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Covered in the Article
- Immigrating to Finland
- Happiest Country in the World
- Visa for Visiting Finland
- Requirements for Moving to Finland
- Studying in Finland
- Finnish Schools
- Work- and Family-based Residence Permit
- Applying for a Finnish Citizenship
- How to Get a Job in Finland
- Living Costs in Finland
- The Best Place to Live in Finland
- Surviving in the Finnish Climate
- Is There Discrimination in Finland?
- Bottom Line
Immigrating to Finland
Every now then, Finnoy Travel is receiving queries how to immigrate to Finland. There is a natural reason for that: We are Finn-Pinoy (Finnoy) travel bloggers based in Helsinki, Finland. Some of our readers ask often about the migration requirements to Finland. For the convenience of our dear readers, we decided to collect these essential immigration facts into a single article. We wish this article will clarify our readers' concerns and frequently asked questions.
Happiest Country in the World
Finland has been selected as the happiest country in the world for many years in a row. That has made Finland an interesting country to migrate to. Before packing your things, it is good to understand what happiness means from the Finnish perspective.
Happiness does not mean that Finns have a party every day or that people just chill out and do only the things they like. To be honest, Finland has a long cold and dark winter. In summers, the weather is better but Finland is still not a tropical paradise. Getting used to these extreme conditions may take time for people who are coming from warm countries. Making Finnish friends takes also time because Finns are not as open as people in Southern Europe.
Happiness means stable and secure life. Almost free healthcare and education are just a few examples what Finland provides to its residents. No matter if you are rich or not, you will be taken care of even when you can´t do it yourself. Social security is so good that even unemployed people don´t need to worry about how their families can survive. You can always afford to visit a doctor and you still have some money left to entertain yourself.
Population density in Finland is low and more than 70 per cent of the country is covered by the forest. There are also more than 100 000 lakes. Air quality is good and it takes just a few minutes to find your nature spot to unwind and pick fresh berries. Compared to many other western countries, the life in Finland and the other Nordic countries are relaxed.
The salaries are good enough to save some money and to enjoy life in the way you like. Of course, taxation is high but people are happy to pay the taxes to get a safe, secure and well-maintained environment..
Visa for Visiting Finland
Some people prefer to have a vacation or a stopover in Finland before making the migration decision. EU citizens can visit, live and work in Finland without a need for a visa or a residence permit. Also, holding a Schengen visa from another Schengen country is enough for a short term tourism visit to Finland.
Citizens of certain countries can visit Finland 90 days for tourism without a visa.
People who are not falling into the previous categories, need to apply for a Finnish visa or residence permit to be able to legally visit Finland.
Requirements for Moving to Finland
It is the Finnish Law that defines who can enter Finland. If you are a citizen of any European Union country, you can move to Finland freely. The process may involve some simple bureaucracy but nothing restricts you from moving between the EU countries. The EU citizens are also allowed to work in Finland immediately upon arrival without the need for a work permit. You need to secure a tax card from a tax office which must be handled electronically by your employer. Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland are not members of the European Union. However, citizens of these countries are given the same treatment as those from the EU countries.
Things get more complicated if you intend to move to Finland while you're originating outside the EU and you are a non-EU citizen. There are many different kinds of residence permit options and we advise you to rely on official sources. Read more on Finnish Immigration Services (Migri).
Fast Track for Specialists, Entrepreneurs and Family Members
There is a law preparation in Finland going on, that senior specialists, entrepreneurs with a growth company and their family members could get a residence and work permit to Finland in 2 weeks. That is called as the national visa D. Most likely, the parliament will accept the law in the summer of 2022.
Studying in Finland
The simplest way to move to Finland is to study in a Finnish school. Naturally, first you need to get into a school and pay the required tuition fee. You must also be financially stable to cover your living costs. With a student visa, it is allowed to work but make sure to abide by the specified income ceiling as the visa is mainly meant for studying. Studying in Finland is a worthwhile experience having the chance to utilize excellent school facilities while receiving top-notch training/education. Finland is known to have one of the best education systems in the world.
After graduation, students can apply for a 1-year residence permit extension that allows them to stay in Finland while seeking a job. As an applicant, you have a great chance of being hired if you meet the requirements. If you are a citizen of an EU Member State, a Nordic country, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you do not need a residence permit to stay in Finland.
Non-EU citizens must pay a tuition fee in Finnish universities. It is possible to apply for a scholarship that can cover even the whole tuition fee but then you need to be of one the best applicants. Tuition fees are a little more than 10 000 euros/year but some fields may be exempted from it.
Even if you find free studies or get a scholarship, you need about 6500 euros per year of living funds to get a student visa.
As a small country, Finland has surprisingly many universities. The most international ones are Helsinki University and Aalto University in the capital area. We feel that they are the best choices for foreigners studying in Finland.
Universities of Applied Sciences
You can also study in universities of applied sciences which Finland has many. Students will graduate with bachelors and they may continue to Master´s studies in traditional universities. For example, nursing students will graduate from universities of applied sciences.
Work- and Family-based Residence Permit
Working in Finland as a Non-EU Citizen
To be able to work in Finland, you need to find a job which simply means, you should have an employer. Non-EU citizens usually have a high employability rate for certain high demand jobs or well-paid specialist jobs. For example, there is a need for continuous recruitment of cooks and nurses to Finland. Many Filipinos and Nepalese are currently working in these fields in Finland. The health care sector is one of the easiest gateways to be employed in Finland. IT companies are hiring talented IT specialists like programmers. There is an increasing trend of hiring IT professionals among Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese and other immigrants. Again, we advise you to read the official information on the Finnish Immigration Services website.
Most likely, the company that is hiring you will guide your work visa application. There are also some foreign agencies assisting people planning to immigrate to Finland. We strongly remind you to be scrupulous if you intend to avail of the services of such agencies. Make a thorough research on the legality and morality of their operations before spending any time, effort and money related to their immigration assistant services.
In Finland, you can trust the authorities. Seek help if you feel being misused.
Family Related Immigration
If you have a family member who lives in Finland and you want to migrate to live with this person, you will need a residence permit based on family ties. As mentioned earlier, if you do not have a residence permit, you can visit Finland and stay for a maximum of 90 days. If you have been a resident of Finland and you are taking a family member to live with you, it is important to prove to the Migri office that you can support your family financially or that your family member/s have also jobs in Finland. That is why you must have stable economic status say having enough savings to be able to bring your family member/s to Finland. Your family member/s need to apply for a residence permit tied to family relations.
Applying for a Finnish Citizenship
It is possible to apply for Finnish citizenship after you have lived at least 5 years in Finland. You must have an intermediate proficiency level in any of the two official languages of Finland, either Swedish or Finnish language. For those married to or in a registered partnership with a Finnish citizen for more than three years, the residence requirement is reduced to four years of continuous residence. Finnish law allows dual citizenship.
How to Get a Job in Finland
Often, we are asked, how to get a job in Finland. If you are still living outside the EU, we recommend following these steps.
Evaluate your existing skills and think what you would like to do in Finland.
Find out, if Finnish language skills are required in your work. If yes, the easiest way to immigrate is via an agency that includes language training. In many technology jobs, English skills are enough.
If you intend to work in English, contact international companies that are looking for specialists in your field. Concentrate on those companies who need highly talented specialists and you have those skills.
When a company wishes to hire you, they will guide you through the immigration process.
If you do not have the required skills yet, consider studying in Finland or maybe you can immigrate via family-related matters.
If you are already living in Finland and have a right to work, getting a (new) job is simpler compared to applicants outside the country. You can check government's Public employment and business services to find suitable positions or you may opt to contact companies directly. The job-seeking process includes normally one or more job interviews and there is usually a 4-6 months trial period.
Many professions in Finland require Finnish or Swedish language skills. A job seeker for certain job positions lacking the required language skills will have a challenging situation getting listed in the Finnish workforce. For example, you can't work as a doctor or registered nurse without enough language skills. Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health requires that these health care professionals must possess intermediate-advanced language skills to be able to practice their profession in Finland.
Especially in the IT field, language requirements (Swedish / Finnish) are not strict. Fluent English language skills are usually enough. If you are a talented expert or a researcher, good command of the English language is a great advantage. Many big corporations (e.g. IT and technical corporations) in Finland also utilize the English language in their official business transactions.
The average salary in Finland before taxes is almost 3,600 euros. However, according to statistics, there are more than 50% of workers in Finland are earning less than that. It is quite common for low-income group workers to earn something between 2,000 and 3,000 euros monthly salary.
Advice for Application Process
Everything begins with a job application. Concentrate on the application well. Describe your skills honestly and try to summarise them. No one wants to read five pages about your talents. You are not expected to tell anything about your personal life. Your employer won´t be interested in your family, military status or where you were born. They just want to know what valuable skills you have and how well you cooperate with other people.
Never make a copy-paste work application. Don´t exaggregate your skills. Make an honest and personal application to get into a work interview. There you will have great chances to tell more about your skills and give a positive image of yourself as a person. If the Finnish language skill is required in the position, there is no point in applying for the position without the said skill.
Finland is a welfare state offering good public services and social security. That costs a lot and funds must come from somewhere - from peoples' taxes. Consequently, taxes and especially income taxes are high in Finland for the same reason - because the country has a high standard cost of living.
Depending on your work location, tax rates vary from one city/municipality to another. The income tax rate is hugely dependent on your gross yearly salary. The taxation system of Finland is progressive, and so, the more yearly income you have, the higher tax per cent it will be. The maximum tax per cent can be as high as 60% of your gross salary. Read more about Finnish taxation on Finnish Tax Office's website.
High taxes grant you modern infrastructure, excellent library services, great unemployment benefits (if you satisfy the requirements), free education or affordable social and healthcare services (though waiting time can be long) and many other well-maintained quality public services like affordable fees for accessing swimming halls and sports facilities.
Living Costs in Finland
We have listed the living cost estimates when residing in Finland. Don't get the numbers too seriously, because there are still a lot of variances depending on the location where you live.
Renting a Home
Renting an apartment is expensive in Finland. You may need to pay more than 700 euros a month for a single room apartment in the Helsinki centre. If you prefer to live outside the city centre, apartment rental prices are lower. Living outside the capital area lowers the cost of living. For example, in Turku, renting an apartment with two rooms may cost only 500 euros. In terms of taxation, smaller municipalities usually have higher city tax rates compared to big cities where there is a noticeably higher number of residents/employees.
To save money on your net income, it is practical to live with your family, spouse or friends. Sharing the monthly costs reduce your expenses a lot. But you must be able to get along well with others to live comfortably in the name of more affordable living in this one of the most expensive countries in the world. :)
It is common to buy your apartment in Finland. Banks may grant you a loan, which you will be paying back monthly. In the long term, owning a home becomes a lot cheaper than renting one. This is a practical choice if you think you decide to live in Finland permanently.
Food in Finland is not cheap either. Luckily, there are now low-cost food brands available. Preparing food at home is always a more affordable way of living than frequent dining out in restaurants.
Fast food meals cost 8 euros. Low-priced restaurants serve meals for 15 euros. In average quality restaurants, you need to pay 20 to 30 euros for a meal, 4 euros for a coke and 8 euros for a beer.
We are using one of our top choice as the payment card in Finland, Curve Card.
Other Mandatory Expenses
There are some other expenses that you will most likely face in Finland:
- Home insurance: 150 - 300 euros / year
- Mobile phone subscription: 10 - 40 euros / month
- Fixed line internet connection: 5 - 50 euros / month
- Public transport ticket: 40 - 120 euros / month
- Electricity: 5 - 20 euros / month
- Heating: included in the apartment's costs
- Water: 20 euros / month / person
- Bank service fees: 0 - 10 euros / month
Remittance from Finland via Wise
Commonly, immigrants in Finland are sending money back to their families in their home countries. Currency rates fluctuate a lot so you need to be careful with them. One more thing, as stated earlier, everything in Finland just costs a lot more and fees for sending money abroad are not an exception!
We have two advices: Check the currency rates carefully and try to send money only when the rate is good. Our special tip is to use Wise that has much lower fees than many other similar companies.
Ceasar is regularly using Wise for sending money to the Philippines. Wise offers the best currency exchange rates daily. This means you are guaranteed to have the same rate with Wise as the exchange rate shown by Google at the time of transaction. The best part about using Wise is that Wise has the cheapest remittance fees which are lower than banks and other remittance companies are asking for.
The Best Place to Live in Finland
It is up to your preferences what is a good place to live in Finland. Of course, it depends also on your work or studying place. If you like a big metropolis, Helsinki is the only suitable choice. But on a global scale, Greater Helsinki is still quite small but is still the most urban area in Finland with 1 million inhabitants. If you are happy staying in smaller cities, Turku, Tampere and Oulu are good choices too.
Another option is to live in the countryside. Life may get boring if you are used to an active lifestyle. Getting social contacts requires more effort and fewer services are available. Living in the countryside suits people who love nature and prefer a peaceful environment. Even though the public transport network in Finland is good, the travel distances are long. The further from Helsinki you live, the more time you need to spend travelling. In the countryside, a car is almost a necessity.
Surviving in the Finnish Climate
Finland is as north as Alaska but the weather is still significantly warmer, thanks to the sea currents. In summers, the temperature in Finland can rise to 30 centigrade but in cold winters, temperatures below -20 degrees are possible. It is good to understand that even in normal circumstances, there is a lot of variance in the Finnish weather. In the best case, summers are warm and sunny but it is possible to face cloudy, rainy and cool summers. The weather changes fast and there is nothing like the normal Finnish summer weather. The same applies to the winter. Sunny winter days are cold but beautiful with a lot of snow. Cloudy days are warmer but they tend to be darker, especially in South Finland. You can forecast the weather only a few days ahead.
The best way to survive in changing conditions is to have the right clothing for outdoor activities. When the weather is nice, it is also important to enjoy it. On colder and rainier days, doing inside activities is recommended. Heating systems in Finnish buildings are reliable so the living conditions inside are always good.
According to many immigrants, the biggest challenge is the lack of sun. In winters, you will barely see the sun and the day length is only a few hours. In summers, it can be rainy many weeks in a row. Luckily, the day length of summer is almost 20 hours. People coming from tropical conditions will face a big change and it takes a few years to get used to it. A good solution to get more sun is to book a flight ticket to a sunny destination in Souther Europe which we used to do.
In winters, the weather in North Finland is much colder than in Helsinki but there is also more snow. The Lappish nature is at its best in the winter. In the summer, the gap in temperatures in the different regions in Finland is smaller.
Is There Discrimination in Finland?
It would be nice to wish that there is no discrimination in Finland, especially that Finnish law dictates, that everyone is entitled to be treated equally. Unfortunately, still, discrimination does exist in Finland like in every country. We do recommend learning about your rights. Seek help from proper authorities if you think your rights were violated. Living in Finland is safe. However, as a foreigner some tasks may be more difficult like finding a job. Study says, if there are other Finnish sounding names in a group of applicants, the local will mostly be hired more than an applicant with a foreign-sounding name. The government is proposing to implement anonymous job hiring where the personal details of the applicants will keep unknown to avoid bias in hiring by companies.
As a foreigner who just moved to Finland, it is expected to have poor Finnish language skills in the beginning. Such factors led us to somehow get discriminated against when looking for a new apartment with my housemates. Apartment owners always have turned down our applications as tenants. With the help of a Finnish workmate, we were able to secure a new place to move to. With our second apartment transfer, getting the application done was done alone ourselves as we managed it with better Finnish language skills. So language skill is an important survival weapon as an immigrant.
Some may also find Finns at first to be unfriendly but once you befriend one, you'll realize you just gained a friend maybe for life. Finns prefer much personal space but they can become your loyal friend as well. Your basic tool to spark a conversation with a Finn? Learn their language by heart :). It does not matter if you speak the language in the wrong grammar. Locals will understand. They appreciate it much if you try to speak their unique language. With time and constant practice, your language skills will surely improve.
We are not giving relocation recommendations to Finland. However, in the case that you have decided to move here, we advise you to do your decision making carefully. Study about your tentative destinations. Still, if you have chosen to immigrate to Finland and you are interested in knowing more about this country, read our story about how an ex-pat has experienced after moving to Finland.
Are you planning to immigrate to Finland, comment below. Or join our Travelling and Living in Finland Facebook group!