Discover Oslo

8 min read
15 Nov 2023

slo, on the eastern coast of Norway, is surrounded by forests, hills and the Oslo Fjord, a long, deep and narrow body of water that reaches inland. It’s a compact city full of innovation, free and low-cost education, nature, international networks, with a world-class culture and an urban lifestyle. Oslo is one of the fastest-growing capitals in Europe, but it’s also small enough to give people and organizations visibility, and resourceful enough to be a pioneering springboard for ideas and growth.

Oslo has a rapidly growing startup scene with a focus on tech and sustainability. It’s home to several notable companies, including Kahoot, a popular educational technology company that gained worldwide recognition for its interactive learning platform; and Schibsted, a Norwegian media conglomerate known for its digital classifieds and marketplaces, such as Oslo’s startup ecosystem benefits from a supportive government, access to capital and a strong focus on sustainability and innovation. Additionally, the Norwegian capital is home to the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded annually, making the city a symbol of peace and diplomacy.


Before you arrive

Life in Oslo offers a high quality of living with a work-life balance highly ranked by Kisi as some of the best in the world in 2022, attracting entrepreneurs from all over. Norway is part of the Schengen Area, so citizens of Schengen countries can enter for short stays without a visa. For longer stays or employment, non-EU/EEA citizens typically require work permits, which are often sponsored by their employers. Students can apply for a student visa to study in Oslo’s world-class universities. Additionally, Norway introduced a digital nomad visa in 2021, allowing remote workers to live and work in Oslo for up to six months, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. This makes it an attractive option for digital nomads seeking a temporary home in this vibrant Nordic city. For more information, consult the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) ( for the most up-to-date and specific visa requirements and regulations.

Insurance and taxes

In Oslo, having health insurance is not compulsory for residents, as the country has a publicly funded healthcare system that provides essential medical services to all residents. However, many choose to supplement this with private health insurance for additional coverage and faster access to specialized care. If you’re a freelancer or self-employed individual, you’ll need to register for a tax number through the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten). This can be done online (at, and you’ll need to provide information about your business activities, income and other relevant details. Norway has a progressive tax system with relatively high income taxes, typically starting at around 22% for lower incomes and going up to around 45% for higher incomes. There may also be a separate municipal tax rate, which varies depending on the municipality you reside in. However, these taxes fund the comprehensive social welfare system, which includes healthcare, education and various public services, ensuring a high standard of living in Oslo and throughout the country. It’s advisable to consult a tax advisor or the Norwegian Tax Administration for specific guidance on tax matters in Oslo.

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Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Oslo as an expat is a straightforward process, even if you don’t speak Norwegian. Several international and local banks in Oslo offer services in English, making it convenient for newcomers to access them. International banks like Nordea (, Norway’s largest bank DNB (, and SEB ( provide English-language support and a range of banking services tailored to expats, including online banking, currency exchange, and assistance in setting up accounts for both personal and business use. To open an account, you typically need to visit a local branch in person and provide proof of identity (passport or national ID) and proof of residence in Norway. It’s a good idea to compare the offerings and fees of different banks to choose the one that best suits your needs. Additionally, some digital banks and fintech startups have gained popularity in Oslo, including Lunar (, offering innovative banking solutions and often providing services in English, which can be appealing for tech-savvy expats.

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Getting around

Getting around in Oslo is convenient and eco-friendly, thanks to its well-developed local transport networks, and thriving cycling culture. The city boasts an efficient public transportation system, including trams, buses and subways, all integrated under the Ruter ( system. The Oslo Metro (T-bane) is a particularly useful way to navigate the city, connecting key neighborhoods and attractions. For those who prefer cycling, Oslo is known for its commitment to sustainable transportation. The city has an extensive network of bike lanes and rental services such as Oslo Bysykkel (, making it easy to explore on two wheels. The bike-sharing system offers a convenient and affordable way to pedal through the bike-friendly metropolis. Oslopolitans also love to walk everywhere; it's a very walkable city.

Finding an apartment

Finding an apartment in Oslo can be a competitive process, and the approach largely depends on your preferences and circumstances. Many newcomers turn to online platforms, such (one of the main rental platforms) or the Facebook group “Oslo Housing, Rooms, Flats, Apartments, Sublets,” where individuals often post listings for available apartments. However, the demand can be high, and you might face stiff competition for desirable properties. Alternatively, recruiting a real estate agent can be advantageous, especially if you prefer a more guided and efficient search. Real estate agents have access to a broader range of listings and can offer tailored advice and help with the paperwork and negotiations. It’s a good idea to explore all options, including online classifieds and official housing websites, to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

Language essentials

The official language in Oslo is Norwegian, and the standard form is known as Bokmål. Most Norwegians are fluent in English, and you’ll find that English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas. Learning Norwegian can be a rewarding experience, although some newcomers may find it challenging due to its complex grammar and pronunciation. However, Norwegians generally appreciate efforts to speak their language, so learning some basic phrases and greetings can go a long way in making connections! There are several language schools and resources available, including The Oslo Adult Education organization or those offered by universities like the University of Oslo ( A great resource is this guide put together by the city of Oslo: Online platforms such as Duolingo ( and Babbel ( also offer Norwegian language courses for beginners and intermediate learners.


Where to work

Whether you’re a digital nomad or remote worker, Oslo offers numerous coworking spaces tailored to different needs, such as TheFactory (, MESH ( and 657 Oslo ( Many provide well‑equipped workstations, meeting rooms and networking opportunities.

Additionally, Oslo boasts a strong café culture, and many cafés offer free Wi-Fi, making them great spots to work. Some popular choices include Tim Wendelboe (, Fuglen ( and Java Kaffebar ( These locations offer not only a comfortable working environment but also excellent coffee and a taste of local Oslo culture while you work. Whether you prefer a dedicated coworking space or a cozy caf., Oslo offers a variety of options to suit your work style.

Work Culture

Work culture in Oslo reflects the city’s values of efficiency, professionalism and a healthy work-life balance. Norwegians typically have a straightforward and egalitarian approach to business dealings, emphasizing honesty and direct communication. Meetings are often well-organized and focused, and punctuality is highly regarded. While professionalism is paramount, Norwegians also value a healthy work-life balance, and it’s common to have shorter working hours compared to some other countries. Socializing outside of work can be essential for building relationships, so it’s not unusual to go for a casual dinner or engage in outdoor activities with colleagues, fostering a relaxed and cooperative atmosphere. Understanding and respecting the local business etiquette, which combines professionalism with a relaxed approach, is key to successful interactions in Oslo’s work culture.

Starting a company

Starting a company in Oslo involves several steps. First, you’ll need to register your business with the Brønnøysund Register Centre (, which is the central business registry in Norway. This can often be done online and requires details about your company’s name, business activities and ownership structure. Additionally, if you need information and support regarding employment, social security and benefits for employees and businesses, make sure to contact the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) ( For taxes and accounting, it’s advisable to hire a local accountant or accounting firm familiar with Norwegian tax laws and regulations. They will assist with tax filings, financial statements and other compliance requirements. To open a business bank account, you can approach local and international banks in Oslo, which offer business banking services. Be prepared to provide the necessary business registration documents and identification.

Where to get business support

Several organizations offer free or subsidized services to help businesses get set up and grow, so make sure to seek guidance from local business associations or chambers of commerce such as the Oslo Chamber of Commerce (Oslo Handelskammer) (, Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway) ( and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon - NHO) ( These institutions offer support and resources for startups and businesses looking to establish themselves in Oslo. They are helpful for navigating the specific requirements and regulations related to starting and operating a company in Oslo, offering advice, funding opportunities and access to networks.

Want to know more about Oslo? 

The Explorer Series: Oslo is a pocket guide that includes valuable local tips and interviews with local experts and founders.
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Written by Yessica Klein