Visiting Norway on a Budget
How to Live Cheap in Norway
I spent 40 days and 40 nights in Scandinavia this summer, and even though I did as much research as I could, there were still many things that I was not ready for. The first things that come to mind when you mention Norway are the fjords, mountains, and breath-taking outdoor recreation opportunities, but I spent most of the time in Southern Norway, where there aren’t many mountains—and it’s more expensive.
I had visited Norway in the winter 6 months earlier—so I knew it was expensive—but everything had gone up in price. It was a bit of a sticker shock, but I learned to live cheap as I went, and that meant not eating out as much. A cheeseburger and a beer can easily cost $20, and that adds up fast!
If you’re going to Norway and you don’t know how to cook, it’s going to be expensive. I was fortunate enough to stay with my fiancée at her mother’s home, so we weren’t staying in hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs every day, and we had a kitchen. Grocery stores can be just as expensive if you don’t know what to look for. Just like in the US, there are affordable options for almost everything.
First Price is the go-to brand if you’re trying to save money at the grocery store in Norway. First Price is a great option when you’re buying frozen foods like pizza, but they offer a variety of products that taste just as good as the big brands, but sometimes half the price. Just be mindful to bring your own bag!
Eating on the go can be a bit of a struggle if you’re trying to save money by not eating out. One of the most effective solutions I discovered for this was to buy as I go. You can buy a hardy loaf of delicious bread, a tube of mayonnaise, and a block of Norwegia for under 100 NOK, and make it last about a week. Buy your deli meat as you go, since it will spoil. Don’t forget the trusty Norwegian multi-tool known as an ostehøvel!
One little secret that helped our grocery bill was shopping in Sweden. Again, we were lucky enough to only be 20 minutes away from a Swedish grocery store, but it was a total game changer. I spent $70 USD for two weeks of food. Compared to back home in the US or Norway, that would have easily cost around $200 USD! There’s a huge price difference in the price of just about everything. In Norway, a pack of cigarettes was about $16 USD, whereas in Sweden it was around $10 USD. I’ve picked up vaping in an attempt to stop smoking cigarettes, but I quickly found out that Norway doesn’t allow nicotine in their vape juice. That’s right. There are plenty of vape stores in Norway, but none of them sell nicotine.
Getting around Scandinavia is pretty easy, even if you don’t speak the language. There’s mass transit just about everywhere, and bikeshare and e-scooter options for every place in between. If you time your trip right, you can hop on the ferry from Fredrikstad, Norway to Stromstad, Sweden twice a week so you can get your grocery and tobacco shopping done.
It takes about an hour and a half between the two cities, and it’s a great time to unwind and relax with a beer while you look out at the ocean and remote homesteads on the islands you pass by along the way. Since it’s an international ferry, they sell tax-free or duty-free items like chocolate and tobacco too! Even in the off season, a round trip on the Sagasund between Fredrikstad and Stromstad costs about $15 USD and is always a fun adventure. If my memory serves me correctly, I bought a carton of cigarettes and brunch for two with beer for about $50 USD.
I ran out of nicotine vape juice, so we decided to make a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden—but that adventure deserves its own post. Check back soon to find out why I thoroughly read the reviews for hostels and tips on how to NOT get fucked over by the Pakistani Mafia.