Author Topic: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?  (Read 12276 times)

stor_stark

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Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« on: May 21, 2014, 07:28:25 AM »
I've enjoyed lurking here on MMM for a couple months and am now in a position to hopefully receive some of your insight.

I'm a single mid-20s American who will be graduating with an M.Sc. degree from a Swedish university within the next few months (did BSE in the US). I'm currently trying to make the very difficult decision of whether to stay in Sweden or Norway or to move back to the US and start my career there.

Just for some perspective, I've been living quite frugally in Sweden off around 6500 SEK/month ($1000/month, which includes budgeting for vacations and an annual trip to the US) for the past two years. I would definitely bump up my spending a little bit after becoming employed full-time though. I don't have any debt at all, $25k liquid savings, and about $5k in an IRA from an old internship. I think not having any debt provides with me a little more flexibility.

My expected earnings in each prospective place would be: $55-65k in the US (really depends on location, would probably be in a larger city though), 375k SEK (in Göteborg, $55-60k), and 490k NOK (in Oslo, $85k). From gross salary alone, Oslo obviously looks the most attractive but I've visited Norway enough to know that the cost of living is insanely high. I think the tax rates in Sweden and Norway would be around ~35% of my income, if not more.

The benefits in Scandinavia are generally much more enticing though. I love not owning - or even needing - a car, the beautiful parks and nature, cooking my meals, and leading a rather intentional life in general. I also love the shorter working hours (strictly 9-5, including an hour lunch) and a minimum of 5 weeks of vacation (probably more with any overtime compensation) which would still allow me to visit family in the US every summer for significant periods of time. Yes, I do miss my family and friends at times, and I do feel a little guilty that I'm so far away from my (healthy, mid-50's) parents in particular.

Most of my financial concerns are related to contributing to American investment accounts (Vanguard probably) with a foreign stream of income. I'm wondering how hard it would be to wire money directly to the investment account or back to an American back account and then to the investment account.

I believe that Norway has a 1% annual worldwide wealth tax and Sweden has a relatively high capital gains tax. Do any locals or ex-pats have any thoughts or experiences with building wealth in these countries? I honestly don't mind the high income taxes because I can see the benefits in healthcare, education, etc., but I'm still having a hard time coming to terms with the idea of a wealth tax.

I would like to be in a position to be FI/RE in 15-ish years, and I'm a little worried that if I decide to stay in Scandinavia for only a few years and then move back to the US to continue my career that my American retirement accounts will have suffered since I won't have benefited from a 401k or other tax-advantaged investments.

On a related note, I believe the US foreign income tax exclusion is currently around $100k. If I lived in Norway, it's possible that I could reach this limit in a good year. Say I earned $105k in a year... could I then take the foreign income tax exclusion and then contribute the remaining $5k to an IRA?

Native Swedes/Norwegians and ex-pats: is there anything else I should be aware of? As a non-citizen in Sweden and Norway, does anyone know if would I be eligible for any type of insurance or pension tax breaks? I'm not really sure how the pension system works and if I have any control over where that money goes.

Jag kan tala/läsa lite svenska, men jag skulle behöva förbättras efter jag avsluta mitt exjobb. Tyvärr är mitt program allt på engelska så jag är inte flytande (fluent - är det rätt?). Jag är beredd att lära dock.

Anyone else: how would you all go about making this decision? What factors would go into your thought process? I would like to have a family someday, but not in the immediate future.

Sorry for the long, rambling post. I have a lot of other thoughts running through my head, so let me know if you need more information and I'll do my best to provide it.

P.S. Glad syttende mai to the Norwegians. I was in Oslo last weekend for the celebration and had an amazing time!

CarDude

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 07:38:39 AM »
From a US citizen, I wouldn't move back. This is a very selfish country, and most folks who live here have a dog-eat-dog mentality that just isn't normal in most other parts of the world, including in Scandanavia. If I were you, I'd settle there, enjoy my social safety nets, and see what it's like to live in a world where you aren't trying to "protect your assets" from lawsuits left and right, "plan for health insurance" to avoid bankruptcy and death, "move into a good school district" due to massively unequal funding, "budget for daycare" since it's subsidized, and "save for a maternity leave" since, like in just about every country besides the US, it's paid for.

Then there's that whole 5 weeks of standard vacation time vs. no guaranteed time in the US (no, 2 weeks isn't standard in the US if you aren't in a well-paying job). Oh, and your odds of dying in a car crash or getting shot by gun-toting citizenry are also far lower there. You actually have to drink 4x as much in the US before you're considered too drunk to drive, compared to in Sweden and Norway. Perhaps that's why 1 out of every 3 auto deaths here are due to alcohol. Of course, due to the far better public transportation network present there, you aren't nearly as likely to need to drive anyway.

But yeah...from a quality-of-live standpoint, there's no comparison. It's just a question of whether you'd miss your family too much to live in a different country from them or not.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 07:46:32 AM by CarSafetyGuy »

stigto

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 08:04:16 AM »
I paid about 31% tax on NOK 800K income last year, you can get the percentage down if you have mortgage/loan interest payments (27% tax reduction on net interest, also 27% capital gains tax).

1% wealth tax on net assets above 1 million NOK, but primary residence is only valued at 30% of market value for this purpose. The wealth tax is being phased out by the government, so you probably won't have to worry about it.

Health care is (nearly) free for residents.

The biggest hurdle in building wealth is the cost of living. House prices in central Oslo are insane, but you don't have to go far outside the central area to find much better value for money. Renting is expensive too: http://www.boligjegeren.no/P%C3%A5boligjakt/Hvakosterdet%C3%A5leie/Leiepriser.aspx

You can reduce the other costs greatly if you know what to avoid. Alcohol is very expensive, for instance. Wages and work conditions are excellent, however. I don't have a car, and don't need one. A monthly subway/bus/tram pass costs about 650 NOK (about $100).

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2014, 09:07:32 AM »
From a US citizen, I wouldn't move back. This is a very selfish country, and most folks who live here have a dog-eat-dog mentality that just isn't normal in most other parts of the world, including in Scandanavia. If I were you, I'd settle there, enjoy my social safety nets, and see what it's like to live in a world where you aren't trying to "protect your assets" from lawsuits left and right, "plan for health insurance" to avoid bankruptcy and death, "move into a good school district" due to massively unequal funding, "budget for daycare" since it's subsidized, and "save for a maternity leave" since, like in just about every country besides the US, it's paid for.

Then there's that whole 5 weeks of standard vacation time vs. no guaranteed time in the US (no, 2 weeks isn't standard in the US if you aren't in a well-paying job). Oh, and your odds of dying in a car crash or getting shot by gun-toting citizenry are also far lower there. You actually have to drink 4x as much in the US before you're considered too drunk to drive, compared to in Sweden and Norway. Perhaps that's why 1 out of every 3 auto deaths here are due to alcohol. Of course, due to the far better public transportation network present there, you aren't nearly as likely to need to drive anyway.

But yeah...from a quality-of-live standpoint, there's no comparison. It's just a question of whether you'd miss your family too much to live in a different country from them or not.

To be fair; those things are subsidized through taxes. It's not like you get them for free, you do pay for it. Just like the "free" pension that is paid for by taking a huge chunk out of your paycheck for 40 years and investing it poorly (yes I know SS does the same). I don't even know if there are any tax deferred/free savings? Wealth tax is "only" over 1 million NOK, but if you plan to FIRE (especially in Scandinavia!) you'll hit that fast. I know that at least in Norway capital gains tax is 27%.

I went the other way, Norway>US and would (probably) not move back. For a bunch of reasons. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't consider scandinavia this wonderful dreamland everyone think it is.. I think this comes down to a personal decision based on lifestyle, what you value more etc.

Ps: US a selfish country? I generally find Americans to be quite pleasant. While there are plenty of a-hole scandianavians too. It all depends on who you interact with.

PPS: I have health insurance through my employer for ~$50/month. Get a 401k contribution. Almost 5 weeks of vacation. Have not been shot. Public transit sucks though.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 09:15:38 AM by Scandium »

CarDude

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2014, 09:37:36 AM »
From a US citizen, I wouldn't move back. This is a very selfish country, and most folks who live here have a dog-eat-dog mentality that just isn't normal in most other parts of the world, including in Scandanavia. If I were you, I'd settle there, enjoy my social safety nets, and see what it's like to live in a world where you aren't trying to "protect your assets" from lawsuits left and right, "plan for health insurance" to avoid bankruptcy and death, "move into a good school district" due to massively unequal funding, "budget for daycare" since it's subsidized, and "save for a maternity leave" since, like in just about every country besides the US, it's paid for.

Then there's that whole 5 weeks of standard vacation time vs. no guaranteed time in the US (no, 2 weeks isn't standard in the US if you aren't in a well-paying job). Oh, and your odds of dying in a car crash or getting shot by gun-toting citizenry are also far lower there. You actually have to drink 4x as much in the US before you're considered too drunk to drive, compared to in Sweden and Norway. Perhaps that's why 1 out of every 3 auto deaths here are due to alcohol. Of course, due to the far better public transportation network present there, you aren't nearly as likely to need to drive anyway.

But yeah...from a quality-of-live standpoint, there's no comparison. It's just a question of whether you'd miss your family too much to live in a different country from them or not.

To be fair; those things are subsidized through taxes. It's not like you get them for free, you do pay for it. Just like the "free" pension that is paid for by taking a huge chunk out of your paycheck for 40 years and investing it poorly (yes I know SS does the same). I don't even know if there are any tax deferred/free savings? Wealth tax is "only" over 1 million NOK, but if you plan to FIRE (especially in Scandinavia!) you'll hit that fast. I know that at least in Norway capital gains tax is 27%.

I went the other way, Norway>US and would (probably) not move back. For a bunch of reasons. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't consider scandinavia this wonderful dreamland everyone think it is.. I think this comes down to a personal decision based on lifestyle, what you value more etc.

Ps: US a selfish country? I generally find Americans to be quite pleasant. While there are plenty of a-hole scandianavians too. It all depends on who you interact with.

PPS: I have health insurance through my employer for ~$50/month. Get a 401k contribution. Almost 5 weeks of vacation. Have not been shot. Public transit sucks though.

Oh, I agree that it's paid for through taxes; however, here (in the US), we pay lower taxes but more than make up for it by shouldering the individual burdens I mentioned above, while our fellow rich countries approach the issue from the other end (higher taxes, but far more subsidized social services). The other way works better, in my opinion, because it spreads risk much in the same way as car insurance does.

Regarding the selfishness, I don't mean individuals are selfish in the "no you can't sit next to me; my bag is there!" way; I mean our social policies prize the "rights" of the individual to a detrimental extent compared to...well, most other comparable countries on the planet. We look at life like a series of bookstores rather than as a series of libraries.

Regarding your $50/mo health insurance, 401k, and 5 weeks of vacation, again...none of that is remotely related to the experience of the average American. A quick Google suggests average monthly costs in the US are around $328/mo. Similarly, 51% of low wage workers in the US don't have *any* paid vacation, while the average amount for private sector full time workers appears to be 16. In contrast, all of those things (well, in terms of nearly free healthcare, several weeks of vacation, and a retirement plan) would be the default in our fellow rich countries, regardless of how high or low status one's job is.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 09:40:26 AM by CarSafetyGuy »

nassoro

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2014, 09:44:59 AM »

Most of my financial concerns are related to contributing to American investment accounts (Vanguard probably) with a foreign stream of income. I'm wondering how hard it would be to wire money directly to the investment account or back to an American back account and then to the investment account.

On a related note, I believe the US foreign income tax exclusion is currently around $100k. If I lived in Norway, it's possible that I could reach this limit in a good year. Say I earned $105k in a year... could I then take the foreign income tax exclusion and then contribute the remaining $5k to an IRA?

From my experience (American in Switzerland) contributing to existing US investment accounts is easy.  Setting them up as a non-resident is impossible.  Maybe you could fudge it with a relatives address, etc, but that certainly doesn't simplify things.

As for the tax side, don't forget that in addition to the foreign income exclusion, there is also a foreign housing exclusion that will raise the floor even further before you have any US tax burden. http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Foreign-Housing-Exclusion-or-Deduction-1.  In my two years of dealing with expat taxes, our payments to the US have been minimal, but two rounds is minimal experience.

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2014, 10:41:15 AM »
From a US citizen, I wouldn't move back. This is a very selfish country, and most folks who live here have a dog-eat-dog mentality that just isn't normal in most other parts of the world, including in Scandanavia. If I were you, I'd settle there, enjoy my social safety nets, and see what it's like to live in a world where you aren't trying to "protect your assets" from lawsuits left and right, "plan for health insurance" to avoid bankruptcy and death, "move into a good school district" due to massively unequal funding, "budget for daycare" since it's subsidized, and "save for a maternity leave" since, like in just about every country besides the US, it's paid for.

Then there's that whole 5 weeks of standard vacation time vs. no guaranteed time in the US (no, 2 weeks isn't standard in the US if you aren't in a well-paying job). Oh, and your odds of dying in a car crash or getting shot by gun-toting citizenry are also far lower there. You actually have to drink 4x as much in the US before you're considered too drunk to drive, compared to in Sweden and Norway. Perhaps that's why 1 out of every 3 auto deaths here are due to alcohol. Of course, due to the far better public transportation network present there, you aren't nearly as likely to need to drive anyway.

But yeah...from a quality-of-live standpoint, there's no comparison. It's just a question of whether you'd miss your family too much to live in a different country from them or not.

To be fair; those things are subsidized through taxes. It's not like you get them for free, you do pay for it. Just like the "free" pension that is paid for by taking a huge chunk out of your paycheck for 40 years and investing it poorly (yes I know SS does the same). I don't even know if there are any tax deferred/free savings? Wealth tax is "only" over 1 million NOK, but if you plan to FIRE (especially in Scandinavia!) you'll hit that fast. I know that at least in Norway capital gains tax is 27%.

I went the other way, Norway>US and would (probably) not move back. For a bunch of reasons. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't consider scandinavia this wonderful dreamland everyone think it is.. I think this comes down to a personal decision based on lifestyle, what you value more etc.

Ps: US a selfish country? I generally find Americans to be quite pleasant. While there are plenty of a-hole scandianavians too. It all depends on who you interact with.

PPS: I have health insurance through my employer for ~$50/month. Get a 401k contribution. Almost 5 weeks of vacation. Have not been shot. Public transit sucks though.

Oh, I agree that it's paid for through taxes; however, here (in the US), we pay lower taxes but more than make up for it by shouldering the individual burdens I mentioned above, while our fellow rich countries approach the issue from the other end (higher taxes, but far more subsidized social services). The other way works better, in my opinion, because it spreads risk much in the same way as car insurance does.

Regarding the selfishness, I don't mean individuals are selfish in the "no you can't sit next to me; my bag is there!" way; I mean our social policies prize the "rights" of the individual to a detrimental extent compared to...well, most other comparable countries on the planet. We look at life like a series of bookstores rather than as a series of libraries.

Regarding your $50/mo health insurance, 401k, and 5 weeks of vacation, again...none of that is remotely related to the experience of the average American. A quick Google suggests average monthly costs in the US are around $328/mo. Similarly, 51% of low wage workers in the US don't have *any* paid vacation, while the average amount for private sector full time workers appears to be 16. In contrast, all of those things (well, in terms of nearly free healthcare, several weeks of vacation, and a retirement plan) would be the default in our fellow rich countries, regardless of how high or low status one's job is.

The 'more than make up for it' part is where the OP needs to do the math to make a decision, since I don't think that is necessarily true. I'd say Scandinavia/Europe is probably better if you're below average income level, but the US likely better if your above average (or some other number). How much he stands to make might dictate where he wants to live. With nearly the same income levels I would think the US is better, financially. But what kind of benefits his US employer offers will also affect this (as you say; vacation time? insurance? etc). Everything else equal I'd rather make $60k in Poughkeepsie than in Oslo.. If I got zero vacation? Probably not.

I agree the US has a more individualistic and (now less and less) personal responsibility focus, while Europe is generally more communal, or socialist if you will.. No need to debate which is better. Great thing is at least some of us can choose which we prefer and go live there, like the OP and I have done.

Few years since I've been in Oslo, but $85k there does not sound like a whole lot to me. And there's some talk of a housing/debt bubble there too so be careful. With very little qualification or knowledge I'd lean towards Sweden, or maybe Denmark is an option? It's my feeling Denmark is less insular than Norway and more 'continental'.

EUmustache

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 10:47:47 AM »
American expat here, previously lived in Scandinavia (DK) and considering a move back. Still in the EU, just not DK anymore.

I can agree with a lot of your points about keeping cost of living down by not owning cars, lower healthcare costs etc. Of course we do have the higher taxes. My husband and I are beginning to discuss moving back to the US and we are very aware of the things we'd be giving up. There are a few reasons why we may move back to the US anyway, but it isn't due to not being able to invest etc back home. We opened a vanguard account using his parents address. We regularly move money to the us with transfer wise. Yes, we miss out on 401k and tax advantaged accounts, but for us that isn't enough to make us move back to the US. Quality of life here is so good, I wish there weren't other factors that are likely going to bring us back to the us in a year or so.

TL/DR stay in Sweden or Norway.

Albert

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2014, 12:08:49 PM »
A European here who has lived for quite a few years in US, now back on this side for good.

I think if you have a high paying career or have your own business you are likely to make more money in US, particularly if you can avoid the few areas with high cost of living. On the other hand you're going to have more free time over here. A lot more most likely. There are no real safety concerns in most of the continent and education of any future children will be free or almost free. Living on a farm half an hour drive from the nearest town is not going to be possible, though.

I personally value time more than money so I'm happy to be where I am. Plus of course family is much closer. 

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2014, 12:18:14 PM »
A European here who has lived for quite a few years in US, now back on this side for good.

I think if you have a high paying career or have your own business you are likely to make more money in US, particularly if you can avoid the few areas with high cost of living. On the other hand you're going to have more free time over here. A lot more most likely. There are no real safety concerns in most of the continent and education of any future children will be free or almost free. Living on a farm half an hour drive from the nearest town is not going to be possible, though.

I personally value time more than money so I'm happy to be where I am. Plus of course family is much closer.

Yeah, I also get the impression that there is probably a higher earning ceiling for most skilled workers in the US as compared to Northern Europe. However, I am similar to you and would prefer to put my time in at work and then have a life and separate pursuits outside of the office. I just wish my family was closer...

In an ideal world, I could combine the best of what the US has to offer with the best of Scandinavia. I guess it may be possible someday depending on how my path to FI ends up working out.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2014, 12:26:04 PM »
I paid about 31% tax on NOK 800K income last year, you can get the percentage down if you have mortgage/loan interest payments (27% tax reduction on net interest, also 27% capital gains tax).

1% wealth tax on net assets above 1 million NOK, but primary residence is only valued at 30% of market value for this purpose. The wealth tax is being phased out by the government, so you probably won't have to worry about it.

Health care is (nearly) free for residents.

The biggest hurdle in building wealth is the cost of living. House prices in central Oslo are insane, but you don't have to go far outside the central area to find much better value for money. Renting is expensive too: http://www.boligjegeren.no/P%C3%A5boligjakt/Hvakosterdet%C3%A5leie/Leiepriser.aspx

You can reduce the other costs greatly if you know what to avoid. Alcohol is very expensive, for instance. Wages and work conditions are excellent, however. I don't have a car, and don't need one. A monthly subway/bus/tram pass costs about 650 NOK (about $100).

Your tax numbers are encouraging to see... the real estate prices are not! Hah. I paid 80 NOK for a 33cl Hansa ($14 domestic draft beer) last weekend during 17 mai and almost had a breakdown. Thankfully all other drinking was done at home beforehand with breakfast.

Also, it sounds like the wealth tax wouldn't hypothetically affect me for at least a few years, which is encouraging. One of my friends was telling me that Sweden used to have a wealth tax as well, but it was abolished with the rise of Reinfeldt and the Moderates several years ago.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2014, 12:44:31 PM »
Few years since I've been in Oslo, but $85k there does not sound like a whole lot to me. And there's some talk of a housing/debt bubble there too so be careful. With very little qualification or knowledge I'd lean towards Sweden, or maybe Denmark is an option? It's my feeling Denmark is less insular than Norway and more 'continental'.

I don't have any contacts in Denmark like I do in Sweden and Norway, but I suppose I should keep it as an option. And I don't like how Danish sounds... I'm only kind of joking about that, but I know the Swedes and Norwegians will agree.  ;)

$85k obviously isn't a ton of money in Oslo, but I think it compares well to what I would receive in the US. No matter where I end up, this will be my first 'real', non-university job so I'm trying to not get too hung up on the salary - or I may end up looking forever.

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2014, 01:33:46 PM »
Few years since I've been in Oslo, but $85k there does not sound like a whole lot to me. And there's some talk of a housing/debt bubble there too so be careful. With very little qualification or knowledge I'd lean towards Sweden, or maybe Denmark is an option? It's my feeling Denmark is less insular than Norway and more 'continental'.

I don't have any contacts in Denmark like I do in Sweden and Norway, but I suppose I should keep it as an option. And I don't like how Danish sounds... I'm only kind of joking about that, but I know the Swedes and Norwegians will agree.  ;)

$85k obviously isn't a ton of money in Oslo, but I think it compares well to what I would receive in the US. No matter where I end up, this will be my first 'real', non-university job so I'm trying to not get too hung up on the salary - or I may end up looking forever.

Definitely. Danish can be described as speaking Swedish with a potato in your mouth. But the country is nice, and the beer is cheaper.. No mountains though which as a norwegian would bum me out.

My starting salary in Oslo as an engineer would probably have been <$70k (10 years ago, but still). So $85k will probably get you pretty far. Just avoiding driving and all (ALL!) drinking/eating out will save you quite a bit! Even more so than in the US I mean. About $80k happens to be what I make in the US (MD/DC area) but I like to think I live cheaper here. Maybe, maybe not. But with my wife here it's obviously not just a financial decision for me either.

If the finances are about the same, and based on my outdated memory of swedish prices it sounds like it is, I'd say go for the job offer you like best, or the city you'd like to live in more! I like towns like Trondheim or Bergen more than Oslo, and they're much cheaper, but if that's were your connections are I understand it might be hard to get a job elsewhere. Good luck!

oh, and if you're net worth get above $168,000 (NOK 1M) just get yourself a nice, fat mortgage and you'll be set for a little while longer.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2014, 01:07:59 PM »
Few years since I've been in Oslo, but $85k there does not sound like a whole lot to me. And there's some talk of a housing/debt bubble there too so be careful. With very little qualification or knowledge I'd lean towards Sweden, or maybe Denmark is an option? It's my feeling Denmark is less insular than Norway and more 'continental'.

I don't have any contacts in Denmark like I do in Sweden and Norway, but I suppose I should keep it as an option. And I don't like how Danish sounds... I'm only kind of joking about that, but I know the Swedes and Norwegians will agree.  ;)

$85k obviously isn't a ton of money in Oslo, but I think it compares well to what I would receive in the US. No matter where I end up, this will be my first 'real', non-university job so I'm trying to not get too hung up on the salary - or I may end up looking forever.

Definitely. Danish can be described as speaking Swedish with a potato in your mouth. But the country is nice, and the beer is cheaper.. No mountains though which as a norwegian would bum me out.

My starting salary in Oslo as an engineer would probably have been <$70k (10 years ago, but still). So $85k will probably get you pretty far. Just avoiding driving and all (ALL!) drinking/eating out will save you quite a bit! Even more so than in the US I mean. About $80k happens to be what I make in the US (MD/DC area) but I like to think I live cheaper here. Maybe, maybe not. But with my wife here it's obviously not just a financial decision for me either.

If the finances are about the same, and based on my outdated memory of swedish prices it sounds like it is, I'd say go for the job offer you like best, or the city you'd like to live in more! I like towns like Trondheim or Bergen more than Oslo, and they're much cheaper, but if that's were your connections are I understand it might be hard to get a job elsewhere. Good luck!

oh, and if you're net worth get above $168,000 (NOK 1M) just get yourself a nice, fat mortgage and you'll be set for a little while longer.

The funny thing is that I probably actually spend less as a student in Sweden than I did as a student in a low COL part of the US. It's much harder to rationalize restaurant and bar expenses, impulse buys, etc. when things are considerably more expensive than I would expect them to be based on my upbringing in the US. My interpretation of things like 'value' and 'worth' as they relate to consumer products has changed a lot in Sweden, and it's really benefitted my financial outlook for the better too.

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2014, 05:39:50 PM »
I do not believe 85k is enough to live on in Oslo and save a significant portion of your salary.  From having Norwegian friends I am not under the impression that Norway is the kind of place you retiree early.  It seems many Norwegians have fantastic benefits but there is a high cost of living for which you must continue to keep working until retirement.  Additionally, housing costs seem high and I am assuming many put most of their money into housing as opposed to investments.  I also get the impression there is very much a "clock in/clock out" attitude but this could very well just be my friends.  I have not met any of their friends who own businesses, talk like they have a drive to succeed or really accomplish much.  They do fine and have a great life and yes, travel a lot.  However I still believe things are just different. 

I would seriously give this a lot of thought.  If you were a low wage worker I would absolutely tell you to choose a country in Scandinavia.  But with a degree like yours and your ability to accumulate wealth - no way. 

My husband and I are able to invest over 100k a year and I doubt I would be able to do that in Norway.  I went to college on a scholarship, my company provides excellent health insurance and the price of food/housing is low enough here to save a significant portion of our takehome pay.  I get four weeks of vacation and can also telecommute quite often.  Don't get me started on maternity leave but I don't think you're a woman so that shouldn't be a concern until you marry. 




Mt9982

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2014, 05:53:00 PM »
Reading a comment below strikes me as interesting.  He suggests you can live on 85k in Oslo and save if you never go out to eat or drink.  I mean think about that for a moment.  My husband and I live frugally but isn't that kind of messed up that as an engineer you couldn't ever go out to eat or drink?!   I take my lunch to work and cook most evenings but my husnand and I absolutely enjoy eating out.  Like I mentioned earlier, we save more than half of our take home pay (not including retirement accounts) and we are able to sill maintain a luxurious lifestyle. 

A lot of stuff that Americans spend money on (which they shouldn't) isn't even an option in Scandinavia.  Not saying that spending money will bring you happiness (I find the opposite), but I would give serious thought to living in a country where you are an engineer but can't allow yourself the option to go out to eat or enjoy some wine from time to time.  My friends in Norway often brag about how wealthy their country is and I find it comical because how strapped they are for cash and how tough it seems for them to save besides what it invested in their home.  If you have a huge mortgage, can't retire early and can only enjoy eating out and drinking when traveling abroad - you simply aren't "rich" in terms of financial wealth. 

I would move to a city like Seattle and make the same salary, live better and save 2x as much.  Sure, you might only get two weeks of vacation.   But isn't the goal to become FIRE anyway?  Seems you have a similar career as MMM possibly?  I would read back over his posts about how he saved what he did when younger and see if you can emulate that in scandanavia.  If you have a high paying job in the US, it is definitely possible here.


EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2014, 07:14:20 PM »
Hey 'Stor-Stark', would love to know how you happened upon that odd handle (large and strong?).  I moved to Stavanger from Houston in 2007 and spent 2.5 years there with my young family, talking to my young Norwegian colleagues about retirement.  As to some of your concerns you mention (wealth tax et. al.), will you become a local or do you plan to be an expat?  If you retain your US citizenship but are employed as a local, you will have the worst of both worlds (but be exempt from the global wealth issue I believe, since you are technically American, but I think that is the least of your problems).  You never mentioned what your M.Sc. is in, but I'd recommend either renouncing citizenship and getting a direct position there (free healthcare, amazing retirement and post-secondary education benefit, incredible family benefits, and the fact that you are living in MMM's Badass Utopia), or 'going for the gold' - returning to the US and getting an expat assignment back to Sweden or Norway. 
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 06:33:44 AM by EscapeVelocity2020 »

Albert

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2014, 06:52:36 AM »
Life is not just about chasing every extra $$$. You also need to decide where you would feel more at home long term. For me probably Norway, but I'm not American and you are...

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2014, 07:33:11 AM »
Reading a comment below strikes me as interesting.  He suggests you can live on 85k in Oslo and save if you never go out to eat or drink.  I mean think about that for a moment.  My husband and I live frugally but isn't that kind of messed up that as an engineer you couldn't ever go out to eat or drink?!   I take my lunch to work and cook most evenings but my husnand and I absolutely enjoy eating out.  Like I mentioned earlier, we save more than half of our take home pay (not including retirement accounts) and we are able to sill maintain a luxurious lifestyle. 

A lot of stuff that Americans spend money on (which they shouldn't) isn't even an option in Scandinavia.  Not saying that spending money will bring you happiness (I find the opposite), but I would give serious thought to living in a country where you are an engineer but can't allow yourself the option to go out to eat or enjoy some wine from time to time.  My friends in Norway often brag about how wealthy their country is and I find it comical because how strapped they are for cash and how tough it seems for them to save besides what it invested in their home.  If you have a huge mortgage, can't retire early and can only enjoy eating out and drinking when traveling abroad - you simply aren't "rich" in terms of financial wealth. 

I would move to a city like Seattle and make the same salary, live better and save 2x as much.  Sure, you might only get two weeks of vacation.   But isn't the goal to become FIRE anyway?  Seems you have a similar career as MMM possibly?  I would read back over his posts about how he saved what he did when younger and see if you can emulate that in scandanavia.  If you have a high paying job in the US, it is definitely possible here.

If you're referring to my comment don't take that as any kind of qualified analysis. I've never worked full time in Norway, and haven't lived there for over 8 years. Was just based on my sense of prices there when I visit. You can probably eat out if you want. Maybe it'll be a larger percentage of your salary than in the US? I don't know, but that's my guess. It's my impression that my friends in norway eat/drink out quite a bit, but I also don't know how much, if any they are saving. They also have cars. You can live without one, but Norway is also quite sparsely populated if you go outside the cities (which you might want to). Look forward to paying $30K for a used Honda..

I don't know how "fantastic" the retirement benefits are in Norway. It's a based on your earnings over 30-40 years or so, like social security. I have a feeling it won't give you a particularly lavish retirement, unless you already are rich.. And I think most people feel taken care of by these benefits, so just accept that they work 40 years, then get state pension. That's just what you do, right? So the urge to save is much less. Why not spend money now, when I get enough money in retirement "for free"? kind of attitude. Maybe there are some FIRE people there, but not anyone I've talked to. Doing what you're supposed to/expected to is very common attitude there.

ps: I'm not sure I'd call norway a Badass utopia. They do love consumption there, even when stuff cost much more! I see so many iPads, fancy phones and cars, expensive designer brands, and not least thousands spent on expensive sports! ($5000 road bike, check. $2000 in skiis, check... Yes several friends have these) Not sure it's that different in this respect, except they spend more time outside..?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 11:02:14 AM by Scandium »

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2014, 08:40:17 AM »
Life is not just about chasing every extra $$$. You also need to decide where you would feel more at home long term. For me probably Norway, but I'm not American and you are...

This is the real question. I don't see myself here forever, but at the same time I wouldn't mind staying here for a few more years and giving life outside of the university a shot.

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2014, 08:46:20 AM »
Hey 'Stor-Stark', would love to know how you happened upon that odd handle (large and strong?).  I moved to Stavanger from Houston in 2007 and spent 2.5 years there with my young family, talking to my young Norwegian colleagues about retirement.  As to some of your concerns you mention (wealth tax et. al.), will you become a local or do you plan to be an expat?  If you retain your US citizenship but are employed as a local, you will have the worst of both worlds (but be exempt from the global wealth issue I believe, since you are technically American, but I think that is the least of your problems).  You never mentioned what your M.Sc. is in, but I'd recommend either renouncing citizenship and getting a direct position there (free healthcare, amazing retirement and post-secondary education benefit, incredible family benefits, and the fact that you are living in MMM's Badass Utopia), or 'going for the gold' - returning to the US and getting an expat assignment back to Sweden or Norway.

The name is sort of a joke; 'stor stark' is slang for a pint of beer in Sweden (in addition to the literal meaning).

I would be an expat. I don't foresee ever being in a position where I'd feel comfortable renouncing my American citizenship, even if it made sense financially. I'm meeting with a company (specialized form of civil engineering consulting) based in both Norway and Sweden in a few weeks, so I'll see what they have to say then.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2014, 09:07:58 AM »
Reading a comment below strikes me as interesting.  He suggests you can live on 85k in Oslo and save if you never go out to eat or drink.  I mean think about that for a moment.  My husband and I live frugally but isn't that kind of messed up that as an engineer you couldn't ever go out to eat or drink?!   I take my lunch to work and cook most evenings but my husnand and I absolutely enjoy eating out.  Like I mentioned earlier, we save more than half of our take home pay (not including retirement accounts) and we are able to sill maintain a luxurious lifestyle. 

A lot of stuff that Americans spend money on (which they shouldn't) isn't even an option in Scandinavia.  Not saying that spending money will bring you happiness (I find the opposite), but I would give serious thought to living in a country where you are an engineer but can't allow yourself the option to go out to eat or enjoy some wine from time to time.  My friends in Norway often brag about how wealthy their country is and I find it comical because how strapped they are for cash and how tough it seems for them to save besides what it invested in their home.  If you have a huge mortgage, can't retire early and can only enjoy eating out and drinking when traveling abroad - you simply aren't "rich" in terms of financial wealth. 

I would move to a city like Seattle and make the same salary, live better and save 2x as much.  Sure, you might only get two weeks of vacation.   But isn't the goal to become FIRE anyway?  Seems you have a similar career as MMM possibly?  I would read back over his posts about how he saved what he did when younger and see if you can emulate that in scandanavia.  If you have a high paying job in the US, it is definitely possible here.

If you're referring to my comment don't take that as any kind of qualified analysis. I've never worked full time in Norway, and haven't lived there for over 8 years. Was just based on my sense of prices there when I visit. You can probably eat out if you want. Maybe it'll be a larger percentage of your salary than in the US? I don't know, but that's my guess. It's my impression that my friends in norway eat/drink out quite a bit, but I also don't know how much, if any they are saving. They also have cars. You can live without one, but Norway is also quite sparsely populated if you go outside the cities (which you might want to). Look forward to paying $30K for a used Honda..

I don't know how "fantastic" the retirement benefits are in Norway. It's a based on your earnings over 30-40 years or so, like social security. I have a feeling it won't give you a particularly lavish retirement, unless you already are rich.. And I think most people feel taken care of by these benefits, so just accept that they work 40 years, then get state pension. That's just what you do, right? So the urge to save is much less. Why not spend money now, when I get enough money in retirement "for free"? kind of attitude. Maybe there are some FIRE people there, but not anyone I've talked to. Doing what you're supposed to/expected to is very common attitude there.

ps: I'm not sure I'd call norway a Badass utopia. They do love consumption there, even when stuff cost much more! I see so many iPads, fancy phones and cars, expensive designer brands, and not least thousands spent on expensive sports! ($5000 road bike, check. $2000 in skiis, check... Yes several friends have these) Not sure it's that different in this respect, expect they spend more time outside..?

Your comment is pretty much spot on I would say, especially this part: "doing what you're supposed to/expected to is very common attitude there". Others can read here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante

The culture is a little insular here due to a general lack of diversity of both people and ideologies, and some people are a little naive and overly trusting of the government because of it (in my opinion obviously). But the good aspects seem to outweigh the bad, at least for most people.

I would agree with Scandium in saying that Norwegians and Swedes are consumers. Perhaps it isn't in the same fashion as the more American, in-your-face type of consumerism though. EVERYONE seems to have iPhones and MacBooks, and everyone wears the same style of sharp, slim-fitting (and normally pricy) clothing.

And this is the only place I've ever lived where owning a summer cabin/home is completely normal and not necessarily thought of as a sign of affluence or privilege (funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua1FAlHt_Ys).
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 02:25:35 PM by stor_stark »

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2014, 11:09:19 AM »
Hurray, glad to know I still have some sense of my old homeland, and isn't just talking out my ass from years of brainwashing by predatory capitalism :) Nice reference to the Law of Jante as well, one of my main frustrations with norwegian society. And the blind trust in government. Glad it's not just me. I also have an MSc in civil engineering so this all sounds very familiar.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 11:13:35 AM by Scandium »

Albert

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2014, 12:11:40 PM »
All that thrust in government is of course also the reason why those societies have low crime rates (particularly violent one), good education and comparatively low income disparity. Sure, there are downside to the phenomena as well.

People in all countries are consumers, we aren't biologically different from each other... As for summer cottages they are also very common in parts of Eastern Europe and Russia. Basically everywhere with below average population density. In fact it's a bit surprising that they are not a standard feature for an urban middle class folks in US.

Mt9982

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2014, 05:50:30 PM »
Reading a comment below strikes me as interesting.  He suggests you can live on 85k in Oslo and save if you never go out to eat or drink.  I mean think about that for a moment.  My husband and I live frugally but isn't that kind of messed up that as an engineer you couldn't ever go out to eat or drink?!   I take my lunch to work and cook most evenings but my husnand and I absolutely enjoy eating out.  Like I mentioned earlier, we save more than half of our take home pay (not including retirement accounts) and we are able to sill maintain a luxurious lifestyle. 

A lot of stuff that Americans spend money on (which they shouldn't) isn't even an option in Scandinavia.  Not saying that spending money will bring you happiness (I find the opposite), but I would give serious thought to living in a country where you are an engineer but can't allow yourself the option to go out to eat or enjoy some wine from time to time.  My friends in Norway often brag about how wealthy their country is and I find it comical because how strapped they are for cash and how tough it seems for them to save besides what it invested in their home.  If you have a huge mortgage, can't retire early and can only enjoy eating out and drinking when traveling abroad - you simply aren't "rich" in terms of financial wealth. 

I would move to a city like Seattle and make the same salary, live better and save 2x as much.  Sure, you might only get two weeks of vacation.   But isn't the goal to become FIRE anyway?  Seems you have a similar career as MMM possibly?  I would read back over his posts about how he saved what he did when younger and see if you can emulate that in scandanavia.  If you have a high paying job in the US, it is definitely possible here.

If you're referring to my comment don't take that as any kind of qualified analysis. I've never worked full time in Norway, and haven't lived there for over 8 years. Was just based on my sense of prices there when I visit. You can probably eat out if you want. Maybe it'll be a larger percentage of your salary than in the US? I don't know, but that's my guess. It's my impression that my friends in norway eat/drink out quite a bit, but I also don't know how much, if any they are saving. They also have cars. You can live without one, but Norway is also quite sparsely populated if you go outside the cities (which you might want to). Look forward to paying $30K for a used Honda..

I don't know how "fantastic" the retirement benefits are in Norway. It's a based on your earnings over 30-40 years or so, like social security. I have a feeling it won't give you a particularly lavish retirement, unless you already are rich.. And I think most people feel taken care of by these benefits, so just accept that they work 40 years, then get state pension. That's just what you do, right? So the urge to save is much less. Why not spend money now, when I get enough money in retirement "for free"? kind of attitude. Maybe there are some FIRE people there, but not anyone I've talked to. Doing what you're supposed to/expected to is very common attitude there.

ps: I'm not sure I'd call norway a Badass utopia. They do love consumption there, even when stuff cost much more! I see so many iPads, fancy phones and cars, expensive designer brands, and not least thousands spent on expensive sports! ($5000 road bike, check. $2000 in skiis, check... Yes several friends have these) Not sure it's that different in this respect, except they spend more time outside..?

I wasn't just referring to your comment.  I have noticed that my friends in Norway seem to have less disposable income.  For all I know, they are saving like mad.  But I do know they bring their own alcohol to parties (as adults) and just do things the average american wouldn't consider.  It comes across as though this frugal lifestyle is mandatory vs living frugally allowing you to retire early. 

Scandium

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2014, 08:40:19 AM »
I (obviously?) don't discuss my friend's finances with them so don't know how much they're saving or their level of disposable income. But supposedly they debt to income ratio is among the highest in the world at this point, at ~200%.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-21/norway-faces-severe-credit-shock-on-household-debt-fsa-says.html
Which may be an indication? Hard to tell since people may have debt and still have money in the bank (for some reason). And much of this is likely mortgages, not credit cards.

Yes I think many have to exercise a bit more day to day frugality to get by there, but like I said and stor_stark noticed too, many people there love buying shiny trinkets, as much as they do here. And go down to the Oslo boardwalk in the summer and you'll be fighting to get a seat to drink $15 pints and $25 nachos..

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2014, 09:19:49 PM »
Although Norwegians aren't necessarily going to 'retire early', they are going to enjoy a much lower pressure, more vacation, more family friendly lifestyle overall than most Americans.  If I had the choice between Norway and US, I'd have spent at least my early career in Norway.  I seriously hated life in my 20's and early 30's, being disabused of my idealistic reasons for being an engineer (certainly didn't feel like a 'profession'), then starting a family while working long hours and still worrying about losing my job.  It's worked out OK so that I could retire in my 40's, but why not have a life where you aren't worried about finances and being employed?  I think that American's want to retire early because work sucks worse than it does in Norway (lower pay, longer hours, less vacation), but later in life, I guess I'd rather be an American employee (better salary, cheaper housing and more consumer choices, lower taxes)...

henrik

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2014, 04:58:33 AM »
stor_stark,

I think your estimate of 35% income tax for a 375kSEK income is a bit on the high side - at least for Sweden. According to jobbskatteavdrag.se, you'd pay slightly under 24% overall tax on that income. Your employer would also be paying in around 5kSEK/month ($850) in pension contributions, which I assume that if you have a work permit, you'd be entitled to.

There's since a couple of years a type of investment accounts called Investment Savings Account (ISK) where you instead of paying the normal 30% capital gains tax pay (currently) 0.627% of the value of the portfolio, which is better if you manage >2% return on your holdings. At 7% return, it's equivalent to a ~10% capital gains tax. There's also no wealth tax in Sweden.

But I think that if you manage to live frugally in Norway, you can quickly save up wealth. It's one of the countries in the world with the highest wages. The problem is that since everything is equally crazy expensive, you really have to live like a pauper.

But which life you'd like better is something only you can answer. The US has many points going for it as well :)

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2014, 09:49:40 AM »
Although Norwegians aren't necessarily going to 'retire early', they are going to enjoy a much lower pressure, more vacation, more family friendly lifestyle overall than most Americans.  If I had the choice between Norway and US, I'd have spent at least my early career in Norway.  I seriously hated life in my 20's and early 30's, being disabused of my idealistic reasons for being an engineer (certainly didn't feel like a 'profession'), then starting a family while working long hours and still worrying about losing my job.  It's worked out OK so that I could retire in my 40's, but why not have a life where you aren't worried about finances and being employed?  I think that American's want to retire early because work sucks worse than it does in Norway (lower pay, longer hours, less vacation), but later in life, I guess I'd rather be an American employee (better salary, cheaper housing and more consumer choices, lower taxes)...

Although I'm not quite out of school yet, my thinking is along the same lines as yours. I think it would be nice to get the first 3-5 years of entry-level engineering experience over here and then reevaluate things and move back to the US after that if I so desire.

Call me spoiled or entitled if you want, but the benefits and work atmosphere in Scandinavia are considerably better than the US (at least for someone in my position). As a new employee with limited work experience on my CV, I'm looking at around 10-15 days of vacation per year in the US, while I would have at least 25 days if I stayed here. And quite frankly, I don't think I would experience the same burnout that a lot of American employees do because of this structure.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2014, 09:58:17 AM »
stor_stark,

I think your estimate of 35% income tax for a 375kSEK income is a bit on the high side - at least for Sweden. According to jobbskatteavdrag.se, you'd pay slightly under 24% overall tax on that income. Your employer would also be paying in around 5kSEK/month ($850) in pension contributions, which I assume that if you have a work permit, you'd be entitled to.

There's since a couple of years a type of investment accounts called Investment Savings Account (ISK) where you instead of paying the normal 30% capital gains tax pay (currently) 0.627% of the value of the portfolio, which is better if you manage >2% return on your holdings. At 7% return, it's equivalent to a ~10% capital gains tax. There's also no wealth tax in Sweden.

But I think that if you manage to live frugally in Norway, you can quickly save up wealth. It's one of the countries in the world with the highest wages. The problem is that since everything is equally crazy expensive, you really have to live like a pauper.

But which life you'd like better is something only you can answer. The US has many points going for it as well :)

Thanks for pointing out that information about taxes and investing in Sweden. It's much appreciated. As you can see, I still have so much more to learn and read about these topics.

I'm sort of using 35% tax as an upper limit for my rough calculations. I would rather be overly conservative with these numbers at this early stage rather than being shocked when receiving my first paycheck!

Henrik, if possible can you describe how the 'semesterersättning' system works? Do salaried employees receive any non-holiday pay for the month of July (or whenever they take their 3-4 week vacation)? Specifically, if I receive a job offer for 32k SEK per month, should I extrapolate this amount times 11 or 12 months when trying to determine my annual salary?

Mt9982

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2014, 11:47:40 AM »
Although Norwegians aren't necessarily going to 'retire early', they are going to enjoy a much lower pressure, more vacation, more family friendly lifestyle overall than most Americans.  If I had the choice between Norway and US, I'd have spent at least my early career in Norway.  I seriously hated life in my 20's and early 30's, being disabused of my idealistic reasons for being an engineer (certainly didn't feel like a 'profession'), then starting a family while working long hours and still worrying about losing my job.  It's worked out OK so that I could retire in my 40's, but why not have a life where you aren't worried about finances and being employed?  I think that American's want to retire early because work sucks worse than it does in Norway (lower pay, longer hours, less vacation), but later in life, I guess I'd rather be an American employee (better salary, cheaper housing and more consumer choices, lower taxes)...


Something else I've picked up on is that Norwegians spend a lot of time out of the country on vacation and when traveling seem to dine out and shop like the world is ending.  Partly because their currency is strong but also I get the sense this isn't an option in Norway.  In my 20s I frequently went to happy hours (and spent way too much money) and had cheap drinks with friends and during the week too.  I think the vacation days are partly driven by how they live their life when at home. 

henrik

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2014, 12:20:00 PM »
Henrik, if possible can you describe how the 'semesterersättning' system works? Do salaried employees receive any non-holiday pay for the month of July (or whenever they take their 3-4 week vacation)? Specifically, if I receive a job offer for 32k SEK per month, should I extrapolate this amount times 11 or 12 months when trying to determine my annual salary?

I'm not sure I understand - Is the question "do you get paid while on vacation?" If you're a salaried employee, you'll get the same pay check[1] every month, whether you're vacationing or not. So your annual salary is your monthly paycheck times twelve.

Behind the scenes, you actually get paid a little bit more than the 32k offered  for the 11 working months and the extra pay is saved up as vacation days. To get paid vacation, you need to have saved up enough vacation days. But assuming you have done that; for you, it looks like a 12 month paycheck.

[1] - Actually, I lied a little bit: The rate at which you accrue vacation pay is slightly higher than your normal daily salary so you get paid slightly more when on vacation! At 32 kSEK per month, you'd get an extra 256 SEK ($40) a day when vacationing.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2014, 12:29:11 PM »
Another sweet deal, depending on if you plan to have children, Noway has very, very generous incentives in terms of care, payment, ongoing stipend, and leave.  Americans get pretty much screwed.

stor_stark

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2014, 05:28:24 PM »
Henrik, if possible can you describe how the 'semesterersättning' system works? Do salaried employees receive any non-holiday pay for the month of July (or whenever they take their 3-4 week vacation)? Specifically, if I receive a job offer for 32k SEK per month, should I extrapolate this amount times 11 or 12 months when trying to determine my annual salary?

I'm not sure I understand - Is the question "do you get paid while on vacation?" If you're a salaried employee, you'll get the same pay check[1] every month, whether you're vacationing or not. So your annual salary is your monthly paycheck times twelve.

Behind the scenes, you actually get paid a little bit more than the 32k offered  for the 11 working months and the extra pay is saved up as vacation days. To get paid vacation, you need to have saved up enough vacation days. But assuming you have done that; for you, it looks like a 12 month paycheck.

[1] - Actually, I lied a little bit: The rate at which you accrue vacation pay is slightly higher than your normal daily salary so you get paid slightly more when on vacation! At 32 kSEK per month, you'd get an extra 256 SEK ($40) a day when vacationing.

You answered my question. I probably didn't do a good job of asking it in the first place. I was basically wondering if I started working in September/October of 2014 if I'd have holiday pay for July of 2015, and the answer seems to be yes - though it might not be fully funded with only 10 months of experience (depending on how I choose to use my vacation days).

Gordion

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2014, 03:22:27 PM »
I'm (very) late to the party, but hey. This might be valuable information for someone else.

460 kNOK equals about 60 kUSD. So the wage in Norway is about the same as in the US.

But Norway has:
- Expensive housing (6-8000 USD / square meter is nearly considered common)
- Wealth tax (1 % drag on your portfolio)
- Capital gains are taxed 27 % (vs 15 % in the US)
- Alcohol are heavily taxed (0,5l of beer at the super market is usually about 4,3 USD. At a bar the price for half a liter of beer is usually about 13 USD)
- Gasoline tax is large. 1,75 USD/liter (~ 7 USD/gallon)
- Food are expensive
- You cannot invest in Vanguard Admiral Shares
- Cars are heavily taxed
- 25 % VAT
The list goes on!

Most of it is summerized here:
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Norway&country2=United+States&city1=Oslo&city2=Boulder%2C+CO

Here the cost of living in Oslo is compared to Boulder.


Edit: Mt9982 seems to be spot on.


"You would need around 4,536.47$ (33,876.56kr) in Boulder, CO to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 43,000.00kr in Oslo (assuming you rent in both cities). This calculation uses our Consumer Prices Including Rent Index."

So one needs 26 % more AFTER tax money to maintain the same lifestyle in Norway. And I do think the difference is larger.

My conclusion is: If you have a good education US is the place to be. If you don't have an education, move to Scandinavia. 

« Last Edit: December 30, 2014, 03:47:18 PM by Gordion »

gaja

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Re: Anyone here living in Norway or Sweden?
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2014, 04:37:25 PM »
Also late in the discussion, guess Stor-Stark has already got a job now?

I think the main question is not where it is most costly or highest earning potential, but where the things that matter for you are best available. If you don't want kids, good maternity leave doesn't matter. If you don't care about eating out or alcohol, the cost of that doesn't matter.

I'm born and bred in Nordic countries, and for my family the pros are a lot bigger than the cons:
+with two young children, the paid maternity leave and job security ensured that we could save a lot of money while staying at home with the babies.
+(almost) free health care, paid sick leave, and good quality child habilitation was quite nice to have when sh!t hit the fan several years in a row.
+if you buy houses with your head instead of based on the trends, you can find quite lodging at good prices. Oslo is tiny and safe, and if you look at the eastern parts of town instead of central and western, you can buy appartments at half price, in walking distance to the town center. Or you could look at the train lanes to the north, east and south. Just 30 minutes out, the house prices plummet.
+it is easy to start a new business. Everything is regulated, so as long as you file the correct paperwork, you are set to go.
+the nature and the free roaming law
+electric cars are not taxed, and public transport is heavily subsidised.
+a lot of food is expensive, but it is safe. The fish in the sea and the wild animals on your land are free.

-We don't eat out. It costs to much, and we don't really like it anyway. When you haven't grown up with restaurants, it feels like a hassle going to them. Much easier to eat at home.
-Alcohol is very expensive, and you are only allowed to brew - not burn.