26 August 2016

Gunnar Skollingsberg - Expat in Norway

Gunnar Skollingsberg - Expat in Norway

We’ve had the chance to talk to Gunnar Skollingsberg, 65, an American expat who has moved to Norway alone. Mr. Skollingsberg who has been living there for two and a half years now works as a part-time teacher.

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from? What made you move out of the U.S.?

A: I am not your typical expat. I was born in Norway, and my family emigrated to the United States when I was an infant. I have grown up, gone to school, and worked nearly all my life in the U.S. After retiring, I have now “moved back” to Norway. I have always wondered what life would have been like if my family had not moved to the U.S., and now I am finally able to have this experience.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: I live in the mountains, near a small town close to the southern edge of Rogaland district (southwest Norway). During my last few years of employment in the U.S., I had a house built on a plot of land that had been part of the farm where my mother was born and grew up.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: It was chosen for me – this was where I was born.


Q: How long have you been living in Norway?

A: I’ve lived here continuously for two-and-a-half years now.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new Norway?

A: When I was new to this country, it was difficult to know and understand how simple things worked and how to get things done (such as government and private services). I still have to be very observant of others, and I ask a lot of questions.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in Norway? What was your experience with these?

A: Personally, obtaining a residence permit was very quick, probably because I provided proof that I was born here and that my father was a Norwegian citizen when I was born.

I haven’t had any experience with “international health insurance” because I have been covered by the Norwegian national health system since my arrival.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I lived alone here for nearly two years, but my wife has recently joined me. We both enjoy the European lifestyle and we seem to have adjusted well.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Norway? How did you manage to find a social circle in Norway?

A: I really haven’t met any other expats here from the U.S., although I have met people from other countries who live here. We have socialized with some people from my work as well as with some relatives (mainly cousins) who live in the area.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: If an expat was living in Norway temporarily, I would highly recommend getting out and enjoying the wonderful nature (during those times when the sun comes out). It’s a beautiful country, and one should try to see as much of it as one can when they are able.


Q: How does the cost of living in Norway compared to your home? 

A: The cost of living in Norway is significantly higher than where I was last living in the U.S. (Idaho).  But then, the wages one makes here are also much more than in Idaho. For example, the minimum wage in Idaho (when I left) was $7.25/hr. The lowest wage I’ve seen here is equivalent to approximately $30.00/hr.

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Approx. $2.00 to $2.50

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: $18.00 to $22.00

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $50.00 to $70.00

  • How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine: $25.00; Cigarettes: $15.00


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Norway?

A: I really enjoy the people and the culture here. Most Norwegians I’ve encountered have been very helpful and accepting of me. 


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Norway?

A: Positive: The nature, culture, and the people

Negative: The weather (more precipitation and less sunlight than I am used to)


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: I do miss my family (children and grandchildren).


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I have travelled back to the U.S. to visit my family, and I have brought some of them here to visit me.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Right now, I have no plans to move again. But we’ll have to see what the future brings.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Even though I understood some of the basics of the Norwegian language (from my childhood), I would say that learning and speaking the language has been very difficult.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Enjoy life while you’re here.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Norway?

A: I’ve made a number of posts regarding my experiences here (many of them humorous) on the website Norway Living.