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Your guide to buying property in Iceland

Marion Pfeffer
Marketing Manager at RE/MAX Europe

Ready to experience the unique charm of Iceland and buy property in this land of glaciers, stunning natural landscapes and vibrant culture? Here are the key steps to consider as you plan your move!

On the ridge between two tectonic plates, Iceland is a place where old meets new and ice meets fire. Known for its incredible glaciers, black sand beaches and volcanoes, Iceland has enough natural diversity to keep you intrigued for a lifetime. On top of that, with its top-notch education and healthcare systems, welcoming locals and the reputation as one of the safest countries in the world, it’s no wonder why so many visitors want to call it their home! Whether you’re already in love with this amazing country, or if you still need convincing, read on to find out how you can make your new life a reality!

What makes iceland an appealing place to buy?

It’s easy to be struck by the incredible landscape and quality of life in Iceland, but how do you know if it’s the right place to put down roots? There are many opportunities in the Icelandic housing market, especially if you’re hoping to invest in the country’s future. Iceland has a small population for its size, but urban development is steadily increasing. You can find the eclectic architecture of old family-built homes next to modern and innovative new builds, all designed to be harmonious with the majestic scenery. Iceland takes preserving the environment very seriously, paving the way in renewable resources by powering almost everything with hydroelectric and geothermal energy.

Whether you decide to live in Reykjavik, or in such an extreme environment as the Westfjords, you’ll never feel out of nature’s grip. Because living in Iceland requires being closely in tune with the elements, life here goes at its own pace. Though Iceland has a temperate climate, the seasons are characterized by long, dark winters and unending summer nights, which takes some getting used to. While the winters can be long, they are also a snowy wonderland! It’s a fantastic time to explore ice caves and enjoy the Northern Lights. Whatever you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local RE/MAX agent for invaluable insights into the different regions and neighborhoods.

Getting your paperwork in order

If you’re planning to make Iceland your home, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you can buy property. Luckily for EEA citizens, as long as you are legally domiciled in Iceland, you can purchase real estate in the same way a citizen would. If you are a citizen from a country that is not part of the EEA, you must have a residence permit if you plan to stay for more than three months. Another important document you’ll need is the Kennitala, or the Icelandic ID number, which will be needed to find a job, keep a record of your health insurance and taxes – and to buy your new home! If you are not yet domiciled or not intending to live in Iceland, it may still be possible to buy property with approval from the Ministry of Justice as long as certain conditions are met.

Once you have found the perfect place and your documents are in order, your RE/MAX agent can check there are no charges against the property which you should know about before moving forward with the purchase. They will get the contract ready for both you and the seller to sign once you have agreed on the conditions of the sale. After the contract is signed, the property transfer will be registered at the Magistrate’s Office, finalizing the purchase – and the home is yours! Buying a property can be a complex process, but your local RE/MAX agent can make it much easier and less stressful by guiding you through each step and providing expert advice along the way.

Where should you buy?

Deciding where to buy can be tricky in any case, but Iceland’s geographic variety makes the decision even harder. Reykjavik will probably be your choice if you enjoy city life – in fact, most of the population chooses to live in the city or its surrounding municipalities. Despite being a capital city, Reykjavik still has a small-town charm, characterized by streets lined with quaint cafes and colorful buildings, so the stresses of urban life are never too overwhelming. Step out of the city and you’ll immediately find hot springs to take a dip in or dramatic volcano hiking trails. Reykjavik is more expensive than smaller towns, but the quality of life, culture, food and efficient public transport system make it an incredibly well-rounded city. Once you consider the job opportunities, high salaries and respect given to workers, you might find the higher prices worth it!

That being said, you shouldn’t discount Iceland’s other municipalities as you plan your move! In fact, living in a smaller town on the outskirts of a major city could be a great way to enjoy nature without sacrificing access to important facilities. For example, the industrial port town neighbor of Reykjavik, Hafnarfjörður, is a beautiful and family-friendly town known for its many festivals, including its Viking Festival. The harbor town of Akureyri at the base of Eyjafjörður Fjord in northern Iceland is a great choice if you love outdoor activities. It has many green spaces and opportunities for skiing and fishing.

In contrast, if you want to experience all of the ruggedness Iceland has to offer, you could find a remote home in the Westfjords. Though very sparsely populated, it contains some of the island’s most striking nature and offers a very peaceful way of life close to the Arctic Circle. The best way to decide where to buy is to visit the country and take a few days to explore your favorite destinations – maybe take in some of the scenery or try the local cuisine on the way!

Ultimately, finding the right location and the right home for you comes down to personal preference and priorities. Whether you’re looking for city life, small-town charm or remote wilderness, there is a place for you in Iceland. That’s why it’s important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent who can help you navigate the various options and find the perfect fit for your needs.

Ready for the next step?

Your RE/MAX agent can give you insider knowledge to not only find the perfect location but to make the whole process easy. Whatever the reasons for your move, Iceland has all kinds of homes and opportunities to offer! Soon you could be bathing in hot springs, enjoying a ride on the Icelandic breed of horse or whale watching in the blue waters!

Please Note: While RE/MAX Europe has compiled the information on this page diligently and to the best of its knowledge, RE/MAX Europe does not assume any liability for the accuracy of the information or for any damages resulting from the use of the information.

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