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15 Reasons to Live in Iceland


House with grass roof

Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice, has become a popular destination for tourists in recent years. Its stunning landscapes and unique culture have captured the hearts of many visitors. But have you ever wondered what it's like living in Iceland as a permanent resident?

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the pros and cons of living in Iceland, the benefits and disadvantages, and why people choose to call this beautiful island nation their home. Whether you're curious about moving here or just interested in learning more about the Icelandic way of life, this article is for you.

Why Consider Living in Iceland?

Beyond its captivating landscapes and vibrant culture, Iceland presents numerous factors that make it an appealing destination for those considering relocation. The country's strong commitment to sustainability, its tight-knit and supportive community, and the emphasis on work-life balance contribute to a high quality of life that attracts people from around the globe.

As you continue reading, we will delve into these factors in greater detail to provide a comprehensive understanding of why living in Iceland has become an increasingly popular choice.

In the following sections, we will explore a range of factors influencing the decision to move to Iceland, including its unparalleled natural beauty, safety and stability, educational opportunities, and much more.

living in Iceland

1. Natural Beauty and Landscapes

Geysers, Waterfalls, and Volcanoes

One of the main reasons people consider living in Iceland is its unparalleled natural beauty. The island is home to some of the world's most unique geological features, such as geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes. These awe-inspiring sights make every day feel like an adventure, providing endless opportunities for exploration and outdoor activities.

The Northern Lights

One of the most magical experiences of living in Iceland is the chance to witness the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This natural phenomenon occurs when solar particles collide with the Earth's atmosphere, creating a stunning light show that is visible on clear nights, primarily between September and March.

National Parks and Wildlife

Iceland is home to three magnificent national parks, each offering unique landscapes and opportunities for wildlife encounters. These parks provide residents and visitors with the chance to immerse themselves in nature, whether it's hiking through moss-covered lava fields or watching seals play along the coastline.

Iceland impressive nature

2. Safety and Low Crime Rates

A Peaceful Society

Iceland is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and a strong sense of community. The Icelandic people value trust, respect, and cooperation, which contributes to a peaceful society where residents can feel secure in their daily lives.

Trustworthy Institutions

Iceland's government and institutions are known for their transparency and efficiency. This reliability extends to the country's healthcare, education, and public services, ensuring a high quality of life for residents.

Living in Iceland: safety

3. High Quality of Life

Excellent Healthcare System

Iceland boasts an excellent healthcare system, which provides high-quality medical services to all its residents. The country has a universal healthcare system, ensuring that everyone has access to essential medical care regardless of their income or background.

High Levels of Education and Literacy

The Icelandic education system is known for its high standards and commitment to fostering creativity and critical thinking. With a literacy rate of nearly 100%, Iceland is a nation of well-educated, lifelong learners. Icelanders simply love reading!

Strong Infrastructure and Public Services

Living in Iceland means enjoying the benefits of a well-maintained infrastructure and efficient public services. From reliable public transportation to clean water and waste management, these services contribute to a high quality of life for residents.

Icelandic health care system

4. Sustainable Living and Clean Energy

Renewable Energy Sources

Iceland is a global leader in renewable energy, with nearly 100% of its electricity generated from sustainable sources such as geothermal and hydroelectric power. This commitment to clean energy not only benefits the environment, but also leads to lower utility costs for residents.

Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

The Icelandic people are known for their strong environmental consciousness, making sustainable living a way of life. From recycling and composting to using eco-friendly products, living in Iceland means embracing a greener lifestyle.

Geothermal energy in Iceland

5. Friendly and Welcoming Community

Icelandic Culture and Traditions

Icelanders take pride in their unique culture and traditions, which are deeply rooted in their Viking heritage. From the celebration of national holidays to the preservation of the Icelandic language, living in Iceland offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich and fascinating culture.

6. The Warmth of the Locals

Despite the country's cold climate, Icelanders are known for their warmth and friendliness. They are eager to welcome newcomers and help them integrate into the local community. This sense of belonging can make living in Iceland as a foreigner much more enjoyable.

Iceland's society

7. Unique Work-Life Balance

Flexible Work Hours and Vacation Time

Icelandic society places a strong emphasis on work-life balance, with many companies offering flexible work hours and generous vacation time. This focus on well-being allows residents to enjoy a more balanced lifestyle, with ample time for family, hobbies, and leisure activities.

Emphasis on Family and Leisure

In Iceland, family and leisure time are highly valued. The country's social policies, such as parental leave and childcare support, make it easier for families to thrive. This focus on well-being extends to leisure activities, with many Icelanders enjoying outdoor pursuits and cultural events in their free time.

Family life in Iceland

8. Outdoor Activities and Adventure

Hiking, Camping, and Trekking

Iceland's stunning landscapes provide countless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Hiking activities in Iceland, camping, and trekking are popular activities among locals and residents, allowing them to explore the country's diverse terrain and experience its natural beauty firsthand.

Winter Sports

Winter sports enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in Iceland, with opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling across the country's snowy landscapes. Various resorts and facilities cater to winter sports lovers, offering both beginners and seasoned athletes a chance to experience the thrill of these activities.

Water Sports and Fishing

Iceland's coastal waters and numerous lakes and rivers provide excellent opportunities for water sports and fishing. Activities such as kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling are quite popular, as well as angling for the country's abundant fish species.

Iceland winter sports

9. Creative and Artistic Atmosphere

Vibrant Music Scene

Iceland is known for its vibrant music scene, with internationally acclaimed artists such as Björk, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men hailing from the country. Music festivals and live performances are a staple of Icelandic culture, providing residents with ample opportunities to enjoy and participate in the arts.

Rich Literary History

With a strong literary tradition dating back to the Viking Age, Iceland has a deep appreciation for the written word. The country boasts an impressive number of authors, poets, and playwrights, and Reykjavík has even been designated a UNESCO City of Literature.

Iceland music scene

10. Strong Gender Equality

Progressive Policies and Attitudes

Iceland is a global leader in gender equality, with progressive policies such as equal pay legislation, generous parental leave, and a strong emphasis on women's empowerment. The country's commitment to gender equality creates a supportive and inclusive environment for both men and women.

Empowerment and Representation

Women in Iceland hold prominent positions in various sectors, including politics, business, and academia. This strong representation ensures that women's voices are heard and valued, contributing to a more balanced and equitable society.

Iceland society equity

11. Innovative Culinary Scene

Traditional and Modern Cuisine

Iceland's culinary scene is a unique blend of traditional and modern influences, with chefs drawing inspiration from both the country's rich history and international trends. From fresh seafood to locally sourced produce, living in Iceland offers a diverse and exciting dining experience.

Fine Dining and Casual Eateries

The country's capital, Reykjavík, is home to a variety of dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to casual cafés and street food vendors. This array of choices ensures that residents can enjoy a wide range of culinary experiences, catering to all tastes and budgets.

Icelandic cuisine

12. Growing Tech and Startup Scene

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Iceland has a growing tech and startup scene, driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an emphasis on innovation. This environment provides exciting opportunities for professionals and entrepreneurs looking to join a dynamic and forward-thinking community.

13. Government Support and Funding

The Icelandic government offers various support and funding initiatives for startups and small businesses, helping to foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. This support makes living in Iceland an attractive option for those looking to launch or grow their business.

Iceland start-up iniciatives

14. Accessible Public Libraries and Cultural Institutions

Public Libraries

Iceland has a strong network of public libraries, providing residents with access to a wealth of books, resources, and community events. These libraries also serve as important cultural hubs, hosting exhibitions, workshops, and lectures on various topics.

Museums and Galleries

The country boasts a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums and galleries showcasing Iceland's history, art, and natural wonders. Living in Iceland provides residents with the opportunity to engage with the country's cultural heritage and develop a deeper appreciation for its unique identity.

15. Unique Architectural Landmarks

Modern and Historic Structures

Iceland's architectural landscape is a blend of modern and historic structures, reflecting the country's rich history and contemporary design sensibilities. From the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church to the sleek Harpa Concert Hall, living in Iceland offers the chance to explore and appreciate a diverse range of architectural styles.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Design

Sustainability is a key consideration in Icelandic architecture, with many buildings incorporating eco-friendly design elements and materials. This focus on green design contributes to the country's commitment to sustainability and environmental preservation.

Iceland eco-friendly arquitecture

Pros and Cons of Living in Iceland

Deciding to move to a new country is a significant life decision that requires a clear understanding of both its appealing and challenging aspects. In this section, we'll provide you with a well-rounded insight into the pros and cons of living in Iceland. We will touch upon various aspects, including the cost of living, job opportunities, climate, and cultural experiences.

The Pros

Living in Iceland offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Natural beauty and serenity: The country's stunning landscapes provide a peaceful and inspiring backdrop for daily life.
  • Safety and security: Low crime rates and a strong sense of community contribute to a safe living environment.
  • High quality of life: Excellent healthcare, education, and public services ensure a comfortable lifestyle for residents.
  • Sustainability and clean energy: Iceland's commitment to renewable energy and eco-friendly practices promotes a greener way of life.
  • Friendly and supportive community: The warmth and kindness of the Icelandic people make it easier for newcomers to integrate and feel at home.
  • Unique work-life balance: Flexible work hours and an emphasis on family and leisure time allow for a more balanced lifestyle.
  • Outdoor activities and adventure: With numerous opportunities for hiking, camping, winter sports, and water activities, living in Iceland offers endless adventures.
  • Creative and artistic atmosphere: A vibrant music scene and rich literary history provide residents with ample cultural experiences.

Advantages of living in Iceland

The Cons

Despite its many advantages, living in Iceland also comes with some challenges:

  • High cost of living:Iceland's remote location and reliance on imports can result in a high cost of living, particularly when it comes to groceries, housing, and transportation.
  • Challenging weather conditions: The country's unpredictable weather, long winters, and limited daylight hours during winter months can be difficult for some to adapt to.
  • Limited job market: While job opportunities are available, the job market can be competitive, particularly for non-Icelandic speakers.
  • Language barrier: Although many Icelanders speak English, learning Icelandic can be challenging and is often necessary for full integration into the community.
  • Isolation and limited travel options: Iceland's remote location means that travel to other countries can be expensive and time-consuming.

Icelandic weather in winter

Frequently Asked Questions about living in Iceland

What is the cost of living in Iceland?

The cost of living in Iceland is generally higher than in many other countries, mainly due to its remote location and reliance on imports. Housing, groceries, and transportation can be more expensive compared to other countries. However, salaries in Iceland are often higher to offset the increased cost of living.

Is it easy to find a job in Iceland?

The job market in Iceland can be competitive, particularly for non-Icelandic speakers. However, there are job opportunities available, especially in sectors such as tourism, technology, and healthcare. Learning Icelandic and having relevant skills and experience can increase your chances of finding a job in the country.

How do I learn Icelandic?

Learning Icelandic can be challenging, but there are various resources available to help you. Language courses are offered by institutions such as the University of Iceland, as well as private language schools. Online resources, apps, and language exchange programs can also be useful for learning Icelandic.

Icelandic language

Do I need a visa to live in Iceland?

Visa requirements for living in Iceland depend on your nationality and the duration of your stay. Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not need a visa to live and work in Iceland. Non-EEA citizens will generally require a residence permit, which is typically granted for work, study, or family reunification purposes.

How do I open a bank account in Iceland?

Opening a bank account in Iceland is relatively straightforward. You will generally need your passport, a valid residence permit (if applicable), your Icelandic identification number (kennitala), and proof of address in Iceland. Some banks may also require additional documentation, such as employment or income information.

Can I drive in Iceland with a foreign driver's license?

Yes, visitors to Iceland can drive with a valid driver's license from their home country or an international driver's permit for up to six months. After six months, you may be required to obtain an Icelandic driver's license, which may involve taking a driving test.

Driving in Iceland license

What are the main transportation options in Iceland?

The main transportation options in Iceland include public buses, domestic flights, and ferries. Reykjavík has a comprehensive public bus network, while domestic flights and ferries connect different regions of the country. Many residents also rely on personal vehicles for transportation, especially in rural areas.

Comparing the Benefits and Disadvantages of Living in Iceland

Evaluating Your Priorities

When considering a move to Iceland, it's essential to evaluate your priorities and determine what aspects of living in Iceland are most important to you. Are you drawn to the country's natural beauty and outdoor activities, or is the high cost of living a significant concern?

Weighing the Trade-offs

As with any major life decision, moving to Iceland involves trade-offs. You might be willing to accept the country's challenging weather conditions in exchange for the unparalleled natural beauty and opportunities for adventure. It's crucial to weigh the pros and cons of living in Iceland and determine what trade-offs you're comfortable with.

Iceland pros and cons

Making the Decision: Is Iceland the Right Fit for You?

Ultimately, only you can decide if Iceland is the right fit for your lifestyle and priorities. By carefully considering the benefits and disadvantages of living in Iceland, you can make an informed decision about whether this unique island nation is the best place for you to call home.

A Final Verdict on Living in the Land of Fire and Ice

Living in Iceland offers a unique blend of natural beauty, safety, a high quality of life, and a welcoming community. However, it also comes with challenges such as a high cost of living, challenging weather conditions, and a competitive job market. By thoroughly examining the pros and cons of living in Iceland, you can determine if the Land of Fire and Ice is the perfect place for you to start a new chapter in your life.

For more information on Iceland, be sure to visit Iceland Cars for helpful tips, guides, and insights into Icelandic culture and travel.