27 reasons to live in Helsinki

Sitting on the deck of Allas Sea Pool at night, the Predential Palace and the building of Pohjoisesplanadi lit up in the background, a man in swimming shorts looks out towards the harbour on the left.
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Helsinki is a really exciting place to live and work right now. With an increasing number of expats, a hot startup scene, and easy-to use social services, it's the perfect city to relocate to. Whether you're looking to advance your career, settle down with your family, or find the perfect work life balance, Helsinki is well worth considering.

Because Helsinki is a safe city.

Every three years, the City of Helsinki assesses its citizens' sense of security. According to the latest study, everyday living in Helsinki is mainly seen as safe. According to a survey carried out by the Finnish Police University College, 95% of Finns say that when an accident occurs, help comes quickly.

Because every child in Helsinki is entitled to a place at kindergarten. And schools don’t have waiting lists.

Education in Finland is among the best in the world. Both pre-schools and elementary schools offer children a hot lunch and free school books. And schools ensure that students have access to all the supplies they could possible need.

Group of kids from Kalasatama school sit on the grass watching a guy do a forward somersault
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Because it’s true that everyone is equal in Helsinki.

Finland’s First Lady, Jenni Haukio, gave birth in a public hospital. In Helsinki you can even bump into Sauli Niinistö, the president himself, at an ice hockey game or sipping a coffee at the market square.

Because playing ice hockey is a great way to get to know Finns.

"Some foreigners enjoy their time with each other in Finland but for me it has always been important to get to know local people and the local culture. Ice hockey players are a much bigger community in Finland which makes it easier to get to know new people.”
Radim Mušálek, moved from the Czech Republic in 2010

And Finns aren’t as shy as you think.

"Finns are no more reserved than Americans. The culture is actually surprisingly similar. If you want to get to know Finnish people, it's worthwhile to go talk to them, they are not shy at all.”
Jon Torre, moved from America a couple of years ago

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And it’s easy to meet other expats too.

"I have studied Russian language and culture at the University of Helsinki. There are also Russian quiz nights and many Russian theatre groups and orchestras come here to do shows.”
Jelena Nerman, moved from Russia as a teenager

Because healthcare is top-quality, easy to access and free

All Helsinkians are automatically covered by the city's healthcare system. And access is quick and easy. In fact, on average Helsinkians are slightly healthier than the rest of Finland.

Because Helsinki is world-famous for its architecture.

Awe-inspiring examples of creative design include the newly opened central library Oodi, the hugely popular contemporary art museum Amos Rex, the Music Centre, and Pasila, Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama, the newest city districts undergoing development.

A view of the stairs sweeping up and around to the left, sofas and an open area for kids to play in the center of the space.
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Because the city’s immigration services are really good.

Helsinki's social services are generally seen as well-functioning. The initial screening offered by immigration services helps newcomers get on their feet and provides them with information about housing, work and educational opportunities, as well as services for families.

And almost everyone speaks really good English.

"I got a nice feeling from… the city of Helsinki. There are more people here from different cultures and communication is easier because most people speak English."
Ayisat Yusuf, moved from Nigeria, via Oulu, in 2009

In fact, you’ll hear all sorts of languages in Helsinki.

The majority of Helsinki-dwellers speak English in addition to their mother tongue of Finnish or Swedish, often along with some other foreign language such as German, French or Spanish. Other common languages you might hear in Helsinki include Estonian, Russian, Somali and Arabic, as well as some Kurdish, Chinese, Farsi, Albanian and Vietnamese.

Because Helsinki is surrounded by nature.

If you long for peace and quiet, you can get to Nuuksio National Park from central Helsinki in an hour on public transport. And Helsinki's beautiful islands are easily reached via ferry connections – some in twenty minutes, and the closest ones in just three.

Woman looking at the sea in Aurinkolahti, silhouetted partially by the golden, setting sun behind her
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Because Finns are active people and Helsinki is small enough to avoid public transport if you want to.

The city bike system was set up in 2016 and the city’s network of bike paths keeps growing. In addition to biking and walking, it is not unheard of to spot a local cross-country skiing to work in the winter.

But if you want to get the metro, that’s easy too.

The metro goes between four end stations, taking passengers from western Espoo to eastern Helsinki near the border to Vantaa.

And Helsinki’s bus and train routes are good.

Traveling to other major Finnish cities is fast by bus or train. Tampere and Turku are both two hours away, and Lahti, Hämeenlinna and Porvoo are just an hour outside of the city.

If you want to drive, there’s rarely any traffic.

Private car traffic accounts for only 21% of Helsinki's transportation, so drivers need not worry about heavy congestion.

Because you can hop on a boat and wind up somewhere totally new.

Direct boats from Helsinki go to Tallinn and Stockholm daily. And in the summertime, Helsinki luxury passenger ships arrive here from as far as the Caribbean.

Seen from a side view, through a large doorway surrounded by white tiles, a group of 10 people sit down at a long table to have a meeting in Games Factory's office.
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Because Helsinki is a good city for startups.

“The culture is more open than in Britain: we feel supported and encouraged… There is a lot of buzz here, everyone wants to save the world."
Matthew Äikäs-Adams, moved from Edinburgh last year

Because Helsinki’s culture scene is second to none.

The arts and culture scene in the city is active and bustling. Helsinki is home to the National Opera House, two symphony orchestras, and the new Dance House Helsinki, which will open in 2021. It also houses eleven professional theatres and plenty of organised artistic groups.

And its food scene is one of Finland's best kept secrets.

There are great food spots all over the city, from its downtown area to the outskirts and beyond. Be it cricket sandwiches, vegan dishes, Asian food trends or traditional Finnish fare, you’re sure to find something you like.

Close up of a vegetarian burger and salad, where the burger bun is an avocado.
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Because Helsinki’s universities are free and respected all over the world.

The University of Helsinki is often ranked among the world's top 100 universities. And just a short metro ride away, there’s Aalto University, which was awarded seventh place in the QS ranking of universities that were founded within the last 50 years. Plus, higher education is free of charge for students arriving from EU/EEA countries.

And you can even study in English.

Universities in the metropolitan area often offer BA and MA programmes in English.

Because 34% of Helsinki is covered by trees.

In all Finnish forests the so-called “everyman's right” holds sway. This means that everyone is free to roam the forests and wilderness regardless of who owns the land.

And sauna culture is important to Finns.

Check out Allas Sea Pool by the Market Square or Löyly, a public sauna complex in the western downtown area. In winter, ice swimming is a popular activity. 

Showing mainly the water, a man facing the camera and a woman to the right resting against the wall smile, as they show their heads above the water at a misty Allas Sea Pool
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Because Helsinki cares about sustainability.

The City of Helsinki is trying to become carbon-neutral by 2035.

And recycling is really easy here.

Helsinki and its residents are aiming to reduce over-consumption. A number of citizen initiative are tackling this problem, for example: there are lots of recycling groups on Facebook where residents sell their old belongings cheaply.  

Because you’ll never get bored in Helsinki.

Helsinki is jam-packed full of events. For example, Cleaning Day encourages people to recycle and to care for the environment. On Restaurant Day, Helsinkians set up one-day pop-up restaurants in the city. And then there’s the annual Helsinki Festival, the Night of the Arts, and Lux Helsinki

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Whether you're looking to advance your career, settle down with your family, or find the perfect work life balance, Helsinki is well worth considering.