Cost of Living in Iceland

Last updated in Nov. 2022. The original question is from Dec. 2015.

Q: I’ve recently been offered a job in Iceland and have been looking into the cost of living, which is quite high compared to many other European countries. Is a salary of ISK 700,000 (USD 4,800, EUR 4,600) a month enough to cover the basics?

Derek, Ireland.

A: According to Iceland Statistics, the average salary in Iceland is ISK 635,000 (US 4,370, EUR 4,200) before tax per month, so the offer you received is well above that. Income tax is 31.45% for income up to ISK 370,482. For income in the range ISK 370,483 to ISK 1,040,106, the tax is 37.95%, and for income above ISK 1,040,106, the tax is 46.25%. The personal tax-free allowance is ISK 53,916 monthly or ISK 646,993 annually. For more on taxation, visit skatturinn.is.

The average rent for a centrally located one-bedroom apartment in Reykjavík is ISK 185,000 (USD 1,270, EUR 1,220) per month. This website offers information on the cost of renting an apartment. The figures show the price per square meter in various parts of the country.

A single person can expect to spend ISK 195,000 (USD 1,340, EUR 1,290) a month on food, clothes, medical services, recreation, transport, communication, and other services. For comparable figures for families check this website.

Here is the website of Statistics Iceland that shows average household expenditure.

Based on these figures, you can accept the job offer, knowing that you’ll have more money to spare than the average person in Iceland.

VH

Orthopedist: Surgical Waiting Lists for Children “Unacceptable”

Press photo of the year 2020

An orthopedist at Landspítalinn hospital has told the Minister of Health that surgical waiting lists for children are unacceptable. “I can’t get them into surgery within an acceptable time frame,” Sigurveig Pétursdóttir told Willum Þór Þórsson during an annual meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association in October.

“I’m on my knees”

Sigurveig Pétursdóttir, 64, has been employed as a doctor for 38 years. She’s spent 30 years working with disabled children as a paediatric orthopedist. At an annual meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, held on October 14, Sigurveig told Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson that the state of the hospital “has never been worse.”

Read More: Mass Resignations at the University Hospital

“I’ve got children who’ve waited a year,” she called out from the assembly hall, according to a transcript of the meeting published by the Icelandic Medical Journal: “A disabled child who walks with one leg crooked for an entire year because there’s no space in the operating room. And why is there no space? Well, because the staff has quit. It’s not a matter of not having the staff. They quit. The hospital’s a mess. It’s a mess right now. It’s not going to become a mess tomorrow. It didn’t happen yesterday.”

Sigurveig preempted familiar bureaucratic talking points with the statement that all talk of analysis and assessment was unacceptable: “I’ve heard it a hundred times, but the situation has never been worse than now,” she stated. “It means nothing to me, being told that I did so well during the pandemic, not having missed a day of work.”

“I’m on my knees,” she continued. “I’m giving up, and I’m not the kind of person who gives up when things get rough. But no one will be able to walk in my shoes. No one!”

Increased funding required

Those present at the annual meeting urged the government to heed the will of the public and to increase healthcare funding. They also announced their disappointment in next year’s budget bill, urged healthcare institutions to ensure the safety of their staff, and called for actions to be taken to deal with the failing health of doctors and the growing number of healthcare professionals who are resigning from their jobs.

In late October, sixteen middle managers employed at the National University Hospital of Iceland received letters of termination. The terminations stemmed from the adoption of a new organisational chart intended to improve the hospital’s operations.

“The main purpose is to get a handle on the hospital’s management and operations, to strengthen our clinical services, and to harmonise other key services,” Runólfur remarked in an interview with RÚV.

Can I take Dayquil with me to Iceland?

dayquil iceland

Yes, you can.

Dayquil is a popular cough medicine sold in the US and elsewhere, with active ingredients acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine. Notably, and to the mild frustration of some travellers with a cold, it’s not available in Iceland.

You are, however, allowed to travel with a personal supply of Dayquil or equivalent cough medicine, with a supply of no more than 30 days of doses for personal use.

If you’re in Iceland with a cold and don’t have access to Dayquil, then your best bet at the pharmacy will be paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen), a common medicine for mild fever and pain, available under different brand names.

There is, of course, one sure cure for the common cold: time and rest!

Record Number of Icelanders Travelled Abroad in October

Nearly 72,000 Icelanders travelled abroad in October. Never before have as many Icelanders departed the country in October since measurements began. At the same time, 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October, most of whom were American.

A strong desire to “get moving”

The Icelandic Tourist Board reported yesterday that 72,000 Icelanders – a fifth of the total population – travelled abroad in October. Never, since measurements began, have as many Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in the month of October.

“This confirms that Icelanders behave just like people from other countries. Their will to travel has grown, with a strong desire to get moving having gradually accumulated,” Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, told Fréttablaðið.

Pre-pandemic levels in 2024

The Icelandic Tourist Board also reported that nearly 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October. According to information from Isavia, this represents the fourth most numerous departures from Iceland in October since measurements began. Departures from Iceland in 2022 have generally amounted to ca. 90% of departures in 2018, suggesting that air traffic will soon reach record highs.

“It’s gradual success and nothing else,” Jóhannas Þór observed. “Demand this year has been much greater than expected,” he added, noting that it would take more than one summer to recover from the effects of pandemic-imposed social restrictions.

“The problem is, and will remain, multifaceted, and relates to staffing shortages and debt accumulation; the financial state of companies in the travel sector won’t improve overnight. We estimate that we’ll be where we were before the pandemic in 2024.”

Travellers from the United States accounted for the largest share of tourists in Iceland in October, or approximately a third of all tourists.

Custody of Domestic Terror Suspects Extended by Two Weeks

Suspect

The two individuals suspected of planning a domestic terror attack will be held in custody for another two weeks, Vísir reports. A defence attorney has called the decision “incomprehensible” in light of a psychiatric assessment that held that the men were neither a danger to themselves nor others.

Psychiatric assessment “not taken into account”

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, both of whom are in their twenties, had discussed carrying out attacks against political figures, among them Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and Chairman of Efling, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

As noted by Vísir yesterday, the two men were initially placed in custody on the basis of investigative interests, but the current extension, as confirmed by the Reykjavík District Court, was predicated on public interest, with the men believed to be a danger to the public.

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, defence attorney for one of the men, stated that the decision was founded on a threat analysis carried out by the National Police Department. “I’ve criticised the fact that the threat assessment, which actually predated the psychiatric assessment, did not take the psychiatric assessment into account.”

According to Sveinn, the psychiatrist who carried out the assessment at the behest of the police did not believe the men to be a threat to themselves or others. The District Court, however, did not take this assessment into account. Sveinn Andri added that his client would be appealing the District Court’s decision, which was a big disappointment, to the Court of Appeal.

“It’s always disappointing for individuals who are in custody without good reason to have to remain in custody. But we’ll simply have to deal with it and try to have the decision overturned in the Court of Appeals. That would be ideal.”

In late October, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson dismissed private messages between the suspects as a “failed attempt at humour,” adding that he did not believe that either of the men would be charged with planning a terrorist attack.