10 things to put you off living in Iceland

Generally, I try to write positive things about Iceland, but by popular demand I am going to cover what I think are the downsides of living there. As I’ve done two lists of good things it’s only fair.

I’m going to stay away from “controversial”  issues such as tourist numbers, that thing with the economy and why the same President has been in power for almost 20 years in the hope of not incurring a ban for life…

1.    Small population – everyone knows you. Now, this can also be a good thing in that it instills a sense of responsibility towards your neighbours, you can’t get away with things, and people are likely to help you out if only because everyone will know about it if they don’t. The disadvantage is that particularly outside of Reykavík it is hard to meet anyone “new”, they all know everything about you, etc. Even *I* recognise everyone in the shops. Imagine having to do business with people who remember everything stupid you did when you were a child. This would drive me mad.

I know all your secrets...From "The Twins" film

I know all your secrets…
From “The Twins” film

2.    Lack of “career” options. This is a problem if you are a corporate person who wants to move around between companies and up the corporate ladder. There are only so many big companies in Iceland and many people have to work in tourism, which may not be their choice, due to lack of other opportunities. Sadly a lot of bright people emigrate to where there are more jobs.
3.    The weather. I know, I’m always telling you that the weather isn’t anywhere near as bad as people think it is. What I do think is hard about it is the stretch between winter and summer – there really isn’t a spring, the weather is usually winter-like right up until April/May.

4.    Lack of choice. High import costs dictate that there will only ever be so much fresh food available, especially out of season. Local greenhouses do what they can, but many foods that Europeans and North Americans take for granted can be hard to find, or if you do find them, are poor quality or too expensive. Many global shopping brands don’t exist in Iceland either, but you won’t save any money, because what there is isn’t cheap.
5.    Big, scary nature. Most people don’t come from somewhere with all the exciting natural features that Iceland offers and worryingly tourists often underestimate them. Let’s think – how should you behave around volcanoes, glaciers, cliff edges, hot springs and rocky coastlines? As usual, people leave their brains behind when they go on holiday. This point is only a “negative” for tourists. Icelanders are perfectly capable of living amongst all of this without needing rescue.

Go on! Jump in! It's only boiling hot mud.

Go on! Jump in! It’s only boiling hot mud.

6.    Running is hard. This is a purely personal issue, but in Iceland you either have to run outside in usually mega-windy conditions or inside on a treadmill (ugh). Obviously, it can be done and you see superfit people everywhere but I like my running outside and preferably without being bent horizontally. It’s no wonder Icelanders do well in international sporting competitions. (Yes, I am going to do the Reykjavik race one year – I’ll be putting in a request for sunny skies and a slight tailwind).

Built for Icelandic running! from travel.nationalgeographic.com

Built for Icelandic running!
from travel.nationalgeographic.com

7.    Junk food is taking over. I love junk food as much as anyone but even I feel ill after a few days in Iceland. Some of the best things to be found there are the crazy pizza toppings (peanuts, bananas, cream cheese, need I go on), jam burgers and fun chocolate. I suppose this is another problem with being dependent on imports – you import everyone else’s bad ideas and long-term health problems and obesity.

And it was good.

And it was good.

8.    They’re all night owls. Another problem for me as an early bird – nothing opens at the time I’d like it to and everyone stays up all night. You’d need to learn adapt to this or do shift work!

I'm up at 6:00! Why aren't you? From bonus.is

I’m up at 6:00! Why aren’t you?
From bonus.is

9.    No crowds. If you live in Iceland you’ve got to leave the country to see things other people take for granted. There’s never going to be stadium concerts, F1 races, world film premieres, the Olympics, Eurovision (well, ok, maybe Eurovision). There just isn’t a big enough physical audience to put anything big on – and although I hate crowds, I do like the luxury of being able to go to “big” things sometimes without a huge amount of travel.

You'll never see Sebastian Vettel and Placido Domingo in one place in Iceland

You’ll never see Sebastian Vettel and Placido Domingo in one place in Iceland

10.    TV is crap. This is perhaps even more disappointing as there have been some brilliant TV series and they show brilliant handball matches as a main sporting event – so why is it that 95% of the time when you put the TV on it is those 10 second ads, or the news, or some kids show….

Some of these are quite personal issues – I appreciate that if you like to stay up late, aren’t a runner and hate F1 you’ll be wondering what the problem is. So why don’t you share some of your frustrations about Iceland or somewhere else you like to travel?


105 thoughts on “10 things to put you off living in Iceland

  1. Well done! Even though I love Iceland I can’t imagine living there, mainly because of – as you said – lack of choices. I know this is a “luxurious” problem, but living in the centre of Europe with all its cultural offers, this would most likely be the hardest part for me!

      • For someone with anxiety issues and to be left alone, Iceland is the best

      • Australia’s a big place – the whole country doesn’t just run out of things – not important things, anyway. Maybe a shop in the town where you were staying ran out of something and had to wait for another shipment… There is a great deal of choice in Australia, including the weather. Live in the tropical north, the dry centre, or the alpine regions down south. You can live right at the beach in some cities, and still be close to everything, or you can be completely isolated in a tiny town with only 60 people.

        As an Aussie, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in other parts of the world, which is why I read your blogs (all three) about Iceland – so interesting. The funny thing is, Icelandic culture sounds to be quite similar in some ways to Australia. We’re not into all that bowing and scraping “Mr President” stuff either – our Prime Minister is called by his or her first name (or some nickname), and, finally, women are coming into their own.

        The worst thing about Australia is that we still have the cultural cringe and, even though we’ve had great successes in film, literature, art and music, we still see ourselves as somehow less-than the rest of the world. Comparing ourselves to Europe, rather than remembering that our Indigenous culture is over 75,000 years old, is ridiculous, but there you go.

        I enjoyed your Icelandic blogs – if you move there, I’d love to read about your adventures and see whether or not you still have the same view of the place after, say, twelve months.

      • Reading this, it is kind of obvious you haven’t actually lived here. Junk food is taking over? There is less of a junk food culture here than in a lot of western countries. Healthy option fast food is popping up everywhere and Icelanders are on a bit of a health craze right now, people are becoming more aware of what they put inside their bodies, like in so many countries around the globe thankfully. There are actually world film premiers, and have been a few times. The crowd may be smaller but it surely happens (which I’ve always thought to be a bit peculiar as we are a small nation). As for concerts, there are plenty of concerts and plenty of people going to these. We have 2 sports stadiums serving as concert stadiums when needs be as well as the newly built Harpa. Bands such as Metallica, Rammstein, didn’t play on a small outdoor stage in front of 100 people, and I am sure Justin Timberlake isn’t planning on doing so either this summer. I am amazed you think the TV is crap, we have plenty of channels, showing all the major shows and movies. It sounds like you only watched RÚV when you stayed over? I can only assume we would all be pissed off a bit by the telly if we were stuck with BBC1 for some period of time, same goes for RÚV. The weather can be windy and I agree that it probably harder to run here, especially in the winter months, than somewhere warmer. Import tax is also rather high, but you make it sound like there is a massive lack of choice. Iceland is number 1 when it comes to self sustainable countries. Most of what we need is made here, the rest is imported and having lived in Britain I can only say that Iceland has most of the same products available in supermarkets, with a wider range of North American products actually, which I find quite normal as we are practically in the middle 😉 Being an early bird hardly affects you or your need to shop. We have plenty of supermarkets that are open 24/7, so shopping at 4am, 6am or 3pm can hardly be a problem for anyone. You can even go and have a subway at 6am (haha). I have often commented on the fact that we are small, and I’d like to be able to do something silly without a friend of a friend of a friend seeing me, but the fact that you know everyone, really? Bit of an exaggeration there. I was born and raised in Reykjavík, lived there most of my life, and no I do not know everyone and I bump into my friends every time I go out. Do you know everyone in the borough you live in? Do you think everyone in Southampton, Portsmouth, Stoke on Trent, Luton or Bristol know each other? Find that highly unlikely, same goes for Iceland. There is definitely a lack of career options compared to cities and countries of millions, but there are also more career options than you give it credit for. You didn’t write a bad article, and I appreciate reading what foreigners have to say, but having lived in the UK for a few years, I can safely say that I didn’t know everything about how to live there from my first month there, and if I had written an article about my stay there in my first week or so it probably would have sounded a lot like yours. You are grazing the surface without actually diving deeper into the actuality of living here. It is by no means the perfect country and it has its flaws, but some of those points you made aren’t quite “there” Have a lovely day! Perhaps one day you’ll live here 🙂

  2. Thanks for this interesting list. The most things that would bother me, you told about in no. 1 and no. 4. And I would add another reason. The fact that you can’t open the windows wide. In the really new houses maybe it works. I don’t know exactly. But it would drive me crazy to can’t open the window wide but only for a pretty small gap. How do they air their rooms? What’s in a case of a fire alarm etc.?
    In one guesthouse it was really horrible. Downstairs was a kitchen and upstairs was our room. One woman prepared herself dinner. She fried paprika. And I really hate paprika and the smell when it gets cooked or fried. So the paprika smell rises through the staircase and comes under the door inside the room. It was really disgusting and because of the window problems we couldn’t air the room to get the smell out of it. The smell was still in the room the next day.

      • To be honest I found only one “normal” window which you could open wide in all of these farms, guesthouses and hotels we stayed in Iceland. This window was in a hotel, better said a container used as a hotel. And funny enough they forbade to open it, because of the danger of sandstorms. What we decided to ignore the whole night! 🙂 It was nearby Kirkjubæjarklaustur and everything was green around. Fresh air was really welcome and we rejoiced about the normal window. 😉
        Have a really nice weekend!

    • In case of a fire alarm?? Well, I experienced that many times at work here in Reykjavik. Icelanders DO NOT respond to the fire alarm 😉 They just wait for the noise to be over.

      And the fact that you cannot open your window completely has to do with the strong wind which is present all year round. it is usually windy enough to air your room when you can open it half way.

      But i have to say regarding running: No one runs as much as Icelandic people. Every morning (okay it is afternoon already) crowds run past my house. So I guess you just have to get used to the wind and buy some simple spikes for icy times :).

      What annoys ME the most about living in Iceland is the fact that clothes are expensive. And you cannot buy things online as most companies don’t ship to Iceland or you have to pay a lot to get it into the country.

      • I love your people and country so much! God Bless Iceland (or Thor & Odin as the case may be!)

    • Of course you can open the windows you just have to know how. There are small pins in the side that you have to push so you can open it. This is so your kids cant climb up an fall out of it. So it´s kids security thing. Have a good day.

  3. This is a really interesting post. I do get the everyone knows you thing. Living in the Highlands of Scotland there is a serious amount of this. It is both good and bad and that is dependent on how you respond to it. You can either embrace it or be put off by it. I guess it depends on how you are as a person. Personally I think there is something quite comforting about it. I guess there are + and – wherever you live. The running bit sounds hard though.

      • I’m Icelandic and we don’t know everyone that lives in the country, its merely impossible. we might be a small population but we don’t all live in the same town. we are rather spread out and we might have contact with a big group but not everyone knows you kinda thing.

  4. I love this list!
    We love to vacation in Aruba, but it is a tough place to run with very warm and very humid year-round averages. Most folks wait until dusk to get out and run, but even then it’s still muggy.
    Eating out is one of my favorite things to do there, but everything is so expensive. Everything is imported as well–I’m sure that adds to the cost.
    And I do miss drinking the local beer, Balashi, or the occasional fruity island drinks, but not enough to start drinking again. 😉

  5. I’m sorry to say so, but I don’t really agree with you at all. I know I’ve only been living in Iceland for a little over 6 months now, but I just LOVE it and can’t imagine a better place to live! 🙂

  6. It’s only fair that you did this list, since you did two posts in favor of Iceland. But I must say that your off-putting list rather attracted me! Small population, no crowds, a country full of night-owls, nothing on TV (I don’t watch TV)…sounds good to me! 😉

    To answer your question at the end of the post, my gripe about England (or maybe it’s just London, since I never made it out of the city) is A) ridiculously crowded (large town/small city is more my speed), B) no public trash cans and no public restrooms (I guess you have to save all eating, drinking, and other things for doing at home?), and C) pay phones every ten feet, where all the trash bins and public toilets should have been (does no one in London have a cell phone?)

    Just my opinion, of course. And I could list more gripes than that about the lovely place where I actually live. 😛 I loved visiting London, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Europe soon!

    • To each his own! 🙂

      That’s funny – I agree with all your gripes about London too. And then we wonder why there’s litter everywhere. The lack of toilets is a real pain. The pay phones thing is strange as they are non-existent anywhere else in England – I always assume they are for photo opportunities and tourists! But yes, pointless! Hmm – maybe I’ll have to do a special UK list…

    • Hi Grace, there are public trash cans in most places in London, but you won’t find them in major stations or tourist sites – this is because bombers have used them to plant bombs, so they’ve been removed from any potential targets. Most Londoners are used to this and take their trash home or a few hundred yards yards from the station. There are definitely restrooms – not always well advertised though, so non-Londoners may not spot them easily.

  7. There are times in my life when your list is terribly attractive except 2.
    In some ways it was very similar in New Zealand. It is fabulous, but also really a pretty corner of the world. Number 2 is in New Zealand as well a great issue for a brain drain.
    It is good to see a post like this on Iceland. It seems like a great country, but in fact it is not perfect. Nowhere is. There is just that place we call home which should be closest to it.

    • Interesting, yes, I think many smaller populated countries must have the same issue. I’ve also heard people say that the South Island of NZ is relatively similar to Iceland geographically.
      We all have our gripes about where we live! Outsiders seem to notice different things with a fresh pair of eyes.

      • Geothermally speaking the North Island is akin to Iceland (mudpools, geysers geothermal electricity, active volcanoes etc). Pretty much the whole of NZ is of volcanic origin, similar to Iceland. The South Island is the main earthquake area and population wise more similar with only 25% of the population living there. There are a fair few similarities except that the weather tends to be better 🙂

      • If NZ wasn’t so far away I’d have been to visit by now. 🙂 Always looks a very nice place both to live and visit. I’ve got lazy about long flights in the last few years so I don’t know if I will ever get there.

      • http://e2nz.org/migrant-stories/ Yes, before you move or travel anywhere, even a “paradise” like New Zealand, you should read up – at the very least, to avoid pitfalls and have a better time. At the most, to avoid a disastrous migration experience.

  8. I loved this post 🙂 Even though we have extremely opposite climate and landscape there are a few points there that hit home – no one will come to perform big concerts here either , tourists are always doing crazy stuff like swimming in known crocodile hot spots , our meat and veg isnt always as fresh as you would get in other parts of the country and we cant really run far up here either – it too hot ! 🙂

  9. It’s good to have a choice in life – everyone to their own. There are the good and the not
    so good wherever you are. Choose what suits you and feel some contentment.

  10. Pingback: 10 good reasons to live in Iceland | I'd Rather Be In Iceland

  11. I’ve enjoyed reading all 3 articles you’ve written. I’m a US citizen and in search of a new country. Seriously….. I love America but I’m losing hope for the future here. I’m not trying to get into a political debate here, but what is it like politically in Iceland? And how hard is it to become a citizen?

  12. I lived in Iceland for 3 years and I agree almost totally with the post.
    Just about icelanders being night owls… I think they sleep to early and almost never cross the whole night awake, often because around 3 they’re asleep or if is weekend, pretty drunk (being drunk is socially accepted and day after they act like nothing happened…) I must to say, if you come from a big country and/or megacity like me, Iceland can be “cute” on the start, but you can be bored really fast. The lack of options kills and drove me to deep depression, specially about my career. I had 10 years of experience in project development and I had “to do friendships” more than learn the language( I learned for 2 years before I moved to Iceland) to have … a interview! Icelanders are wonderful to the tourists, true, but incredible closed minded to accept foreign professional colleagues. And well… the homesickness made me leave the country. I come back sometimes, like a tourist.
    I recommend visit Iceland between June ends and September, on the summer festivals and betwenn November and January, when you can try to get luck with the northern lights.

    • Thanks for your feedback! I can see that where jobs are limited, you would want to ensure that the people in your own country are employed first, but also understand the frustration as I know many people who would like to work in Iceland.

    • I think this is very often the case for foreigners in a country where they don’t speak the language perfectly. It can be very difficult to get a job in certain industries, especially the ones that require higher education. I am Icelandic but currently living in Norway and it was extremely difficult for me to find work here at first simply because I had no other Norwegian experience on my CV, no network through which to land interviews and my applications probably weren’t written in perfect Norwegian. My boyfriend has had the same problems. After you get your first job, though, the second one is a peace of cake!

      • Ah, that’s interesting. And I’m sure if you know someone it’s much easier than trying to find a job completely on your own. Even in your own country it’s often through networking or recommendations rather than job ads that help you find a job.

  13. I visited Iceland for the first time this month and I just want to say- stay as you are Iceland. Just as you are. You are unusual, homogenous, interesting and unique. Don’t go the way of everyone else in the world.
    Streets of unique stores, people with manners, a green way of thinking, intelligent and literate people, respect for the nature and environment……. List goes on.
    Nowhere is perfect, I mean where are all your animals and why eat your national symbol of Puffins?! But you guys have really got it right as far as I can see, politically, culturally….
    As a Brit trapped on an overpriced, overpopulated island which seems to be inhabited by arrogant and nasty people getting nastier by the day I adored my time in a pleasant, intelligent and beautiful country. Iceland now joined Germany and Austria as top places I want to live in.

    • Icelanders have very little respect for nature and the environment. They boast of being green because of the geothermal energy that heats homes and waterby default, but look closer at how many Icelanders don’t recycle, litter freely, or drive to the corner shop and then leave their cars running in the parking lot rather than walk 200m, and you’ll see that when they have a choice they don’t choose the environmentally friendly option.

      And if you love the nature in Iceland then, no, they don’t have it politically right, either. The two parties that are voted in to power again and again habitually loosen environmental protections and regulations so that aluminium smelters and power plants can take over and destroy the nature, while giving very little back financially to the country by way of taxes or creating jobs.

      You may not have found Iceland overpriced, but Icelanders do. The cost of basic groceries have increased by more than 26% over the past two years, while average wages have seen an increase of just 5% (unless you’re a bank employee, then you’ve enjoyed an average increase of 13%). It’s an affordable place for tourists to come and spend their foreign money (and keep doing that… it gives enterprising Icelanders more and more reason to tear down entire historic swaths of Reykjavík to put up yet another new hotel or open yet another chain of souvenir shops) but the average Icelander is barely making ends meet.

      I’m glad you enjoyed your vacation, though.

      • You are obviously an Icelander, a supporter of the last government and seriously ticked off because the majority of people voted them out! Get over it and learn to enjoy life 🙂

    • There’s always one quick to slag Britain off isn’t there? I lived for 2 yrs in Iceland and hated it. This blog is very biased and very touristy. Once you’ve seen the sights, that’s it. Iceland is very boring. I was pulling my hair out after 6 months.
      You’re NOT trapped here. You’re free to leave anytime you like. I went to Reykjavik to be with my Icelandic partner, but I “just went”. It wasnt hard. If it’s so bad here, please leave and do us a favour. We wont miss you. In fact, it’s people like you that are the ONLY thing I hate about this country.

    • Please go then. What’s keeping you here? I despise people who slag this country off but stay. I lived in Iceland for 2 years due to my having an Icelandic wife who wanted to be near her family. Try LIVING there through just ONE of their winters!! I hated it and could not wait to come back. Theres nowhere in Iceland as nice as Cornwall or the Cotswolds. Their scenery for the most part is flat and barren. No trees! It’s as boring as hell too and very expensive. The buildings are some of the ugliest too. Tin houses???

  14. I’m from Michigan (USA) and of northern European decent parents from Germany immigrated in the 1600’s and I’m in my late 40’s and looking for some extreme change. I’m in a professional job field and have a skilled trades degree so my first question is how are the jobs there?

    • I think it is not difficult to find a job in iceland. Just learn the language! Speaking Icelandic is a great advantage when job searching 😉

      • There are plenty of tourist related jobs in summer, but the pay is not great and very long hours! In winter all those jobs vanish. ‘Just’ learn the language! It is a major commitment to learn Icelandic and takes time and patience. Lot’s of patience! After 6.5 years living here, my kids are pretty nearly fluent but I am still nowhere near the level of fluency needed professionally. Private lessons seem hard to come by and taking lcelandic courses for years is doable but expensive! I am hoping at my age, mid 50s, that I will be able to say that I am fairly fluent after 10 years of study! I think the age you arrive and start learning the language makes a huge difference. The younger the better! Without the language you will have a hard time finding full time/ year round employment unless you target a specific company who needs your specific skills and only English. Other than that life is expensive here, and food prices have gone up x4 since 2007. I think it is worth noting that in the winter months in my small town, (Selfoss, 3rd largest town) the grocery stores are often completely empty a few days before payday as just about everyone is broke before the end of the month. Note also that the price of electricity depends on your area. We lived for 3 years in a farming district outside of the geothermal areas, and while the rent was reasonable, and the scenery gorgeous, the price of electricity was sky high! I have enjoyed living in Iceland but there are definite challenges socially, economically and job wise until you are reasonably fluent. Many Icelanders suffer from SAD in winter, and you will notice a pronounced difference in people’s energy levels between winter and summer and this tends to affect a lot of things. Christmas festivities definitely help people get through the winter months, and January is the hardest as it is in most places. Now in February, it stays light longer and you can feel the winter doldrums starting to lift even though it is still relatively cold outside. Good luck!

  15. I was stationed at the NATO base. I remember when the commissary would get lettuce in. Someone would call and then it would spread like wildfire and everyone would rush to get some. If you weren’t there in 15 mins you missed out. It was devistating.

    • This must have been a very long time ago. Or maybe you guys had to have your own lettuce like you had to have your own water because Icelandic stores are always well stocked with vegetables (although the quality, of course, differs between seasons).

  16. I have been to Iceland twice, both times on extended riding trips. This is a national pastime. I was told that all new roads are required to have riding paths next to them and I saw stables in quite small towns that provide boarding services. I saw people riding in groups at midnight,
    singing and drinking. I loved being out in the Icelandic weather- sleet, driving rain and cold- and loved being warm inside after. Seeing vividly colored mosses and lichen and steep mountains covered in sheep on their summer grazing grounds was a unique experience. The natural hot tubs were wonderful and the saunas/steam baths shared with strangers were a treat. The riding was not easy and at times was terrifying- very challenging. There are cooperative farmer huts
    so there was always a place to stay, although very rudimentary. Apparently there is much riding in town in the winter. I am sure it is very expensive to maintain a horse, as it is everywhere.
    I have often wondered if I could afford to live there. Housing and food seem very expensive, as on any island I suppose, although heat and electricity are free I understand, because of the geothermal heat beneath. I don’t think the short winter days would bother me. I was there in June, both times, and found rather that the light made it hard to sleep. It did seem that the locals were out all night, enjoying the summer light.
    On the trips we ate simple food. I especially enjoyed the breakfasts of dark bread with cucumbers, meats and cheeses, and skyr and very strong coffee (no decaf). Dinners were usually simple casseroles. I saw greenhouses growing all manner of fruit and vegetables. There is a good variety of restaurants, from Danish sandwich shops to local fare of lamb, fish and tiny lobster.
    Everyone but older residents spoke English so communication was easy. The population seems to identify very strongly with their history and tell the Sagas at every opportunity. I didn’t find it to be an especially friendly place; I had the feeling the population is concerned about too many tourists coming in, when they have had the place to themselves for so long. Perhaps it is more the
    natural Nordic reserve. I wondered how long it would take to find friends and work.
    I have met a number of people on planes who go back and forth between Iceland and New
    York and Minneapolis to visit family and for work. So if you need more cultural events, you can certainly find a relatively inexpensive ticket.
    Many of us expect it to be a wholly pristine place; I was saddened to see the aluminum mine. But it seems there are many concerned citizens who perhaps have more power over environmental issues that in many places. I was impressed by the number of bookstores, which has been mentioned. Cellphone use was ubiquitous long before other places. The art is a disappointment- pretty provincial from what I saw. But the locally woven and knitted clothing is lovely and practical.
    I thought the shops were pretty sophisticated and up to the moment. They take skin care very seriously and there are many salons in Reykjavik. And of course the night clubs have become weekend party destinations for New Yorkers.
    It’s a unique place with a very special identity, and I hope they can maintain that in the face
    of having been discovered in a big way.

  17. Of course there are stadium concerts in Iceland, Metallica and Rammstein for example have come here and held great concerts and Justin Timberlake will definately do too this summer!

  18. As a native I can tell you why our windows don’t just open up wide (unless you know how to work them – see comments). It is the wind. When 18 meters pr second is no big deal and can happen pretty quickly on a “still” day; you’re not gonna want your windows dangling wide open. Replacing is pricey. If I’d own a guesthouse I’d probably use extra bolted windows, since tourists usually have no idea. As to how we air the rooms, well, with all that wind you don’t need a big gap on the window to get plenty of fresh air… 😉

  19. I’m surprised, than you don’t say anything about “vinbuð”. The price of alcohol is crazy expensive. They don’t sell alcohol in groceries stores or gas station, like in other places. They have only government run stores. If you have unexpected party at evening or on Sunday – forget to offer any drinks… You can go to the bar or pub but then you have to be prepared for some expense…

  20. I´m Icelandic but have lived in Norway for almost three years now. I have always wanted to move away mostly because of the weather. Another thing that I find hard is how far Iceland is from other countries and how expensive it is to travel abroad. Now I live in south Norway and even if the winters are cold here, at least we have spring and autumn and the summers can actually be warm. We also don´t have the crazy wind all the time (at least not in the area where I live). It´s also a lot more opportunities to travel without spending too much.
    After 2008 it has been very hard financially in Iceland and many of us have moved away to be able to have a better life. A lot of people really struggle to have enough food on the table each month.

  21. The Icelandic tv shows… i personally don’t watch them, I personally know like about 5 people who would eat the weird food list you put up there (I know a lot of people) aand just for the last thing, there are stores that are open 24/7 an some stores open up at 8pm, 🙂

  22. Uhhhm yeah i realise after reading all of your articles that i have been taking iceland for granted and the only thing i think about is to get out of here and move to america (if i can) but ohh i dont know you’ve kinda made me stop for a minute and really…REALLY think about it and now i’m not so sure i wanna leave iceland. I mean like you said everybody knows everybody, (not quite EVERYBODY) but alot of ppl know each other and that means you have alot of PPL to look out 4 you and that is what i wouldn’t have in america because all the relationships in my life have developed through the years…:/

  23. Why does everyone want to move to America?? Its seriously NOT what everybody makes it out to be. Actually it sucks. I hate it here. Hate big cities, rude people, all the violence and crime, drugs,..the list goes on!! Id LOOOVE to leave America..id live in any country besides this one. Not to mention our president is a complete moron.

  24. Wow, I was actually really scared to click on this because I thought I would change my mind on Iceland…
    But basically everything I care about here is positive on my perspective and if these are most of the negatives of Iceland… well that just gives me more hope for the country haha

  25. I’m currently living in the US, and everything about iceland is intriguing to me. I really would love to go. What do you recommend for someone who us new to traveling and wants to visit iceland?

  26. Love this list! I am an early bird too. I did think the food was fresher and less processed than in the US, however. I am basing this on relatively few meals over a week though.

  27. Its nice to read about these stories once in a while but to be fair to Iceland….. everyone thought people will be mugged in South Africa or Brazil during the World Cups by gangs….

    South Africans and Brazilians didn’t like what was said about their countries but the Media just needed stories.

  28. WoW! A country of night owls? I feel like I live in a country that does not respect the night owl just the early bird. I think I need to move to Iceland. I found a match for my circadian rhythm.

  29. I like that everyone is part of the social community in Iceland. You’ve covered under the national healthcare system and there are social programs and services that just don’t exist in countries like America. Too much material consumption, crime, guns, and racism there.

    The key to finding yourself in Iceland is accepting a peaceful, quiet life that’s free of the rat race and on your own terms. Icelanders love books and reading, and it’s probably because of the long winters that they find solace in this. I say who needs 100 cable channels of idiocy. I think I’d have much more pleasure exploring Iceland’s wilderness, coastal area, and ancient history and culture.

    But again, it depends on how much at peace you are with yourself to appreciate such a lifestyle.

  30. never been to iceland, but id move there in a heart beat. my kind of climate and lifestyle , and the women are hot to boot.

  31. Pingback: The Big Issue | AMATEUR IN ICELAND

  32. You won’t get anywhere at all in this country, as far as teaching jobs are concerned without fluency in the language…and an MA degree in education. Just think about it in reverse. Do you think an elementary school in the States would hire you if you could not speak the language? There is no shortage of Icelandic teachers here either….except maybe out in the far reaches of the country, far from Reykjavik. And there you would absolutely need to speak the language. So work on your Icelandic, reach fluency and then you will have a chance.

  33. I’d move there tomorrow if I could. You had me at “no crowds”.
    I’m in the UK and would love to relocate to Iceland. Is it difficult to integrate into the culture etc?

  34. What about the language? I am reasonably proficient in French and I have some Spanish and German but Icelandic seems impossibly difficult to learn as an adult.

  35. Honestly I think living in Iceland would suit me quite well. Probably be best to have a set amount of cash first incase of job issues since there aren’t many around but I work as a cook/chef so there should be something within that field. My main reason for residing there would simply be the low crime rate. I hate living where I have to worry about my family and property 24/7. It seems like the best places in the world have slowly turned for the worst, and I see that Iceland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world so that is a major plus. As far as climate or nature I have lived in extreme hot and cold so none of that bothers me anymore. I am not sure what the exchange rate is I know many things must be higher cost maybe a few things lower but honestly if I had the chance I think I would want to check it out! Lots of Nordic heritage run through my veins and would find it a honor to live where my forefathers before me once called home! Great blog all the way and hope to see more posts soon.

  36. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s not for everyone, and can seem isolated and desolate. Food, especially fresh produce, is limited and expensive as most food has to be imported. It all really depends on the lifestyle you’re looking for.

  37. Sounds perfect. If I could find a job where I could support my family. I would sell everything and move in a second. No Netflix could be a deal breaker.. But I here there is a work around.

    • I think “fred” is just trying to influence us to come to Iceland by wanting for the more affluent Icelanders to rebuke his post warning of the Icelandic crust. Living in Canada (the cold north country…………..like sure) and this being a very temperate climate I have had my taste of cold winters (riding motor bike in -10 celcius). Yes, I had to chip the icicles off my face shield. So it wouldn’t be the cold weather that scares me away, nor the lack of crowds, or the poor tv,rugged countryside, restructuring my already warped time schedule. Lets see. What else could scare me away. Well, I have to stay in Canada and save for this as work would not come easy for me there.

  38. Unless I win the lottery work there would be a necessity and I don’t know if they are in need of fitness trainers. Definitely not English teachers.

  39. I’ve lived in Wyoming my whole life. most of the “turn offs,” of living here are the turnoffs of living in Wyoming, haha. Un-predictable weather, hard to find jobs (Not as hard to find in Wyoming, but still hardly no opportunities.) Veeery small population, lack of choice, and the T.V. in a lot of places is garbage. The only problem with me moving here is the process of getting permits (About six to eight years.) The good part is that I would be very used to everything here. Plus, I live in the state with one of the biggest volcano’s in the world.

  40. I just returned from a month long trip which took me to lceland and Alaska. And l absolutely adored lceland; the friendliness, politeness and, the lack of ignorance, much like is so constant in Toronto. I also came away with the fact that people are genuine. Then of course, the very low crime rate.
    All in all, I could live in Iceland and miss Canada for a second. That brings me to my next scenario or comment: While there, l ran into a girl that was working in a store l went into. She had said she was from Ottawa and was in Reykjavik attending university; asking her if she was going to return to Canada, she replied: ” l don’t know, l like it here.”
    One of the problems as l see it: We have many delusional Canadians that actually believe Canada is the greatest country: Well l’m sorry, but Canada is full of self centered, self righteous hypocrites………
    Alaska was also friendly, then again although part of the U.S, Alaska is somewhat isolated from the other 48.

  41. I loved reading about this post and the comments that followed … See, I’ve never been in Iceland, but I pictured myself living in this extremely cold country with its beauty and tranquility. It’s weird because I was born and have always lived in a very hot and busy country (imagine all sorts of possible unrest – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Here we have different kind of human and natural beauties as well. Although I have traveled a few countries in the world, I have a peculiar sympathy for remote locations, where everyone knows everyone (and help each other), where people are educated, the places are safe, the weather is cold and the natural beauty are peculiar.
    Please do not understand that I’m unsatisfact, because I try to be very happy wherever I am, I believe that feeling good is something inner. For those who are aware, we always are seeking to listen to our inner, we are seeking find ourselves, what changes is only the scenario.
    Anyway, Iceland looks like a wonderful place …

  42. Soo…yeah.Basicalky I’m in love with everything it is Icelandic.It is almost embarassing because…when something,or worst,someone,is Icelandic…I start to fangirl.At the Europeans,I was not cheering on(?)for my country.I was cheering on for Iceland.Litterally.
    When they won againist England,I was like:AAAAHHHHH yeaah,YES!They WOOOON!
    Jumping all around my house,with my parents watching me with this look on their face,a little embarassed,a little annoyed,a little happy.
    I came there this summer.I was super happy.I love the country much,now.
    I would have really liked to make friend with someone Icelandic.
    I am actually reading blogs like this because I want to go there for a while,when I will be at University.And maybe start to live there…
    It os really strange,but I think like it is my country.I never really felt at home in mine.
    They write a lot.I LOVE THIS.This means they read a lot,too 🙂 .
    In winter,there is a lot of dark.I am also in love with this thing.
    I don’t love hot,but I love cold.I love the weather in Iceland.It isn’t wet.
    I loved the colors of the city.(The capital).
    I loved the little bars,and the tags.
    I prefered all this to the nature.
    Oh.They say Iceland is the European country were the most people is depressed(?)(* embarassing moment *).If it is true….I actualy like this thing.
    Maybe I am a little obsessed.But I LOVE Iceland.With Iceland,I am more nationalistic then ever.Every time I see something Icelandic,I am like: O.O 😀
    I hope,if one day I will go live there,i wil find my place and be accepted.

    -From an Iceland lover

  43. I think im going to move to ice land guys, the only thing im worried about is the volcanoes but its going to be good wish me luck

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