Approximately 10, 000 years ago and towards the end of the ice age, people started moving into Finland. Back then, those coming were from eastern Russia and down south from the Baltic region.The roots of Finnish language are in Central Russia and it also has elements from Germanic and Baltic languages, making it one of the most difficult languages to learn. Finnish history can be said to be quite intriguing as such can be divided into 3 key periods: Swedish Kingdom from 13th century and until 1809, Russian Empire until 1917, and Independence Day from 1917 to present days.
The Swedish Kingdom arose due to the Northern Crusades and Sweden's colonization of some of FInland's coastal areas. Due to Sweden's influence during this period, Finland's legal and social systems has Swedish roots. While Feudalism was not a part of these systems back in the day, Finnish peasants always retained their freedom with their lands. During this period, the city of Turku was established and it became FInland's most important centre.
Russia was in war with Sweden from 1808-1809 with Russia winning over Finland's conquest. During Sweden's reign, Finland was not a national state but a group of provinces, however with Russia's reign, Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy. It is during this period that Finnish nationalism arises and Finland's best literary work "Kalevala" came to the picture. Romanticism
Before Finland's Independence, Finland was divided into a socialist and non-socialist groups. The Socialist part was keen on utilising Soviet Russia as an example to follow for years to come, while the non-socialist part wanted complete independence. The non-socialist part proposed to the Parliament to declare FInland's Independence, which was voted in favor on December 6th of 1917. During THE second world war Finland fought two wars against the Soviet union (Winter War 1939-1940 & Continuation War 1941-1944), making Finland loose territory against the Soviet Union.
Finland was an agrarian country in the 1800's but after the wars, FInland started to industrialize. The first modern cotton factories started up in the 1830's and 1840's, together with the first machine shops. With the industrialization Finns could sell their industrial products abroad and started to specialize in exporting paper and forestry products. FInland is nowadays known from being a technology and innovation hub leader in Europe.
Helsinki is a gem located in the shore of the Gulf of Finland and it is Finland’s capital. This lively city is Finland’s most populated municipality and the Nordic’s third largest city; also known for being an active center for politics, education, finance, culture and research. The city has an estimated population of 620,983 inhabitants, over 300 islands connected by bridges and 1 sea fortress. Due to its compact size, the city can be easily explored by foot, providing instant sights of Helsinki’s gorgeous Art Nouveau architecture, shopping spots, strong design culture and all around nature. Helsinki hosted the 1952 Summer olympics and became the World’s Design Capital in 2012. The city is constantly making it to top ranks in terms of high urban standards and liveability.
Read more about Helsinki: www.visitfinland.com/helsinki/
With its 200,00 inhabitants and Finland’s second largest city, Tampere sits in between two great lakes (Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi), making it the largest lake district in Europe. Tampere is known as the birthplace of Finnish Industrialism, just a quick walk around and you will notice all the different and grand industrial buildings that now serve as festival, concert venues and still home to Scandinavia’s largest industrial enterprise in the 1800’s, Finlayson. Tampere is also known as the “Theatre Capital” of Finland and also for its idyllic dining spots that mainly utilize local produce. In Tampere you can also find FInland’s oldest sauna “Rajaportti” built in 1906.
More info about Tampere: www.visittampere.fi
This is Finland’s oldest city and once the capital. This lively city in the southwest coast of FInland has become an important port for commerce and passengers traveling through the port of Turku to Stockholm and Mariehamn. The city is known for being an active student city with 6 different higher education institutions with a rich and young pool of tech talent. Turku was rated as Europe’s Culture Capital in 2011 and FInland’s Official Christmas City in 1996.
More info about Turku: www.visitturku.fi
Oulu is the largest city in Northern Finland and known as a tech and gaming hub. Also, known for having one of the youngest population in Europe, the average age is 38 years old. Besides Oulu’s highly educated population, this techy city is known for being in the forefront of 5G technologies and 60% of the world’s mobile phone traffic utilizes network technologies that have been developed in Oulu.
More info about Oulu: www.visitoulu.fi
FInland has its solid amount of FInnish heroes. From a corporate perspective, FInland prides on having one of the oldest companies in the world: Stora Enso. The country has always been at the forefront of innovation and design thinking, with companies being leaders in the ICT, paper and pulp industries: Nokia, Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene, Kone, Metso, Neste Oil and Wärtsilä. The country has also been recognized as being an important architecture and design hub, with these two being important benchmarks for upcoming designers looking to learn from nordic design and architecture. Companies and known names in these list would be: Marimekko, Iittala, Artek, Fiskars, Tapio Vaara, Eero Aarnio and Alvar Aalto.
After the strong rise the government has seen in startups and entrepreneurship, this has become one of Finland's biggest exports: startups. These have become a focus to continue developing the FInnish economy. The country has also seen several startups rise to success with two of them being on the level as to what we call " nordic unicorns" : Supercell and Rovio. Having these unicorns has created a good foundation for Finland to bet high on startups and the government becoming more involved in supporting entrepreneurship. Other growth companies to keep an eye on are: Wolt, Smartly.io, Oura, Next Games and Vainu.io.
Finland has a good housing market with several real estate companies providing options for sale & rent all over Finland. Finding a place to live in Helsinki will take time, and because this is Finland’s biggest city, the prices can be very high. For this reason, it has become popular for those living in Helsinki, to rent apartments outside the center, to be able to balance costs in space and transportation. The best thing to do when moving to Finland is to keep an open mind and find a place to settle in at first, later on, it gets easier to decide and find other available options for cities or neighborhoods.
Another good piece of advice is that if you are coming for work outside of Helsinki, you can check with the local city offices for advice on smaller rental companies, as some of these are not very good at advertising vacant flats over the internet. Also, checking with some of the international groups of people in Finland through Facebook and asking for advice, will help you a lot.
When looking for flats through general “marketplaces” for private listings, always use your gut, there are still bad people out there wanting to take advantage of people’s good will. Some signs to look at:
If you see a “too good to be true” apartment there is a high probability that this is a scam. When a landlord tells you that you have to pay the deposit to a foreign account and that he will send you the keys via UPS. Never pay a deposit to a foreign account. Verify that the personal information of the landlord (ask for his personal id) is right, they will do the same with you so don’t be afraid to ask. Only pay the deposit when you sign the contract, if it’s possible via wire transfer so there is some record of it and to a Swedish account.
Useful accommodation links:
Finland adopted the euro in 2002. Prior to the euro, Finland used the "markka", that had been in use since 1860. Today, FInland is the only Nordic country using the Euro.
Finland is a leading nation in terms of alternate payment options, especially mobile payment including: Contactless payments, mobile payments and mobile wallets. For all of these options, a smartphone with the different apps connected to the user's bank is needed. Popular application in the market are: Mobile Pay, Aktia Wallet, Apple Pay, Nordea Wallet, etc. It is always recommended to check the different options available through your bank of choice.
Finland was regarded in 2013 as the most non-cash nation in the planet, making an average of 450 non-cash payments that year, and these numbers kept on increasing as of today. Major Credit/Debit cards (some restriction may apply to American Express) are widely accepted throughout Finland at banks, hotels, stores, restaurants, taxis, car rental companies, and for air, ship and rail tickets.
Finns use public transportation frequently. VR is the most important and government-owned railway company in Finland. Helsinki has an efficient and simple network of underground trains, commuter trains and buses.
Metropolitan Region: www.hsl.fi Outside Metropolitan Region: www.vr.fi
Cycling is one of the favourite ways of commuting in Helsinki. One of the popular cycling roads is called “Baana”. Baana is around 1.3km long and runs between the west side of Kiasma and Ruoholahti. Around 700.000 cyclists use the cycling road on a yearly basis. In the other main cities in Finland, only buses are available as means of public transportation. Each city has its own regional transport networks. While most main cities in Finland have their own train station, VR Group takes care of these connections outside of Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Commuting in Tampere: aikataulut.tampere.fi
Commuting in Turku: www.foli.fi
Commuting in Oulu: www.oulunjoukkoliikenne.fi
If you are interested in moving to Finland for work, the process can be time consuming. If you are moving for work, you need to have a valid offer from your employer, which you can use to apply for your residence permit in your nearest Finnish embassy/consulate. If your family is coming with you, you can apply for a residence permit for them based on “family ties”. However, this doesn’t apply if you are someone coming from an EU-member state, as you are then free to enter the country for work, but would still need to register your right of residence. The fees for these permits range from 400€ -500€.
For clear instructions on how to apply for your permits, go to: www.migri.fi/en/home
Finland has also recently enabled a “startup visa”, for those wanting to establish a startup in Finland. This visa is intended for people outside of the EU and has some requirements such as: a startup team of min. 2 people, an innovative business plan, sufficient resources for funding the company’s first stages, etc.
For more information you can visit: www.businessfinland.fi/en/do-business-with-finland/work-in-finland/startup-permit/
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant - 10.00 €
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course - 60.00 €
McMeal at McDonalds - 7.50 €
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) - 6.00 €
Cappuccino (regular) - 3.36 €
Lunch menu - 10,00 €
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) - 3.00 €
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) - 54.70 €
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) - 6.00 €
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) - 1.60 €
Gasoline (1 liter) - 1.50 €
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment - 113.19 €
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) - 23.10 €
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult - 37.13 €
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) - 21.87 €
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat - 13.00 €
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre - 713.42 €
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre - 552.44 €
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre - 1,188.39 €
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre - 935.52 €
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre - 4,219.04 €
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre - 2,702.55 €
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) - 2,249.27 €
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate - 1.47
Finnish and Swedish are both the official languages spoken in Finland. Finnish predominates amongst the majority of the population and Swedish is spoken mainly in some of the coastal areas. Finnish language belongs to the Finnic group of the Uralic languages, that is spoken mainly by people around the Baltic Sea.
There are also five minority languages:
Finnish education is one of the most recognized and best in the world. In fact, the country is often making headlines for its modern teaching methods in classrooms; definitely one of the things Finns mostly pride about. Finland has an educational system that is equal and free for all from pre-primary to higher education. In Finland, teachers are taken with the best regard, as they are all highly educated and committed to their work. Finland has a literacy of 100% and has no dead ends: it focuses on learning and making it easy for everyone to jump to the next levels. The Finnish education system consists of: early childhood education and care, pre-primary education, nine-year basic education, upper secondary education, higher education and complementary adult education.
The Finnish health and social support system is recognized to be one of the best in the world. Parents are entitled to family leave and various other benefits from Kela following the birth of a child. Kela, is the Finnish Social Insurance Institution of Finland. www.kela.fi
Finland is known for its historical baby boxes, making families happy since 1938. The baby box contains items that are useful for parents to prepare for the baby's arrival.
Before a baby is born, expectant mothers in Finland get prenatal care and health check ups on a regular basis in their nearest healthcare center.
When a child is born, parents are allowed by law to stay home and take care of their newborn. For a period of time, Kela might cover part of the leave. However, one of the parents after the regulatory parental leave, can stay home until the child reaches 3 years of age and Kela will pay a parent home allowance.
In Finland, daycare fees are established according to the household’s total income, making this a fair way of setting up these fees.
Aside from paid leave, the government provides an additional monthly child allowance (lapsilisä) until a child reaches the age of 17. If you have more than one child, you also get an extra family supplement .
Finland is one of the leading countries in fostering gender equality. It was also the first country in the world to grant women full political rights.
One of the basic principles in Finnish Education is that everyone must have equal access to education and training. From pre-primary to higher education, education in free. Exceptions are now made for university students coming from outside the EU region. Meals are free for pupils up until they reach higher education, where the meals are half subsidized by the state.
Parents pushing infants and toddlers in strollers can ride for free on public buses and trains, and can board using the large doors in the middle of the bus inside. This is available for people living in Helsinki region.
In Finland, you can get a library card from your local library and borrow anything from books to movies and cd’s. Every public library often has a children section with a good range of children's books in different languages.
Being a parent is expensive, but in FInland buying second hand is an everyday thing for parents. Afterall, Finns are very practical, with kids especially, you can save money by buying second hand baby/toddler items from flea markets..
Finnish people warm up socially very slowly, at first they might seem reserved, but once you get past that stage, you will get friends for life. Finns are very kind and polite and expect the same in return. Individuality, private space and silence are a Finn’s way of life. Outside of personal relations, this way of living is also seen everywhere else: architecture, design, people’s homes, overall things are always made to last and be simple. FInnish society is built on respect and trust, and this two words should be taken seriously and acted upon: this are the cornerstones for a good start for anyone coming to Finland.
Finland is the land of a thousand lakes, gorgeous forests and a strong sauna culture, which makes this obvious: Finns love spending time outdoors. In FInland there is a saying “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, due to the fact that through all the 4 seasons, you can always find finnish people spending time outdoors; going for walks in the nature, picking up berries, having picnics, skiing, playing ice hockey skating, etc, are all very popular outdoor activities.
When it comes to night life, for youth it is common to visit the famous “nightclubs” and hang out with friends. For adults, local bars, cafés, restaurants are always a good place for afterwork dinner or drinks. At work, going out with coworkers for lunch is an everyday thing, and this is a fantastic chance to get to know colleagues outside of work and build relationships. During summer, music festivals are a must, and this is also how you get know locally what’s trending and you can really immerse in the urban side of the country.
Needless, to say, describing Finn’s social life or way of being is always made based on generalisations, you should get out there, and make your own experiences about Finns. After all, we all belong to different generations.
In 2018, Finland has a strong ecosystem and Helsinki is the most locally connected ecosystem in the world, which means that there is a cohesion between different support organizations for startups and the government. The fact that all these institutions can work together is remarkable, and it is often admired by those visiting Finland and wanting to learn about the startup ecosystem. As we always say, the big reason behind this success is also found on the foundations of finnish society: respect, trust and freedom. Having a well locally connected ecosystem with strong public support, makes it easier for for entrepreneurs to get started into founding their technology companies, and that is an area where Finland excels at.
According to the Startup Genome report, Helsinki has one of the leading startup ecosystems in the fields of information and communication technology, gaming and cleantech. A good important piece of information is that during 2017, FInland ranked 4th in Europe in VC funding for early stage growth companies, which is quite outstanding if you think that Finland has only 5 million people and this piece of land is already making huge progress on an European level. Also, Finland is known to be the 4th most innovative country in the world, making this a great place to think outside of the box and come up with top notch inventions in grounds where future forward thinking is highly appreciated and encouraged.
Finland has a very strong startup grassroots movement that gained its strength in 2009 when the student-led organization "Aaltoes" came to the picture. This organization came as a revelation to the higher education system in which entrepreneurship was not highly valued. It was then when a group of university students, embarked on a paradigm shift and founded " Aalto Entrepreneurship Society". Since then, Aalto has been the precursor of different startup initiatives that have bred many others, that have created the existing ecosystem that Helsinki and Finland prides about. From Aaltoes, Startup Sauna (Finland's first accelerator) was created, becoming an important milestone to the ecosystem, to support entrepreneurship and the new wave of startup founders. After Startup Sauna, came Slush, which is now one of Europe's most known and prestigious tech conferences.
Finland has seen a strong startup ecosystem develop together with its success stories and the known "unicorns", such as Rovio, Supercell Wolt, Vainu, Smartly, etc . The truth is that, everything you see in the Finnish startup ecosystem, has happened gradually and initially came out as an existing need, everything has happened organically, and that is exactly why it works and keeps on getting stronger. When it comes to the different ecosystem players, FInland has them all: