Exploring the Cost of Living in Spitsbergen: Is Svalbard an Affordable Destination?

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Have you ever thought about living in Svalbard? More specifically, have you ever wondered Is Svalbard cheap to live? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be discussing the cost of living in Svalbard and whether it’s an affordable option for those looking to live in the North of the planet.

Location, Demographics and Climate

Svalbard is a group of islands that is located in the Arctic Ocean. It is extremely close to the North Pole and is part of the Kingdom of Norway. The archipelago has a total population of around 2,500 inhabitants, with the majority of its people living in the main settlement of Longyearbyen, which is situated on the largest island, Spitsbergen.

The climate in Svalbard is arctic, with long and cold winters and short, cool summers. The temperature can drop to -20°C in January and February, and can reach a high of 6°C during July and August. It is important to note that there are periods of constant daylight and darkness in Svalbard, with the sun not setting for several months during winter and not rising for a few months during summer.

Cost of Living in Svalbard

The cost of living in Svalbard is generally high due to its remoteness and harsh living conditions. However, there are also unique factors that can make living in Svalbard relatively cheap.


One of the biggest expenses in any place is rent, and the case of Svalbard is not different. The cost of rent in Svalbard depends on the type of accommodation and location, but in some cases, it can be relatively affordable. For instance, the university of Svalbard offers student housing at affordable rates. It is worth noting that housing outside Longyearbyen may be cheaper, but also challenging for a permanent residence. As a result, it is advisable to look for a place in Longyearbyen.

Food and Groceries

The cost of food in Svalbard is quite expensive due to its remote location, and almost everything has to be imported from the mainland. However, some basic goods such as milk, bread, and pasta are not too expensive due to the policies of the Svalbard Treaty which allows tariffs exemption for certain foods and items. Apart from these basics, everything else may have a markup of up to 50% higher than the mainland prices.


The use of personal cars is not allowed in Svalbard. However, there are many alternatives when it comes to transportation. Walking or cycling can be a fantastic option as distances between points and facilities are not too long, and having fewer cars has helped to preserve the environment. Taxis and buses are also available, but with limited schedules and quite steep prices, to encourage the use of other means of transportation.

Utilities and Taxes

There is no property tax in Svalbard, nor VAT nor sales taxes. Nevertheless, it is important to note that there are few public social benefits, and social services are often run by private companies, hence these services are costly. With that being said, majority of apartment buildings in Longyearbyen provide heat and electricity as part of the rent, which can minimize the cost of utility bills.

Goods and Services

The cost of goods and services in Svalbard is generally higher than the mainland due to the remoteness of the location, transport costs, and limited availability. It is therefore important to note that some banks and stores are not open all week or maintain specials schedules


In conclusion, Svalbard is not cheap to live, but it undoubtedly has a unique and interesting way of life. Many factors such as the type of accommodation, the cost of food, transportation, utilities and general services have to be considered while calculating the cost of living. In spite of the several cost drawbacks, the archipelago provides a community with a great sense of togetherness, adventure, and an amazing natural environment. If you’re considering moving to Svalbard, it is vital to research, do your due diligence, and make deliberate plans.

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