The Best Part About Moving to Norway
Where the fuck is Norway, anyway?
There is a standing joke up here that so long as Norway is not a part of the European Union, Sweden and Finland looks like a dick getting a bit too close and intimidating to Denmark – as illustrated on the map below. Norway is quite a small country. A quick Google search tell us that it’s about the size of Japan (Norway: 385,203 km², Japan: 377,962 km²) but with about 4% the population that Japan has (our 5 million to their 127 million).
I have the impression that when people think of Norway, they think of metal heads and snow. Possibly, they sometimes think that it’s the capital of Sweden or, as we sometimes joke about with foreigners, that we ride polar bears to work. Having spent most of my adult life abroad, when I think about Norway I think of the nature. The pretty mountains, the rivers, ocean, and forests.
Frugal There and Frugal Here
The best part about moving back to Scandinavia is – hands down – nature. In Mrs. Frugalwood‘s post The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Boston Living back in 2015, she writes that the thing that makes frugal living in metropolitan cities attractive are the amount of options available. We certainly notice the difference between options in London and the options we have here, even if we still live in a city…what passes for a city by Norwegian standards, anyway.
In London, we were 5 minutes away from the tube and trains, and thereby 5 minutes away from travelling anywhere in London. And there were lots of free options to choose from: The British Museum, the British Library, The National Gallery, and the list goes on. But taking the tube was making us both sick and it’s not exactly the cheapest form of travel. So we bought bikes. And we quickly found out that bikes were only good for the areas closest to us. Because of the size of London, according to google maps it could take 2hrs or more to travel to our destination. Which was a bit off-putting. I mean, have you seen London traffic?
Back to Nature
So in the end, we didn’t really make use of the free opportunities when we were in London as much as we probably should have. Because ‘free’ often depends on the travel distance. And if you don’t live close enough, you have to pay for the travel there…unless you wanted those two hours on the bike each way. Travel distance also defines how much effort it takes to get out of the door.
Back in 2014, a year before Kristine and I moved together and even a couple of months before we officially got together, she visited me at my University. As it happens, the University is located a 20 minute walk from Richmond Park. It is the largest of the royal parks in London with 9.55 km² and is one of the wildlife reserves in the UK. This close proximity to the park made it easy to go for walks there. And to make things even better, there is no entrance fee either.
Around London, there are a lot of parks and they are all beautiful in their own way. But what struck me about them is that they all have roads for cars to travel through them. Even Richmond Park! In Norway, this is quite unusual and was actually a bit of a culture shock to me. And on top of that, it was quite clear that everything was cultivated and carefully arranged. Both of us noticed that we were missing the Scandinavian landscape where it doesn’t feel like every tree, every shrubbery and every strand of grass is placed purposefully by a human hand. This feeling would be amplified every time we’d get back to our small flat after visiting our families over the holidays. Not to mention the quiet!
Of course, we are all different. Some people enjoy the busy city life more than a quiet life somewhere smaller. And that’s completely fine. So long as you know where the best place is for you.
Take care of yourself
Moving back to Norway has made it a lot easier for me to stay active and to find activities that cost nothing. It’s mainly because we chose to live away from the city centre and closer to the forest. As opposed to our life in London – where our energy levels were low and what we’d find outside our door were roads and tiny brick houses as well as a completely geometric park – we now have forest 5 minutes away from our door. This proximity to nature makes it so much easier for me to go out the door and be active in my favourite frugal activity: going for walks.
Last month, Kristine posted Why You Should Walk to Work which got me thinking about how much our lives have changed in the past few months, just from feeling that we have the space to breathe. For example, I had the apartment to myself a few weeks ago when Kristine was spending time with some of our friends for a crafter’s workshop. I was stressed out because I had exams coming up and suddenly, I decided to get my butt out of the house for a breather. I didn’t really have a goal for my walk and simply let my feet wander off with the rest of my body tagging along. And suddenly, I found myself standing by a lake in the forest with a view that left me in awe.
Finding that thing
We’ve all felt stress in our lives. Whether it’s because you’re studying for exams, have deadlines, family issues, you might be a single parent or your might feel stressed for other reasons. When we are busy, it’s not always easy to take the time to take care of ourselves. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that when the weather is good and we have this beautiful lake only 30 minutes walk away from our home, it’s not difficult to take a break. What things close to your home can you enjoy at no cost in stressful times? Of course, I would encourage you to find these things at times when you’re not feeling stressed, too! But the reason I ask, is that sometimes it helps to sit down and reflect on the small steps we can take to improve our lives. And for me, that is being closer to nature.
Oh, and did I mention that I missed the snow?