Happy Nations #8: Norway

Here is how Norway compares to the United States in each of the six factors for Happiness:

  • GDP: 1.997 v 1.982
  • Social Support: 1.239 v 1.182
  • Healthy Life Expectancy: 0.786 v 0.628
  • Freedom to Make Life Choices: 0.728 v 0.574
  • Generosity: 0.217 v 0.220
  • Perceptions of Corruption: 0.474 v 0.177

We have made it to the Scandinavian countries, and Norway comes out strong, beating America in every category besides generosity.

Other Scoring Systems

How is the eighth happiest nation so highly ranked? Norway is #2 or #1 in three different scoring systems.

Health Care

Norway has universal health coverage, funded primarily by general taxes and payroll contributions shared by employers and employees. Enrollment is automatic.

Norway ranks #9 in quality of healthcare and #19 in Global Health Security.

Children sixteen and under receive free public health care. Most adults have to pay user fees until they reach about $250 a year. Hospital visits and emergency are all free to Norway citizens.

If you are a retiree moving to the country, you will be treated the same as other residents.


About a third of Norway lives in the capital city of Oslo and the surrounding area. Bergen is fairly close-by and has a similar climate. Tromsø is too far North for me, although the weather isn’t that much worse than Oslo.

It does snow a lot in Oslo, similar to Syracuse, New York. You also will experience significant changes in hours of sunlight, from 19 in the summer to only 6 hours in the winter.

The winds are calm, which is a big plus. However, although the summer temperatures not getting too hot would be fine by me, the cold and snowy winters make me hesitant.

Cost of Living

Norway is more expensive to live in than the United States.

Comparing Saint Louis, MO, to Oslo, we see it will cost 23.3% more to live in Oslo. This is a significant change and worth further review.


Norwegian is the official language of Norway. However, 90% of the nation does speak English to some extent. Therefore, Norwegians would expect you to try to learn the language if you wanted to make any social connections.

Acceptance of Others

74% of Norway believes most immigrants enrich the cultural life in Norway.

Norway ranks first in personal freedom on the Legatum Prosperity Index, indicating high social tolerance.

Norwegians are more introverted and usually prefer to spend time with their family at home. It may be challenging to find friends in Norway as an outsider.

Moving Feasibility

A visitor’s visa allows you to stay in Norway or other Schengen countries for up to 90 days over 180 days. A residence permit will enable you to work in Norway and remain for more than 90 days.

There is no retirement permit available to Americans. Therefore, you cannot buy your way into Norwegian residence as in some other countries popular with American retirees.

Work permits are the most common way for foreign citizens to move to Norway, but non-EU/EEA citizens must find a job first.


Norway sounds lovely, except I don’t know if we would be able to get a visa or if I could handle the harsh winters.

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