Is Iceland now the most expensive country in the world?

Photo: ELKO

A strengthening national currency and rising prices mean that Iceland has by now probably toppled Switzerland from the top spot of richest countries in the world, figures suggest.

Data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 2015 showed that Switzerland was the most expensive country in the world, basis on nominal GDP corrected for purchasing power parity (PPP), with Iceland not far behind.

Since then, Iceland’s national currency has been gaining strength – rising every single day since the summer, and now 17% higher than at the beginning of 2016. Since mid-2015, the króna has risen 22% against the Swiss franc, and analysts from Iceland’s Arion Bank estimate that Iceland is therefore now the most expensive country in the world.

Photo: Iceland Monitor

This prediction is supported in part at least by data from price-comparison website Numbeo. According to data submitted by users, the cost of living in Iceland is 49.53% higher than in United States (rent not included), while rent is on average 12.02% higher.

The cost of living in Reykjavik specifically is 11.66% higher than for New York, according to the same figures.

Based on exchange rates for mid-2016, the price of goods and real estate is 53% higher than the European Union (EU) average, 7% higher than in Norway, and just 4% lower than in Switzerland.


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Exchange rates

USD USD 109.95 EUR EUR 129.40
GBP GBP 145.05 DKK DKK 17.35
NOK NOK 13.50 SEK SEK 12.51
CHF CHF 114.99 JPY JPY 0.98
ISK price of selected currencies, according to the official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Iceland. Updated daily.