An old house in Iceland.

Iceland can be a dream destination for expats who want to see surreal scenery, dive into an advanced and exciting lifestyle and experience a country with little to no pollution.

If you have traveled to smoggy areas of the United States or to countries like China where air pollution is very high, you’re going to love the atmosphere in Iceland. Expats tend to enjoy Iceland not only as a vacation spot, but as a great place to build a new life.



As a person who loves to travel, I decided to spend several months in Iceland and I am so glad that I chose to do so. There are so many great things about this country that make it unique to every other place I’ve been during my travels.

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Iceland

Photo by Ruslan Valeev on Unsplash

There were so many things that I knew nothing about before I flew over that I wish I had known before making my move to Iceland, so I wanted to take time to share some with other expats who are considering Iceland as a new home.

Scheduling Moving Services

Landrover Defender driving into a sunset.

It is so easy to schedule moving services for your personal property as well as for a motor vehicle. It may be beneficial to hire a company that can arrange to ship everything at one time.

Or, if you don’t plan to stay long but will need your personal car for the duration of your stay, work with a reliable auto transport company to ship only the vehicle and you can carry your personal items with you on your flight.


  • Rent a car in Iceland here

A-1 Auto Transport states that it can cost between $1900 and $4300 to ship a motor vehicle or motorcycle to Iceland from the east coast of the United States. When I shipped my SUV, that is the company I worked with and it was right around $2200 total for shipping and interstate transport to the port.

I used RORO shipping which is where the car is loaded onto the open deck of the ship and then transported. Since I was only planning to stay for the summer, I packed my laptop and other necessities in my bags and brought them when I flew in.

Expats

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Iceland

Photo by Ruslan Valeev on Unsplash

You are going to find a large expat community in Iceland that will help you feel right at home very quickly. Whether you are trying to find Americans or Europeans, you won’t feel left out of any social gathering. It is easy to find meet-ups online, so you can socialise with some of the local expats at game nights, restaurants, concerts, plays and other venues.



Traveling in Iceland

Beautiful scenery in a wing mirror.

It is easy to travel from one place to the next in Iceland. If you stay in Reykjavik, you’ll find walking is convenient. For places further out, a car is nice or even a motorcycle to get to and from places. There are not many city buses for local travel.

Having a car of your own makes transportation a breeze since you won’t need to wait on a bus that may be packed with people. If you visit during the winter, a car is going to help ensure you can move around from one town to the next without major delays. Be sure to have a vehicle that goes well in the snow, so you won’t find yourself stuck on the side of the road.

Visa

I got a tourist visa to stay in Iceland for 90 days. I fell in love with this country and would love to be able to immigrate here one day, but immigration is not a simple thing to achieve in Iceland unless you want to obtain a work or school permit or marry someone local, so you can stay.

Working in Iceland

Barista pouring artisanal coffee.

If you are a freelancer or you work remotely for a company that allows you to work on your own time while away, you will have it made. If you plan to find a job to support yourself while in Iceland, you better have some great connections because Iceland businesses prefer to hire locals and it very difficult to get a local job if you are an expat.



Food

Sheep in the Icelandic countryside

I love my vegetables and for the most part, fresh fruits and vegetables are my primary source of daily nutrition. You need to know that fresh fruits and vegetables are not easy to come by in Iceland.

Lamb is quite popular all throughout Iceland and you can have it stewed, roasted or pan fried, and it is delicious. I never tried lamb until I spent time in Iceland and I thoroughly enjoyed it no matter how it was prepared.


  • Find a Reykjavík Food Walk Tour here

You will also find plenty of Icelandic fish including catfish, halibut, haddock, cod and others. Dried fish, known as Harðfiskur is one of the more popular snacks in Iceland and it can be found all throughout Iceland. It’s made from cod fish and it is a snack that everyone loves, and you must try when you get here!

You are also going to find many bakery goods in Iceland. From delicious breads to cinnamon buns and more, baked goods will become a staple item in your home as well as on the table when you dine out.   Burgers are also a big hit here in the restaurants, so have no fear, if you want a traditional “Americanized” burger, it won’t be hard to find.

Weather

Cloudy mountain.

You probably know that the weather in Iceland can be very cold, so be sure to pack your warm clothing so you won’t freeze! On average, the summer temperatures hover right in the mid 60’s, so if you are used to hot weather, you better pack heavier clothes to stay warm. Dress in layers so you can pull a few off when the temperature begins to rise during the day. During the hottest times of the summer, a light jacket should work well.



Be sure to bring along good boots for cold, wet weather. You also need plenty of warm socks and cool weather gear. If you choose to buy these items when you arrive in Iceland, plan to pay far more than you would pay back home.

Swimming Pools

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Iceland

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

If you love to swim, you can do plenty of that all throughout Iceland and you don’t need to worry about freezing to death when you jump into the water. There are geothermal heated swimming pools in every town throughout the country where residents and visitors can enjoy nice, warm water even if it is snowing! Some pools are indoors while many are right out in the open.



Expenses

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Iceland

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

Let’s face it, Iceland is located far from anything and if you want to buy something, plan on having a limited selection during your shopping sprees. If you have favorite foods, plan to have them shipped in and if you choose to do that, expect to pay a hefty shipping fee to import anything.

Rooms can range anywhere from $500 USD to more than $700 USD for a single room in popular neighbourhoods in the heart of the city in Reykjavik. You will find many Airbnb rentals in Iceland and the landlords seem to charge as little, or as much as they choose and due to this, many people living in Iceland are finding it tough to find affordable housing. It can be done, but you must take time to search for a place if you don’t book ahead of time.

Fun Things to Do in the Great Outdoors

Eystrahorn being immortalised.

When you are in Iceland, it is necessary to plan to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. You can spend time hiking and checking out nature reserves, waterfalls and national parks. You can also see the Tectonic Plates, swim in a warm lagoon, visit a beach with vibrant pink sand and best of all, you can see the beautiful Northern Lights!


  • Find Adventure Tours here.

Indoor Excitement in Iceland

For those who don’t want to tour in the cold or rainy weather, Iceland has many exciting things to check out that are indoors. Some of my favorite places were concerts at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, swimming in the indoor heated pools, haunted walking tours of some of the ancient homes and spending time enjoying fresh brewed coffee at one of the many café’s in Reykjavik.

It is important to fully immerse yourself in Icelandic culture when you make a move or visit Iceland. If you are used to living in hot climates, you may be surprised at just how much fun you will have living in a rainy climate where temperatures can fluctuate drastically from one hour to the next. Iceland has so much raw, natural beauty as well as a population that loves to meet new people, and you will quickly see how easy it is to fall in love with everything about this amazing country.

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