As Christmas approaches, we think of not just any country, but Finland, considered the home of the white-bearded old man. The country that has earned the nickname "the happiest in the world" may seem cold and gloomy at first glance, but believe us, it could surprise you. Finns are one of the most liberal nations, caring for the comfort of both people and nature. The tranquillity of the country, complemented by the magical natural landscapes and impressive "white nights", definitely makes it a desirable destination for both tourists and people who want to move there permanently. Moving to Finland can be a challenge. What are the most important aspects to consider?
The language: the first step towards moving to Finland
Located in north-eastern Europe, Finland borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, as well as Russia, Norway and Sweden. One of the key features of moving to Finland is the language. Finnish and Swedish are recognised as official languages in the country.
In fact, Finnish is considered one of the most difficult languages to translate and learn. Fortunately for anyone planning a move, the opportunities for learning it in Finland are quite rich. Lessons for beginners and advanced learners are available at specialised adult education centres, with teaching available in Finnish, Swedish and English. Learning centres are accessible as they can be found in almost every municipality in the country. Alternatively, in some municipalities there are free language courses for immigrants. A list of all available adult education centres is available on the website of The Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres. Finnish lessons are also organised at open universities in Helsinki, Oulu and Rovaniemi, and at folk high schools. Another way to get a glimpse of the local culture and learn about the language are the summer courses initiated by The Finnish National Agency for Education. Interestingly, Finnish also has some of the longest words, carrying the meaning of an entire sentence.
The study of Nordic languages, in particular Swedish, is again available in adult education centres, folk high schools and open universities, with Finnish being the main language of instruction.
As for English, it is widely spoken in Finland. (Part of the reason for this lies in the drive to raise the country's educational level and competitiveness, as well as the trend towards globalisation.) Not surprisingly, it is in English that you would get detailed assistance anywhere in the country.
New home in Finland
The Finns are quite liberal about foreigners staying in the country. Residents of European Union countries (including Switzerland and Liechtenstein) do not need a short-term residence permit. However, as soon as the length of stay exceeds 3 months, they are obliged to apply for the EU citizen's right of residence. The application must be made within 3 months of the date of initial arrival. Permanent residence requires a job, training establishment, long-term family ties or the ownership of an operating company or sufficient resources. When moving to Finland for a minimum of one year, it is recommended to have a municipality of residence, which guarantees access to a range of municipal services - such as education and health care.
Those coming from outside the EU need a residence permit. This can be obtained on the basis of professional commitments, entrepreneurial activity, study, family relationships or international protection.
It is interesting to note that the number of saunas in Finland is as high as 2 million, and many of them are located in urban housing. What better incentive to find a cosy home in the country? Should you decide on moving to Finland, you should keep in mind that the country offers a wealth of alternatives for finding a suitable home. The different accommodation options include renting a home, buying a property, a right-of-occupancy home and a shared-ownership home. There are two types of tenancy agreements: tenancy agreements that are valid until further notice and fixed-term tenancy agreements.
Prices for a monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the country range on average from 650 € to 800 € depending on the location of the chosen accommodation. Traditionally, homes in central areas are offered at higher prices compared to those in the suburbs. When it comes to renting a family home (with 3 bedrooms), it will cost you between 700 and 2000 €. In case you want to rent a studio or a one-bedroom apartment, you should keep in mind that they have higher average rental prices per square meter than larger homes.
Apart from rent, the main home costs include electricity and water bills, home insurance and internet. Given the country's cold climate, heating costs are some of the highest, and can account for up to half of total household expenses.
Job perspectives when moving to Finland
Finnish work culture is based on honesty, punctuality and equality. Employee initiative is highly valued, and relationships with supervisors are not strictly authoritarian.
Lateness for work is considered impolite. A large number of enterprises apply flexi-business hours - starting the working day between 7 and 9 am and finishing between 3 and 5 pm respectively. The length of the working week is 5 days - an average of 38 hours. Employees are entitled to a one-hour lunch break if the working day exceeds 6 hours. After discussion with the employer, this may be reduced to at least 30 minutes. Shifts lasting less than 6 hours usually do not include a lunch break. Addressing others informally is typical, using small names of all employees regardless of their job title. Despite the opportunity to communicate fluently in English, learning Finnish through communication in the work environment is also encouraged.
Searching for a job after moving to Finland is done through online advertisements, making direct contact with employers or through recruitment agencies. The Employment and Economic Development Office as well as local municipalities also offer support in searching for vacancies. Among the services offered is integration training, including Finnish lessons, work try-outs and other educational activities.
Special attention is paid to the career development of people under 30. In the so-called One-Stop Guidance Centres they get access to free advice on education, finding a job, a home and social protection.
Wages in Finland are above the European average. The average salary in the country for 2022 is €3,620 per month before taxes. In order to be allowed to work (even in some cases for less than 90 days) or establish their own business, immigrants need a residence permit in the country.
Relocation with kids
The learning environment in Finland is one of the most favourable. The state actively promotes equal rights to education and the successful social adaptation of children. Education is divided into four levels: Early childhood education, Basic education (comprehensive programme within 9 years), Upper-secondary education (within 3 years) and Higher education. An interesting fact is that freedom encouraged - during their Upper-secondary education students can define their own study schedule.
Day-care fees are based on monthly income and how many hours the child stays in day-care. Primary and higher education are free. Students only pay part of their costs such as books, transport or school supplies. In addition to state-run institutions, there are private and international colleges located in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Lappeenranta, Tampere, Rauma, Vantaa, Oulu, Pori, Rovaniemi, Imatra, and Turku. The main languages of studying are English, Russian, German, French, and Swedish.
When moving to Finland, holders of citizenship from a European Union (EU) country, European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland do not pay tuition fees. Education is also free for holders of a permanent Finnish residence permit or a long-term resident's EU residence permit.
Moving to Finland with a pet
The country is also among the most liberal when it comes to animals. Helsinki Airport was the first to have a pet corner. Finland has the most pet-friendly hotels in Europe. All dogs must be walked on a leash and are allowed on public transport. When it comes to allowing animals into places like shops and restaurants - only some of them have designated vestibules.
If you decide to move with your pet, you should bear in mind the various requirements relating to both the size of the animal and the country from which you are arriving. Residents of EU countries are not obliged to declare the transport of their pet. Animals do not pass customs clearance. However, it is necessary to present their documents. Arrivals from non-EU countries should present their animal and its documents in the first country of arrival, part of the EU. The authorities carry out a check. On arrival in Finland, the pet must be declared.
All pets entering the country must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies (Rabies vaccine). There are no specific breed bans.
Driving after moving to Finland
Obtaining a driving licence in the country costs between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on the length of the course. Driving licences (of all categories) that were issued in the EU, an EEA Member State or in the Nordic countries are valid in Finland according to their limitation period. Licences issued in countries that have ratified the Geneva or Vienna Road Traffic Convention are valid for a period of 2 years after a permanent move to Finland. Documents of arrivals from other countries recognised by the country are also valid for one year starting the date licence holder is marked to population register.
What about your health insurance when moving to Finland?
The local public health system is extremely comprehensive and covers medical expenses, dental visit costs and even travel costs when necessary to receive medical care. Everyone is entitled to emergency medical care, regardless of their nationality. In case those coming from abroad have a municipality of residence in Finland, they are entitled to public health care services and non-emergency treatment in the same way and with the same client fee as other municipal residents. Private healthcare facilities are obliged to provide equal access to their services to all patients from the EU, EEA countries or Switzerland. Those coming from EU countries must obtain a European Health Insurance Card before travelling. This gives them the same health rights as Finns themselves. The document is free of charge. As Finland's healthcare system is based on municipal residency, you must have kotikunta status, or "right to a municipality of residence" to be eligible. All permanent residents of Finland are entitled to public health insurance.
Finland: The country of northern lights and frosty weather
Among Finland's natural riches are its 187,888 lakes. Nearly 75% of the country's total area consists of woodlands. The climate is among the harshest (with temperatures reaching -30°C.) However, locals witness one of nature's most beautiful phenomena - the Aurora Borealis. There are four seasons in the country. The Finns are strongly committed to preserving their natural resources and have as many as seven national symbols. These include the brown bear, considered the 'king of the forest', the wild swan, the seven-spot ladybird, the lily of the valley, the silver birch, the perch, and the granite. The country celebrates Finnish Nature Day annually on the last weekend in August. Among the traditional activities of the locals are nature hikes. Some of the most beautiful sights to enjoy after moving to Finland are Helsinki Cathedral and the Sea Fortress Suomenlinna.
The decision to move to a foreign country is a brave one. The good organisation would facilitate the process. It is the help of a professional moving company that will ensure that everything goes according to plan. We, the specialists at Movega, will guide you on how to approach the entire moving process - from making a quote based on your needs to unpacking your belongings in your new home. Trust our years of experience by contacting us through our contact form or chat bot.