In the Spring and Summer of 2019, we conducted a larger survey of Norwegians abroad. Who are they? Why did they leave and how do they thrive? Do they speak Norwegian at home and what do they miss? A digital survey with 42 questions was distributed via social media.

A total of 2249 Norwegians living in 25 countries around the world replied, with a mix of age, gender and professional background. 2 out of 3 had lived abroad for more than 10 years.

We would like to share some findings with you. Although the answers cannot be generalized to represent all Norwegians abroad, it is nevertheless new and interesting information.

 

“I moved because of love”

All have their personal reasons for why they live outside their home country. Still, love seems to be a common one. 1 out of 2 replied that one of the reasons they live outside Norway is their partner. 1 out of 3 responded their education as the reason. 1 out of 3 either desired to work abroad or were sent out by their employer. Multiple answers were possible. It seems correct to assume many Norwegians end up living abroad because they enjoyed the country where they were studying, working or travelling to, and then met someone who made their stay more permanent than originally intended.

75% of the respondents have higher education at bachelor or master level. It is probably both a reason for and a prerequisite to living and working in a global world.

The majority enjoys living in their new country of residence very much, and feels the benefits mostly outweigh the disadvantages.

 

“I still identify as a Norwegian”

9 out of 10 identify themselves as Norwegian, even after living abroad for more than 10 years. Almost everyone has kept their Norwegian citizenship. 9 out of 10 claims the connection to Norway and the Norwegian language is still very important.

Most people live in a relationship, many with a foreign partner or spouse. This corresponds to “love” being  the main reason they moved. In many families, Norwegian is not the main language in the house. 7 out of 10 Norwegians abroad therefore feel it’s important that their children also build a connection with Norway and the Norwegian language.

 

“I miss family and friends the most”

There are many little things you miss living abroad, but 2 out of 3 say what they miss family and friends back home the most. Additionally, 1 out of 3 also believe that they would have better job opportunities if they lived in Norway. To maintain strong relations, 7 out of 10 visit Norway at least once a year.

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. And to the 150 respondents who shared their personal stories:

«Jeg kom ikke inn på medisinstudiet i Norge, og tok derfor utdannelse i USA. Flyttet hjem og fikk spesialutdannelse på Ullevål, men uten jobbtilbud kunne jeg ikke ta opp boliglån ved fullført utdannelse. Jeg flyttet derfor tilbake til USA i 1986 og har blitt her siden. Når har jeg tre voksne barn med familier som alle bor her, det er derfor umulig å flytte vekk.»

«Jeg ville ikke bo I Singapore i første omgang! Mannen min insisterte på at vi ihvertfall besøkte før jeg tok en avgjørelse. I 2006 besøkte vi landet for første gang og like etter hadde mannen min signert sin første kontrakt. Nå bor vi fortsatt her!»

«Flyttet til Sverige for å ta utdannelse og traff en mann derifra. Har siden jobbet meg opp til en interessant stilling der jeg føler jeg gjør forskjell. To barn senere er jeg her enda. Savner Norge hver dag».

«Jeg ble utsendt av Forsvaret for å jobbe for forsvarsattacheen i Washington. Studerte og ble senere gift der».

«Rederiet sendte båter til Brasil og ønsket at mannskapet skulle bosette seg her for å spare på reiseutgifter. Og siden er jeg blitt gift og vel etablert. Ikke min plan, det bare ble slik».

«Ble værende i Storbritannia etter endte studier for å finne jobb. Jeg håper at erfaringene her vil gjøre meg attraktiv på det norske arbeidsmarkedet senere. Har nå bodd her i 6 år, og ser for meg å flytte tilbake, eller til et annet land innen to år. Jeg er bekymret for at mangel på norsk profesjonelt nettverk kan gjøre det vanskelig for meg å finne jobb hjemme».

«Jeg har alltid vært glad i å oppleve nye kulturer. Først dro jeg som frivillig for en norsk organisasjon som jobber med fattige barn i Thailand. Deretter studerte jeg spansk og dro på utveksling til Spania og Bolivia. Der møtte jeg min samboer, vi dro til Irland der jeg fullfører masteren min. Jeg søker nå jobb og vi planlegger hvilket land vi vil føre eventyret videre».

«Jeg flyttet til LA for å studere skuespill, jeg er nå ferdig med studiene og skal få mitt 1-årlige arbeidsvisum ila høsten. Da skal jeg på auditions og begynne nettverksbygging her i USA».

My parents wanted to move to America to live the American dream. I was only 10, spoke no English and had a rough time adjusting. Graduated high school, then served in the US Navy as an legal alien and became a US citizen in 2003”.