Moving to Iceland: An Essential Guide
Moving to Iceland has become very popular in the past few years. Iceland is a country with absolutely breathtaking landscapes, an active, innovative tech scene, and a rich culture.
Iceland has become very popular for tourism and expats, and yearly, an increasing number of people consider the country their home.
In this article, we will cover how to move to Iceland, how to become a citizen of Iceland, and useful tips to know if you are planning a move. We will also discuss how do people live in Iceland, do people in Iceland speak English, and how to retire in Iceland.
What’s Life in Iceland Like?
Perhaps one of the most critical elements to consider before planning your move is the weather. Moving to Iceland is very popular despite its close location to the Arctic Circle. Its location translates to long days in the summer season and long nights in the winter season.
Due to the long summer days, summer is the most popular season to visit and enjoy all Iceland offers. Even though winter comes with long nights, the Icelandic lifestyle and the Northern Lights create a stunning winter escape for many.
The temperature rarely exceeds 65F in the summer. If you are visiting or moving there, your wardrobe needs to include warm clothes to keep you comfortable regardless of the season. Make sure you do not forget a windbreaker!
Moving to Iceland has also become popular because it is considered a very safe country to live and raise a family. Most Icelandic towns have a hot pool where people can get warm while they chill for hours discussing life and politics. Imagine sitting in a warm pool outside in the freezing weather with friends and locals, enjoying a warm drink, and taking in the fresh air while creating human connections.
Do they speak English in Iceland? Or will you have to learn an entirely new language?
Good news, if you do not speak Icelandic, it is ok! Everyone in Iceland, and especially the capital, Reykjavik, speaks English. But if you want to immerse yourself in the culture, there are plenty of schools that you can attend and learn Icelandic.
Moving to Iceland will require adjustments to your consumer habits, especially if you are moving from the U.S., where products are abundant year-round! Product diversity in Iceland is limited. The country imports almost everything, except for a few products like lamb, dairy, and seafood. This means that many fresh vegetables are not available year-round, and sometimes they are not of the best quality.
However, learning to live with less is an attractive element for many people who are moving to Iceland from the U.S.
Due to the scarcity of many products, prices can be relatively high when they are available. Other staples such as furniture and electronics can also be priced higher than what you may be used to. The good news is that those purchases are not needed often. Going out to restaurants will come with a higher tab than what you might expect, too, especially if you are coming from the U.S.
But again, this means less focus on consumption and more emphasis on building relationships and experiences!
Iceland’s culture can be perfectly summed up by saying that Iceland is where the old meets the new. Iceland celebrates its traditions, whether they are old or new. Icelandic people celebrate throughout the year with events and festivals around culture and history.
Make sure you place Culture Night on your calendar, an August event in Reykjavik where all shops and restaurants stay open late with multiple exhibitions and events happening simultaneously. Food in Iceland is also celebrated in a midwinter festival called Þorrablót. You will have a chance to taste strange yet interesting dishes during the festival, anything from rotten shark to liver sausage. Modern examples of Icelandic food culture can be tasted during the Food and Fun festival in February every year.
Moving to Iceland: Important Information
Let’s dive into some much-needed details about Iceland immigration procedures.
First, there is the Kennitala, which is the ID number you will be assigned. It is quite similar to the social security number U.S. citizens have. Once you register as a resident in Iceland, you will receive your Kennitala number. This number is required to allow you to get set up, open bank accounts, access the medical system, etc.
If you are visiting Iceland on a tourist visa, keep in mind that it is only valid for 90 days. Only utilize a tourist visa if you are just visiting for a vacation.
Moving to Iceland from the U.S.
For U.S. citizens, moving to Iceland is not straight-forward but it is doable. The process is actually similar to many countries. Let’s explore the routes available and how to gain Iceland citizenship.
- You can always seek to obtain Iceland citizenship through the traditional marriage method. If your spouse is from Iceland, you can secure the right to live and work there legally and become a citizen. This option might not be as easy, especially if you are not in a relationship with someone from Iceland. But let’s assume you visit there on a tourist visa and you fall in love, then it is a perfect option.
- Many young people can utilize the student visa offered by the country to enter and attend school. Living in Iceland as a student will allow you to create a network and even secure employment after your studies, making it possible to move on and claim citizenship in the future.
- Lastly, a popular option is to secure a residency by securing a work permit. The process is not as streamlined as the others, and just like all things “government,” there is a lot of bureaucracy involved.
Once you are there, it is time to look into getting set up in your new home!
Your New Home
When deciding to make the move, most people consider Reykjavik the best option to secure a job and find a new home. Nearly two-thirds of the entire Icelandic population lives there. Therefore many options and opportunities to establish yourself exist in Reykjavik. If, however, you are moving there on a work permit, you probably will end up wherever the job is, in which case your employer may assist you in finding a place to live.
Reykjavik, although it is the biggest city in Iceland, still comes with limited options for housing. Generally, it is best to look for a place before making the move.
Around 80% of the housing market is privately owned, which creates a small pool for rental options for anyone looking to rent.
How do you get started?
A general Google search on how to find a house in Reykjavik will yield multiple options. The good news is that the rent starts relatively low, around 250 Euros to rent a private room. Renting a private room might be a good option until you get a chance to live there and know the area. Once you are there, if you are looking for a private apartment, the prices start around 1300 Euros for a one-bedroom apartment.
Rent.is Helps you Discover the Beauty of Iceland
Contact Rent.is to find the perfect Iceland camper van to explore the country! Once you fall in love with it and you are sure you want to move here, then start investigating the best way for you to gain residency or citizenship.
In the meantime contact Rent.is and explore Iceland!