Is Iceland a Good Place to Live? A Guide for Absolute Beginners

Is Iceland a good place to live?

Anyone who has visited Iceland knows that one vacation week is too short to explore the incomparable beauty of this Nordic country. People keep coming back again and again, and many wish to stay longer. The rugged landscapes, unexplored terrains, and small-town way of life have a way of pulling you in. However, like any place around the world, Iceland has pros and cons too. In the next few paragraphs, we are exploring what is it like to live in Iceland and answer the pressing question, “Is Iceland a good place to live?”

Pros of Living in Iceland 

Natural Beauty

Iceland fjords

The number one reason why people stay in Iceland is for its raw beauty. If you love nature, Iceland certainly is an amazing place to live. From mountains to waterfalls, northern lights to fjords – Iceland never fails to impress.

Iceland is the perfect place to put your camping gear to use. Discover some of Iceland’s 130 volcanoes along with geysers, glaciers, and even rolling hills. Winter sports enthusiasts have a great time here as the opportunities are endless. Hikers have a splendid time too, as deep hiking trails are only around 30 minutes away from any city in Iceland. 


Quality of Life is Good

Iceland has high rankings in citizen satisfaction year after year. This alone is a huge positive for those wondering what is it like to live in Iceland. In the Human Development Index, which factors in points such as GDP, literacy rate, life expectancy, and health, Iceland often ranks ahead of the most developed nations like Norway and Canada.

Plus, Iceland is a peaceful country. There’s a very low crime rate, no military force, and a high tolerance for people from other countries and cultures. People in Iceland are not only tolerant but they also love to celebrate other religions and cultures. 


Job Availability and High Salaries

Iceland is known to have a strong economy, which in turn means high salaries for all classes of people working in the country. Unlike its European counterparts, Iceland always has jobs to fill in various areas.

Though staying in Iceland is comparatively much more expensive, it is also easier to find jobs as an emigrant. Initially, you might find it tough to find higher-paying jobs when you first immigrate to the country. However, that is likely to change after a few years there. Both entry-level and upper-level jobs are readily available in the country.


Cons of Living in Iceland

Cost of Living is High

The cost of living in Iceland is pretty expensive.

Even though the salaries are higher, so is the cost of living. From healthcare, apartment rentals, groceries — everything has a higher associated cost. You can expect to spend a lot more here than in other European countries. 

You can expect to pay 232,178 ISK (Icelandic krona) or $1,782 USD per month for a furnished apartment in Reykjavik. It is not uncommon to see basements and garages turned into studio apartments for upwards of $1,500 USD.

Dinner for two at a neighborhood pub might set you back about 6,300 ISK ($49 USD, £38) easy. 


Lesser Quality/Options of Fresh Food

Since Iceland is away from the mainland, it is tough to get good quality food items here. A common complaint from immigrants is that the range of groceries and food available is pretty limited as compared to the U.K, EU, and the USA.

Most of the fruits and veggies that you will consume will either be frozen or imported from another country. You will need a lot of freezer space at home to store food for long stretches of time. Given the distance traveled, food will not be as fresh as you would expect it to be. There is also a lack of diversity in grocery stores, and it can be tough to find international food items.

But have no fear, Reykjavik does have a Costco!

iceland food
Not all Iceland food isn’t epic, this is a dish from our Life Nomading Iceland group trip opening dinner. YUM!



The weather in Iceland is pretty unpredictable. Even though they have long summers, it is hardly a “tropical summer” kind of feel. If you are still wondering what it is like to live in Iceland, the best word to describe it is unpredictable. The weather rarely ever rises above 50 degrees.

iceland weather can get cold
This is when our car wouldn’t start after an impropmtu snow storm that left us stuck in a small town on our way home.

You can play it hard and wear shorts like local Icelanders, but it’s not a lot of fun to freeze in icy cold winds. If you thrive in the sun and love summers, then Iceland may not be the right country for you. If you enjoy a challenge, love a good rainy and cloudy day, and like winter conditions, then give Iceland a hard look.

Is Iceland a good place to live? At the end of the day, that is a personal choice. Take the good with the bad, but just remember that Iceland is one magical country that you may never leave.  If you want to take a trip to Iceland, before moving there plan a trip with us!