Moving to Helsinki
The capital of Finland, Helsinki’s popularity as an expat destination is rapidly growing thanks to its healthy economy, dynamic cultural scene and high standards of healthcare and education. After being named World Design Capital in 2012, Helsinki's international reputation skyrocketed. Now it continues to be at the forefront of design and contemporary cool, boasting renovated industrial spaces, a prolific coffee culture and inventive cuisine. Expats will find Helsinki lacks none of the sophistication of home; it may even surpass it.
In the Uusimaa region of southern Finland, Helsinki is the country’s largest and most heavily populated city. Set on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it’s located about 50 miles (80km) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 250 miles (400km) northeast of Stockholm, Sweden, and 241 miles (388km) west of St Petersburg, Russia. Spread across a cluster of promontories and peninsulas, Helsinki is 450 years old and stands as the political, educational, financial, cultural centre of Finland. About three-quarters of the foreign companies which operate in Finland have bases in this region. The wide avenues of Helsinki are lined with buildings that showcase centuries of architectural excellence from the neoclassical era through to art deco and cutting-edge contemporary buildings.
When it comes to entertainment and lifestyle, Helsinki has something for everyone. Shopaholics will find plenty to keep them busy, from trawling antique markets and getting lost in modern shopping malls, to exploring the local design culture. Expats who enjoy an active lifestyle can get involved in a number of sporting pursuits which include golf, skiing, running and cycling.
Accommodation in the city is expensive and expats not keen on living in an apartment may have a difficult time finding suitable housing. Expats relocating to Helsinki with children will be pleased to know that there are plenty of schooling options. Public education is free, but many expats opt to send their children to an international school, especially if they’re only going to be in the country for a short while.
Moreover, getting around the city is easy due to a public transport network that is well-developed and affordable. Apart from being able to choose from trains, buses, trams, the metro and taxis, expats will also find that Helsinki is a very cyclist-friendly destination.
Medical facilities in Helsinki are advanced and new arrivals can rest assured that any treatments or care they receive will be of a very high standard. Pharmacies are also easy to find and many are open 24 hours a day.
Overall, expats in Helsinki will be able to make the most of their time in one of Northern Europe's most attractive destinations.