Two weeks in

We’re wrapping up our second week in Iceland. Spoiler-alert, we still like it here.

There’s a list of things we need to do still before we’re officially settled in:

  • Find an apartment for long-term rent
  • Register Leah with immigration
  • Register Wit in school
  • Join some community stuff (pool, etc)

The first thing on the list is the most important one, and the biggest source of stress for me. There’s not a lot of available rental properties in the country and they each have multiple people trying to rent them. This means that landlords don’t need to be in a hurry and they can wait for someone they connect with to come along.

We’ve seen a handful of places in person now, and showed interest in two, but haven’t gotten the agreement on either. In one case there wasn’t much chemistry between us and the owners. With the other apartment we hit it off really well and we thought it was going to happen. Unfortunately that owner was working with a friend that runs a rental service and they had already established an agreement with someone else. The good news is that we made a friend in that owner and he’s asking around with others to help us search.

This weekend we will go see one property, and another on Monday. I really hope we find something and nail it down soon. Once we have an agreement on paper we can get Leah’s process going and tell the shipping company to send the container.

Speaking of the container, we probably have too much stuff. There’s not many places in our price range that exceed 100 square meters, and that doesn’t leave much room for American junk. Bedrooms are really designed for just the bed here too. We’ll be lucky to find a place that can fit our king-sized mattress, but I’m pretty sure we have no hope of fitting Wit’s full-sized bed in his room. The kid rooms are like closets. We’re thinking of getting him a loft twin so he has more room to play in the bedroom. They do home delivery, so that should be pretty easy.

Another change with rental properties here is the appliances. Most rental properties will have a fridge in them (not all), but they usually just provide hookups for washers & dryers, and in many cases dishwashers. The renters are expected to buy their own or move them to their new place. That’s pretty neat. Our new friend says he knows some people and places that can get us good deals once we get to that stage.

Lets you get confused, we haven’t just been sitting around these past two weeks. In addition to the apartment search we’ve also learned to use the bus system quite well, and have purchased a bus pass for the year that Leah and I can share. That makes it very easy to take a quick jaunt here and there. The bus system is very friendly, and the app shows real-time trackers on every bus.

We also got new SIM cards for our phones! This one took over a week because our IDs weren’t showing up in the phone company database. I stopped by the Vodafone store in the mall every couple days to check in, but it took until this past Tuesday for a “yes”. Once we did show up the experience of getting a phone plan was quite weird. They asked me for my kennitala and that was pretty much it. I got to pick out our numbers and they handed me the SIMS. I didn’t have to pay for anything or fill out any forms. The national ID system is tied in with everything so it’s simple.

I also set up a bank account, which is probably why things are so easy. Once you do, people can send you documents and bills directly to your bank via the kennitala. That’s the good stuff right there. The not-so-good stuff is Wells Fargo being a useless pile of crap. I struggled for days to get a proper international wire transfer going but they had a million limits in place. I called, I chatted, and eventually I wrote myself a check and moved the money to USAA, a real bank that knows what they’re doing. After that transferring money to my Icelandic account was a breeze. I think I’m probably going to close down the Wells Fargo account now. There’s no point in keeping a bank I can’t access.

Alright, lets get the weekend going! Tomorrow we’re heading to one of the area pools. We haven’t settled on which one yet, but it’s going to be epic. Wish us luck on the apartment hunt!