16 Pros and Cons of Living in Finland

Updated On October 9, 2023
Finland

If you are considering moving to Finland, there are a few things you should know before you go.

Some people know Finland as a land of stunning natural vistas, wild reindeer, sauna culture, and prosperity.

Others claim that the country is cold, dark, and unfriendly.

As with most things, some aspects of each side are true.

In this article, we will list the pros and cons of living in Finland to help you decide if the country is right for you.

Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, Finland

Pros of Living in Finland

1. There is Universal Healthcare. 

Like most European countries, Finland has universal healthcare.

Everyone receiving medical treatment in the country can expect to receive excellent care without being billed for it.

Finland’s accessible healthcare means that it is more affordable to stay healthy and get help when you need it.

This also means that raising kids is about 200 times less expensive than in the United States

2. There is High-Quality Public Education. 

Public education in Finland is free to everyone, not just in primary school but also in university and doctoral studies.

Finnish culture values teachers and children have very little homework.

Unsurprisingly, Finland has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, at 99 percent (most recent estimates put literacy rates in the US at 79 percent).

3. Salaries are High. 

Most people working in Finland make an excellent salary.

The average salary as of 2020 was $64,078 per year, with unemployment down to 7.2 percent.

Finland also has strong social safety nets, with universal healthcare and free education also influencing how much money stays in your bank account.

4. Crime is Low. 

Crime rates in Finland are extremely low, and in general, you can feel very safe in public.

In fact, some estimates put Finland as the safest country in the world.

It is common to see children walking by themselves, even in urban centers like Helsinki.

Some people even leave their homes unlocked.

5. There is Excellent Public Transport. 

Finland has excellent taxpayer-funded public transit.

In many places, it is possible to get almost anywhere you need to go simply by walking.

When that is not possible, you will find most people taking bicycles, buses, or trains.

Only 60 percent of families even own a car, since it is often not necessary!

6. There are no Job Titles.

Let’s clarify — of course, there are job titles in the sense of having a certain task at work.

But in an office space, there is no hierarchy or separation of workers.

Employees usually sit on open floor plans and are encouraged to mingle to encourage a sense of equality and mutual respect in the workplace.

7. The Scenery is breathtaking.

Finland is an extraordinarily beautiful place.

Sixty-six percent of the country is forested, with 40 national parks throughout the peninsula.

The coastline offers fascinating formations and sights of the water, while the north of the country offers the chance to see wild animals such as reindeer and the famous Northern Lights.

8. Authorities are Honest.

While we cannot say that there is no corruption in the Finnish government, the authorities in this country are rated some of the most honest in the world.

Finnish culture is intolerant of authoritarian abuse of power and tends to value equality over hierarchy, which improves government transparency and responsibility. 

Cons of Living in Finland

1. Winters are Extremely Cold.

Winters in Finland can be particularly difficult to get used to.

Not only are they bitterly cold, but they are also long and dark.

In northern Finland, winter temperatures can drop as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

Do not think that it is much warmer in the south, near Helsinki — you can still expect it to get at least 20 degrees below zero, with snowstorms often lasting well into April.

2. Sunshine isn’t a Given.

Another aspect of winter in Finland is that it can be very dark for a long time.

In the northern parts of the country, days are pitch black for close to two months of the year.

While the sun does not disappear completely in the southern parts of Finland, the days can still be extremely short and gloomy, with long, dark nights.

The lack of winter sun directly contributes to rates of alcoholism and depression in Scandinavia. 

3. The Cost of Living is Extremely Expensive.

Salaries in Finland are high, so you would think that most people living there would be financially comfortable.

Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.

The cost of living in Finland is so high that, even with more generous salaries, many people struggle to pay their bills.

Living in Finland is pricier than living in approximately 80 percent of other countries around the world.

A family of four pays, on average, about $4,500 a month to live. 

4. The Language is One of the Most Difficult in the World. 

Finnish is famously one of the hardest languages in the world to learn.

One reason for this is that it is totally unrelated to other Scandinavian languages, which means there are no similarities to grasp for first-time learners.

Finnish has a dizzyingly complex grammatical structure with 15 distinct cases (to compare, German has four and English has five).

Subtle word endings can change the whole meaning of a word or sentence.

5. Taxes are High. 

Taxes in Finland are quite high, which can be difficult for some people to get accustomed to.

You can expect to lose about 31 percent of your paycheck to taxes.

Though it might seem unfair, remember that these high taxes are what contribute to Finland’s universal healthcare, public transit, generous maternity and paternity leave, and other public benefits. 

6. Depression Rates are High. 

The rates of clinical and seasonal depression are high in Finland.

Many people attribute this to the long, dark winters, with the lack of sunlight contributing to a mood imbalance.

These long winters also mean that people tend to stay home and socialize less.

The depression rate is also linked to the rate of binge drinking and alcohol addiction in Finland, both of which are concerningly high.

7. You Might Wait a Long Time for Housing. 

If you are on a list to qualify for municipal housing in Finland, be prepared to wait a long time.

Municipal housing is an attractive option to many people since it tends to be significantly cheaper than renting from a private party.

However, applicants are approved based on need.

If you are an ex-pat living in Finland, you might not be given priority on a housing list and find yourself eating the cost of more expensive rentals while you wait.

8. It Can be Hard to Find a Job.

Unemployment in Finland is low, which is a good thing.

But the flip side of this is that there aren’t always a lot of job openings.

Most companies have high employee retention, so vacancies are not a given.

It can take a lot of time and effort — as well as networking — to find a place in your job industry.

Raahe, Finland
Raahe, Finland

Pros and Cons of Living in Finland – Summary Table

Pros of Living in FinlandCons of Living in Finland
1. There is Universal Healthcare. 1. Winters are Extremely Cold.
2. There is High-Quality Public Education. 2. Sunshine isn’t a Given.
3. Salaries are High. 3. The Cost of Living is Extremely Expensive.
4. Crime is Low. 4. The Language is One of the Most Difficult in the World. 
5. There is Excellent Public Transport. 5. Taxes are High. 
6. There are no Job Titles.6. Depression Rates are High. 
7. The Scenery is breathtaking.7. You Might Wait a Long Time for Housing. 
8. Authorities are Honest.8. It Can be Hard to Find a Job.

Conclusion

Finland is a fascinating and unique culture that may be unlike anywhere you have ever visited before.

This charming country has beautiful things to see no matter where you are, from the remote forested north to the more urban south.

Though moving there may present some challenges, many ex-pats have learned for themselves why it is called the happiest country in the world.

Finland Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Finland Safety Review

Safety Index:
86
  • OVERALL RISK: LOW
  • TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
  • PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
  • NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
  • MUGGING RISK: LOW
  • TERRORISM RISK: LOW
  • SCAMS RISK: LOW
  • WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Quality of Life in Finland?

Finland is widely known as the happiest place in the world to live.

It ranked #3 globally in terms of quality of life, with high scores in almost every category.

Most people who live in Finland say they feel like their basic needs are satisfied, that they have personal freedom, and that their life is happy and valued.

Is Finland a Good Place to Live as a Foreigner?

Living in Finland as a foreigner can present both benefits and challenges.

The language barrier can be difficult, but most Finns speak English very well.

There may also be some culture shock, as Finnish people often come across as unfriendly or cold at first.

However, many foreigners learn to appreciate Finnish culture and enjoy living in this unique country.

Can You Live in Finland if You Only Speak English?

Though it is always good to put in an effort to learn the language of the country, you can get by in Finland only by speaking English.

Most native Finns speak English very well, and even those who are not fluent are likely to have studied the basics of the language.

That being said, a little effort goes a long way, and you are more likely to make friends if you try to learn some Finnish.

What Should I Avoid in Finland?

While Finland is generally a safe and friendly country, there are a few things you should avoid.

Weather and wild animals can pose dangers, especially for tourists.

Make sure you avoid approaching animals such as reindeer, moose, bears, and wolves, and always dress in layers, especially in the cold months.

Culturally, Finnish people value politeness and reserve.

Do not try to be overly familiar or chatty — and certainly do not assume that everyone speaks English.

Are Finnish People Unfriendly?

There is a persistent stereotype that Finnish people are unfriendly, but this is an overgeneralization.

Culturally, Finnish people tend to be quieter and less chatty than some countries.

But like anywhere else, you will find a wide variety of personality types in Finland.

Finnish people are not unfriendly, but they may be reserved and take unkindly to foreigners who try to be overly chatty or familiar.

However, you will find that they can also be very warm, generous, and hospitable.

17 Comments on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Finland

  1. A family of four doesn´t need 4500 dollars a month in Finland! Our family lives in a house (in a quiet town, though), we own a big car, use a lot of money for food, have three big dogs BUT live a rather simple lifestyle: no Netflix, no cinemas, concerts, travelling only moderately, and 2500 dollars a month is just enough. With a few hundred more, we would live a little more comfortably. Let´s say, with 3000 we would get pretty much anything we need. But no, a family of four doesn´t need that much unless one lives in a very fancy house around bigger cities and wants all sorts of fun things to do all the time – and expensive hobbies for the kids.
    I am a native Finn but I find my country grey and boring. I have lived in many other countries, too, and also visited dozens, so I know how to compare. People can be really nice though, but racism is a problem – my husband is a white foreigner so I know also from experience. The climate is pretty awful. Especially with having kids who don´t like to go outside or to get dressed warmer if it is cooler, this means that I have to force them to go out 9 months in a year! Authorities are a huge problem, too. If they do wrong, which they often do, they never admit it, and their bosses will protect the workers even if it means lying. You will never get justice if you have encountered unfairness or injustice from the authorities, this is just a fact. It is also like corruption, so it´s a lie that there is no corruption here. There is, just in a very masked form.
    Bad things happen here, too, so it is really not that safe. Like rapes, stabbings, violence, thefts etc. If you live in a quieter area, it might take an hour or more for the police to arrive. And they might say that they won´t come even if you are in danger. Just read a story like this recently. Unfortunately we have been experiencing hatred crimes because of being an international family, and the police doesn´t really care. The police are very passive and many of them are racist. Then they will say that they don´t have enough resources to deal with everything, but that is only half truth as they have increased resources lately a lot. It´s more about their passive attitude and their expectation that nothing bad will ever happen. It´s irritating. In Norway and Sweden, for instance, the police forces were very fast and reactive, whereas in Finland… Oh boy! They are a joke.

    If you have BOTH kids AND enemies, beware! Your enemies might report you to the child protection services just out of hatred for you, and that is not fun. The social office will monitor you closely for several months and you might end up losing your kids and never get them back. And they do treat foreigners differently so if you are a foreigner, you are at a higher risk of losing your children to the authorities than Finns, even though Finns lose their kids, too.

    I would say if you really want to move to a Nordic country, go to Sweden or Denmark. I have lived in Sweden, and visited Denmark. I have lived in Norway, too, and apart from the police there being a lot better and effective there than in Finland, it is not a good country to live for foreigners except if you move to the north where people are warmer and friendlier. But the climate might be a problem, and the child protection services are even more fierce there than in Finland. So yeah, Sweden or Denmark are better options. Just stay away from Finland. And if you have kids, stay away from Norway, too!

    1. M
      Mackenzie says:

      Seems fair and balanced…

      1. I like those countries from the Northern Europe, problem I don’t have anyone to guide me, but I dream of living in one… Please, if someone is helping, my email is jesseimani27@gmail.com

    2. M
      Michael says:

      Thank you so much for this candid and honest evaluation of living in Finland. I have heard nothing but positive things about living in Finland which in my opinion somewhat suspect. No place is perfect. I am possible getting a job in Helsinki and will move from San Diego, CA to Helsinki and by what you’ve described will be a huge culture shock for me and my wife. My wife is Thai and I am of mixed heritage Filipino and a black American, I can imagine what myself and my wife will be perceived not to mention the stares.

      You have given me much to think about. I can not thank you enough for your breakdown of living in Finland. Thanks again!

  2. Point of child custody by the government is very surprising and it is cruel. Most safest place for kids is their parents home and their support. No government can give them unconditional love as the parents do.

  3. A
    Anonymous says:

    Need more than one opinion of living there, thats for sure, maybe it’s just the area

  4. Aris opinion is his own opinion, partly true yes, but not in this scale as he descibes, , something in between, if you live normal life , you gonna get quite a comfortable life in Finland, authorities and police may make your life uncomfortable if you begin to struggle with them, like they do anywhere else

  5. J
    Jesus is Lord says:

    How long has Finland been this way? Sounds like socialism there. Are they also against Christians or freedom of religion? Can you go on vacations?

    1. Finland has human rights.

    2. I would advise you to remain in Texas

  6. A
    Anonymous says:

    But are people actually happy living there ? Last i check Finland is the happiest country in the world for several years now

    1. K
      Kaarina Laine says:

      no. Me and my best friend, Maddi have grown up in finland together. WE ARE MISERABLE!!!!!!!!!!!! we do not recommend moving here. we get no sun here. it’s always cloudy or dark out and that makes you depressed. The people here are stuck up snobby white people who have no manners. the food here is disgusting and the fashion is seriously not it. people dress like its 2008 its not a vibe. Its like switzerland if switzerland had no mountains and was ugly. only move here if you are planning on wanting to not live every day.

      1. J
        Johannes says:

        Sounds like my kind of place. No fashion, no fun, no bull-shit.

        1. Sounds like my kind of place as well.

  7. m
    marianne says:

    Then again .. the upside!
    The stunning no-night summers are incredibly warm, compared to say UK, from June to August with clean bath temperature lakes to swim in. And the chilly whiter than white snowy winters glowing against the ice blue sky reflecting light even throughout the shortest days – magic! The vibrant autumn palette with golds, yellows, reds, rust and amber. Not forgetting the bright green tiny stems rising through snow in spring with melting ice creating little brooks to prepare for nature’s yearly awakening. The very essence of four seasons stunningly defined by individual characteristic colouring, light and mood. Air is fresh and nature is always close to freely roam in. Get to know a Finn to show you around. Go foraging and discover your inner child. Your word is still as good as a contract and you’d be hard to find the old world honesty and trust elsewhere. Look up the Finnish word ‘talkoo’ too, that’ll explain some of the nation’s character.
    Ok it can be a bit on the quieter side and stuck up and abrupt even, but pros definitely outweigh the cons .. obviously depending on what you value and are looking for.
    So – don’t be so quick to knock it!

  8. A
    Ankit Bhatt says:

    I Am Indian and I know English only. Want to Move to Finland with my Wife and Children. it is advisable to move or not.

  9. J
    Jimmy the scott says:

    yes it’s advisable to go where you wish. stay free!

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