Cost of living in Iceland

Hi everybody,

It would be very interesting and useful to exchange informations about the cost of living in Iceland . The idea is to help those who would like to live in Iceland.
Don't forget to mention where you are living

Let's compare the:

> accommodation prices (how much does it cost to rent or to buy an accommodation in Iceland?)

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc ...)

> food prices(per month, how much does it cost you?)

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)

> eduction prices (if you need to pay)

> energy prices (oil, electricity)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)

> prices of a good menu in a traditional restaurant

> prices of a beer or a coffee in a regular pub

Thanks in advance for your participation!

sent by ECS in nov 2006

I'm writing from Reykjavik, Iceland, where the Icelandic Kronur (ISK) is currently at about 70 to one US dollar.

> accommodation price
80.000ISK will get you a one-bedroom downtown if you're lucky (there are almost no rental properties because home loans have such low interest).  I'm paying 25.000ISK for a huge room in a shared place a 5 min walk from the main square.  This is an excellent and rare price.

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc ...)
250 ISK will get you most anywhere on the bus. Only foreigners and tourists will admit to taking the bus.

> food prices(per month, how much does it cost you?)
probably about 90,000, including the odd cafe lunch here and there.  I spend about 2000ISK per trip to the store. Fruit and veggies tend to come from overseas and are expensive.  Milk and cheese is not so much, since it is all locally produced.

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)
included in the taxes.

> eduction prices (if you need to pay)
the only thing I've paid for educationwise is some short courses which tend to be expensive and intense.  An Icelandic course for 6 weeks cost 40.000 ISK last year

> energy prices (oil, electricity)
heat & electricity are all hydro or geothermal, and are cheap.  Heat & electricity in winter is (if I recall correctly) about 4.000 per month in winter (and it's dark for all but 5 hours per day for most of December).  Currently not paying these :-)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)
if you work in high-tech it's common for this stuff to be paid for by the company.  When I had to pay net it was about 4.000ISK per month, cellphone bill about 2-3.000.  Never paid for TV although there is a "TV tax" you are supposed to pay for the national channel.  Phone is often a bundled deal with internet and I dno't have one so I can't say!

> prices of a good menu in a traditional restaurant
appetizers are 1.000-1500, main courses are about 2.000ISK, wine's about 3.000 for a bottle minimum

> prices of a beer and of a coffee in a regular pub
beer is usually around 500 ISK, coffee (cappuccino or latte) is 300-350

People say that Reykjavik is one of the most expensive places to live but I've found that (at least in my field) the company pays for a lot more stuff than in the USA where I am from.  My company subsidises gym memberships, often pays for cellphones and internet, and provides an inexpensive option for a full, hot lunch every workday, which cuts down on the expenses considerably.

Also, the most essential component of Reykjavik living, the pool entry fee, is cheap, at 250ISK!

Thanks for the post on cost of living in Iceland.  I don't understand the comma system you use however.  When you say "80.000ISK will get you a one-bedroom downtown".  Does that mean 80 thousand ISK?  I hope this is not the cost of rent per month.  So typically, does the comma denote thousands or hundreds?  So if I were to look for a 3 bedroom flat in Reykavik, how much does that cost?  How about buying a car?  Thanks.


Yes I think the "." denotes thousands

yup, that's eighty thousand krˇnur.  Currently worth a lot less than it was before given the splendid crash of the Icelandic banking system.  The prices are also on average a bit higher now but given that a lot of people are due to flee the country (many immigrants are going back now) the rental market will probably be a lot more friendly than it was when I first posted this entry.  A quick look shows that you're going to probably pay at least 120000ISK for 3 bedrooms, and that may not be in the downtown/central area.

Cars... a bit of an unknown right now since the dust is still settling on the latest developments.  There is, however, a MASSIVE surplus of vehicles here right now.  If you want to try your hand at reading the Icelandic newspaper ads, here's the car section:

Yes, due to our "kreppa" (Icelandic word for "depression") the rental market is softening a bit.  The previous post is pretty accurate.  Expect to pay between 100.000 to 120.000 ISK for a flat in central Reykjavik.  At today's rate, 100.000 ISK is around $750.  Of course, 100.000 ISK will get you a rather small one bedroom in the 101 postcode, but that's a pretty good deal!

The cost of riding the bus, one-way, is 280 ISK.  Grade school and university students, however, get free bus cards for the academic year.  Otherwise, you can various bus cards. Rates are posted here:

Alcohol has also gone up around 5% here recently.  Boo!  A pint of beer in a pub varies, but generally expect it to be around 800 ISK.   

A latte in a coffee shop is around 380 ISK...and they are delicious! 

Restaurants are still expensive here, given the generally poor customer service so most people still cook at home.  Some are offering "kreppa" specials - but those restaurants tend to be the more fast-food type places (like pizza places...lately we've had specials on large pizzas for 1.000 - 1.200 ISK).

Keep in mind that with the Kreppa we are getting some massive consumer inflation here.  The last reports were a 20% increase in the CPI from last year.  Still, if you have ESB or USD then it sort of makes up for the inflated prices.

Good day,

My father was in Iceland this summer and said it was great, a bit cold but sunny. He told me it was expensive as well. Now I know what he ment.
It turns out that it is cheaper to spend a month in a hotel in Croatia (off season 01.10 - 15.05.)then in Iceland at home?
A hotel we work with has an extended stay offer where a couple can stay a month in hotel, half board (breakfast and dinner) for 1650 Euro, that is 825 euro per person!
Well if I can help, let me know.

how s Iceland coping with the financial crisis this days?
How many euros do you need to cover your basic monthly expenses now?
I will appreciate your kind information.
Here in USA we don't hear a lot about Iceland-i wonder why-We could only google...It would be interesting to read from a person that lives there
thank you!

honestly, I don't think my living expenses have increased much. I don't own my place, and rent has decreased overall since there is MUCH less demand.

Food has gone up but not so much that I notice, fuel is about what I remember it costing last summer, and I hardly buy clothing etc here because even before I thought the prices were ridiculous (I'm a bargain shopper sort).  I'm just thinking more carefully about my vacation destinations and spending more time visiting friends than going places where I have to pay for a hotel. I was just in France last month and even with the much less friendly exchange rate with the Euro, a lot of the things were still quite reasonable (like dining out or buying clothes/shoes or taking the train) in my opinion but maybe I've just got skewed perspective of what's "reasonable" after living here for so long.

want to get an idea of prices of coffee beer fuel these days
coming to visit for two days
any idea of getting a good price for rental car,for what i checked its very expensive

jrbowe's prices are still pretty valid. Fuel's about 175isk per liter. Beer in a bar is 500-850isk depending on if it's domestic or imported. No idea what it costs at the state liquor store since I never buy it.

this forum is more for people who are living here than travelers, so I don't think it's the best place to ask about rentals (since we either have our own cars or travel with friends who have cars IME).  Try the lonely planet thorntree board- tons of people asking about car rentals and other more tourist-oriented discussions.

Okay I am from canada could you tell me how to translate the dollar. I pay 1250.00 dollars per month for a 3 bedroom. what it your dollar compared to canadian. Do you pay for education there. Are there many computer jobs available. We are looking to relocate. Could use any advice.

sherbear -- Try to get an idea of CAN$ to ISK.  I have no idea how the US$ is compared to the CAN$ anymore after living in Iceland for over a year.  An apartment in downtown Reykjavik (one or two small bedrooms) will run you about 120.000 ISK.  Check Coinmill for the approx. CAN$ amount.   Food and drink is terribly expensive...and subject to further inflation if our currency issues aren't sorted out soon. 

As for computer jobs, I'm not sure what your actual skills or experience are like, but the economy here is as tight (if not more so) than North America at the moment.  It's really, really difficult to secure a job if you're not from the EEA or Iceland.  Basically for non-European Economic area (EEA) applicants, the company has to justify why to hire you over hundreds of qualified Icelanders or EEA people.  That can be a long, expensive process and many companies don't want to put resources into that unless you're really special.

If your IT skills are well developed, very advanced, and wildly in demand (and you're proven to be a very innovative thinker) then you could check out CCP, Iceland's one bright spot of the otherwise shady employment sector.  Otherwise, try to ride out the storm in CAN for a couple of years to see how Iceland emerges from this mess.  Just sayin'....

And yes, we have socialized health care here.  If you are employed right away with an Icelandic company, the benefits kick in soon after starting the job.  Otherwise, you move here, and SIX MONTHS from the DATE YOUR RES. PERMIT is ISSUED (not the applied-for date), then you are in the system and paying discounted rates.  Otherwise you need to purchase private liability insurance to see you through the gap and pay the full prices to see a doctor (currently 4.200 ISK for a visit to a primary care doctor, specialists cost more.)  The health care quality is fine, although government ministers are making substantial cuts (due to obvious debt reasons) and are worried about young MDs and nurses leaving for jobs in other countries. 

Hope this info helps  Hang in there -- seriously, don't put all your eggs in one basket and move to Iceland just yet.  I don't mean to discourage anyone, but the situation here demands observation and a "wait-and-see" attitude.  It's better to come when things have improved a bit or at least showing signs of life.  After all, Icelanders are moving to your country now instead of the other way around.  ;')


Hi. I'm planning to make a serious life change after I finish law school. I am inquiring about the possibility of living and working as an attorney in Iceland. Can anyone give me some advice on this possibility, whether it is wise or not so wise, etc. ?  Thank you.

from what I've heard from other lawyers moving internationally, the first challenge would be finding out if your credentials can transfer. Are you familiar with Icelandic law at all or would you be looking to work for/with the US Embassy?

My only other thought would be somehow working with the universities as an American law instructor. The two major universities in reykjavik are looking at some severe budget cuts in the next few years (and possibly merging altogether) so I'm not sure how much they are looking to hire though.

There's also a business university called Bifrost that might be of interest to you.

Right now's probably not the best time to make a move here given the current economic situation. Many of the foreigners I know (and even icelanders) are leaving, not moving here!



I would like to come to Iceland as an Erasmus student at Bifrost University. The scholarship is 800euro/month(146,521.79 ISK). on the university's site it says the rent is 30.023ISK, heat and electricity included. my question is: would I be able to manage living on campus with that sum of money? if i decide to come that would happen on september 2010 but considering the fact I have to apply on february I would like to know if it's safe to apply or not. :)

Hi Wana,
That sounds like a fairly substantial scholarship! :)

Considering that Bifrost is fairly isolated in the Icelandic countryside (it's well over an hour's drive from Reykjavik and the closest town is rather small but has all the basics), you literally wouldn't have much chance to spend your money on anything other than food (or drinks!).  Food and drink shouldn't cost over 50.000 ISK per month -- and that's a pretty liberal amount I just quoted.  And textbooks for university classes usually average 8.000 ISK per book -- most classes require only one book (at least at U. of Iceland).  Since you'd be saving so much money, you should have plenty left over for weekend trips.  You can even buy a few lopapeysa sweaters for that amount!

How hard would it be to get a job in Iceland as a pharmacist? (I'm from the US)

your chances as a pharmacist are better than those of a construction worker, for sure.  Given that the govt healthcare budget has to shrink considerably, I'd say working in a hospital's not your best bet, and unless you speak Icelandic, working in a commercial pharmacy's where you need to interact with customers is probably not the best choice either.

However, there are a few companies here that do specialize in pharmacy software or generic medicines. Check out TM Software's medical division, and Actavis, a large generic drug company, for example.

This is a pretty good list of companies of all types and their websites. could be worth it to browse:

One more thing regarding working here to be aware of - jrbowe mentioned that there's socialized healthcare and that if you get a job it kicks in right away. This isn't quite true- you do have to get coverage for the first six months from an independent source, but it seems like it is usually covered by the company (at least it was for me).

how hard would it be to go from a military career to teaching english at a school in Iceland?

Moving to Iceland to teach English may be difficult for a few reasons:
1) you would still need to procure a residence visa for living here longer than 3 months. I'm not sure how an entrepreneur would go about acquiring a visa since most visas revolve around marriage to an Icelandic citizen, education at a university, or special visas for foreigners who can fulfill highly-specialized, advanced jobs (i.e. renewable energy consultants, scientists, medical specialists, etc.) Also, I'm assuming you would need to register yourself as a business and get a special ID number for business taxes, etc.  (perhaps someone on the forum can enlighten us on the business registration and self-employed visa process..)
2)Demand may be weak for independent English teachers seeing as that market is already saturated. Icelandic students in primary schools start to learn Danish and English from a young age (my boyfriend's 10-year old niece has already started lessons in her school).  Furthermore, Danish and English are mandatory subjects in schools so by the time Icelandic teenagers graduate from secondary schools,they're already quite proficient (they have to be proficient because most textbooks at the universities in Iceland are written in English). Also, the University of Iceland offers English as a degree program (also as complimentary classes) and the tuition for a year at this university is only 45.000 ISK (or roughly $400 a year...pretty cheap).  Furthermore, Icelandic TV channels are dominated by British/American TV shows which explains why Icelanders speak English better than many other Europeans.

I don't personally know anyone who teaches ESL (English-as-a-second-language) here, so I cannot tell you how successful independent ESL teachers are, or what they charge. You could try to find some ESL resources on the web and see if you can find out any further info on ESL in Iceland.:)

Isn't this discussion going off topic ?

Please concentrate on the cost of living in Iceland, and create new topics on the Iceland forum for other questions ;)

By the way, thanks ECS and jrbowe for your great posts :)

Hey everybody!

I am an Italian freelance software developer (we already have clients, I won't need to target the local market), and I am considering, with my partner (spouse and co-worker) to move to Iceland, a country we love - we actually have two other choices in mind (Finland and Portugal, regardless of how different they may sound), but Iceland would be THE place for us. I have read plenty of posts about cost of living in Iceland, but I would like to ask real-life cost of living, in your experience.

I mean, all things considered, between rent (we are renting, at still at first), bills (we will need a 24/24 Internet connection), cost of living, what are your average, rough, monthly expenses?

If you cannot write this in public, even a private message would be great! Only real life stuff please, we read all we could about stats.


the prices I listed in my 2006 post are still mostly relevant, although everything's gone up a bit in ISK prices. Housing seems to be mostly similar prices in the RVK downtown area, although rentals are much more plentiful now.

Food costs have gone up a bit so I think I spend about 2500isk per trip to the store for a person and a half's worth of groceries. Going out has gone up by a couple hundred ISK per dish on average, although you can still find a few places that have main courses around 1000isk (hope you like hamburgers!)

I haven't paid internet or phone in years but I think those prices are still similar. I don't know what a landline costs.

but, if you're earning Euros this will probably be a very cheap place to live since the exchange rate is beneficial to you.

if you're working independently I don't know healthcare will work for you (or taxation) so you might want to check out for some practical links that could help you with that.

Thanks a lot for reply! We are actually getting paid mostly in USD, rarely in EUR, but the prices you mentioned are pretty good also with this exchange.

Yeah, we do plan on registering our business in Iceland in fact, and paying taxes there. I had some contact with iceland invest people about this in this past.

Thanks again!

uhm.. and how about the jobs !?

you know.. payin that much for a place and of course food and stuff, is a normal job enough ?
how much you guys usually earn ?

I'm about to move there, but still there's a few things i have to check.

Well, what's your definition of a "normal job"? Obviously, jobs that require some specialization or credentials pay more than someone working behind the counter of a bakery.

The prices here are such that people with jobs of all kinds can manage to live, but they might not have the most luxurious life with a lower salary. For example, you might find living alone will not be possible, but that you can live here fine in a shared house or apartment.

uhm.. i see !
but, if i'm reeeeeeeally interested on live alone? is it too hard? not impossible right ?

do they rent rooms? for one person ?
i really want to have my "own" place, cause i have my girlfriend and soo, but she cant move with me right now :T

and there's other thing: Vestmannaeyjar? that bad ? is it too much try to find a job and a place there ?

tnks everyone!

Hi everyone, I'm considering a move to Reykjavik for a few years but I was wondering how much per month one would need to earn to live comfortably, including everything as a rough figure?


hey guys. I am considering to move to Reykjavik at the end of the year, after i finish my trip in Canada.

The question i have is pretty much the same as the post above mine. It will be good to know what it will cost to live in Iceland and how much a person should be earning to live comfortably on a monthly basis...


in response to the last two posters, I think it's kind of impossible to answer. One person's definition of comfortable is another's definition of roughing it. Some like eating out twice a week, some once a month. Some think comfortable is having a flat with at least 2 spare rooms, some are happy in a studio.

It seems like there's already an awful lot of pricing information listed here that should provide you a basis for what you're trying to compile.

FWIW, the minimum requirement from the immigration office for an individual is 125.540 per month. I'd say that living on a salary like that would probably be roughing it (definitely a shared flat, probably not a car).

sorry, another question...

Hey guys. My name is, Bart and from the UK, but currently in Montreal, Canada on a working holiday visa. I am seriously looking to move to Iceland. Now, question time...

What requirements do i need as a UK National, to be able to live and work in Iceland?

Could someone assist me with this please.


Could anyone help me get in contact with a university student?  I'm hoping to get more detailed information about cost of living, etc. Also wondering about total costs (fees, books, etc) for a graduate degree... Thank you for the good information already here.

Hi Mac29, I'm a grad student at University of Iceland so I can fill you in on the cost of school, average textbook costs, and etc. But seeing as I came here with my Icelandic boyfriend (who has a job and covers most household expenses) I'm not sure I could tell you about costs of student housing or how much it costs to split a flat with roommates.

For school:
For most programs at U of I the fee for one academic year is 45.000 ISK (check the exchange at Coinmill or Forex) There is only an annual fee -- there is no tuition.

The average cost of a textbook at the university bookstore is between 8.000 - 10.000 ISK. There are typically only one or two books to buy for each class. The university also has a printing quota, in which you pay 7 ISK per printed page.

The only programs that I'm aware of that charge more than 45.000 ISK is an Executive MBA, MS in Project Managment, and a sustainable energy program in coordination with Reykjavik University.

If you're attending Bifrost University or Reykjavik University, I don't know the annual tuition/fees but I know it's much higher than at Uni. of Iceland.

I've been accepted into a masters program in ═safj÷r­ur. So i will obviously be living there. Is it cheaper up north compared to Reykjavik? Will the monthly recomended approx. 125.000ISK be enough? how much is the bus from Reykjavik to ═safj÷r­ur? and is much snowboarding in Iceland?

Lars Loafer - The cost of living is cheaper in Isafjordur (undoubtedly since there is less selection in shopping/entertainment/dining/etc.)

I can't quote exact rental costs for housing, but I have two friends who are currently renting an entire house in Isafjordur for slightly cheaper than a small 2-bedroom apartment in Reykjavik. Food and alcohol prices are similar though: all alcohol is from state-run liquor stores and there is very little competition among grocery stores.

As for buses that run between West Fjords and the capital, check this link: … estfjords/
I'm not sure how old that information is; it's probably just as easy to catch a ride with a local (once you get to know people).

Hello all, I am about to graduate with a degree in chemistry and I want to get a PhD or a Masters with respect to renewable energy at the U of I (or something similar).

I have read most of your blogs and read through this entire forum, so I have a basic idea for the cost of living and tuition fees, but what I really want to know is do I need to speak Icelandic fluently to attend the U of I in a PhD program? Does anyone know? And would anyone happen to know about funding for such programs or degrees?

I really want to attend school in Iceland, but if I don't make at least a little bit of money while I am there in school, I don't see how I can support myself while attending.

I am really excited about the cost of tuition, and I have a modest amount of USD in savings to cover that, but not enough to cover the cost of living. Any suggestions? I really appreciate your help and all the info you guys have posted up already!

Thx for the posts


You can check out REYST -- it is a graduate program for sustainable systems and it is a consortium between the universities in Reykjavik and the geothermal energy companies. However, it costs much more than the 45.000 ISK. If you want to go to U of I for the low tuition, I have several friends (all foreigners, English speaking) who are currently or have studied in the graduate program for Environment & Natural Resources (and there is a focus on sustainable energy systems and policies). I can get you in touch with one of the students of that program if you'd like. Just send me a private message.

As for the 'financial support' for the student permit: yes, you will need to show some support as required by Jobs are not impossible for foreigners here, but it is difficult because a student permit doesn't automatically give you working rights.

New topic