Random Observation/Comment #283: Norway is so expensive, it makes NYC cringe. $15 for a Big Mac. Wtf…
I normally write my travel advice with “things given place does well” and “things given place needs to improve”, but I feel Norway needs a bit of a preface to the complexity of its environment and economy.
The number one thing you’ll find about Norway is the unbelievably high prices for everything. Here are a few benchmark examples:
- $15 Big Mac at mcdonalds
- $6 latte
- $120 lunch at nighthawk diner where we ordered 2 burgers, a tuna melt, an omelet, and 2 0.2l of aass beer
- $125 grocery shopping (which was relatively okay given the amount we bought) closer to a really expensive whole foods
- $6 carton of eggs
- $6 a bottle of beer from a store
- $10 bag of ice
- $5 0.3l bottle of coke zero
- $2.50 a liter of petrol
- $18 a pint of beer at a bar
- $16 pack of cigarettes
- $30 burgers (more or less)
- $40 to add cheese to a baked potato*
As you can see, it’s ridonkculus. Freaking 25% VAT. Speaking to a waiter and some locals about this, we learned that the socialism aspect of Norway reduces the outskirts of the lower and upper class to push everyone into an upper middle class standard. This floor manager at a diner made $60k a year before tax and also claimed to have a summer house in Florida. With the higher wages, there are higher taxes (15-25% VAT on top of bill prices) but they all have the free healthcare, free education, and fairly low costs of housing.
Norway justifies these high prices because they don’t really import goods from anywhere else. They have 0 debt from other nations (unlike the trillions US has to just China alone), so they truly function outside of the world economy.
While an upper class still exists, it seems like there’s less frivolous spending and more saving. They’d probably just have 2 extra dinners out and spend their whole months rent. As a side note, we joked around about it, but the dating scene here must be a lot of cooking at home for others. As marketable dating traits go, I bet cooking is a big one.
Norway budget travel advice:
First off: Don’t come here if you’re on a budget.
- If you’re staying at a hotel, it usually comes with some complimentary breakfast. It was recommended that we also use this for a packed lunch.
- Learn to cook. There’s no getting around it. If you don’t want to spend $20 on lunch, you’re going to have to cook (and still probably spend $10 on ingredients).
- Travel in a larger group. I think this makes more sense in splitting expenses for groups in terms of cooking food.
- Don’t rent a car for the whole time. Car rentals are about as high as NYC, which is around $80 a day
- Buy your alcohol from Sweden. Stromstad is an hour and a half south on the E6 and clearly created for Norwegians to cross the border and buy alcohol.
- If you cannot get to Sweden, buy it before you leave the duty free area on arrival. Seriously.
- Go to museums on Sundays. They are free on Sundays and although regular museum tickets are around $10-15, you can save where you can
- We heard that (similar to Germany), they don’t always check the tram tickets (especially during weekday). I also don’t get the impression they expect crime here.
All in all, just be ready to get shocked by how utterly impossible it is to get by with budget living here. I also found it funny (but now not so funny) that all Norwegians will say “Welcome to Norway…” in that same sarcastic tone.
* $40 for cheese on the baked potato was a real thing. Don’t go to Eilefs Landhandler in Sentrum. Worst place ever.
~See Lemons Poor