Moving to Finland: Avoid These Costly Mistakes

Many newcomers to Finland often make costly mistakes that result in losing time and money and, sometimes, embarrassing moments. These mistakes usually occur because people are unaware of certain aspects of Finnish life. Don’t worry, though. I will guide you through the key mistakes people make when moving to Finland, the dreadful consequences of those mistakes, and the solutions to them. By the end of this post, you’ll feel more like a Finn and less like an outsider.

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The Language Barrier: Embrace Finnish Before Moving to Finland

Many people go online and learn that Finns speak good English, and it’s true. Most public organizations, stores, and restaurants offer excellent service in English. Initially, this seemed convenient and made it easy to get by. However, relying solely on English can be a significant drawback when moving to Finland. Over time, you might find connecting with Finns and their lifestyles hard because you’re not integrating fully into society.

Solution: Learn some Finnish. Even a little effort to speak the language can make Finns more welcoming and enrich your experience. Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • Duolingo: A good starting point, although not perfect.
  • FinnishPod101: Offers podcasts, videos, and text lessons.
  • Opeton: An AI tool that helps you practice speaking Finnish.
  • Finnish language content creators:
    • Check out Lotta from “Finnished
    • Kat from “Kat Chats,
    • Heidi from “Finnish with Ha.”

Be Prepared for Finland’s Harsh Winters

Finland’s winters can be a real shock, depending on where you’re coming from. The country experiences multiple winter phases, including what locals call “Spring of Deception” and “Second Winter.” Proper preparation is crucial when moving to Finland.

Solution: Make sure you have a proper jacket, hat, scarves, shoes, and gloves. While you can buy these in your home country, Finnish stores offer high-quality winter clothing year-round. Visit department stores like Prisma, Stockmann, SOKOS, XXL, Stadium, H&M, and even secondhand shops.

Moving to Finland: the Finnish seasons explainer.

Finding a Place to Live When Moving to Finland

When moving to Finland, getting your first rental home in Finland can be challenging. Landlords and rental companies often require you to be in the country before renting to you, which means you might need temporary accommodation for the first few weeks.

Solution: Look for serviced, furnished apartments, such as *Forenom, Noli Studios, and Airbnb, which can cost up to €2,000 a month but offer a soft landing. Explore options like Sato, Lumo, Noli Studios, Facebook groups, and the platform Sherio for long-term rentals.

Navigating Finnish Bureaucracy: Book Early

When you arrive in Finland, you’ll need to deal with many bureaucratic processes. EU residents must register their residency at the Finnish Immigration Office (Migri), and all foreigners need to register their address with the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV). Opening a bank account also requires an appointment, which can take weeks or even months due to high demand.

Solution: Schedule these appointments as soon as your arrival dates are confirmed. Many services offer online booking, so take advantage of that and check regularly for cancellations.

Airport Arrival: Choose the Right Transportation

Landing at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport can be exciting and confusing. When moving to Finland, avoid costly mistakes by planning your transportation in advance.

Solution: If you’re traveling with family or a lot of luggage, a taxi (using apps like Bolt or Uber) is convenient despite being more expensive. For solo travelers or smaller groups, buses and trains are economical and efficient. Use Google Maps to check routes and schedules.

Mobile Connectivity: Get a SIM Card

Ensure you have mobile data access upon arrival, especially if you’re coming from outside the EU.

Solution: Pick up a prepaid SIM card from an R-Kioski or Alepa at the airport. If you’re from the EU, you may not need this because there are no roaming fees.

Send Money & Get Euros Easily when Moving to Finland

Avoid using your home country’s currency in Finland, as exchange fees can be high. Also, avoid bringing large amounts of cash.

Solution: Use a service like *Wise to create a multi-currency account and get a debit card to spend in euros. This helps avoid exchange fees and makes paying for things like rent easier, which cannot be paid with cash or payment cards.

Health Considerations: Bring Prescriptions to Finland

If you need prescription medication, bring enough and be aware of the regulations when moving to Finland.

Solution: Finland does not recognize foreign prescriptions unless they are from certain EU countries. Bring your prescription and medical history in English, and visit a Finnish doctor to get a local prescription. Remember, medicines are only available at pharmacies, not grocery stores or bars.

Cultural Norms: Respect Finnish Quietness

Finns value peace in public spaces. Loud conversations, especially on the phone, can be seen as rude.

Solution: If you need to be loud, find a karaoke bar. Finns love karaoke, and there are plenty of bars where you can enjoy it.

Cost of Living: Plan Your Budget

Finland can be an expensive country, especially in major cities like Helsinki.

Solution: Use resources like Numbeo to understand the average living expenses, including rent, groceries, dining out, and transportation. The Finnish Taxpayers Association’s website can help you estimate your net salary after taxes.

Education for Kids: Explore Options

If you’re moving to Finland with children, they’ll need to attend daycare or school.

Solution: Explore Finnish schools, bilingual schools, and international schools. Book a free educational consultation with the International House Helsinki or the relevant city office for assistance.

Moving to Finland can be a smooth experience if you’re well-prepared. Avoid these common mistakes, plan, and you’ll settle in comfortably and enjoy all of Finland’s offers. For more tips and resources on moving to Finland, join my newsletter.