How Much Does It Cost to Live in Iceland?

The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.

Ranking in 13th place in their most recent study (out of 149 countries) was Iceland. This puts Iceland in the top 8%, with its rankings for Safety and Security (2nd), Social Capital (3rd) and Personal Freedom (4th) helping the country secure a top spot. Iceland’s lowest positions were for Health (20th) and Education (28th).

Whilst Iceland is at the top of many adventurous bucket lists and the number of tourists has blossomed over the years, how much does it cost to live there?

Iceland’s economy

In centuries past, Iceland was heavily reliant on its trading of seafood, fish, lamb, mutton and wool to bring in revenue. The economy of Iceland is still small and subject to high volatility. However, as well as fish, tourism also provides stability to the country’s economy and their renewable energy sector is rapidly expanding and becoming a global player in the high-tech market.


The official currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona. Each krone is divided into 100 aurar

The Icelandic krona is available in the following denominations:

Notes: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000

Coins: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100

Expat accommodation in Iceland

Iceland has a high standard of living and expats will not be disappointed by the properties on offer, even if they are slightly more expensive than they are used to. Because the majority of Icelanders tend to buy properties than to rent, expats will find that the pool of properties to let is significantly smaller than other countries. Most employers relocating staff to Iceland will have a home set up for them due to this.

Expat healthcare in Iceland

Iceland is championed for its medical care and it operates a universal healthcare system which is primarily funded through taxes. All Icelanders are given access to this healthcare, as well as any expats or travellers who work in the country for over six months. Until this six-month threshold is reach many expats opt for expat insurance to ensure they are protected.

Expat education in Iceland

Just like healthcare in Iceland, schooling is of an exceptional standard and is free. Expats should remember that the majority of Iceland’s state schools are based on a Nordic system and curriculum, and most lessons are taught in Iceland. For this reason, some expat parents choose for their children to attentd one of the international schools located in the likes of Reykjavik and Gardabaer.

Jobs in Iceland for expats

Expats from EEA countries will not require a work permit or a visa to work in Iceland. Most employers who are relocating members of staff to Iceland that aren’t from an EEA country will apply for this permit on your behalf.

99% of Icelanders peak English. But, it is worth remembering that this cannot be relied on. English is mostly spoken to tourists and by the larger businesses in Iceland. Therefore, it can be beneficial to understand and speak some basic Icelandic.

Iceland requires roughly 2,000 foreign workers each year to address the skills shortage in the country. Some of the sectors most popular with expats seeking work include healthcare, IT, construction and tourism.

Comparison to UK

The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user contributed data in regard to Iceland.

The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Iceland and the UK. Please note that all Icelandic prices have been converted into British pounds.

Groceries UK Price (£) Icelandic Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Milk (1l) £0.89 £0.99 UK
White bread (500g) £0.95 £2.27 UK
Eggs (12) £2.19 £3.88 UK
Local Cheese (1kg) £6.04 £11.09 UK
Bananas (1kg) £0.99 £1.69 UK
Water (0.33l) £0.88 £1.46 UK
Transport UK Price (£) Icelandic Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Petrol (1l) £1.13 £1.36 UK
One-way ticket £2.50 £2.94 UK
Monthly pass £60 £78.71 UK
Taxi (1km) £1.55 £1.92 UK
Utilities (Monthly) UK Price (£) Icelandic Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment £150.49 £74.77 Iceland
1 minute of PAYG talk time £0.07 £0.13 UK
Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) £24.39 £43.81 UK


Clothing UK Price (£) Icelandic Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Jeans (Levi or similar) £56.61 £90.16 UK
Dress (chain store) £29.07 £47.14 UK
Nike running shoe £55.00 £116.01 UK
Leather business shoes £61.56 £151.07 UK
Eating Out UK Price (£) Icelandic Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Fast food meal £5.00 £10.00 UK
Inexpensive restaurant £15.00 £15.27 UK
3 course, mid-range, 2 people £55.00 £73.59 UK
Cappuccino £2.53 £3.41 UK
Coke/Pepsi £1.14 £1.86 UK
Imported beer £3.50 £6.40 UK


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