Living in Iceland: A Dream Come True

Visa application for Iceland documents

Are you thinking about living in Iceland for good? It is quite natural for someone to fall in love with this stunning island during their travels, but deciding to have a home and live here “happily ever after” is a huge step. Iceland is a gorgeous country, there is absolutely no doubt about that. The fairytale-like land, crystal clear water, fresh air, and the beautiful sky that has natural fireworks from the dazzling Northern Lights. Who wouldn't want to live in this heaven on earth?

But before you pack your bags and buy a one-way ticket, research everything about what it's like in Iceland. It should not be an overnight decision. You must learn about life here. What is the average cost of living? What are the places to live in Iceland? How early can you get your work permit? Where should you live in Reykjavik? How much is a house in Iceland? It is better to know the answers to all of these questions before your plane lands in your new country. The best way to gather practical information is to join relevant Facebook groups to communicate with people who have immigrated to Iceland and those who are locals from here.

Living in Iceland: The Scenic Beauty

As a visitor, you can rent a car in Iceland and enjoy the sights and sounds of the country. But once you decide to call it your new home, you need to know several things about this beautiful island located below the Arctic Circle.

So, what is living in Iceland like? Someone once told me that you will either love moving to Iceland or hate it, you can't be on the fence. There is so much to love about this Land of Fire and Ice: the black beaches, blue glaciers, stunning waterfalls, serene parks, and uncountable tourist attractions. But at the same time, certain things may be quite new to you; for instance, the Iceland weather, culture, and language. I would suggest you start with a fresh mind. Once you get the hang of it, life is Iceland is quite simple and extremely pleasant.

How Many People Live in Iceland?

Let’s face it. When you first searched for Iceland’s pictures, it may have looked like only frozen land. You may have asked yourself: do people live in Iceland? You don’t think there would be life thriving under a constant blanket of snow, but guess what? Once you visit it, you will realize it’s a different world – and a gorgeous one!

With a population of 360,390 people, Iceland is the most thinly populated country in Europe. It has one of the smallest populations per square mile (or kilometer) in the world - read more about Icelanders in our dedicated blog post.

Landscape of Reykjavik, a great city to immigrate to

Places to Live in Iceland

You will find most people living in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city. Reykjavik is also one of the most expensive places to live in. It is the hub of food, art, culture, and don't forget nightlife! If you are looking for a less expensive home, you will most likely find it in other towns of Iceland, such as Hafnarfjordur and Mosfellsbaer, which are on the outskirts of Reykjavik. A more cost-friendly approach would be to consider the scarcely populated Westfjords. On the other hand, Egilsstadir is population-wise the largest city and is also quite expensive due to its proximity to facilities like a hospital, college, and airport.

Locals Living in Iceland

Icelanders are hardworking people who have created life on this island of volcanoes and glaciers. At first glance, they may not be the chirpiest of people. But once you get to know them, they are genuinely nice and friendly people. Icelanders are well-educated and many of them have advanced degrees. They have a great interest in politics and travel.

Although Icelandic is the official language, almost 98% of the local people speak English, which makes life easier when you first start living in Iceland. However, you must learn the Icelandic language for work and social integration.

Weather: What is it Like in Iceland?

Iceland weather is generally cold and rainy. The winters are cold and dark. By contrast, the summer season has extremely long days. Once you get used to the conditions here, you can plan your activities like working, shopping, and traveling accordingly. The grocery stores may not have an over-abundance of variety, but you will find all the staples you need. Since there are a lot of travelers from America, Asia, and Europe, the stores here have many recognizable brands. Living in Iceland is also a great opportunity to try local ingredients, seasonal produce, and Icelandic products.

Iceland country border at immigration

What is it Like Living in Iceland Permanently?

Once you arrive here, you need to register with Registers Iceland within 7 days. Visitors need residency permits to live and work. If you are a citizen of any country that does not belong to the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or European Free Trade Association (EFTA), you must have a residence permit if you plan to stay here for more than 3 months.

If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA, you do not need a special residence permit to stay, though you still need to register with Registers Iceland. However, if any of your family members is a third-country national, he/she must apply for a residence permit at the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration.

In Iceland, nothing works without your ID number, known as a Kennitala. It keeps a record of your jobs, social benefits, health insurance, taxes, and essentially anything important. You cannot open your bank account, rent a place, or start working without a Kennitala.

If you plan to live and work in Iceland for more than six months, you need a legal domicile stating that you have a fixed residence (a house or an apartment) here. It cannot be a hotel or a guesthouse. To register your residence as your legal domicile, you must have your identity number (Kennitala) and a residence permit (again, the residence permit is only required for non-EEA members).

Making a new country your home is not an easy task. After all, you could have lived anywhere in the world, but you chose Iceland – or maybe Iceland chose you. Is Iceland the best place to live in? Absolutely yes! With volcanic fields, blue glacier lagoons, and world-famous geothermal swimming pools in a chilly arctic backdrop, what else could you wish for? This stunning country is truly unique, and once you start living in Iceland, you will know exactly what I mean.


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