The Northern Adventure – A Guide for Moving to Iceland

Posted Country Guides / March 20, 2024
Hannah Michaelson

Hannah is a freelance relocation writer from NYC that has become an expert on packing and unpacking.

Embarking on a journey to the land of fire and ice? Moving to Iceland from the US offers a unique blend of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and friendly locals. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of the Northern Lights or the promise of adventure in its vast wilderness, our blog post provides essential tips to navigate your transition smoothly.

Moving to Iceland – What to Expect From This Country?

Moving overseas to Iceland is an adventure that offers more than just stunning landscapes – it’s a journey into a society known for its quality of life, environmental consciousness, and unique cultural heritage. This Nordic island nation boasts a striking combination of glaciers, volcanoes, and hot springs, making it a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. However, adapting to life here goes beyond appreciating its natural beauty.

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Adapting to the Icelandic Lifestyle

One of the first things newcomers notice is the strong sense of community and the welcoming nature of the Icelandic people. Despite its small population, Iceland is remarkably cosmopolitan, with a thriving arts scene, a passion for sustainable living, and a deep-rooted belief in the power of education and equality. The Icelandic language can be challenging to learn, but most Icelanders speak fluent English, easing the transition for new members of this expat community.

The climate can be a significant adjustment, with long, dark winters and short, mild summers. Learning to embrace the outdoors regardless of the weather is essential. The cost of living is high, particularly if you’re moving to Reykjavik, but this is balanced by high standards of living, excellent healthcare, and an impressive educational system. Moving here means embracing a lifestyle that values nature, community, and a slower pace of life, offering a unique and fulfilling experience.

Gathering All the Necessary Documents for Relocating to Iceland

Before moving abroad, it’s crucial to compile all the important documentation to ensure a smooth transition. This includes a valid passport, visa, residency, and work permits (for non-EEA citizens), as well as proof of employment or university enrollment for students. Additionally, securing health insurance coverage and a certificate of no criminal record may be necessary.

How Can You Get Permanent Residency and Citizenship?

Permanent residency requires living in the country for four years on a valid residence permit. Applicants must show proficiency in the Icelandic language and have a stable income. Citizenship can be pursued after seven years of residency, with exceptions for those married to Icelandic citizens. Demonstrating integration into Icelandic society, including learning the language, is essential for citizenship approval. The process involves thorough documentation, including proof of residence and financial stability.

Exploring the Best Cities to Live in and Choosing the One for You

This country is celebrated for its dramatic landscapes and high quality of life and offers a range of cities with unique charm and character. Deciding where to live depends on personal preferences, whether they lean towards vibrant cultural scenes, proximity to nature, or a quiet, community-focused lifestyle. Here, we explore three of the best cities to live in Iceland, helping you decide which one might be the perfect fit for your new home.

Reykjavik - The Cultural and Economic Hub

Reykjavik, the capital and largest city, is the heart of cultural and economic activities. Known for its lively arts scene, bustling cafes, and innovative culinary offerings, Reykjavik offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle amidst stunning natural beauty. With its excellent educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and a strong focus on sustainability, Reykjavik is ideal for those seeking a dynamic urban environment.

Akureyri - The Northern Delight

Situated in the northern part of the country, Akureyri is often referred to as the capital of the North. This city stands out for its beautiful landscapes, including the nearby Eyjafjörður fjord and the Arctic botanical gardens. Akureyri provides a more laid-back atmosphere compared to Reykjavik but doesn’t skimp on cultural experiences, with several museums and annual festivals. It’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for a slower pace of life without straying too far from urban conveniences.

Hafnarfjörður - The Town of Lava and Elves

Hafnarfjörður, known for its lava fields and rich folklore, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and mystical charm. Just a short drive from Reykjavik, it provides a quieter, family-friendly environment with a strong sense of community. Hafnarfjörður is ideal for those who appreciate outdoor activities, with easy access to hiking trails, horseback riding, and golf. Its vibrant harbor, quirky cafes, and art galleries add to the allure, making it a captivating place to settle down.

Researching the Cost of Living in Iceland as an Expat

When planning a move to Iceland, understanding the cost of living is essential for expats. Iceland is known for its high quality of life, which comes with a correspondingly high cost of living, especially in Reykjavik, the capital. Expenses such as housing, groceries, transportation, and leisure activities can be significantly higher than in many other countries.

Researching and preparing for these costs, including healthcare and education for those moving with kids, is vital. Comparing prices of essentials and services in different cities can help in budgeting effectively for a comfortable lifestyle in this stunning but expensive country.

It’s Crucial to Prepare Your Relocation Budget on Time

Preparing your relocation budget well in advance is crucial for a smooth transition to life in Iceland, especially for those who plan on moving on a lower budget. Early budget planning allows you to account for initial expenses such as visa fees, travel costs, accommodation, and any unforeseen expenses upon arrival. It also helps in managing ongoing expenses, ensuring that you have a realistic understanding of your financial needs.

Exploring Healthcare Options for Expats

Iceland boasts a high-quality healthcare system that is accessible to all residents, including expats. Upon obtaining legal residency, expatriates are entitled to the same healthcare services as Icelandic citizens, provided through the Icelandic social insurance system.

To access healthcare services, expats must register with the Icelandic Health Insurance (IHI) after living in the country for six months. It’s important for expats to explore health insurance options to cover any medical needs during the initial six months of their stay. Private health insurance can be a viable option during this period, ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Finding a Job Before Moving Internationally

Finding a new job before moving to Iceland is highly advisable for a smooth transition without much relocation stress. Iceland’s job market is competitive, with high demand for skilled professionals in sectors such as technology, engineering, and healthcare. Networking and researching job opportunities online through Icelandic job portals and international job sites can be beneficial.

Additionally, learning basic Icelandic, although not always necessary, can enhance job prospects and integration into the community. It’s also important to understand the requirements for work permits for non-EEA nationals, as securing a job offer is a prerequisite for obtaining a work permit in the country.

Education Options You Can Expect in This Country

Iceland offers a robust education system, with compulsory education for children aged 6 to 16. The country prides itself on high educational standards across a network of public schools, where instruction is primarily in Icelandic.

For expat families, there are also international schools, particularly in Reykjavik, offering education in English and following international curricula, which can be an excellent option for children to continue their education seamlessly before they can break the language barrier.

Higher education is accessible to international students, with several universities offering programs in English. The focus on research and innovation, along with low tuition fees, makes Iceland an attractive destination for international students seeking quality education.

Iceland Immigration Guide – Weather, Geological Activity, Language, Culture, and Food

Moving to Iceland offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and distinctive cuisine. Understanding the weather, culture, and food is essential for expats to adjust to a new country smoothly and enjoy their new life in this remarkable place.

Icelandic Weather and Clothing

Iceland is known for its unpredictable weather, with conditions that can change rapidly. Summers are mild, with long daylight hours, while winters are dark and chilly. Expats should prepare for all types of weather when packing clothes, including rain, wind, and snow, even in summer.

Layering is key, with waterproof and windproof outerwear essential for outdoor activities. Warm clothing, including woolen sweaters, thermal layers, and sturdy footwear, are must-haves for comfortably navigating the Icelandic climate.

In Reykjavik, the coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 32°F

Volcanoes and Earthquakes – Understanding Iceland’s Geological Activity

Before moving to Iceland, it’s important to inform yourself of its geological activity, particularly its volcanoes and earthquakes. It is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, making it one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. The island is home to numerous active volcanoes, and eruptions are relatively common, though well-monitored and usually not a threat to well-prepared residents.

Earthquakes are also a regular occurrence due to the country’s unique tectonic setting. While most earthquakes are small and cause little to no damage, they serve as a reminder of Iceland’s dynamic nature. Understanding and respecting this aspect of Icelandic life is crucial for anyone planning to live there. This knowledge not only prepares expats for potential natural events but also enriches their appreciation for the island’s vibrant and ever-changing landscape.

What to Know About Icelandic Culture and Customs

Icelandic culture is deeply rooted in Norse mythology and traditions, with a strong emphasis on family, nature, and literature. Respect for the environment and equality are evident in everyday life. To avoid culture shock, expats should familiarize themselves with local customs such as the communal enjoyment of hot pots, the celebration of festivals like Þjóðhátíð, and the country’s literature-rich heritage.

What Kind of Cuisine to Expect

Icelandic cuisine is known for its freshness and simplicity, focusing on high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Traditional dishes often include seafood, lamb, and dairy. Expats can look forward to trying specialties like hákarl (fermented shark), skyr (a yogurt-like dairy product), and freshly baked rye bread. The culinary scene in Iceland also embraces international flavors, offering a wide range of dining options that cater to diverse palates. Embracing Icelandic food is a delicious way to connect with the country’s culture and traditions.

Hire Movers From a Reliable International Moving Company to Help You Move to Iceland

Relocating to Iceland, with its unique landscapes and vibrant culture, is an exciting but complex process. To ensure a seamless transition and shipping overseas, hiring movers from a reliable overseas moving company is essential. Here’s why:

  • Expert navigation of customs – Movers from a legitimate moving company understand Iceland’s specific customs regulations, ensuring your belongings enter the country smoothly.
  • Stress-free experience – Professionals handle the logistics of packing and transporting, allowing you to focus on your new adventure without anxiety about relocating.
  • Safe and secure transport – Their expertise in packaging and shipping minimizes the risk of damage to your items.
  • Cost-efficiency – Reliable companies provide transparent cost estimates, helping you avoid unexpected charges and save money in the long run.
  • Insurance protection -Offering insurance options, relocation companies give you peace of mind knowing your possessions are covered.

Reach Out to Sunset International Shipping for Expert Relocation Services

Are you embarking on a journey to Iceland? Reach out to Sunset International Shipping for top-tier Iceland relocation services. Specializing in international moves, our overseas shipping company offers comprehensive solutions tailored to your needs. From handling intricate customs documentation to ensuring the safe transit of your belongings across oceans, our experienced team guarantees a smooth and efficient relocation process.

With our personalized approach, we understand the nuances of relocating abroad. That’s why we provide stress-free, reliable services that cover packing assistance, shipping, and storage solutions. Choose Sunset International Shipping for a seamless transition to your new home, where the adventure awaits. Contact us to get a free quote for our services.

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