike some European countries, Norway does not have a retirement permit or retirement visa available. Therefore, to live in Norway without a work permit, a person must have a permanent residence and enough money to sustain themselves.

Although there is no retirement visa, Norway does grant citizenship and permanent residence visas. To obtain permanent residence, a person must meet several criteria, including an annual income of at least NOK 191,422, or about $21,300. Applicants must also learn Norwegian and pass the relevant tests. Be sure to investigate the Royal Norwegian Embassy’s website to learn more about applying for a permanent residency.

Retire in Norway – Healthcare

A Norwegian fjord
A Norwegian fjord

Healthcare in Norway is free for permanent residents and citizens. To obtain a health card, residents and citizens simply order it online. They will need to show proof of their citizenship or permanent residency by providing their Norwegian ID number to order a card.

Each resident or citizen pays taxes, which cover healthcare costs through the National Insurance Scheme. Each adult must also pay a deductible each year before becoming eligible for an exemption card, but the out-of-pocket cost per person is $860.

All Norwegians and Norwegian residents have access to quality care regardless of their social or economic status. Primary, preventative and nursing care are all organized locally, and the local governments organize initiatives and campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles.

Retire in Norway – Taxes

It is well known that taxes in Norway are high. However, the taxes that people pay contribute to national healthcare, infrastructure and more. While Norwegian residents pay taxes on the income they earn worldwide, retirees living in Norway only pay taxes on the income they earn within Norway. Therefore, if you earn an income in Norway, the income tax is 22%, and a progressive tax bracket is in place for people who earn more than about $19,416 per year. The maximum income tax that someone will pay in Norway is 38.2%.

Retire in Norway – Safety

Norway is one of the safest nations in the world. And it has been getting safer in recent years. According to one gauge, it is as safe as Switzerland. The country compares favorably with the U.S., which, one study found, has a total crime rate 36 times higher than Norway’s. It is even safe compared to its Scandinavian neighbors: Since 2002, its murder rate is estimated to be half that of Sweden’s. Such crime as does occur is mostly in the capital of Oslo, and the overwhelming majority of these offenses are property crimes like theft.

Still, even property crimes are uncommon, which may, in part, account for many people’s practice of leaving their bicycles outside unlocked.

The Takeaway

Coastal village in norther Norway
Coastal village in norther Norway

Norway is a beautiful country full of small towns and gorgeous landscapes. While it can be challenging to obtain permanent residence status there, the superior healthcare and incredible range of available activities make it well worth it. If you’d like to build an international retirement plan, be sure to speak with your financial advisor. They can help you plan appropriately and connect you with individuals to make your international transition easier.

Tips on Retiring

  • As you explore possible places to retire consider talking to a financial advisor to help you sort through the costs of various options and which options you can afford. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors to help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • Part of sorting through your ability to afford retirement locations is knowing what your monthly Social Security check will be. A Social Security calculator will give you a pretty good estimate.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Eachat, ©iStock.com/CHUNYIP WONG, ©iStock.com/TK\sara_winter

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