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Relocating to Finland - Guide for Expats

Expat Guide Finland
For the expat who yearns to roam free and experience the wilderness, they couldn’t do better than relocate to Norway where there are endless miles of wild unspoilt terrain that has probably not changed for thousands of years.

Some expats with a good imagination might even expect to see the odd dinosaur grazing the vast plains. Despite being one of the largest countries in Europe, it is also the most sparsely populated with only an estimated 5.4 million in habitants. For the fishing expat enthusiast there are, believe it or not, around 180,000 lakes dotted about and the Finns like to make the most of the short summer months by vegging out in log cabins by the lakes and pass the time fishing, swimming and hiking in the remote regions. Helsinki is the capital of Finland which is bordered by Sweden on the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the East and Estonia to the south.

Language and culture

Finnish is the predominant language spoken in Finland although Swedish is also widely spoken. Some minority Finns speak Sami or Lapp which is related to the Finish language.

Religion

The main religion in Finland is Protestant – Evangelical Lutheran.

Map of Finland

Sport and leisure

For the expat into winter sports, Finland can offer a wide variety of activities including downhill skiing and cross country skiing with many trails networking the country. With its many lakes, fishing is a favourite pastime as well as water sports during the summer although with much of its land surface within the Arctic Circle many of the lakes are frozen between November and March. With the vast forests in Finland many people like to hike, particularly during the autumn when the leaves change colour and, with the land of the midnight sun, there are many hours to be crammed into discovering Finland. The midnight sun also sees many Finns making the most of it and coming out of their homes to pursue sport and leisure activities.

Driving

The usual rules of Europe apply when driving in Finland i.e., seat belts are mandatory front and back, alcohol levels are 0.04. The Police can pull you over at any time and if you are over the limit, you risk going to prison. Passports, licence and other relevant documents must be carried at all times, headlights must be used on roads outside of the towns at all times and in the towns headlights must be used in wet, dull or misty weather, the national speed limit on motorways is 100kph, 80 – 100kph on main roads and 30kph in the cities as a rule.

Expat seeing reindeer on road in Finland

Public Transport

Public transport in Finland can be pricey. Although there are good bus services, the most efficient form of travel is by rail. There are different kinds of service by train with the local commuter trains, the intercity trains and the superfast trains the Pendolino which has restaurant facilities.



Communication

Finland is known for its excellence in telecommunication with digital fibre-optic fixed line network and a wide coverage for mobile telephones.

There is a national radio and television company which is funded by licence fees and there are two private media companies with national TV channels. The national company Yle has four channels. Although satellite and cable is possible in Finland it is not common.

Electricity

Electricity in Finland is 230 volts and 50 Hz and the plugs are the European two pin. Few people in Finland use gas now and most households are dependent upon electricity. The electricity in Finland has recently been deregulated so that the prices of consumption are competitive.

Climate and Weather

It is commonly thought that Finland is a land of ice and snow and that it is always cold, this is not so. The long summer days are frequently warm with temperatures reaching 20c in the height of the summer. However, it is a different story in winter when temperatures can plummet to minus 20c from December to mid March and, in the depths of winter the sun struggles to make an appearance at all.

Expatriate walking dog in snow at sunset in Finland

Visas and Immigration

A valid passport is required by all nationals except for EU members with a valid ID card. Visas are not required by EU members or nationals from Australia, Canada or the US for stays of up to 90 days within a six month period. Prospective expats from the EU must apply for a residence permit if staying longer than 90 days.

Pets

Expats taking pets to Finland should ensure that the animal has a microchip which complies with ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation). The pet should have the pet passport as required by the EU ruling 998 which states that the animal must be shown to have been vaccinated against rabies and other diseases by a licensed vet at least 30 days prior to travel.

Currency

The currency in Finland is the Euro.

Health Service

Finland has a very good public health service which is funded via taxes and supplemented by health insurance. Anyone who has lived in the country for more than four months must contribute to the health system.

Education

Education in Finland is compulsory from the age of seven for nine years until 16 when students need to pass an exam on order to enter for post lower secondary education to higher education or to a vocational school. The applications are made through a centralised system.

There is an International school in Helsinki.



Buying Property/Renting Property

Buying property in Finland is not difficult and can be processed via the Bank and a Real Estate Agent without the need for a lawyer. However, it is advisable to know exactly what is happening and to use the services of a solicitor who can look into the ‘nitty gritty’. Foreign nationals are permitted to purchase property anywhere in Finland except for the province of Ahvenanmaa.

Relocation Preparation


Are you moving due to work? We offer briefings for business professionals relocating for career reasons. These familiarise you with your new home country - looking at daily life, practicalities, social norms, business etiquette and many other topics built around you and/or your family.

Have a look at our Expat Relocation Course and then speak to your company about setting up this support for you. They are easy to set-up and worth their weight.

These benefits include:
  • Prepares the individual/family mentally for relocting
  • Removes some of the 'unknown'and answers questions
  • Increases cultural awareness
  • Motivates and excites
  • Reduces stress and provides practical tips and strategies,
  • Eases the settling-in process
  • Reduces the chances of relocation failure
  • Minimises culture shock

Or simply contact us and one of our team will be in touch to find out a bit more about your move, needs, etc.

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