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A Quick Guide to Living and Working in... Stavanger, Norway!

Posted by: Kevin Delhaye

Stavanger is Norway’s third-largest urban zone and fourth-largest principality, with an estimated population of 130,000. Stavanger won the 2008 title of European Capital of Culture along with Liverpool of the UK. Renowned for its oil industry since 1969, Stavanger has also earned the moniker Oil Capital of Norway. Needless to say, its booming offshore oil industry provoked rapid population growth throughout the 20th century. 

Norwegian energy company Statoil, which happens to be the largest company in the entire Nordic region, is headquartered in Stavanger. If you’re looking to relocate to 2008’s Capital of Culture and, whether that move is to accept a job position in offshore oil or another industry entirely, you’re in for a treat.

Emergency Services: Fire brigade: 110; police: 112; Ambulance: 113. 
Language: Norsk (Norwegian); written language: Bokmal. Bokmal is the preferred written standard for roughly 85-90% of Norway. 
Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Calling code: +47

Living: Stavanger was, historians and archaeologists believe, a key south-west coastal market town in Norway during the 12th century through to the 14th. Its main industries now are offshore oil, shipping, shipbuilding, fish canning, and other associated sectors. 

The climate of Stavanger has been described as maritime mild temperate by ClimateData. Summers are pleasant, with average peak temperatures hitting 19-20 degrees C. While Stavanger maintains reasonable winds throughout the year, peak low temperatures rarely fall below -1 degrees C. If you’re moving to Stavanger from the United Kingdom, you will barely notice the difference! If, however, you’re moving to Stavanger from an equatorial country, the weather might come as a shock to the system initially. Be ready to wear woolly jumpers and thick coats. 

Stavanger is partitioned into 22 parts, and 218 subparts, while also being divided into 7 boroughs. As far as I know, there’s no examination that requires you to memorise all of those, though. The borough known as Old Stavanger, or Gamle Stavanger in Norsk, largely constitutes restored wooden buildings from around 200 years ago. The Council of Europe, in 1975, even noted Gamle Stavanger for its ability to perform “rehabilitation… without loss of character.” Pretty neat. 

If you’re interested in sport, some notable teams in Stavanger include Viking FK from the Norwegian football Premier League; Stavanger Oilers ply their trade in the Norwegian ice hockey league, GET-ligaen. Some of the popular music genres include jazz, orchestral, and black metal – certainly diverse! 

Schooling: The UIS, or University of Stavanger, was the fifth university to be established in Norway. The Norwegian education system has different age groups from the UK, say. For example, Barneskole (elementary school) is for pupils aged 6-13; Undomsskole (lower secondary school) is for those pesky 13-16 year olds, and Videregaende skole (upper secondary school) sees 16-19 year olds earn the qualifications that will enable them to go to university. As of 2014, 82% of enrolees for post-secondary school education successfully graduated. Some research of the local schools will stand you in good stead to ensuring your child gets the best education possible. 

Getting around: Stavanger’s local bus service is administered by Rogaland Kollektivtrafikk (RKT) under the brand name “Kolumbus”. The city centre has a plethora of bus services and taxis available. 

Stavanger Airport, Sola, is approximately 15 minutes away from the city centre by car. Like most cities in Europe, Stavanger has competent road and rail networks, too. 

Work permit: In Norway, you need a residence permit to be able to work. It’s recommended that you acquire a job before heading over. EU/EEA nationals will find that they are entitled to work, study, and live in Norway for more than three months provided they register with The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration; non-EU/EEA nationals will find that they need to apply for a residence permit. More information regarding each country can be found here.

Healthcare: Stavanger has more than 5 hospitals, with the Stavanger University Hospital being the fourth-largest. 

Food: Norway’s cuisine focuses largely on game and fish, given the lush surrounding forests and the grey-blue wilderness of the North Sea. A classic Norwegian breakfast, also known as Frokost, consists of milk or fruit juice, coffee, and open sandwiches with meat cuts, spreads, cheeses, or jam. For lunch and dinner, fish or meat will often be met on the plate by potatoes. The game includes fish, moose, reindeer, mountain hare, duck, rock ptarmigan, and fowl. 

Drinking: Of course, we primarily focus on alcohol here, but it’s worth noting that Norway is the second highest consumer of coffee in the world as a nation. Coffee and cake is a common invitation in Norwegian culture. B eon your guard.

As for the booze, both industrial and small-scale brewing have long traditions in Norway. Craft beer is on the rise.

If you journey into rural Norway and befriend the right (or wrong) people, you might come across some moonshine. Be warned, however: it is illegal by Norwegian law to produce a beverage with more than 60% alcohol by volume. 

Due to the climate being inhospitable to grape rearing, wine is often imported from big monopolies. 

Safety and crime: Optimistically, when cross-referenced against population growth, the crime rate in Norway is at a 24 year low. Bizarrely, studies in recent years have found reason to indicate that criminals from other nations will journey to Norway and commit crimes simply in order to enjoy the prisoner experience of Norway, which is ostensibly better than in many other nations… don’t go getting any ideas! 

Overall, Stavanger will be a new experience. Whether it’s trying rock ptarmigan on your plate, finding yourself a connoisseur of craft beer, or assimilating into its rich offshore oil industry – there’s plenty to keep you busy without ever needing to wonder how pleasurable their prisons are. 

Price guide

3 course meal for 2, mid-range 800 NOK $102.21
Draught beer 80 NOK $10.22
Loaf of bread 23.24 NOK $2.97
Mid range bottle of wine 140 NOK $17.89
Gas/Petrol (1 litre) 14.58 NOK $1.86
Taxi (1 km) 14 NOK $1.79
Rent - 1 bed, city centre* 9,755.08 NOK $1246.37


We'll be back again next month with another Expat Guide. If you have a location you'd like to learn a little more about, please leave a comment below! 

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