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Cost-of-living references

The Office of the Debtors’ Ombudsman’s cost-of-living references are based on typical references from the Ministry of Social Affairs, with a few exceptions. The Ministry’s references are based on Statistics Iceland’s spending study, which focused on Icelandic households’ expenses. The references are calculated as the median expense for each family type. Using the median means that 50% of households spend the reference amount or less to purchase goods falling under each category. The references are updated on a regular basis and are currently based on the database from the Statistics Iceland study of household expenses over the period from 2013 through 2016.

The Office of the Debtors’ Ombudsman has a total of seven cost-of-living references. Further information on each of them can be found below.

1. Food, restaurants, household groceries, and housewares

  • Food, such as: bread and grains, meat, fish, milk, cheeses and eggs, oils and fats, fruit, vegetables, sugars and sweets, other foods.
  • Beverages, such as: coffee, tea, cocoa, carbonated drinks, juices, and water.
  • Non-durable household goods, such as: cleaning supplies and cleaning equipment.
  • Hygiene and cosmetic products, such as: soaps, shampoo, skin products, and cosmetic equipment.


  • Expenses due to restaurants, cafes, and cafeterias.


  • Furniture and household items
  • Household textiles
  • Tableware and kitchen equipment
  • Other personal items, such as: bags, children’s chairs, children’s strollers and prams, baby bottles, and pacifiers

2. Clothing and footwear

  • Clothing for all occasions and all seasons, fabrics, dry cleaning, clothing rental, clothing repair
  • Footwear for all occasions and all seasons
  • Shoe repair

3. Medical expense and drugs

  • Drugs, vitamins, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetics and other support gear and accessories
  • Services of family physicians, specialists, and dentists, hospital stays, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation


4. Recreational expenses

The Debtors’ Ombudsman assumes 75% of typical Ministry references for this expense category.

  • Music and video
  • Large recreational equipment
  • Recreational equipment, athletic goods, and toys
  • Sports, media, and lotteries
  • Newspapers and magazines, books, and office supplies
  • Package tours
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
  • Jewellery, clocks, and watches
  • Gifts

5. Communications

  • Postal expense
  • Telephones and telephone service
  • Internet

6. Other services

Other household services

  • Financial services
  • Household services, etc.
  • Haircuts and hair salons, beauty salons, etc.

Electrical equipment and maintenance

  • Household electrical equipment for joint use, such as: refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and coffee makers
  • Television sets, audio equipment, computers, etc.
  • Electrical equipment repair

7. Transportation and other travel expense

  • Consumer goods falling under this category are: motor vehicle operation, including insurance but not financing costs; bus cards for each family member after the first two Motor vehicle operating costs are calculated based on the Statistics Iceland spending study, calculations from the Icelandic Automobile Association, information from motor vehicle dealerships on fuel consumption and emissions for various types of vehicle, and information from insurance company on insurance costs. The monthly bus card price is based on the purchase of a three-month card. In locations where bus transportation is not available, the cost of motor vehicle operation is increased by the cost of the bus cards.
  • Motor vehicle operation, such as: spare parts, repairs, tyres, cleaning materials, petrol, vehicle inspection, insurance
  • Public transportation
  • Bus fares

Other travel expenses

  • Other travel expenses include costs due to public transport other than buses in Iceland; i.e., taxis, long-distance coaches, domestic flights, and ferries.

Other fixed expenses

For this category, the Office of the Debtors’ Ombudsman does not use a reference amount but rather takes account of each family’s actual expense. This applies, for instance, to the following expenses:

  • Rent
  • Electricity, heat, and residents’ association fees
  • Property tax, water, and sewage fees
  • Insurance (excluding car insurance)
  • School and daycare
  • Other expenses


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