Reykjavik, Iceland Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland 11/27/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have lived in many cities overseas.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The West Coast of the US. There are a few direct flights from LA, Seattle and Portland, but most often connecting on the East Coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Very good. Housing for families and people with pets are similar to US homes. Generally they have open floor plans, modern kitchens, and attached garages. Apartments have great views and are walking distance to the embassy. The longest commute is about 10 km though most are shorter. All homes are well-built and warm.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Pretty much anything is available, though you might have to go to a couple of stores to find some items. Prices are expensive but Costco just opened up and prices are much more reasonable there.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Only liquids - cleaning supplies and maybe a few liquid cooking items. Most places don't have much storage so you don't want to bring stuff that you can buy online when you need it.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There's everything here from fast food to fine dining.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch takes 2-3 weeks or you can use the local mail, which is reliable.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The US embassy has a small gym and there are American-style gyms throughout the city.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are used everywhere for everything.

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4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None though it is handy.

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes! The embassy and the country are not ADA compliant. Sidewalks are cobblestone, everything has stairs and maybe not an elevator, there's ice all winter, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Just a bus system that is OK but not far reaching.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4WD is best - for the winter and for getting out in the country.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Great internet at prices comparable to the US. The embassy will have your internet on when you arrive if you request it ahead of time.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Employees get phones and it is very easy for spouses to get SIM cards on the local market or subscribe to a local plan.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There are a couple of kennels. There is a four-week quarantine - talk to the Reykjavik Community Liaison Office or the Overseas Briefing Center at State for more details. Some people have imported pets but it is expensive and takes a lot of planning. Pets are rarely allowed in apartment buildings.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some spouses have worked on the local economy at good wages. There is not a formal work agreement with Iceland but I think the embassy is working on it.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Same as DC or slightly more casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None - this is one of the safest posts in the world.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Fantastic air, some of the cleanest in the world.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

As far as I know, no one has had SAD, despite the darkness in the winter. Sometimes all the round-the-clock light in the summer is harder to deal with than the dark in the winter.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Not warm but not bitter cold. Summers are in the 60s and winter is in the 30s with strong winds. Not much snow.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Two small schools. Families are happy now but contact CLO for current information. The higher grades are less adequate.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools are very cheap and subsidized by the government. They are based on where you live.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Pretty much anything, though maybe not in English. Lots of classes are available through the international schools in English.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small like the country. Morale is good. Reykjavik is safe, clean and has plenty to do. At the US embassy, it is so small that there is not a strong community. You have to find friends outside of work.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Pretty much good for everyone.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes - Iceland is extremely progressive and recognizes same sex partners. Nobody thinks twice about it.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None, though this is a relatively homogenous society.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The great outdoors. This is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The opportunities are limitless.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Anything other than the tourist treks around the golden circle. 95% of the country doesn't have any tourists and is just as good as the 5% every tourist goes to.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really since the prices are high. Maybe an Icelandic sweater, volcano glass jewelry, local artwork.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

As mentioned, this is one of the most clean, safe and picturesque countries you could live in. Children play alone (gasp) at playgrounds and ride the bus to kindergarten. You can fly to destinations all over Europe for $100 one way. This is a modern society with all the benefits of any European capital, though on a smaller scale.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Shorts and flip flops.

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3. But don't forget your:

4WD and sense of adventure.

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Reykjavik, Iceland 06/23/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second tour in the Nordics.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Dallas - so we start with direct flights with WOW or Icelandair to the east coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Six months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The usual drill: apartments in town, and stand-alone houses a bit further out. Commuting isn't really an issue for a city this size.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Again, there are plenty of options available, but the prices will certainly give you pause.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I would have gone very HEAVY on any consummable items I could add my household shipment...grocery, dry goods, cleaning supplies, the lot.

Extra yak-trax (against icy sidewalks) and reflector pins (against winter darkness).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Considering the size of Reykjavik, there is a good number of restaurant/coffe shop/cafe options. Be prepared for sticker-shock, though.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Diplomatic pouch, which usually takes two weeks in one direction.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Nothing available at the mission but there are numerous private gyms in town. Shop around.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards for just about everything. You can use cash if you must but you'll get funny looks.

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4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Always a nice touch, but not strictly necessary.

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, definitely. There are a few places in town that have access for people with disabilities but not many. And the mission itself is not ADA compliant.

I will add that there's no snow/ice removal in the winter, so a even a simple walk down the sidewalk can be dodgy. Yak-trax/crampons are the answer.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses and taxis are safe, and affordable. You can get bus passes for one month (or longer), which represent some savings and convenience.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Suggest 4WD, fully kitted out for serious winter driving.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The Embassy issues cell phones to its employees.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I don't have a pet, but gather that the city regulations about having a pet in town (e.g. in an apartment) are extremely strict. Ask before you get here!

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Very few - and Icelandic language ability is a key factor for those.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Tends to be more formal at work, and in public what I call "Eddie Bauer Bright."

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No concerns but be aware there's no health unit at post.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Pristine.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Icelandic diet is heavy on seafood and dairy, FYI.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Variations on cold. Summer months (with the very long days) mean up to the 50's or even 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter brings the darkness and a wide variety of weather patterns: snow, sleet, ice, rain, and winds strong enough to knock you over.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly good sized expat community, all things considered.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The great outdoors, & Reykjavik's famous night life.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all, and I would say particularly good for families with young children. It's very safe here.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I believe yes.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Having the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Again, the great outdoors: northern lights, whale watching, hikes, visiting waterfalls, glaciers, hot pots, etc.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woolen sweaters

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The great outdoors.

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10. Can you save money?

Not a chance.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Iceland's remoteness, and the price of things (even with COLA) can be challenging.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not (great place for a vacation, though).

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Reykjavik is one of the Nordic's capital cities. That said, it is quite different from our neighbors to the east. It's unique!

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4. But don't forget your:

Yak trax

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679767924/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0679767924&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=2UOATJUJAXJ3CZJR

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Don't know of any specific movies, but Iceland has been featured in multiple films and videos.

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Reykjavik, Iceland 02/13/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

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2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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3. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

East Coast - there are direct flights on Icelandair to JFK, Boston, Dulles, Orlando, Denver, Seattle, and now Anchorage, as well as some Canadian cities. And we get a "Fly America" waiver because Icelandair is the only airline flying year 'round between Iceland and the US.

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4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and has been living in Reykjavik for half a year, a seventh expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Some folks live in apartments downtown, within walking distance to the Embassy, others live in single family houses in the suburbs. The commute never is more than 20 minutes, and that's if you are living farther away.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Pretty much everything is available here, for about three to five times what you pay in the US. The only thing I have really found lacking is the cheese - there doesn't seem to be much variety. Iceland grows a surprising amount of its own vegetables, and dairy products are of excellent quality. There is a store here called Kostur which is a knock-off of Costco, complete with all the Kirkland brands, but the prices are much, much higher than the US.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Snow tires, healthy snacks for school lunches (granola bars, etc), all liquid toiletries and cleaning products, since they can't go through the pouch, birthday presents for the parties your kid will get invited to (toys here are insanely expensive), cake mixes, laundry soap, basically, as much as you can fit in your HHE. I asked for a supplemental shipment from the US and was glad I did.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesdays, TGIF, Dominos, but no McDonalds. Iceland is very expensive - we don't eat out much.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I think I have seen 2 flying insects since I got here. There are areas outside of Reykjavik with giant flies, but on a day-to-day basis insects are non existent. A couple months ago a man found a cockroach in an apartment complex hallway and it made the evening news, complete with a video of the creature in a jar.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have dip pouch for incoming mail, but we need to use click-and-ship USPS for outgoing packages. Outgoing letters can be sent through the Icelandic post and will probably make it back to the US way faster than the pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I brought my own live-in nanny with me. Iceland is not part of the EU so there are no wage requirements here.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many gyms and sports clubs for adults and kids alike.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can buy a pack of gum here with an ATM card - people use them for everything.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is one free newspaper in English, the Grapevine, but the "real" newspapers are in Icelandic.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

More than I thought I would. Even though most everyone speaks English, most websites are all in Icelandic, as are newspapers. And it's not like there are a lot of English - Icelandic cognates. Icelandic is a very hard language to learn.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The Embassy is not ADA compliant and many shops aren't either - it'd be tough.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses are very useable and run everywhere. Taxis are fine to. Trains? Ha!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I brought a 4WD SUV and was glad I did. I wish I had brought studded snow tires, though, because I ended up buying them here and they cost over $1000. The street I live on does not get plowed, or salted. At all. The snow just gets packed down. Then it starts to melt, freezes again, and becomes ice. Smaller cars without snow tires often get stuck on my street and then the traffic gets blocked, etc. For a place called Iceland, you would think they would be a little more forward leaning on snow removal, but I guess not.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

I have fiber optic at home. It's expensive, but worth it.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy supplies them for employees, and family members can get added on to the Embassy calling plan to save money.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There is a dog quarantine here, but the kennel is like a posh doggie hotel and I hear they are very while cared for.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No, not unless you speak Icelandic.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Same as DC.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is outstanding.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Cleanest air on earth.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

When I told people I was going to Iceland, many of them cringed. But the weather is nowhere near as bad as people think. Just about every city on the northeast part of the US got more snow that we have so far this winter. The temperature always hovers around freezing, sometimes above, sometimes below, so snow never stays around long.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The International School of Iceland is very small (10 kids in Grades 2-4 combined) and I have been very happy there.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The international school has been very accommodating of my Class 2 child - there are many English speaking, US educated specialists here of all kinds.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools are subsidized by the government and are everywhere. You will be assigned one depending on where you live, although it's possible to switch to a different one in your neighborhood if you don't like the one your child was designated to attend. I pay less than $200 per month for full day preschool with 2 hot meals and an afternoon snack. The preschool is all in Icelandic, but the teachers usually speak some English and can help your child adjust.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Tons! During the summer there are numerous activities for kids too, since there are many working parents in this country and school is out. Soccer, gymnastics, swimming, horseback riding, tae kwon do, it's all here.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big - there's a Facebook group of Americans living in Iceland and the International School as a decent smattering of various nationalities.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty high. We're in Iceland, after all.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Reykjavik has awesome nightlife. Things don't get started til super late and run into the early morning.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Absolutely. Reykjavik has a wild night life for singles, and lots to do for families.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Gay Pride is one of the biggest festivals of the year, and the Prime Minister is gay, so, yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

There are amazing sights a very short drive from Reykjavik, not to mention the wonderful outdoor swimming pools.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many to name. This is a city where something is always going on - the periodic email that goes out listing "things to do" is many paragraphs long.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Handmade Icelandic wool sweaters.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Reykjavik is a lovely, quaint, clean, and safe city and Iceland has unbelievable scenery. It's like no place else on earth. Breathtakingly beautiful.

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11. Can you save money?

NO.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas that Reykjavik is a horrible frozen wasteland.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit! Outdoor swimming is one of the most popular sports here - there is an almost unlimited supply of super hot water.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

101 Reykjavík

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Independent People
by Halldor Laxness

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Reykjavik, Iceland 07/29/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

5th expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Flights from Iceland to the east coast (Boston and JFK) are short - only about 5 hours. Direct flight from Iceland to Seattle is 8 hours. A seasonal direct flight from Iceland to Orlando is about 9 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years so far.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is a mix of apartments and houses and are standard sizes for Europe. Housing has either two or three bedrooms, usually one full bath and another half bath. If you live downtown you can walk to the embassy (15-20 minute walk depending on where you live).Even in the suburbs the commute is not long - expect about a 15 minute commute at most.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can expect to pay double or triple what you would pay in the US for groceries and goods. This is an isolated island they import most of their goods, and there is a heavy tax on these items. The COLA is essential here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I was happy that I brought a good supply of all my liquids (shampoos, lotions, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.) They don't have a ton of variety in Iceland, and you cannot send these products through the pouch. Stock up on these things and include them in your HHE before you come here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The only American brands currently in Iceland are Subway, KFC and Taco Bell. Expect to pay double what you would pay in the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

This island is blissfully bug-free, apart from some bumble bees and mosquitoes in the summer months.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

This is a pouch only post, and standard pouch restrictions apply. It takes about 2 weeks for incoming mail. For outgoing mail to the US most people use the regular Icelandic postal service, which is completely reliable and MUCH faster than the pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Expensive. You can usually find someone to clean your house once a week. Cost is between $60 - $100 depending on the size of your home. Diplomats can bring live-in help with them.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. The biggest gym chain is called World Class and costs $50/month for a membership.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Icelanders use credit cards for everything. ATMs are widely available in Reykjavik and work just like in the US.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is only one weekly paper available in English, the Reykjavik Grapevine. The other two major dailies are only in Icelandic.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Almost everyone in Iceland speaks perfect English. Some basic Icelandic is always a nice touch and is appreciated by the local community.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Iceland is not a great place for someone with disabilities. In Reykjavik it's not too bad because most of the buildings have wheelchair access ramps, but a lot of the small, older buildings in the downtown shopping area have no ramps, steps, or are too small to accommodate a wheelchair. Public buses and taxis all have wheelchair/disability access. Outside of Reykjavik most of the touristy sites are out in the smack middle of nature and have no special access for those with disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local buses in Reykjavik are safe and reliable. Bus fare is about $2 to $3 per trip, depending on where you are going. Taxis are available and widely used in Reykjavik, though they are pricey.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You do not need a 4 wheel drive vehicle for Iceland. An SUV is nice for when you want to travel outside Reykjavik, just to have more room. Off roading is not really allowed in the country, so you will have to stick to the paved (or dirt roads) in the country. Highway 1 (called the ring road) goes around the entire island and is a popular vacation route.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, very good interet available. You will pay between $60-$80/month for your internet package.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

If you work at the embassy you will get a cell phone, though you must pay for personal calls.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, a 4-week quarantine must be arranged before the pet is allowed in country, at your expense.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not unless you speak Icelandic. EFM jobs are hard to come by here - there are very few EFM positions at the Embassy and finding work on the local economy is difficult if you don't speak Icelandic.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Pretty much the same as in the US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. Iceland is extremely safe, though there is the occasional pickpocket or house break-in.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No special health concerns. Medical care is excellent. Iceland has a national healthcare system. Embassy employees typically pay the healthcare provider up front and then apply for reimbursement from the insurance company.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is excellent, especially when the wind is blowing that clean air down from the north pole. My lungs have never been happier.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Iceland does not have extremes like you see in the northeastern US.Winter temperatures generally stay between 20F-30F and summer days are somewhere between 55F-60F.It's the light (or lack thereof) that is more troubling to many people. December and January are the darkest months of the year - you have daylight from about 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Late May through end of July the sun never really sets at all. March/early May and August/September are the equinoxes where there are equal amounts of light and day, similar to what you see in the US at that time of year. Winters tend to be rainy. snowy and extremely windy. Summers are warm (never hot) and pleasant.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I don't have kids, but there is only one English speaking school, but only for kids up to about 12 years of age. This is not a good post for high school age children because there is no international school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools and daycare (called kindergarten locally) are widely available. All Icelandic kids start going to "kindgergarten" at about 2 years of age. These are generally Icelandic speaking only.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's a small but good group. The various Embassy communities around town do a lot of things together.

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of dinner parties and game nights are the norm. There are also malls, movie theaters, restaurants and bars/clubs.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it is a good post for anyone who is outgoing and willing to make an effort to make friends. Reykjavik is a small city, but has lots of restaurants and bars despite its small size, but you have to be willing to go out and explore.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, Reykjavik has an active gay community and is fairly liberal about gay rights.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. The predominant religion is Lutheran, but there are a few Catholic churches around as well.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling in the countryside of Iceland is always interesting. Midnight boat trips in midsummer when the sun never sets; road trips to northern Iceland with some of the most interesting scenery I have ever seen.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Traveling around Iceland, seeing volcanos, horse back riding, geothermal swimming pools and hot tubs. There are a number of nice restaurants and bars in Reykjavik, though it is expensive.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Icelandic wool sweaters and gas costs for traveling around the ring road.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Iceland is a unique, beautiful country with lots to see and do. It is clean and by far one of the safest places on the planet.

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11. Can you save money?

I think singles and couples without kids can save money. Families probably not. Everything here is two to three times what you would pay in the US.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Shorts and sandals! There are only a few weeks out of the year when you will see people in shorts and summer footwear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Swimsuit. You'll need it all year long for the geothermally heated swimming pools and hot pots.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Halldor Laxness books - Independent People and Under the Glacier.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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