Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


An American in Reykjavik: Mo' Krona Mo' Problems

By Matt Eliason

  • The Icelandic Krona is prone to fluctuation and has increased to a current US dollar exchange rate of $1 USD to 114 Krona after being $1 USD to 56 Krona at one point in 2007 - before the Economic crash. Photo/Valli 

As a naive American, looking through the shops in downtown Reykjavik, I was shocked to see the prices of clothes, food, and alcohol! I kept checking my phone currency calculator to make sure I understood the prices correctly. With everyday items at such astronomical prices, it’s no wonder there are worker strikes every other week here in Iceland, as the cost of living makes raising a family a financially draining task. Since arriving in Iceland the air mechanics, pilots, flight attendants, high school teachers, and kindergarten teachers have all gone on strike – all in a 2 month span.

One benefit of living in the mass market of the USA is that bulk pricing and heavy competition help drive the prices of everyday items down to more reasonable levels. Additionally, there is a wide array of shopping options available for all income levels. After experiencing the prices here in Reykjavik, I will never complain about any prices found in my native Chicago ever again. In fact, the only day-to-day expense that I have discovered to be cheaper in Iceland is the heating costs. Due to the surplus of geothermal energy that the land naturally emits, the average heating bill in Iceland is much more reasonable. However, the cheap heat hardly makes up for the high cost of living that Icelanders must endure.

As a result of the significant cost disparities among the day-to-day items I took for granted in the States, I thought it would be interesting to compare the prices between Chicago and Reykjavik. Some of the similar goods I found for sale in Chicago versus Reykjavik revealed significant disparities in price that confirmed the obvious. Since tax is already included in Icelandic retail prices, I have also included tax costs for the American goods in order to create an equal comparison.

Currency Rate between USD (US Dollars) and ISK (Icelandic Krona)

$1 USD - 114 ISK

USD - US Dollars

ISK - Icelandic Krona



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