“Oslo is damn expensive” is what you read everyday on blogs and forums of international people in Oslo. THINK AGAIN! Coming from Zürich all seems quite cheap: food, housing, transport etc… I arrived 5 days ago in Oslo and here are my first impressions. On top of the cost of living difference a couple of things that I immediately found easier in Oslo than in Zürich.
1. Lunch for less than 10 euros (90 NOK)
As you know by now, eating (out) is my #1 concern. While my husband is being fed by a chef at his work’s canteen, I had to find my own lunch in the area. We’re living in Frogner, the posh area of Oslo with lots of trendy restaurants, a bit like Seefeldstrasse in Zürich or Darling St in Balmain, Sydney. Here are a couple of lunches we can get for less than 90 NOK:
- Crepe complete et champignon (egg, ham, cheese, mushroom on a buckwheat French pancake) at Les Crepes d’Elen, authentic recipe and products from Britanny – 89 NOK
- Take away Japanese: 10 pieces including 2x salmon nigiri 1x scallop 1x tuna and 6 salmon avocado makis for 87 NOK at Japo Sushi. That would be at least CHF16 at Yooji’s in Zürich and there would be no scallop.
- Oh and tap water is free! How many times have I been charged CHF 3 (=3 euros) for a half a liter jar of tap water?
- Grilled chicken whole from the local ICA Supermarket: 60 NOK vs CHF 11 to 13 at Coop or Migros. Wow, have you seen a better looking supermarket website? Visit ICA website here.
2. Buy a property in Oslo vs. Zürich
- The market is more liquid: people buy and sell, upgrade and downgrade so there are a lot more properties available on the market. Simply check the leading classified website Finn.no (nothing to do with Finland, Finn means “find” in Norwegian)
- It took us less than a month to find an apartment we liked, a week to sort out our mortgage, one day to make an offer and bid through the phone and less than one month settlement. According to this article on how to buy a house in Switzerland, it takes at least three months after you’ve found your new home to make an offer, agree on the sale, sort out your mortgage, sign the contract etc… and owning is not the norm anyway with 60% of the Swiss renting.
- And you’re looking a bit less than 7,000 euros per sqm in the nicest area of Oslo vs an average of 16,000 euros in Zürich city center! Full comparison figures here.
3. Recycling in Oslo vs Zürich
- In Oslo, they give you FREE blue bags for plastic, FREE green bags for compost and you can use ANY bag for normal rubbish
- In Zürich:
- where we lived we were charged CHF 22 for 10x 35 L garbage bags (Dübisacks) which could only buy in your own city, at the local supermarket or post office. Then we had a compost bin but not sure we were allowed to store the rubbish in a plastic bag so it was a hassle to clean up our green bin every week. Yuk
- PET and glass bottles had to be placed in specific bins at big local supermarkets
- Tetrapaks had nowhere to go
- Massive plastic packaging (and we had lots with kids toys) were taking the whole space in our 2CHF garbage bag
Here’s a fun video about how to recycle in Zürich, featuring a couple of mums from the Lycée Francais de Zürich (English speaking though)
4. Everybody speaks English in Oslo
- From the young sales person at trendy fashion store Moods of Norway to an old reupholstery master, everybody speaks pretty good English so it’s easy to get understood and understand even things like how to clean a reupholstered bed head.
- I might come back in a month time saying it’s harder to practice my Norwegian than it was to practice my German because of that. Stay tuned!
5. Going to Le Cap d’Agde (or South of France in general)
- For those who don’t know Le Cap d’Agde, it’s a holiday resort on the west side of the French Mediterranean coast near Montpellier. It’s very kids friendly with mega shallow and quiet water, water theme parks and kids friendly facilities everywhere. (Some might know Le Cap d’Agde for their nudist and naturist villages). My parents have a small unit there and our kids have been going every year for the last 3 years. They love it and it feels like a stable place and home for them as we’ve been moving house 4 times in the last 4 years across 3 countries.
- From Zürich to Cap d’Agde it would be 7h30 driving. No direct flight nor trains so it would be:
- Zürich flight to Toulouse + 2 hour drive
- Basel flight to Montpellier plus 1 hour drive from Zürich to Basel and another hour from Montpellier to Cap d’Agde
- From Oslo: direct flight to Bezier which is 25 minutes drive form Cap d’Agde with Ryan Air. BOOM!
- Where else in South of France can you fly directly from Oslo (in summer)?
- Ajaccio (Corsica)