It's a big decision to start a new life in another country. Relocation means new habits and customs, new language, a different culture and general uncertainty, and these changes will not be avoided. But Iceland has great advantages that are difficult to find in other countries.
Iceland is the safest country in the world, but the country tops international list that measures peace and security. According to the Global Peace Index crime rates are low, quality of life significant, effective prevention and low social and economic inequality. Iceland is a non-military country and the police do not carry weapons. Iceland is a standout country when it comes to peace and security.
Icelanders do not have a very formal or authoritarian workplace culture. Workplace communication is open and accessible. Everyone is addressed by their first name, no matter where you are in the organization chart. It is easy to form a social connection here, as the population is around 360,000. It's easy to connect with the right people and it's very likely that someone you work with knows who you need to connect with. Meeting culture in Iceland is relaxed and usually rather informal.
Iceland has been a leading country in terms of gender equality since 2009. Unexplained wage difference is only at 4.5% and most large companies have introduced Equal Pay Certification to increase the transparency of wage structure within companies. Equal Pay Certification ensures that companies pay the same wages for the same work, regardless of gender. Maternity leave is an equality issue in Iceland and both parents get 3 months at home with a child and in addition another 3 months that parents can share. After maternity leave, children can enter pre-school until primary school.
Social welfare is important in Iceland and is structured on the Nordic model of co-operation between employers, trade unions and the governmet. These parties work for reforms for workers, such as security, wages and the general welfare of workers. Cooperation such as this encourages politicians and institutions to work together and seek reconciliation to solve challenges and build trust.
Icelanders are concerned about a good social and family life and therefore a good balance between work and private life. Icelandic companies are family-friendly and in general there is an acceptance that employees need to take care of dental appointments, haircuts or work around children's needs. Holidays are long and there are many red days in the public calendar. The average working week for Icelanders is 40 hours with lunch and coffee breaks.
Iceland is at the forefront when it comes to innovation and the results are remarkable. Many things come into play here, the government has seen the value in creating good environment for entrepreneurs. The government has secured reimbursement of research and development costs by increasing both the percentage and the maximum cost that a company can be reimbursed. The location of the country and the fact that Iceland is an island may push the community into a creative thinking, the winter is long and there are many opportunities for inspiration from the amazing nature. Icelandic start-up companies have flourished and have many unique solutions to meet the needs of companies worldwide.
Iceland's nature is probably what all Icelanders agree is the best thing about the country. Wherever you are in Iceland it is close to the sea or mountains. It only takes a few minutes to drive from the center of Reykjavík to the nearest natural wonder. The country has countless opportunities for excursions with a diverse selection of hiking and biking, horseback riding and golf courses. A long working day is easy to leave behind by disappearing into the Icelandic nature.
Small community makes distance short and simple communication system. Everyone here knows everyone. Icelanders complain if their commute to work is more than 30 minutes, so rush hour is nothing compared to a large part of the world. In the vicinity of Reykjavík, public transport is frequent and many people choose to cycle to work.
Tax rebate for foreign experts
In Iceland, there is a tax deduction for foreign specialists who are hired to work in this country due to their expertise and experience. If the specialist meets the conditions, only 75% of their income is subject to income tax for three years from employment. The expert must have knowledge or experience that does not exist in this country or only to a small extent and he needs to work in the field of research, development and / or innovation. There is a plan to greatly improve these tax incentives during this term.
Health care and education
Foreign workers who come to Iceland become part of the health insurance system after living here for six months. Payments are no more than ISK 25,000 for health services in one month, and reduces to ISK 4,183 later on. These services include physiotherapy, medical visits, treatment of long-term illnesses, scans and hospital stays. Pregnancy examinations in Iceland are free. Education in Iceland is affordable and very good. The schools themselves are free, primary to secondary school.
Freedom of religion
Iceland is a land of freedom and people of all religions are not only tolerated but accepted and embrased. The constitution is quite clear in this regard, which states that no one may lose any civil or national rights for the sake of their religion, nor can anyone for that reason be deprived of public citizenship. Everyone is free to stand outside of religion. No one is obligated to pay any dues to a religious organization.
Iceland is a leader in sustainable energy and is powered by almost 100% of hydropower and geothermal energy. Green energy and low-polluting industry have made Iceland's water, soil and environment incredibly unspoiled. A diet rich in fish, clean air and water, has helped Icelanders reach an average life expectancy of 83 years. Electricity, hot water, cold water all have a natural origin. Most of the electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants; hot water comes from geothermal heat and cold water usually originates in glacial areas. The country is very environmental friendly and thanks to that, Iceland is one of the leading countries in sustainability.