Work in Iceland | Everything you need to know
Iceland is the second biggest island in Europe after Great Brittain, this beautiful country is known for its geysers, volcanoes, the northern lights, glaciers and mountains. It has been awarded as the most peaceful country in the world since 2008. Iceland has been rated as the most welcoming country for foreigners, the job market is always looking for new people in many sectors and the majority of the population speaks English. I guess you’re considering moving to Iceland, so don’t miss the chance to find a dream job here.
Basic Facts about Iceland.
Iceland has as capital Reykjavík, has a very small population of 366,425 people (2020), its currency is the Icelandic króna and the official language is Icelandic. It has a very particular landscape with geysers, volcanoes, steaming lava fields, black sand beaches, mountains and waterfalls with an extreme climate between summer days of almost neverending sunlight (22 hours) and winters of the complete opposite. With this, you can picture yourself a bit more about Iceland, and we’re not done yet.
5 Curiosities about Iceland
- Iceland was the last land to be discovered, and it was about 1.100 years ago by accident!, the nordic viking Naddod who was blown off course sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands in 861 discovered the coast of Iceland and went back to Norway to tell them all his discovering.
- A significant amount of the people believes in Elves and Trolls, thanks to its Vikings origins, they keep stories of magic tales and creatures.
- All year of hot springs baths, in Iceland you can find hot springs all around the country, everywhere, and they keep heated all year so be prepared to enjoy this as usual in Iceland.
- Almost all of the electricity in Iceland comes from renewable sources, this country has been awarded the Nordic Nature and Environment Prize in 2014.
- Their capital city, Reykjavík, translated as the smoky bay, is famous for being one of the world’s cleanest, greenest, and safest cities. If you’re thinking Iceland is all about ice, then think again.
Culture in Iceland
Considered as a great place to live because of its health and happiness Iceland is a destination very unique for future expats. For Icelandic people family is extremely important, and from an early age, kids are taught to be self-sufficient. Very surprising might be that Icelanders don’t have surnames, they have patronymic names instead. It is created by taking the fathers first name followed by -son or -dottit, e.g. Anna Einarsdottir and Johannes Einarsson. Social life strongly centres around family too.
They are also very proud of their gender equality, which is very high, same with tolerance, but one of their biggest proudness is nature. Stunning landscapes you won’t experience anywhere else in the world are the reason so many tourists are heading there, and we can’t forget about the northern lights. Nature was an inspiration for many songs, paintings and stories and influences culture even nowadays.
Icelandic people consider themselves more Nordic than Scandinavian and around two-thirds of the society lives in the capital city or on the suburbs around it. They are open for expats and welcome them warmly in the work environment.
Cuisine in Iceland
Icelandic cuisine relates to hard natural circumstances ancestors had to deal with. It’s simple, but still worth trying. Meals are usually meat-based befitting descendants of Vikings.
Due to its location by the ocean, fish is a good quality ingredient in national dishes. Together with lamb and skyr (a kind of yoghurt) gives us an overview of the Icelandic diet for thousands of years. If you would like to try something more extraordinary you can find a whale of puffin meat, which is extremely famous but at the same time equally controversial.
Some of the most interesting, and more or less controversial meals are
- Hákarl (fermented shark)
- Kjötsúpa (lamb soup)
- Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (Icelandic hot dog)
- Rúgbrauð (rye bread)
- Svið (sheep’s head)
Icelandic traditional cuisine might not be encouraging for everybody. Of course, there are meals in shops and restaurants meeting closer to ordinary, everyday standards, but remember trying local food is a huge part of the travel experience, so give it a chance!
Work in Iceland
Maybe Iceland is not the most obvious place to think about while talking about living and working abroad. Nevertheless, an expat community exists, containing many internationals who made a decision to go exactly there.
Hierarchical structure is not followed as much as in other European countries. Icelandic people tend to be honest and straightforward in their business relations and meetings. Talking about meetings, it often takes place over lunch or with a cup of coffee. It’s also good to know that Iceland is ranked the highest in terms of gender equality worldwide.
The average salary is €2823 net and the working week is Monday to Friday 40 hours in total. The largest industry in the country is tourism, right behind are fishing processing, geo and hydropower, pharmacy or aluminium smelting.
Work in Reykjavik
There are many job offers available on the Icelandic market, however often in certain sectors. Economy is open for internationals and you should be welcomed by nationals with open hands. Since the environment is pleasing, you can find a vibrant expat community, located especially in the region of the city centre.
If you are not sure how to prepare before going to a new place to live, check our Tips & Tricks about How to prepare before moving abroad.
Taxes in Iceland
If you finally got that Icelandic job, then it’s time to make some necessary paperwork, first of all you need to get a personal ID number (kennitala) and an electronic ID (rafræn skilríki) connected with the SIM card in your mobile phone for authentication purposes. To apply for a kennitala, you need to go to the Icelandic Register (Þjóðskrá) with a valid ID. With this you’ll be able to sign up in everything needed, this is necessary for tax purposes and for a job a contract. In Iceland you pay income tax and municipal tax, along with some other contribution tax, the income tax rate starts with 17% and the municipality tax rate with 14,45%.
Finding accommodation in Iceland
Finding accommodation in Iceland is kind of a challenge, especially in Reykjavik where all the bars, restaurants, and city activities are. This means the prices are high and the offer of available apartments are sparse, so if you see something you like in this city, take it! Because it won’t be there the next day. However, once you make up your mind, be sure to decide which area you want to live, if it’s in Reykjavik the prices vary depending on if you’re downtown or a bit farther away and after you decide, start looking at Facebook groups (which are very helpful) for accommodation in that particular place. Also, some useful websites to find accommodation in Iceland are
Living cost in Iceland
The cost of living in Iceland is high, this is because being such a remote destination it’s difficult to find diversity in products, with a moody and unpredictable climate it’s hard to find fruits, vegetables and other groceries from icelandic sources, which means that they have to be imported, apart from this, even for locals are hard to find accommodation so the prices for this a high too. If you’re planning to live in Iceland, then you better be prepared, because this beautiful, high quality of life country, comes with expensive treats.
Here’s a detailed list of common expenses:
|Accommodation* (one-room apartment in city centre – outside of centre)||1000 – 1200|
|Public transport (Monthly pass)||89|
|Mobile rate (1min prepaid)||0,14|
|Fitness club pass||52|
|Pint of beer||8,26|
|Total||1311 – 1511|
* Prices can vary depending on the neighbourhood, the number of people living in the apartment and facilities.
**Depends greatly on your diet and which shops you buy food and drinks from.
Expats in Iceland
There’s an increasing expat community in Iceland, with young people from Asia, Europe and America looking for the chill live in Iceland with its quality of life, its stunning landscapes and the possibility to spend a while getting a hot spring bath whenever you want. Between the many benefits that bring to live in Iceland, you have the proximity with US and European countries so you can travel both ways easier from Iceland, also their locals speak fluent English and they are known to be one of the kindest, most welcoming people in the world, on top of that you have welfare benefits, as the other nordic countries, as a resident you have complementary healthcare, free education, and a guaranteed pension. So what are you waiting to start your journey in Iceland?
Where to learn Icelandic
Icelandic, because of among other things its long words and complex grammar, is considered to be one of the hardest languages in the world. As soon as over 300 000 people can speak Icelandic, which is almost equal to the number of nationals!
Fortunately, most of the society speaks English, however, it still would be good to know some basic sentences. Language knowledge is useful not only in making contact with Icelandic people but also allows us to understand the culture better. If you would like to try, there are a lot of free online courses like this one. If you prefer to take lessons in person, there is also a possibility like that. Most of the courses offered already on site are paid. You can check how are the exemplary prices for a course here. The fact that you study Icelandic is a good sign for your future employer, it shows that you treat this place and job seriously and for a longer run and you can be sure he will notice it.
Iceland is a place well-known for the overall satisfaction of the dwellers. Rich culture, social wellness and welcoming nationals create an expat-friendly environment, and even if it wasn’t the first country that came to your mind when you started to look for a place to go, maybe it’s worth giving it a try. Expats moving to Iceland claim that it’s less isolated than they expected it to be and once you will settle in you can start to explore it. And there is much to discover. High costs of living are compensated with a fair salary, high living standards and work culture.
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