• published on 1/5/2024
  • 5min

Living in Finland as an Expat

Finland came 3rd in InterNations Quality of Life Index 2023, making it an appealing place to live for many expats.[1] Known for its expansive forests, beautiful lakes and sauna culture, there is plenty here for expats to experience and enjoy here.

Living in Finland as an Expat

1. Finding a place to live

2. Climate

3. Transport

4. The healthcare system in Finland

5. Residency permits

Take a look at the guide we’ve created with some useful information to help you navigate life in Finland as an expat.

Finding a place to live

Deciding on a location

Finding a place to live is one of the most important decisions when it comes to moving abroad, allowing you the chance to find the ideal location for your lifestyle needs.

Searching online to find out about different places in your preferred country is a good place to start, giving you an idea of the cost of living, amenities, and transport links. Some cities in Finland that you could consider include:

  • Helsinki: the capital of Finland, this city has lots on offer for residents, from its diverse architecture and its creative Design District to its close proximity to the Baltic Sea.

  • Rovaniemi: situated only 8km from the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is famous for its bustling café scene and is a perfect location for those who enjoy being surrounded by nature.

  • Tampere: with a population of over 200,000 people, Tampere is known for its vast lakes and reputation as a thriving technology hub.

  • Turku: this is a great option for history lovers, as there are plenty of historical sites to visit. There is also a vibrant restaurant scene where you can sample the local delicacies and eateries.

Securing accommodation

Choosing a property to reside in is another important choice you’ll need to make if you move to Finland, as you’ll be spending much of your time there.

Renting accommodation (known as vuokra-asunnot) could be desirable for you, especially if you’re only moving to Finland temporarily. Cost of renting can vary; in Helsinki, for example, you could expect to pay in the region of €1,340 euros for a furnished one-bedroom apartment. [2]

Alternatively, if you want to move to the country more permanently, then purchasing a property could be the correct choice for you. There are various ways you can buy a home here, primarily through real estate (kiinteistö) or with a housing share (asunto-osake).

Different countries will have varying rules and regulations for renting or buying, so check these details before your move to ensure your following everything correctly.


Finland experiences a variety of weather, with mild but warm temperatures in summer, to very cold winters where temperatures can plummet and snow is common. In December 2022, Helsinki had an average temperature of -1.6 degrees celsius, whilst in Sodankylä in Lapland, the average temperature was -10.4 degrees celsius.[3]

The warmest weather can be found in the south, where expats can take in the sun and participate in water activities in one of the country’s many lakes, such as Finnträsk or Lake Tuusula.

Finland is famous for its sauna culture, which expats can enjoy on cold winter days. Also, if you visit the Lapland region you might be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights!


There are lots of transport choices for people living in Finland, incorporating high-speed trains, buses, and ferries. Additionally, in the most populated city Helsinki, there is a metro system which that provides convenient travel services to the city’s 1.3 million residents.

High-speed trains are an efficient mode of travel across Finland, travelling between the different cities and territories within the country. Slower, regional trains are also available that allow you to travel at cheaper prices.

Buses are another form of travel in Finland, and can transport you to areas not accessible by train. Though it might take you longer to arrive at your destination than by train, it gives you the opportunity to take in the stunning scenery around you.

With approximately 180,000 islands, ferry is an alternative transport method for exploring the country, as well as to nearby countries such as Sweden and Germany. Some of the main ferry ports in Finland are Helsinki, Hanko and Naantali.

The healthcare system in Finland

Finland provides universal healthcare to its citizens and residents and is organised into two categories: primary care and specialist care. It is predominantly tax-funded, but its services are not completely free.

The public healthcare system is administered by the City of Helsinki, the HUS Group, and the wellbeing services counties Examples of some of the healthcare services covered under the public healthcare system include:

  • Vaccinations

  • Maternity care

  • Emergency services

  • Mental health services

In order to access healthcare services, you must register your residency with the Digital and Population Data Service Agency, and then with your municipality. When you seek medical treatment, you need to present your Kela (Social Insurance Institution of Finland) Card.

It’s important to note, that one of the required criteria when applying for a student residence permit is a health insurance plan. At APRIL International, our international health insurance gives you the flexibility to decide where you’re treated and who by, as well as the reassurance that you can access private medical treatment if you need to.

To find out what is covered under an international medical insurance plan, check out our blog here.

Residency permits

You will need a residency permit if you’re not from an EU/EEA country and want to remain in Finland for longer than 90 days. The type of permit you require will depend on your individual circumstances, such as how long you wish to remain in the country, your nationality, and whether you’re relocating for work.

If you’re an EU citizen, then you don’t need a residency permit to live in Finland; however, you must register your right of residence and place of residence if you’re going to stay here for more than 90 days.

Fixed term permits

Fixed term permits are one of the kinds of permits you can apply for if you’re thinking of a move here. These are divided into two categories:

  • First residence permit: this is a fixed term permit, and how long it is valid for depends on what type of permit you apply for.

  • Extended permit: this can be applied for a period of up to four years, but it can then be extended if you wish.

Permanent residency permits

Applying for a permanent residency permit is another option available to expats if they want to make their move more permanent. There are different criteria you need to meet before you can apply for this - make sure you carefully check this information if this something you're interested in.