"I moved to Helsinki sixteen years ago from London. It's a running gag that people move to Finland either for love or to work for Nokia. I moved here for a relationship, but I also worked at Nokia later on.
I was really lonely when I first moved here. I had gotten used to the lifestyle of a big lively city in London and I missed my friends. Sixteen years ago, Helsinki was not as diverse as it is now, and I felt like an outsider. Then I started taking Finnish classes and made friends.
I was surprised by how much nature and how many green areas there are in Helsinki. The air was clean and I could drink water from the tap. I couldn't believe that kids could take public transport to school on their own.
I love Helsinki nowadays. The size of the city is just right. There are not too many people, and there is a harmonious balance between natural and urban environments. Public transportation runs on time and is fairly priced. There are also plenty of free activities in Helsinki, from climbing to swimming."
You don't need a car in Helsinki
"I grew up in Los Angeles, California. I didn't know anyone there that would use public transport. The reason was that you couldn't trust it. Los Angeles was designed for cars.
I felt pressured to start learning how to drive at 15 and to get my licence when I turned 16 so I could be independent and that my parents wouldn't have to drive me everywhere. I had to wake up three hours before school and spend a lot of time in traffic.
You rarely see traffic jams in Helsinki – at least the kind where the cars are standing bumper-to-bumper and not moving at all. I don't need to own a car here, or to even think about it. I can get anywhere with public transportation. It feels good. I don't need to worry that I'm wasting away my life by sitting in a car.
When I lived in London, the underground was always late. In Helsinki, public transportation always runs on time. I have very rarely needed to re-plan my route because of a cancellation.
The best thing about public transport in Helsinki is that you can trust it and that there are many options. If I want to get somewhere quickly, I take the train or the bus. If I have time to spare and want to take a scenic route, I jump in a tram."
Close to the woods and the sea
"I'm happy with urban planning in Helsinki. Many new residential districts are being built, and new transport connections make it easier to move around. I wish that Helsinki would develop into an even more multicultural and internationally known city and hold onto its charm at the same time.
There is a nice balance of greenness, sea and urban planning. It's important to me, it makes Helsinki a very special city. I can reach the sea in just a few minutes' walk or bike ride, and if I head the other way I reach Central Park.
Clean air and the freedom to roam are dear to me. I'm an avid amateur mycologist, that’s someone who researches mushrooms, and it is important for me to access nature. I like to boast that I live in a country with so much forest.
I've been interested in mushrooms ever since I started growing oyster mushrooms and Lion's Mane in the late nineties. Through this hobby, I found an interest in identifying and picking mushrooms in the wild. Finding edible mushrooms was not easy in my previous hometowns, but Helsinki is a different story.
My favourite forest here is Sipoonkorpi. I go there a few times every year to pick mushrooms."
Helsinki cares for its citizens
"Helsinki is a beautiful city, especially in the summer. A tourist can check out the highlights in half a day – go island hopping, forage, and eat in excellent restaurants. There is a lot to do here, regardless of one's interests.
Helsinki is a good choice if you want to live in a city that is close to nature and that cares about its citizens. A good example of this is Helsinki's willingness to try new things. New experiments pop up, and perhaps also fade away, but at least there is a mentality that new experiences and ideas are worth collecting and developing.
I like to think that Helsinki is a good place for people who like to look ahead. Those who can bear the cold and dark weather for a few months a year and want to cherish that short moment when nature wakes up and the sun shines almost throughout the whole day."
Grid card list
Finland is the most forested country in Europe, thus ensuring that you can reach greenery and the calm of nature within minutes without venturing too far even from the Helsinki centre. Even though Helsinki is the biggest city in the country if you wish to go down to the woods there are plenty of places you can easily reach where you can experience the Finnish forest at its peaceful best.
In Finland we believe that nature is good for you. Being in nature has a positive influence on your physical and mental health, lowering your blood pressure, reducing stress and soothing your mind. Helsinki is one of the few capital cities in the world where the real nature is so close to its inhabitants. You can easily move around the city by bike but the metro is also a great way to get from the city centre out into the nature.