Differences in living South-Eastern Europe vs Nordic Countries

If you move from a different country to a new one, you will always see the differences. Sometimes good things will surprise you, but also sometimes you will have unpleasant experiences. As nothing is perfect, we just need to appreciate what we get the place we are.

I moved for the first time out of Romania in 2015 and mostly everything was different in Iceland. As the years have passed, I can understand better what is different and why and of course, see the good part, but don’t forget the disadvantages.

First main difference would be the climate. In Romania there are supposed to have four seasons, very well delimited. Nowadays, it is not as well separated as few years ago, but you still have very hot summers and cold winters. In Iceland you get two seasons: winter and bad winter. The summer is not very warm, we’d get maximum 16 degrees C in the capital. Winter does not bring very low temperatures, but it comes with strong wind and lots of ice, which intensify the cold.

The enviroment itself is opposite. If in Iceland you’ll feel that you just landed on the moon, in Romania you’ll feel that no matter where you look you’ll find more and more nature miracles. What these two countries have in common is the very good water and air outside of the big cities. You can completly disconnect from the smog in the cities.

If you ask a Romanian what do we miss the most when we go abroad it is the FOOD. The food at home is absolutely delicious and I am not reffering to the dishes itselves, but to the primary products and ingredients. The enviroment and the nature allows you to grow your own vegetables and fruits, to have your own little farm. In Iceland the food is amazing when you go to restaurants, but for long-term eating habit, it is not the healthiest, especially when it comes to vegetables and fruits.

When it comes to the professional life, Iceland will offer you more oportunities in tourism, which is a very dynamic industry. The salaries are way bigger than in my homecountry, but as a worker in tourism, you’ll get the minimum wage or very little above the limit. In Romania, you’ll have more oportunities in IT or computer sience in general and as well as in sales.

Social life in Iceland varies from person to person. However, I can point out easily that you’ll be integrated easier in Romania as people are very open and willing to be on your side no matter when you need anything. In Iceland, you’re more on your own and I’d say it is harder to find at each step people that will open their arms to you.

In Iceland it is pretty hard to have pets, which is breaking animal-lovers’ hearts. The most common pet in Iceland is the cat because it would be way easier to keep than a dog. When it comes to dogs, it’s very hard to rent a place and you’ll need approval from the people in the building. Also, I have to say you don’t have many options for dog parks. Back at home I’d see people walking with their dogs all the time and they enjoy a lot having a fur-friend.

In Iceland everything is clear and simple with administrative issues (documents, payments and institutions in general). The process for getting your taxes reported or making some payments is absolutely easy. Everything can be done online and even if you want to fix these things in person, you’ll finish very quickly. In Romania you’d need to take a day or to fix administrative issues, which is always a pain.

The health system is way better at home. If I have a job or I am a student in Romania, I’ll get the medical services mostly for free no matter if it’s an emergency or not. Of course, if you want to use the private sector, you’ll pay lots of money. In Iceland, even if you are paying monthly to the health department, when you need to see a doctor it’s a lot of money and it is very difficult to get an appointment. Even if Romanians would complain that the health system is not properly working, I’d say I can easily find good doctors with willing to treat you and you’ll pay nothing or very little.

Finding a place to rent in Reykjavik is almost impossible and if you ever think about moving in the capital area, be prepared to face some major issues regarding the housing. I never thought about this back at home, where you complain maybe that you don’t get exactly what you want, but in Reykavik you barely find a place to live and of course, it will ruin your pocket.