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Moving to Iceland? What Land of Fire and Ice Has to Offer to Expats

Daisy Wilson August 8, 2018
Posted August 8, 2018 In Living Abroad,
Daisy Wilson

Daisy was born in Salt Lake City and in her free time, she writes about moving and watches Charmed.

It may seem that moving to Iceland is a bad idea, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The country is one of the most beautiful places to live in, and the people there are very welcoming to newcomers. Beautiful nature and culture will be incredibly fun to explore. And moving to Iceland from the US is possible in just a couple of steps.

Relocating across the world is an exciting experience, especially if you decide to relocate to one of the last places in the world to be settled by humans. If your dream is to become an American moving to Iceland, large space, friendly people, and beautiful nature is probably the first thing that pops into your mind. And if you are a woman, you will be happy to hear that the country has been chosen multiple times as the best place to live for women, so if you are relocating for love, keep this info in mind.

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Things to Know Before Moving to Iceland, the Land of the Future

The Land of Fire and Ice is one of the first modern democracies in the world. It has one of the oldest parliaments still in existence. It is a constitutional republic with a multi-party system, and the president is elected by direct popular vote. Aside from the fact that the country had the first democratically voted female president and that it is closer to full gender equality than any state in the world, it has one of the highest living standards globally. And best of all, there are no mosquitoes or any other biting bugs here. Considering this fact, getting used to volcanoes and cold to mild weather will be easy.

Ship Everything You Can Because the Cost of Living and Consumer Prices are High

Living abroad, and on the edge of the world at that, can have its ups and downs, and one of those downs is the high cost of living. The island is isolated, and most of the goods are imported, which greatly reflects the final price in the market. The smart thing will be to book an overseas shipping company because, in the end, the costs of overseas shipping will be less than buying new things. Even if you are from Orange County and plan to take full advantage of your overseas moving company with packing service or even with international moving by air, it will still cost less.

How to Get a Work Permit and Permanent Residence

Getting the right documents for traveling to the Land of Fire and Ice will be the first step on your relocating abroad checklist. If you plan to stay for more than three months (up to that time period is allowed only with a passport and for tourism purposes,) you will need to file for a visa and residence permit. These permits can be granted on several grounds, but the most common are work and studying.

So before you apply for a visa, you need to acquire a job. And one of the questions to ask your employer should be about work permits. For further information, you should go to the Directorate of Immigration website. After you get a visa and work permit, you can apply for permanent residence. If you are worried about breaking the language barrier, you can seek an English-speaking job in tourism and hospitality.

The Icelandic Sounds Rough – A Sentence Such as “Skjái Fyrir Síma” May Sound Like a Viking Threat…

… but it actually means “a phone screen,” so don’t rule out this old language so quickly. And yes, learning a language abroad can be difficult, so the best tip to learn a new one is to start early and begin the course before the move. This way, you will at least know some of the phrases. Furthermore, even if English is widely spoken in every corner of the island, Icelanders are really proud of their language, so learning at least some of the words will be considered as a great gesture.

Pick a Place to Call Home Among the Finest Cities in Iceland

Living in another country will be much easier if you have fellow citizens there. Not only that they can help with all the information you need regarding the move, but friends will be waiting for you once you arrive. Go on the website Internations and try to connect with the American expat community. Do this before your relocation and ask them for tips on which city to pick. It is always better to get this information first-hand from persons who are already living there. Here are our top picks on Iceland’s cities:

  • Reykjavik – The capital of the state and the city where ⅔ of the country’s population is living. It is a mix of urban and small-town vibe. You can rent one one-bedroom apartment in the city center for $1,500 or (around 203,800 Icelandic kronor, the country’s official currency.) For example, if you live in Orange County, in Anaheim, you will pay 23% higher rent than in Reykjavik. On the other hand, consumer prices will be 26 % higher in Reykjavik.
  • Hafnarfjörður – If you are keen to learn all about Viking culture, then this is a place for you. Like Reykjavik, it is located on the southwest coast of the island, and it is about 3 hours drive from the Icelandic capital.
  • Akureyri – This small fishing town is located in the north part of the island. This old Viking town goes way back to the 9th century. It is excellent for outdoor activities such as fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, and rafting.

Health Care is Available to Everybody

Once you have a legal residence and working permit in the country and live there for six months, you automatically become a member of Iceland’s social insurance system. So if you are working in the country, an amount from your paycheck will automatically go to the state treasury. With this insurance, you will be covered for primary medical care like all citizens here. For example, dental care is not covered. On the other hand, dental care for children under 18 is free of charge.

Climate Is Not That Harsh and Nature Will Amaze You

Even though the island is near the Arctic Circle, the climate is not as harsh as you might think. And to be clear, it is cold, but it can be warm as well. The Gulf Stream warms the island, so you will be able to enjoy warm summers. Still, it is known that weather can change quickly, so it is recommendable to dress in layers. The weather is similar to some of the best towns in Canada, so if you are thinking about relocating to Canada, you might consider relocating to Land of Fire and Ice. If nothing else, it is way more exotic than the Great White North.

From the South Coast of the Island to the North, the Whole Country Is Filled With Strange and Unique Nature

The best part of moving overseas is the chance to see unusual new places and natural wonders. And here you will have the most impressive sights. From amazing northern lights, which are best to watch from Iceland to the midnight sun – and these are just the tip of the iceberg of wonders to witness. Among Iceland’s most celebrated natural wonders are glacier lagoons, especially the largest one, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach, a black sand beach filled with washed-out glacier residues. Being in the Land of Fire and Ice, you can enjoy icy scenery while batting in the hot springs and lagoons. The most famous lagoon where even Beyonce likes to relax is Blue Lagoon. Also, don’t miss out on geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes. Check this video and enjoy the natural wonders of Iceland before you move.

Are There No Trees in Iceland?

The story about trees in Iceland is connected with the island’s history and environment. There were trees back when Viking settlers came here, but they cut down most of them. With the combination of volcanic ash and lava, trees have become extinct. Nowadays, the government has begun a process of reforestation, and now there is 0.4% of land covered in forest.

Prepare for Cultural Shock and Learn to Respect the Mythology

Islanders believe in elves and fairies to the extent that they have road signs to warn you about fairies. So if something unusual happens to you on the road, you will know who’s to blame. If you plan to use an overseas car shipping service, which is highly recommended since there are no trains or railways here, be prepared to drive on curvy roads. And there is a simple explanation for that – every area believed to be inhabited by fairies is bypassed.

And even if the Land of Fire and Ice is one of the best places to live in Europe, you will not meet friendly people like if you were relocating to Portugal. There is a saying about Icelanders – “they are the coldest and most warm people in the world.” And that is mostly true. Once you relocate, you will feel like you have moved to Germany. There will not be friendly chit chats or gestures until they get to know you, and then you will get friends for a lifetime. So get out of your comfort zone and as soon as you relocate, make a barbeque in your backyard and invite all your neighbors. They will love this gesture.

Learn to Eat Like a Viking – Unusual Icelandic Food

It is no secret that Icelanders love to drink. They even have National Beer Day celebrated on March 1st. And aside from the fact that you will have to learn to drink in a Viking way, you will have to eat like one. But don’t worry, there is more than a fermented shark, or Hákarl, for you to eat. You can always have smoked sheep’s head instead or Plokkfiskur, a fish stew. Either way, you will be forced to eat healthier food which will pay off in the long run. All kinds of seafood dishes and fish will be the largest part of your weekly meals. Unusual food is part of the experience, and even if you relocate to France, you will at one point end up eating frog legs. But if you decide to taste something old-fashioned, don’t worry. Restaurants will serve you a juicy steak or a hot chili kebab.

Moving to Iceland From the US is Manageable With International Moving Company

Moving internationally without the help of an international moving company is nearly impossible. And yes, you can try and do this alone, but in the end, it will cost you more, and you will experience relocation stress you have never felt before. For example, relocation to the Land of Fire and Ice will demand a lot more preparation than relocating to Connecticut. Hell, moving abroad to this isolated country will be even harder than relocating to Hawaii. You will have to get the paperwork done and find work and accommodation in advance. So why not outsource most of the tasks regarding the relocation you will have to the professionals? With their help, you will be able to ship all your belongings without any effort.



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