Helsinki is certainly not one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but with its neoclassical buildings, which Tsar Alexander I had built on the model of St. Petersburg, not forgetting that Finland was subordinated to the Russian Empire for a long time and only became independent in 1918.
The city is located in the middle of nature, with its countless parks, nearby forests, coast and small islands, it is a perfect combination of urban and natural environment.
Finland’s public services are excellent: kindergartens, schools, public transport, health care are at a very good level.
The public transport system is state of the art, with trains, buses, streetcars, subways and water buses covering the entire city area, making it possible to do without a car. Not to mention that Helsinki is one of the cities with the best network of bicycle lanes in all of Europe, which makes using a bike very easy and convenient.
Education and health care are generally free. Education is free, from elementary school to university. During university studies, you have the right to apply for a loan for the duration of your studies, which is repaid once you find a job.
Crime is almost non-existent, the only problem that can happen to you is meeting a drunk who can be annoying. Compared to other European capitals, Helsinki is really safe.
Housing costs in Helsinki are quite high, but still far below other major European capitals like Paris or London. The tax level is high, but in return you get a whole range of free services (health, school, etc.) and can benefit from an excellent social system. In any case, these relatively high prices are compensated by an equally high level of wages. Often costs less for a Finn to spend a week’s holiday in Greece or Spain (including airfare) than a week’s holiday in Hietaniemi, one of Finland’s most popular beaches.
Contrary to what you may think, there are 4 seasons in Helsinki. Summer lasts only a blink of an eye, but it is really beautiful (sometimes), and the sun practically never sets. Winters are not particularly cold or snowy, but the perpetual darkness that dominates this time of year, with only a few hours of daylight per day, makes life really difficult during this time of year. On the other hand, you can not expect anything else if you choose to live in the northernmost metropolis in the world. You need a lot of friends and a busy social life to spend the long winter in Finland.
Finland is a racially quite homogeneous country with only 400,000 immigrants making up about 7% of the population, most of whom live in Helsinki. Nevertheless, the people are not cold or arrogant towards foreigners.
Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish, and in Helsinki you can often find everything in both languages. In any case, you can easily spend your whole life here without knowing a single word of either language, because everyone know English. But it’s really hard to make friends with Finns, it would be easier if you knew Finnish, but unfortunately Finnish in particular is not easy (to learn).
Finns believe in the rules and obey the laws. They are honest people and it is not part of their culture to cheat others. They are a free and liberal people. Everyone is accepted for who they are and not judged because of their gender, culture, race or sexual orientation.
Helsinki residents, like all Nordic residents,
Unlike Latinos, they are reserved and respectful of others’ privacy. When you take public transportation, the first thing you will notice is the silence that reigns there; no one who speaks or is forced to do so does so in a whisper.
Only on weekends, after the third beer, do they become more sociable. The nightlife is not on the level of other European metropolises, but it is definitely enough for most Helsinki residents to enjoy themselves on Friday and Saturday nights.
As for work, it must be said that job opportunities in Helsinki vary depending on the profession. There are some jobs that are lacking and others that are not, so it is necessary to find out if your profession is in demand or not.
In Helsinki, there are a remarkable number of startups in the technology sector. Therefore, those who want to work in this field can find interesting opportunities.
Living and working in Helsinki pros and cons
Living in Helsinki, pros
- Beautiful landscape and nature within reach
- Possibility to live even if you only know English
- Reserved but friendly and helpful people
- Very low crime rate
- Good salary level (average salary 3.000 € per month)
- Great public services
- Good working conditions
Living in Helsinki, cons
- Weather, long, dark, depressing winters and summers when the sun is sometimes barely visible
- Difficult to learn language
- High cost of living
Living and working in Helsinki, conclusion
Helsinki is a clean, modern, safe, green city, with excellent services and technologically advanced, so if you can overcome the only real obstacle that is the weather, I think it is one of the best cities in the world to live or have a life experience.