Welcome to Spitsbergen: is it expensive to live in Svalbard?
Spitsbergen is one of the northernmost inhabited regions in the world. It sits in the Arctic Ocean roughly midway between Norway’s northern coast and the North Pole. Svalbard is famous for its rugged beauty and the unique opportunities that this remote region provides. For anyone considering living in Spitsbergen, one of the questions that is front of their minds is “is it expensive?”
What is the cost of living in Svalbard?
Well, the Swedish krona is the currency used in Spitsbergen, but the cost of living is significantly higher than in mainland Norway. In Spitsbergen, most goods have to be imported, and the cost of transportation is high. The cost of living is further compounded by various factors.
Taxes and subsidies
Svalbard is a tax haven, and there are no taxes on income, goods, or services, except for alcohol and tobacco. The Norwegian government provides significant subsidies to support the northern communities in Spitsbergen. Despite the subsidies, the cost of living is still significantly more expensive than in mainland Norway.
Job and housing market
Spitsbergen is not an easy place to find work, and most of the jobs are in the mining industry, tourism, and research. The population of Spitsbergen is concentrated in two towns, Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, with Longyearbyen having twice the population of Barentsburg. Housing in Spitsbergen is provided by the respective employers.
Factors that affect the cost of living in Spitsbergen:
The Arctic climate in Spitsbergen is harsh, with temperatures often dropping as low as -20 °C during the winter. This means that the cost of keeping a warm and comfortable home would be significant.
Geography and location
Spitsbergen is remote, geographically isolated, and dependent on air or sea transport for all goods and services. Additionally, the cost of fuel in Spitsbergen is higher than in mainland Norway, which results in higher prices for goods and services.
Food and daily needs
Buying groceries in Spitsbergen can be twice as expensive as in mainland Norway. This issue is particularly relevant for fresh fruits and vegetables, which would have to be flown in from other parts of the world, adding to the cost. Furthermore, the cost of electricity is much higher in Spitsbergen than in other parts of Norway, which also contributes to the overall cost of living.
Is it expensive to live in Spitsbergen?
While it is hard to provide a straightforward answer to this question, the consensus is yes, it is expensive to live in Spitsbergen. Housing and food are expensive, and the cost of living is further compounded by numerous factors, including transport, climate, and geography. However, the unique lifestyle that Spitsbergen offers, its rugged beauty and adventure opportunities, make living in Spitsbergen an attractive option for many, regardless of the cost. In Spitsbergen, the cost of living is part and parcel of the experience.
If you are considering relocating to Spitsbergen, make sure you do your research, plan for the costs and challenges, and embrace the adventure that this remote and beautiful region has to offer.