I could go on and on and on and on and ON about how much I love Iceland and all the good things about living here. I actually have written about the things I LOVE about living in Iceland on two separate occasions.
But let’s be honest. It’s not all sunshine and flowers.
Here are the six worst things about living in Iceland.
Iceland is outrageously expensive
Let’s just state the obvious one.
I believe Iceland just passed Switzerland for most expensive country in the world.
This is terrible news for me and great news for I don’t know who.
What’s more expensive? Food, clothing, fuel, personal care items, furniture. These things can easily be two to three times as expensive as US prices.
If you’ve been to Iceland you know what I mean. If you’re still planning your trip – put aside some extra spending money!
I mean. It’s an island in the middle of the Northern Atlantic. Iceland has to import and tax everything.
Even if I order something online – I have to pay an import tax. My mom wants to send me a birthday gift? Taxed. Sometimes the tax on the item is almost as much as the item itself! It’s madness.
Ok I can’t say everything. There are two things I can think of that are cheaper – energy and cell phone plans.
The positive side of this: I shop less. I own less. I only spend money on the things that I need.
Stores are never open
Funny story. One weekend we needed to go to the mall. It was Sunday. We arrived around 11:30. The mall does not open until 1:00pm on Sundays. ONE O’CLOCK! I mean I love the whole work-life balance thing, but I was kind of surprised about this.
The hours at one of the main grocery stores are 11-6. At six pm they are closed!
And holidays like Easter, and New Year’s Day. Good luck finding a grocery store, gas station, or restaurant open!
The positive side of this: I plan ahead and appreciate that people are happy because they get nights and holidays to spend with their loved ones.
Vegetables are pretty tough to find here. Iceland does a good job about growing what they can in greenhouses, but this is limited to tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs. Anything else has to be imported. I am so tired of broccoli. I would do anything for fresh asparagus and green beans!
Berries? Don’t even think about it – waaaay too expensive.
Spices can be limited as well.
Do not even get me started on cheese. Being a Wisconsin girl, my cheese palette is very diverse. Iceland makes ONE kind of cheese – gouda. There are few other options – feta and mozzarella…but a good cheddar? Aged cheese? Pepper? Nope.
The positive side of this: I know exactly what I’m getting at the grocery store. No wandering around checking out new products. I’m actually quite overwhelmed with the selection in grocery stores when I return to the States. Why are there two HUGE isles for soda?!
Sidewalk and road maintenance
I have to say I am downright appalled at the road and sidewalk maintenance in icy and snowy weather. With the weather changing from rain to snow to ice every other day, I would imagine it’s tough to keep up with.
And I hear of people slipping and breaking bones all the time here! In public parking lots! If that happens in the US, the business would be sued immediately. I’ve never seen places salting or sanding a slippery walkway. I just see Icelanders walking very slowly and carefully and occasionally slipping on their butts.
Outside of Reykjavik it gets even worse. I experienced the worst road conditions in my life last winter. It was terrifying, please learn from my mistakes.
Dear Icelanders, please sand the sidewalks when they are covered and ice! Takk.
The positive side of this: I walk and drive more carefully. I use yak trax to walk into work and I have studded tires on my car in the winter. So, essentially Iceland has taught me more responsibility and personal safety.
I mean, it’s Iceland. You don’t come to Iceland expecting warm temps and sunshine.
But what gets me isn’t the cold, or the snow, or even the long dark winter days or the 24 hour sunlight in summer. It’s the wind + rain combo. And even worse, the wind + rain combo in the winter.
It would be nice if we could get some “summer” days. Again, I’m not asking for 80 degrees F here. I’m talking 60 with sunshine – let’s go hiking and enjoy nature. Instead I have to pack for all 4 seasons no matter what time of year it is.
And when it’s winter I want snow! No this cold enough to snow for two days, and then it rains for the next 2 weeks. Gross. No.
Growing up in the midwest, I really do miss the four seasons. Iceland pretty much only has winter and “winter lite”. The gray rainy days allllll throughout summer just don’t give quite enough break from winter proper.
The positive side of this: I don’t complain about the weather as much. I just have good quality outdoor gear instead. I can either sit in side in the most beautiful country on Earth, or get out there and maybe get a little wet.
I realize the irony of saying this, coming from an Iceland travel blog heavily promoting tourism.
BUT. Hear me out.
I know tourism really helped turn the economy around after the 2008 collapse. I know Iceland is the most beautiful country in the world and people deserve to see it! I’m just not sure the government is doing all they can to control the excessive influx of tourists.
Tourism just surpassed fishing as the number one industry in Iceland. SURPASSED FISHING! Iceland’s claim to fame main source of income since the beginning of Iceland!
For a country of 320,000 people, having 6.8 MILLION foreigners running around your lands is quite the difference from 10 years ago.
Also, accommodation during peak season books out far in advance. (Book those places early people!) This makes it tough for locals traveling.
And the prices increase for tourists, but locals don’t get a break at all.
Not to mention the sights. I personally don’t travel to the main spots during summer – it’s just too crowded!
Lastly, I think *SOME* tourists can be incredibly disrespectful. I just did a whole live video last week in my Facebook group about safety and responsibility while traveling in Iceland.
The number of stories of tourists getting injured in Iceland is increasing every year. I want to make sure all of my readers are aware of the dangers you can encounter, and how important it is to respect the delicate nature!
I want you to return from your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland in one piece and with great memories.
Be smart, people!
The positive side of this: I get to meet awesome people like YOU and help plan awesome (and SAFE!) trips to Iceland!
Living in a country that is six hours ahead of my family and friends makes staying in touch just a liiiiittle bit harder.
The positive side of this: I get my work done in the mornings without distractions!
Question: Did you have a gripe about Iceland during your stay?