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How We Are Able to Live and Work in Iceland

First of all, let me say I love hearing from you guys! Whether it’s an email, social media message, or commenting on a post, it’s SO fun to hear from the readers! One of the most common questions I get is wondering about how we moved to Iceland. So today I’m going to tell you all about how we are able to live and work in Iceland!

Those of you that have been hanging out here for a while know that we first came to Iceland on our honeymoon.

Loved every minute of it. Couldn’t stop thinking about Iceland after we returned. Wondered how we could move there. If you’ve been to Iceland, you are familiar with this timeline.

This post is long and wordy, it doesn’t have a lot of pictures, and it won’t help someone solve a problem. But it is the actual story of what happened leading up to our move to Iceland.

Maybe someday I can write a post about “how to move to Iceland” or all the steps/documents that go into the process. But this post was for ME. For US to look back on someday and relive with tears of happiness. To remember everything that went into it, and how we wouldn’t change a single thing.

This is the story of how we were able to move to Iceland.

September 2014

It was our honeymoon/1 year anniversary trip, our spirits were high, and we had a one-week road trip planned around Iceland’s beautiful Ring Road.

The first half of the trip was a standard Iceland tour – we had driven the Golden Circle and the South coast all the way to the Glacier Lagoon. The weather was cold and rainy the whole time, but we were still amazed at the vast landscape and gorgeous nature. Everywhere we looked there seemed to be something different, every turn was more beautiful than the last. It was the perfect escape from Houston, where we were living at the time. Iceland gave me what my soul was craving – raw astounding beauty.

When we arrived in Húsavík, we couldn’t believe what an adorable little fishing village it was! We decided to open a bottle of wine before heading to dinner. (Side note, this was the first day of sunshine on the trip, making us fall in love with Iceland even more!) So here we are in this adorable apartment, overlooking the mountains and the ocean, watching an incredible sunset.

We start talking about how wonderful our trip has been so far, and how different Iceland is from our life in the States. I say “isn’t it amazing that people LIVE here?! That someone gets to wake up to views like this every day?!”

And that is when the Bobby thought train starts.

He says “we’ve always talked about living abroad, what if we moved to Iceland? Even if it’s just for a year or two…before we buy a house, open a business, and have kids.”

And I, as I’m pouring my second glass of wine, quickly respond “yeah, why not, we could do that!”

The rest of the story is basically a whirlwind sprint to the day we moved.

Iceland honeymoon | Life With a View

Our honeymoon ends and we go back to our normal life in Texas. I’m working on writing a business plan to start our own clinic and get us out of Texas ASAP. Meanwhile, the seed was planted in Bobby’s brain about moving abroad. Once that starts, it’s a slippery slope.

Real quick, there are THREE ways you can move to Iceland (if you’re not in the EU):

  1. Go to college
  2. Marry an Icelander
  3. Get sponsored for a work visa by an established company.

Obviously, the first two were out of the question for us!

October 2014

So Bobby starts by emailing every single Chiropractor in Iceland.

All EIGHT of them!

After a few responses of “No we are not busy enough to hire one of you, much less both”, we begin to realize that the plan to move to Iceland was not looking good.

Feeling defeated we decided to drop it.

Until Bobby came home from work one day with THIS news:

“You will never guess what happened. The last guy emailed me back, and he said we are exactly who he is looking for. He has such a busy clinic that they need to expand and they would love to hire both of us! They want us to start as soon as possible!”

What?!

Can we take a minute to stop and realize how much this sounds like a movie?! If ever there were a time where fate came into play, this was it.

The next step became obvious – fly to Iceland to check out the clinic. And considering it was the middle of the winter (read: cold and extremely dark), to make sure we actually still wanted to move to Iceland!

READ MORE:   New Year, New Travel Goals + survey!

January 2015

We decided that Bobby would go alone.

I sent a huge list of questions that needed to be answered before he returned and/or before I would even consider moving to another country.

I was so nervous. What if it’s not what we expected and we just wasted a bunch of money “checking it out”? OR what if it is exactly what we expected and now we actually have to start going through with all of this and MOVE OUR WHOLE LIFE TO ICELAND?!

I remember I was in Michael’s craft store when Bobby called. I was shopping for craft supplies for the original blog I was going to start – repurposing and crafting (my hobbies at the time). When I got the phone call, I sat down in the fabric aisle and FaceTimed for 30 minutes while he told me every single detail about how it’s perfect for us, how everyone is so nice, how winter is beautiful.

Basically a resounding: yeah, we’re gonna do this.

All stress and anxiety aside (believe me, they were very high on my end!), every single sign seemed to point us to Iceland. And at this point, it would have been absurd to ignore it.

February 2015

Start the long and exhausting paperwork process.
Make multiple trips to FedEx to expedite paperwork each time immigration asks for another damned document.
Bi-weekly Skype sessions with our boss clearing up every question I had remaining in my OCD head.
Recurring meltdowns about our life changing so drastically and not knowing what it would be like on the other side.
Periods of elation as I realize that we might actually get to live in the most beautiful place on earth.
(Notice a theme here?! I was an emotional disaster!)

June 2015

Paperwork started to be accepted.
Realized that this was actually going to go through.
Started selling everything we owned.

July 2015

Losing mind because there is SO much to think about when you’re moving abroad!
Stress.
Waking up at 3am because there’s too much to do.
Call mom crying.

August 2015

Board flight with one-way ticket and couple of suitcases.

Takeaway Points

  • It’s actually pretty tough to move to Iceland.
  • This might seem like everything worked out perfectly, but I believe that we were literally in the right place at the right time.
  • Our job (Chiropractic) is in high demand in Iceland, making us highly eligible for employment. If we were trying to get a work visa to work at the supermarket, for example, this would not have been possible.
  • If you want something bad enough, keep trying and find a way until it works out!

Present Day

As you can see, I wasn’t always 100% on board with the Iceland move. I’m a planner and I stress about all the things that could go wrong. There were so many unknown things about moving abroad that scared the shit out of me, and made me doubt our life-changing move.

Bobby was the driving factor in this pursuit. I still thank him all the time for giving me courage. We joke now that if Bobby wants to leave Iceland he will be leaving alone! But seriously, I couldn’t imagine our life any different, without Iceland in it.

We fell in love with Iceland from the minute we stepped off the plane. After a week of traveling, we were already planning when we could come back. I felt a deep connection with this country that is hard to put into words. Maybe it’s the perseverance of the viking heritage. Maybe it’s the dedication to sustainable energy. Maybe it’s the purely stunning and untouched nature. Maybe it’s just a perfect combination of it all.

Everything that happened up to this point in my life has lead me here. To me, Iceland was always meant to be.


Question: Is there a place you loved so much that you would consider moving to?

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Dad
    August 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Great story Jeannie and well written, looking forward to our visit, see you in a few weeks
    I Love you :):). Dad

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Thanks dad, love you so much can’t wait to see you soon! xo

  • Dad
    August 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I love you Jeannie, say hi to B-bo, Riles, Riley LOL :):)
    Dad

  • Jac
    August 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I stumbled across your blog almost by accident, and this is just beautiful. I am so happy that it worked out for you and I am falling in love with Iceland more and more just reading about it!

    • Jeannie
      September 8, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Aww, thank you so much for your sweet comment Jac! It was fun to share this story, it is such a magical part of our lives! I feel so lucky to be able to live in a place that I love so much 🙂

  • Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow
    September 6, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Awesome story! And this is the type of story I find inspiring because it’s hard work that got you in that position – just like my husband finding work in Fiji and that’s what allowed us to move over here. We won’t be here forever but it’s an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

    • Jeannie
      September 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      You got it, Juliette. Everything happens for a reason, right?! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Mike Romano
    September 26, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Awesome story and great blog. I’m sure Iceland has changed somewhat in the almost 30 years since we left, but it was a beautiful country with awesome people then as well. My dad was in the U.S. Navy, and he was stationed there back when Reagan was president and Germany was two countries.

    I was a little heartbroken the day we left Iceland. We had our layover in Philly and ended our voyage in Norfolk. There was plenty of uncertainty swirling about in my preteen head. Would this be the same Virginia we had left two and a half years earlier? Would the United States still be the same great country? Certainly, it wasn’t long before I was able to undoubtedly answer those questions. However, I spent many nights dreaming of returning to Iceland.

    Many years have passed, and I still recall fond memories of the land of fire and ice. I wrote a few research papers on Iceland while in college. Each professor congratulating me on enlightening them onto things they didn’t already know about Iceland. One, a German maritime historian, was even considered an expert on Iceland. His accent was difficult to navigate at times, but he was genuinely intrigued by my scholarship in taking on such a foreign topic – Icelandic sovereignty.

    While I doubt I’ll ever be able to live there, I long to return for a visit. My wife doesn’t like rain. I hope to visit the former Naval Air Station Keflavik, Blue Lagoon (which was a free roadside delight when we lived there), Thingvellir, Hofdi House, the sod houses, the great Lutheran churches, and of course, the friendliest people I have ever met.

    God bless and good luck to you and your husband as you continue to follow your dreams in the North Atlantic!

    Cheers,
    Mike

    • Jeannie
      October 11, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Mike, what an amazing story thank you for sharing! I hope you get to make a return visit to Iceland – it surely has changed a lot since you were here but you will love it just the same! If I can ever be of help in planning your trip, don’t hesitate to let me know 🙂

      • Mike
        October 16, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        Jeannie, you are quite welcome. I will certainly take you up on your offer of assistance if/when I book travel plans to Iceland.

  • Stephanie
    October 17, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I know exactly what you mean! That you felt a deep connection to the country that is hard to put into words. I felt the exact same thing when I made my dream trip to Iceland a reality in June 2009, as a 23 year old adventurer. I spent 16 glorious days exploring the island solo, completely captivated by the land, its culture and its people. I told myself that I had to return and imagined myself living there some day. Stumbling across your blog after stumbling upon your friend’s unlockingKiki, I am relieved and reassured to know that it IS possible to move there.
    I have longed to return. After completing a psychology degree in the neighbouring province of Québec, Canada (I’m from Ontario) and moving to the city – Montréal and struggling for a year to embrace city living (I’m from a much smaller city), struggling to create the quality of life I crave, feel like I belong and find work that is fulfilling & provides financial security, I found myself revisiting the idea of moving to Iceland. All these years later, the island still resonates with me. That’s when I came across your blog today. You’ve described the kind of reality I am seeking, living in a place surrounded by such “raw, astounding nature” and satisfying your soul. Doing it alone would be incredibly difficult, but as you said, if you want something badly enough, you will find a way! Thank you, Jeannie for sharing your journey to my favourite place on earth and inspiring me to believe it can become my reality too : )

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      OMG Stephanie, this brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for saying hello and sharing your story with me. I absolutely believe that if it’s meant to be you will find a way, so keep trying girl! And if you do, let me know when you arrive 🙂

  • Hanri at My World as a Post
    October 18, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Jeannie, this is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. The last paragraph about how you just fell in love with Iceland, is exactly how I feel and I haven’t even been there! I have been planning my travels to Iceland for a few years now and absolutely obsessed with everything Iceland. I hope my expectations will be met. Keep up the good work on your blog.

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Hey, thank you so much for your nice comment! I believe that Iceland will live up to your expectations, there is just too much beauty to go around! When is your trip?

      • Hanri
        December 21, 2016 at 4:28 am

        Hey Jeannie, my trip is planned for September 2017.

    • Stephanie
      December 3, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      You’re very welcome, Jeannie! Your reply brought a huge smile to my face : ) I totally believe the same – if it’s meant to be, I will find a way! So if it does come to pass, I shall be dropping you a line ; )

  • Dori
    October 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Loved reading about your experience. Though it makes me hopeful that I, too, can have a seamless transition when I finally get to move there, it’s making me wish that medical recruitment were an in-demand career there! So glad I found your blog!

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks, Dori! The medical field is actually one that is in high demand. Hope it works out for you. Thanks for following along 🙂

  • Alfonso Edward
    November 6, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Hello Jeanne I must say this is a lovely story have read for a long time. I would love to come to Iceland but I will need your assistance on how to go about it. This is my email address alfonsoibim@gmail.com please do contact me. Thanks and God bless you.

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Hey Alfonso, so glad you liked our story! I will help as much as I can, sending you an email now.

  • Dave
    November 29, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Hello,
    I am an Australian who just finished my chiropractic degree a month ago and would love to work in Iceland. Can you please tell me if you had to complete any additional board exams or extra requirement to start working as a chiropractor in Iceland?
    Also I am in the process of obtaining my Italian passport which will be very handy 🙂

    Thanks
    Dave

  • Michael & Jadian Mack
    January 24, 2017 at 3:58 am

    We were just thinking about you guys so we typed Bobby Riley and Iceland on Google and this came up! Fantastic read! Hope all is well!!!

    • Jeannie
      February 6, 2017 at 11:38 am

      How funny that is how you found us! Thanks for saying hello 🙂 We are doing well and loving life in Iceland. Hope you guys are doing well!

  • Sara Pohjola
    January 24, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Hi Jeannie!
    I stumbled across your blog because I am a chiropractor exploring my options to practice in Scandinavia! I would love to chat with you about practicing there and if you know of anyone looking for an associate!
    Hope to hear from you!
    Sara

    • Jeannie
      February 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Hey Sara! This might be best to talk about through email – send me a message and I’ll let you know my thoughts!

  • Danielle
    January 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Wish I had a transferable skill, even in the EU (which thanks to bloody Brexit will make it more difficult if I wanted to move there) I don’t think I can just wander over there 🙁

    sigh. why don’t they need obsessive geeks (but not clever techy ones) who update council websites? 😀

  • Leigh | Campfires & Concierges
    March 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    What an amazing story! I have a 24 hour layover in Reykjavik this summer and I already know it won’t be nearly enough…

    • Jeannie
      March 7, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Thanks for reading our story, Leigh! Omg 24 hours is definitely not enough, just start planning your return trip right now 😉