My most-read post by far is 10 good reasons to live in Iceland. I get so many visitors to this site who have typed in search terms on what life is like in Iceland, or why people want to live in Iceland. Well, I’ve got a few more good reasons to share with you!
1. An educated population – University education is cheap. Students do not pay for tuition, but just a registration fee. This opens up higher education for all, and a typical student can be of any age, already in full-time employment, a mother with children, etc. There is no expectation that you must be aged around 20 and in school before moving on to the rest of your life – in Iceland you can come to school at any time.
2. Literacy – Iceland effectively has a 100% literacy rate and a population that is really well-informed on world affairs. Books are still an extremely popular Christmas present. I love that the bookstores seem to have longer opening hours than anything else, and that you can also see some great concerts in them.
3. Making teenagers part of the community – Nearly all teenagers take part in summer work projects in their towns, doing things like planting flower displays, weeding or litter picking. The idea is to give them an easy job to do which they are paid a small wage for, but more importantly instill a sense of pride in them about where they live. I can think of many places that could do with such projects!
4. Rehabilitation of prisoners – Iceland doesn’t have a huge prison population by world standards, and they treat their prisoners differently. Rather than just being locked away in a cell all day, prisoners can do paid work or attend school. They are also responsible for cooking for themselves, and encouraged to learn how to clean and be able to manage a household for when they are released. Although this population is detained, they are treated with a large degree of humanity and encouraged to develop themselves.
5. Happy workers – Iceland frequently tops world polls for having the happiest population, which often surprises people who imagine it to a dark and gloomy place. There are various sayings in Icelandic around the belief that being busy and working keeps you happy. Again, this is a mentality I would like to see catch on in some other places. I always notice how many cheerful older people I come across still in employment in Iceland, whereas at home a lot of older workers have a real chip on their shoulder as they would like to be retired and doing nothing instead. Here is an article by an American on what American workers can learn from Icelandic workers.
6. Happy women – Iceland is also often named the best place in the world to be a woman, based on gender equality statistics in such areas as politics, education and employment. Unsurprisingly Iceland had Europe’s first female President – also the longest-serving elected female head of state.
7. Happy parents – There’s a reason why so many modern Icelanders have lots of children.
Parental leave is generous for both parents and there is no stigma against being a single parent. As a person with no children, I think I would feel a bit out of the loop in Iceland.
8. Happy children – yes, as would logically follow the above points, Iceland is also consistently voted one of the best places in the world to be a child. I’m consistently impressed with how well-behaved Icelandic children are – perhaps this is because they are actually allowed to still behave like children? At the same time, there aren’t actually a lot of venues/attractions aimed solely at children, so maybe this helps to keep them from thinking the whole world revolves around them. I love that they are taught useful things in school like horse-riding and knitting.
9. Candy is cheaper on Saturday – A silly one, but important if you are in Iceland on a budget and love to eat…
On “Nammidagur” loose candy is 50% cheaper than during the rest of the week!
10. Self-sufficiency – If some global disaster happened, Iceland could actually become self-sufficient again pretty easily. They could cut out the junk food and go back to a traditional diet of lamb and fish. It’s only in recent times that they have begun importing lots of things they don’t need.
I’m sure there are other things I’ve left out, so feel free to enlighten me. Maybe some day I will also do a list of not so good things about living in Iceland just to give you a more balanced view!