“Gosh, I miss my beer, I can´t afford it here, this country is damn expensive!” Remarked my friend, a fellow FK 2010 participant from Mozambique. I joined him and other colleagues over lunch and all I gathered were people complaining over how they have had to temporarily quit drinking since they stepped in Norway.
Alcohol is particularly expensive in Norway due to a high liquor tax, even Norwegians acknowledge this. It is even more expensive if you buy it from the clubs and hotels. So most would prefer to buy alcohol in bulk from the malls and enjoy cocktails as opposed to buying drinks at a bar. Many would also drink at their homes before they finally flock the clubs.
I could totally understand my colleagues who love their one, two, many beers especially those coming from Africa where alcohol is quite affordable. Like any other woman I love shopping bigtime, however all the time I have gone shopping, I come back to the house, check on my receipts and finally convert the amount into Kenyan shillings and feel really disappointed for spending so much.
I have been in great dilemma, because I am so tempted to keep shopping and window shopping, after all why can´t I afford to buy great stuff ranging from 100 shillings. As I try to pick on a given item, I mean 100 shillings looks so cheap, right? My Norwegian friends go like, that´s too expensive. Do you really want it? Then, I immediately convert that into Kenyan currency by multiplying by 12 and it comes to Ksh. 1200 and I immediately realise truly, it is very expensive.
I recently bought a Vaseline Petroleum Jelly at NOK 89, it sounds cheap right, this would translate to Ksh.1068, while I would buy the same Vaseline in Kenya at less than Ksh. 200.(Ksh. 167 to be precise)
Looks can be deceiving and so are Norwegian price tags. At first time, at the petrol station, I thought to myself, how cheap could this be when I saw fuel priced at NOK 12.89. Then my friend lamented, “Fuel is very expensive in Norway and so is driving in general.” Then I thought to myself, just 13 shillings, who on earth cannot afford fuel for 12.89 a litre.
Then I finally converted the figures into Kenyan money and I did understand what she meant. When a litre of petrol or diesel rises in Kenya, it sends protest from the drivers, motorists and even Matatu welfare associations. So multiplying the NOK 12.89 by 12, I gather that one litre of fuel at Norway could translate to Ksh. 154.68. This is expensive. Parking restrictions are strict but clearly indicated. Paid parking is common during weekdays along city streets as well as in many parking lots. The most common system used in Norway is the automated parking meter (P-automat). This is also heavily paid for, depending on how long one parks at a given place.
Many are the times I hear people asking me, how is life in Norway? Expensive? My response has always been, very expensive. This is the truth and nothing but the truth, as long as you ask me. Norwegians know this very best and therefore they are always giving you tricks on how to spend less and where to shop at affordable prices.
Because of the various seasons year in year out, Norwegians are forced to shop a new, replace their car tyres, diet and basically change their lifestyles. In autumn, they will shop in readiness for winter, woolen clothes, boots, rain coats, generally they will try to be warm. All these need prior planning. Come summer time, most will plan to take vacation heading to different countries as well as shop for summer. So all year round, there are various discounts and sales to clear away existing stock in preparation for new season. Therefore, it is practical to get advise like, when you want to shop for summer, do it either during winter season or spring and vise versa.
Another important information they will give foreigners is the fact that it is very expensive to keep asking people for dates and paying for them. So this explains the reason behind Norwegians inviting you for dinner, coffee and drink dates and expect you to pay for yourself. Alternatively, they will always invite you to their homes as compared to eating at a restaurant.
They have alternative solutions to everything, because they have accepted the reality that though their wage system is well-paying, this country is very expensive. Even though most families have a car or two, most will prefer to use their bicycles to work just to save on fuel and parking fee. They also put on the fact that riding a bicycle is even healthier than driving to work. This explains why most would prefer to carry packed lunch instead of buying lunch from the restaurants.
You will also find many youth staying together in one apartment unlike having an individual manage an apartment on their own. My three girlfriends share a huge three bedroom apartment and each pays NOK. 3000.
“The house costs us NOK 9000, (Kshs.108,000) and though we are all working and with great pay, we can´t afford to rent the house on an individual account, so we came together and decided to cost share on this one. We love this apartment and we have lived here for the past two years,” said Ingre. Most university and college students will fall under this system of housing.
It is even challenging when you realise that the least amount of airtime available is NOK 50. (Ksh.600) So because I am in the diaspora and need to communicate to my people back at home, when I am tempted to buy airtime worth NOK 500, I immediately remind myself, hey Patience, that is six thousand in Kenya, mind how you use it. Imagine back at home, I mean it is very easy to find yourself buying airtime for Ksh. 500 and not thinking about it.
Norway is a great place to live and work. The cities are clean and safe, outdoor activities are endless and Norwegians place a strong emphasis on finding a good balance between work and life. It is advisable when relocating to Norway, find a job that utilizes your skills and provides you with the finances needed to live in this enjoyable, yet expensive country. Now you know!