Norway is a Scandinavian country, made up of over 240,000 islands and a coastline of over 64,000 miles. It is famous for the Fjords and the multiple locations to see the northern lights.
Norway is a preferred location for SAP Consultants due to its relaxed lifestyle, stunning views and the potential for outdoor activities and winter sports, but also, due to the great working culture and the employers’ good reputation of being supportive and flexible with its employees.
Norway’s impressively low crime rate and social equality makes it one of the most desirable countries to live in. It is a rich country, also known for being expensive and almost impossible to afford as a tourist; however, as a local you are paid in the local currency and therefore able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.
For Norwegians, a good work-life balance is very important. Their typical working week consists of five working days and no more than 37 hours. In return, they are very efficient while in the workplace. Norwegians do not like hierarchies, therefore a manager would be likely to ask for the employee’s opinions rather than giving orders.
Some benefits of working for a Norwegian company are the right to shared parental leave, the great July shutdown, leaving early on a Friday, 10 public holidays, and in some occasions, employees are also allowed to do “bridging”, which means to take the Monday or the Friday off when the public holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday. Employers are also big supporters of sunny days therefore they can also let the staff leave early when appropriate.
As the world’s 11th largest exporter of oil, some of the best opportunities for SAP Consultants are in the energy and oil industry. Norway is home to many large private and state-owned organisations covering the energy sector, telecoms, engineering, shipping and more.
Contracts for SAP Consultants often include working remotely one or two days a week with travel expenses covered by the employer, which enables consultants to spend more time with their families in their home country. Some contracts with Norwegian companies are also offered as remote work only.
Working permits and Visas
Nationals from the EU and the EEA can live and work in Norway without a work permit, but they need to register with the police within the first three months of the arrival to get a registration certificate. Nationals from other Nordic countries do not need to register, but they need to report that they have moved country via the National Registry.
Work permits for non-EU/EEA nationals can vary depending of the country of origin. You can find more information on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
Salaries and Taxes
Salaries and daily rates in Norway are usually higher than in other European countries. A usual daily rate for an SAP Consultant is between 500 and 600 euros per day.
The tax rate in Norway can be up to 50% or in some instances, even slightly higher depending on your income. The reason for the high taxes is because these are charged to support public services such as healthcare, pensions and benefits, which are key to Norway’s high quality living standards.
Before you receive your first pay check, you are required to apply for a tax deduction card and give it to your employers. The tax will be deducted directly from your salary and you will be required to submit a tax return by the end of April each year.
You will be happy to know that foreign citizens are given a discount on taxes for the first two years of residence in Norway. In addition, there is a rule known as the “183 days rule”, which can be an advantage for SAP consultants with short period contracts. This rule states that if you have lived in Norway for less than 183 days over a 12 month period, you are not considered a resident and therefore you only pay tax on income earned in Norway. On the other hand, if you lived in Norway for at least 183 over a 12 month period, you must pay tax on your worldwide income, therefore you must make sure that you do not pay tax twice on the same income.
You can calculate how much tax you would pay here.
Payments are done in local currency, the Norwegian Krone (abbreviated as NOK or kr.). Opening a Norwegian bank account could be therefore a good idea to avoid losing money to exchange rates and currency conversions.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Norway is 50-60% higher than in the United Kingdom. There are not many foods that are considered reasonable priced, except from fish and shrimp as most of the other products are imported and therefore have a 14% tax added to the price.
Norwegians have a high-quality living standards even when there is no minimum wage requirement in the country. The lifestyle is also simple and it focuses a lot in family time and outdoor activities – which cost nothing. You will notice for example that going to restaurants or bars is not an everyday activity and it is rather left for special occasions. A standard activity is however, to do trips to Sweden to go shopping, which has led to shopping centres being built just across the border to accommodate the consumers.
The cost of renting in Norway is about 30% higher than in the United Kingdom. Accommodation is expensive in major cities such as Oslo and Stavanger and usually cheaper the further you are located from the big cities. When renting, you will be required to pay one to three months of rent up front as part of the contract.
For more detailed costs of living click here.
Norwegian public transport is reliable and the use of monthly passes is a good way to save money. Buses and trains can be slow for long distance journeys due to Norway’s hilly terrain, making flying a popular option when travelling within the country. Collecting Frequent Flyer Points is as a consequence a very popular practice.
If you are from the EU, you are able to use your current driving license. Pay special attention to alcohol limits, as they are stricter than in the UK. You must also be aware of winter rules and recommendations, such as using winter tyres and being aware of winds and narrower roads due to the snow during the colder months.
A basic medical service is covered by the taxes. When requiring further services, each person must pay for their appointments and prescriptions, but only for up to 2,200 kr. a year. The idea behind it is that everyone pays their fair share but if anyone gets seriously ill, they will not have to worry about expensive bills.
For temporary stays, you can also get limited coverage by using your European Health Insurance Card or you might benefit from getting a health insurance.
The official language is Norwegian, a language closely related to Swedish and Danish and spoken by 95% of the population as a first language. Most Norwegian people also speak English. Some regions also recognise Sami, spoken by some indigenous people, as an official language. There are also smaller populations who speak Servo-Croatian, Arabic and Somali.
As an SAP Consultant, you can usually get by in English in the workplace as most jobs for SAP Consultants in Norway are for English speakers.
Stavanger is located in the Southwest of the country and it is the third-largest city in Norway. The Stavanger region is known as the oil capital of the country and is also one of the fastest-growing cruise ports in Europe.
Stavanger is a traditional city with a picturesque town centre. It is famous for its wooden buildings and the surrounding stunning beaches, hiking areas and ski centres. It is a beautiful place to live and work, and is also great for family life.
Oslo is the capital of Norway and the biggest city in the country. It is a cosmopolitan city with a mixture of nationals and foreigners, mainly from Sweden, Pakistan, Chile, Somalia, Great Britain and the U.S.
Oslo is surrounded by islands, lakes and hills. It is a city full of parks and only a 10 minute boat ride from stunning beaches, which are great to be visited in the summer. In winter, it is perfect for skiing and cross-country trail walking.
Most SAP-Jobs in Norway are based in Oslo and Stavanger, however, there are many other areas nearby that are worth visiting, such as Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located between Norway and the North Pole and a famous destination to see the northern lights. If going to Svalbard, there are some unusual rules you might need to follow, such as taking your passport with you and following the advice from the Governor of Svalbard – which includes how to protect yourself from polar bears and avalanches!
Weather in winter can be a challenge, with only four to five hours sunlight a day and temperatures that can reach below -25°C. Locals deal with the winter by wearing adequate clothing, getting sunlamps for their homes and for the workplace and practicing winter sports like skiing.
Social life and leisure
Norwegian people have two big social values which names have no translation in any other language: One is janteloven, which is a similar value to conformity and equality between all people, and therefore makes it inappropriate to flaunt wealth, achievements or careers status. The other value is dugnad, which means common work, things that you do together with your neighbours.
Norwegians are known for being straightforward. They can also be reserved when they do not know someone very well, but once they get familiar, they become friends for life. This makes the workplace a great environment to socialise and to start building relationships.
Norwegians love to do outdoor activities. They enjoy making the most of a law called allemannsrett (“the everyman’s right”) which gives everyone the right to go anywhere or camp anywhere they please, as long as it is not private land.
Winter sports and handball are popular and some of the sports Norwegians are great at. Football is also popular to play and watch, with tickets to a football match usually being cheaper than in the UK.
Alcohol is an integral part of social life, therefore it is not uncommon to see loud friendly people on the streets or public transport after working hours or on the weekends. Norwegians mostly drink beer and a local schnapps called aquavit.
Most Norwegian food includes fish, rice and potatoes. Portions are usually abundant and substantial and it is in their culture to have “seconds”.
A traditional lunch consists in open sandwiches with meats, fish, egg and vegetables, with a glass of milk. The main meal is usually eaten after work between 4.30pm and 6pm, followed by a small supper in the evening.
Norwegian people are very proud of their food and delicacies – some of which include dried meats, whitefish, reindeer steak and sheep -, therefore complementing the cook could be a good way of starting your new life in Norway with the right foot.
You can have a street view of Oslo here!