People have many different reasons for moving to Finland. Some go because of a personal connection such as a Finnish partner, but many go because the Finnish way of life sounds amazing – especially for families. Saunas, forest schools for little ones, low crime rates, affordable childcare and widespread gender equality make it an appealing place to live. In fact, Finland ranked as the happiest place to live in the 2018 World Happiness Report.
So what is life like for those who make the move to this paradise? Generally, people who have moved to this Nordic nation are happy with their choice, but we believe these four features of life in Finland deserve a special mention.
- Childhood. Finland goes far to ensure that everyone gets the best start in life possible. From their amazing maternity and paternity leave allowances (105 and 54 weekdays respectively) to their free creches and preschools, Finnish policy shows great enthusiasm for nurturing little ones. The school system features small schools and huge dedication to every child’s success.
- Outdoors. Fancy skiing through stunning snowscapes? Finns love the outdoors, and they are blessed with majestic lakes and forests. (And no, you won’t be expected to rake them.) Go far enough north, and you can see the Northern Lights. All of this astonishing wilderness is populated with wildlife, both cute and predatory. After all, this is the most heavily forested country in Europe. You can easily feel like you’ve stepped into an ancient fairy tale strolling through a silver birch forest on a night when the sun literally does not set.
- Saunas. This involves a major cultural adjustment for many people moving to Finland from Ireland (or most countries, for that matter). The cultural attitudes about nudity are very different. But it is worth moving out of your comfort zone to understand why the Finns love to get naked and roast themselves in saunas. They swear by the health benefits. How popular are saunas? They outnumber people in Finland.
- It’s Gorgeous. From the charming Moomin characters to the real reindeer in Lapland to Helsinki’s design district, be prepared to spend a lot of time saying ‘ooooh, look!’. Spend your summer holidays in a wooden cottage on a lakefront. All winter, you have the peaceful beauty of snow.
Challenges of Moving to Finland from Ireland
Moving to Finland does have some real challenges that should not be glossed over. The winters can look a lot better than they feel. Sure, it’s a dry cold, but it is extremely cold. In Helsinki, the temperature doesn’t really budge above freezing in December. And Helsinki is in the south of the country. While investing in a good-quality winter coat is highly recommendable, shipping your winter clothes with your personal effects is a good idea to save money in the long-run.
While Finland overall has an excellent quality of life, the health system gets decidedly mixed reviews. While it is extremely affordable, even seeing a GP on the public system can involve ridiculous waiting times. It is a two-tiered system, and going private is an option.
Finnish people are not known for being gregarious. Their reserve can seem unfriendly or downright rude to Irish people, who are used to chatting with others in queues and at pubs. People don’t greet strangers they pass on the street the way people do in Ireland. Developing a social life in Finland will take a sustained effort and a thick skin, but it can be done. Language is one key to it. Anyone moving to Finland for a significant period of time will need to learn Finnish. While you’ll find English speakers, it really is not feasible to live there without becoming fluent in the language.
None of that is enough to keep Finland from the number one spot in the World Happiness Report, so moving to Finland from Ireland really can be an amazingly positive experience.