All You Need to Know Before Moving to Iceland
Planning to move to Iceland? Did you know that the central part of the island is so rugged in winter and so much like the lunar landscape that NASA practised lunar landings here with its astronauts?
Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The country is constantly crowded with tourists from all over the world who want to see its geysers and fjords, cliffs and glaciers. Iceland is definitely worth putting on the list of countries to visit.
Iceland is an island country located in Scandinavia. It is 103,000 km2 and home to over 370,000 people. In recent years, moving to Iceland became more popular among those, seeking a balanced lifestyle close to nature. The country is one of the richest nations in the world. The official language is Icelandic, but almost all speak English fluently.
The capital of Iceland is Reykjavík. The mild climate is due to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. The economy is based on industrial fishing. Widely developed tourism and manufacturing industry. There are numerous available jobs in the service and tourism sectors. Now, let’s find out how to move to Iceland and things to be aware of before the move.
How to Immigrate to Iceland
Moving to Iceland from EEA/EFTA countries is a very easy and straightforward process. However, citizens of non-EEA/EFTA will encounter a greater challenge associated with the bureaucracy and immigration requirements.
Receiving an education is one of the easiest ways to move to Iceland. You can study in English, then get a work permit or get married. People of all ages are entitled to come on a student visa. Universities in Iceland are more affordable in comparison to other EU countries. International students must apply between 10 December - 1 February.
First Steps upon arrival in Iceland
Once you have landed, there are quite a few things better to be done during your thirst week. Write down these steps to ensure you do not forget anything.
- Apply for a Personal Identification Number - Kennitala.
Anyone who plans to move to Iceland must obtain Kennitala. It is a personal ID number consisting of 10 digits, required to access a broad variety of services, such as opening a bank account, registering a legal address, and getting a home phone number.
Citizens from EEA/EFTA countries moving to Iceland must apply at the Icelandic National Registry, other citizens must apply at the Directorate of Immigration. We recommend applying for it as soon as you have arrived.
- Open a Bank Account.
To open a bank account in Iceland you must first obtain an ID number - Kennitala. If you have one you can get an Icelandic electronic ID and open a bank account online. Otherwise, you can come to any local bank with your Kennitala, passport and residence permit to apply in person.
- Driving License & Auto Insurance.
If you are planning to drive in Iceland after the move, you are required to apply for an International Driving Permit in your home country. A driving license issued by EEA, UK or Japan can be exchanged for an Icelandic after 6 months of permanent residence without having to retake the driving test.
Citizens of other countries can use their driving licenses for up to a month after registration with a legal domicile. Foreigners can apply for an Icelandic driving license at the District Commissioner or Police Commissioner after 6 months of permanent residence in Iceland. These citizens are required to retake the theoretical and practical tests.
Healthcare in Iceland
The government of Iceland devotes considerable attention to the advancement of the healthcare system in the state. The financial budget is funded by taxes levied on residents by state and municipal governmental organizations.
Iceland has a universal healthcare system that provides fully or partly covered healthcare services for Icelandic residents and ex-pats living and working for more than 6 months. Prior to that, foreigners moving to Iceland for more than 3 months must apply for private health insurance until they are eligible to become a member of the Icelandic social insurance system.
The amount of the patient monthly contribution will depend on:
- Presence of Disability
- Regularity of medication intake
Underage children automatically become members of the social insurance system free of charge.
Medicare or public healthcare system is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of Australia and temporary residents of foreign countries with which there is a reciprocal health care agreement. Eligible expats can apply for Medicare by filling up this form and submitting it to the closes Medicare office.
Medical care is mostly free, and services are generally unlimited. Treatment in public hospitals is free, as is treatment by general practitioners, and life-saving drugs from the benefits list is sold at a discount. Retirees are eligible for significant discounts or free treatment. Public health care does not cover vision, dental and retirement facilities services.
The biggest cons of public healthcare in Australia are long waiting periods, ambulance services are not covered and a lack of insurance policies.
There are several different private health insurance programs in Australia.Private insurance schemes usually cover inpatient/outpatient treatment, additional medical expenses as well as the cost of emergency medical services. The private insurance plan enables one to choose a medical institution and a doctor to visit independently.
Additional medical expenses include a dentist, ophthalmologist, cost of hearing aids, glasses and other medical equipment. The cost of the insurance will depend on the level of coverage, territory of residence and personal characteristics.
Earning and Spending in Iceland
In Iceland, a high standard of life corresponds to salaries that the state offers. Anyone working in Iceland even as a cleaner or a dishwasher will not sleep hungry. In 2020, the average salary in Iceland was estimated to be about ISK 731,000 ($ 5,324 USD) per month or about ISK 442,000 ($3,223 USD) net wage working at a full-time position. The minimum monthly salary is about ISK 380,000 ($2,794 USD).
Renting vs. Housing in Iceland
Before moving to Iceland consider renting a room, apartment or house to get familiar with the area and settle for the one that fits you best. Renting in Iceland is rather difficult as almost 80% of the real estate is privately owned. Do your accommodation research prior to the move, unless your employer offers to assist you with it.
One-bedroom apartments rent in Iceland will cost about ISK 150,000 - 185,000 ( $1,115 - $1,360 USD) per month, depending on the proximity to the center. The rent of a three-bedroom apartment will cost from 231,800 - 267,00 ($1,706 - $1970 USD) per month. Rent prices in the capital city Reykjavik are significantly higher than in other less populated cities.
The process of buying a house in Iceland does not differ from the established norms in European countries. If the money for the property is transferred in full without the use of a mortgage, the buyer will not need to pay any additional fees but the realtor’s commission.
If you want to buy an apartment, you should start your search with major cities such as Reykjavik or Keflavik. The average price for a house in Iceland ranges between ISK 534,000 - 700,000 ( $4,606 - $6,365 USD) per square meter.
Visitors can get a loan for the purchase of an object worth more than €100,000 ( $101,880 USD). Owning real estate in Iceland does not guarantee a residence permit, but is a strong argument for obtaining it.
Before going out for a transaction and transferring the money will go to the local land registry, which is called the District Court of Iceland, for an extract from the registry showing basic information about the property purchased, including the absence or presence of encumbrances. Foreigners buying property in Iceland must first get approval from the Ministry of Justice.