Living in Finland?
Finland: Housing, Healthcare, Wellbeing
Finding Accommodation in Finland
The internet is always a good starting point for house hunting. Some recommended websites for finding accommodation in Finland are Lumo (in English and Finnish), Etuovi (in English and Finnish), Jokakoti (in Finnish), Oikotie (in Finnish), and Vuokraovi (in English and Finnish).
Another resource are local newspapers in Finland; however, you need to understand Finnish.
It is more common to buy as opposed to rent housing in Finland. Most Finns own their homes and there are no restrictions on foreigners buying property (with the Province of Aland the only exception). Cities in Finland also administer rented housing. This option is often cheaper than renting privately. However, the city does not own enough apartments for everyone, so not everyone is eligible for this option.
In general, housing is expensive in Finland and even more so in Helsinki. The average household in Finland spends 22% of their income on accommodation.
Rental prices usually do not include electricity or gas, so the tenant often pays these directly. Sometimes water is not included in the rent either. When you’ve found your dream rental home, you have to pay a security deposit. The maximum amount is the monthly rent for three months.
One plus of living in Finland is that many apartments and houses have access to saunas. If you want to sweat it out in the sauna, you normally have to make a reservation in advance. Winter may be long in Finland, but the Finns certainly know how to handle it!
Living Healthy and Secure in the North
Finland has universal healthcare provided by Kela, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution. If you work in Finland or live there permanently, then Kela covers you.
To apply, fill in the online application or go to a Kela office. Once you have been approved, Kela sends you your new health card by post.
Chances are Kela is going to be your go-to for most things you need in Finland. Kela takes care of everything from student financial aid to rehabilitation, and from national pensions to unemployment security. In addition to all these social services, Kela is also responsible for healthcare.
The municipalities take care of healthcare services, and so for anything health-related, simply make an appointment with your local municipal health center.
Private health insurance is also an option, but most Finns stick to public insurance. However, if you do have private insurance, it will typically cover anything outside of the realm of public coverage.
Healthcare around the Clock
The emergency help number is 112 and is free of charge. Should you require information about healthcare at any time in Helsinki, call the 24-hour number 09 310 100 23.
The pharmacy (Apteekk) at Mannerheimintie in Helsinki has 24-hour service.
Kela covers some dental work. Municipal health centers have dental clinics, with centralized booking and information services (e.g. if living in Helsinki call 09 310 51400 between 08:00 and 15:00, Monday through Friday). Alternatively, you can make an appointment with a private dentist. The latter is more expensive, so first check with Kela to find out about being reimbursed.
Saunas: A Finn’s Second Home
There may only be 5.4 million people in Finland, but there are 3.3 million saunas! This says a lot about the Finnish lifestyle and its priorities. Historically, children were born in saunas and the sick were healed in the hot steam. Today, a sauna is a place to gather with friends or to relax alone.
The heat is therapeutic as it is believed to help muscles relax and for mental stress to evaporate like the water when it hits the sizzling rocks. You might encounter bunches of birch leaves in saunas as it is common practice to lightly beat the body with the leaves. This is believed to stimulate blood circulation.
Even though saunas are blissfully relaxing, don’t forget to take breaks. It is a good idea to leave the sauna every now and then to cool off under cold water.
In Finland, it is common practice to go to a sauna weekly. Women bathe with women and men bathe with men with the exception of families and good friends.
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