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Saving money in America vs. Iceland?

I'm almost 16 and live in the U.S.

I've been saving for a home since January. I'm positive I want an earth sheltered home. Iceland seems to be a very "green" (economically/environmentally) country and I'm interested in moving there at around 21. I've made a plan in saving my money to get me to the amount necessary to buy a home at age 20. However, I believe I read America's currency is worth 1/3 of Iceland's currency, which would be a big financial setback.

Should I just stay and get a earth sheltered home in America?

3 Answers

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  • ?
    Lv 6
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    FYI, Iceland is "green" mainly through chance, not because of an ecological-minded nature of its citizenry. Some things that might help break you of the "Icelanders are all eco-friendly" notion: the fleet mpg average in Iceland is almost as bad as that in the US, it's very hard to recycle here, people laugh or get frustrated if you go around turning off lights or are constantly shutting off and turning back on the water, the largest dam in Europe is in Iceland (built in the middle of what was formerly the largest unspoiled wilderness in Iceland), with all of the power used for heavy industry, and on and on.

    Iceland was blessed with energy resources in ridiculous abundance: tremendous geothermal heat under the ground pretty much everywhere (but especially in some places), to the point where a quarter of Reykjavík's hot water comes from wells right downtown, mixed in with the buildings. Huge forces of running water. Tremendous winds (but the other power is so cheap they're almost completely unharnessed). Big waves and tides (same situation), and so forth. And with a rather large island (about the size of Kentucky), there's only 320,000 people, so there's just a *lot* of wilderness per person and a *lot* of energy. Iceland has the world's highest liquid freshwater resources per capita, too. Again, nothing to do do with the attitudes, just coincidence of nature.

    Not that Icelandic attitudes are in general *bad*. Kárahnjúkar really seems to have galvanized people here to pay more attention and try harder to derail environmentally-sensitive projects. But I just don't want you thinking that this is some colony of environmental hippies. :) Yes, 90% of homes are fed with geothermal hot water (almost as cheap as cold). Yes, well over 99% of the power is low to no CO2. Yes, the water is super-fresh, there's almost no air pollution (oft are the days that you can see Snæfell clearly all the way from Reykjavík and Keflavík, ~150km away), the livestock is generally free-range, there's little fertilizer or pesticide use, etc. But these are generally simply due to Iceland being blessed with natural abundances, combined with a low population.

    I don't know what you mean by "green economically", so I won't comment on that.

    As for the currency: There's currently 130 icelandic krónur to the US dollar, so it's sort of like a weak penny. As a general rule, things here are more expensive, although honestly, not as much as you'd think given all the complaining. It really varies depending on what you're talking about.

    * Home prices and rent are "big city US" prices, but not New York or coastal SoCal prices. My rent plus utilities in Kópavogur on a third of a house (I have perhaps 750 square feet) is about $1000. A moderate quality 1500 square foot house in the "suburbs" in the capitol region but not near downtown will probably run you $250k.

    * Salaries here are a bit lower than in the US and taxes are higher. Of course, you get more out of it, too, like health insurance and awesome benefits (parental leave for having a child, for example, is as much as 9 months paid and 9 months unpaid between the two parents. My favorite "little thing" is that if I get sick while on vacation, it doesn't count as vacation).

    * Food is in general more expensive. Mainly fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, dairy is cheaper than in the US (and of *excellent* quality... in fact, most of the food here, excepting fruits and vegetables, is outstanding).

    * Utilities are pretty cheap. For example, power is ~$0.06/kWh. On the other hand, gas is expensive - over $7.50 a gallon, last time I did the conversion from kr/l. Driving is in general expensive - lots of requirements, high taxes on cars, etc. Lots of people bike, although not as many as in, say, Denmark.

    * Clothes, electronics, etc tend to be pretty expensive, as much as twice what you might pay elsewhere.

    * Customs works very hard to prevent you from buying stuff outside the country and bringing them into the country without paying taxes on them. ;)

    One thing you didn't mention but which needs to be said: you can't just come over here. Well, you can as a tourist, but not to live. You have to first find a job, the company has to prove that they can't find someone with your skillset in 1)Iceland, then 2)any other nordic country, then 3)in the EEA, before they're allowed to bring you. The paperwork takes many months. The company has to pay for health insurance and possibly rent for you during this time. And all sorts of other hassles. Basically, they have to *really* want you, so you better get an in-demand education. :) In general, the technical fields are your best bet. The worst would be arts/music/literature/etc, as Iceland is flush with artists/musicians/authors/etc. It's an immensely creative culture.

    Source(s): As for your "big financial setback" comment: don't come here if you want to get rich. Come here if you love the country. You won't get rich here (útrásarvíkingar excepted ;) ), but you'll have lots of opportunity to enjoy life. To me, I wouldn't leave this country for anything. I recommend you come here some time, spend a couple weeks here, and then decide. Also, if you have any consideration of moving here at any point in time, I recommend you start studying Icelandic -- the sooner, the better. Oh, don't get me wrong - everyone here speaks perfect English, for the most part (young children excepted). But they speak Icelandic with *each other*, so if you ever want to fit in, you need to learn it. I came to Iceland from the US first as a tourist, but fell so in love with this beautiful place that I found a job and moved here.
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I think I understand your question. Other than being born and raised in America I've been to and lived in only one other country: Germany. If you're asking whether USA is better than Germany, that's a pretty relative term. I found it pretty odd that much of the society was preoccupied with American music and American tv shows, not to mention movies. It also seemed like the grocery stores offered less selection. These are minimal differences, it's not like Germany's still coming right out of world war ii and things are horrible on the ground there... I'm just saying that there are subtle differences an American would notice going there. Every German I've met in the states has expressed a level of comfort and appreciation for the amenities available to them in the states as well... I don't think that can be taken as a statement of American superiority. Germany is way cooler in other aspects (great mass trans system for example). If you want to compare England to Germany... meh... London's about the most dangerous place in the Western world right now, isn't it. So, I guess that's all I can say when it comes to that.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    If you plan on moving anywhere in Europe, acknowledge that you'll be paying more. I agree with what Anonymous said. Go out, see the world, see what your passion is. Don't make a decision to live in a country you've never even BEEN to.

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