Manish (42): "I worked for several years in the United States and the UK and when I heard of a job opportunity in Finland I had to look for it on the map. In my mind's eye, I saw scattered houses here and there, and lots of snow. We wanted the best possible education for our son who was born in New Delhi in 2012, and when I read that the Finnish education system is the best in the world, we decided that we would come to Finland. We moved in summer 2015. The summer was a lousy one, rainy and windy, but the Finns say that there is no bad weather, you just need the right gear.
My original image didn't fit the reality; this is our dream spot. We live in Ruoholahti near the city centre, right by a metro stop. We have everything we need right by our house, like shops, parks and public transport. We have lived in many places but Helsinki is the one where we want to settle down permanently.
The city is peaceful and work is not stressful. It is enough to just do your job. We even bought a Hitas apartment which will be completed in a few years. Hitas is a housing system by the City of Helsinki that offers reasonably priced owner-occupied flats for citizens. We don't know Finnish but it doesn't matter. People are friendly and treat us with respect. When our parents visited us here they noticed how people smile."
Pooja (39): "When my firstborn was small, I was worried about the development of his motoric skills. In other places he would have had to start school very young but I read that in Finland children only start school at seven and the teaching is very much based on play. Children get to develop according to their own rhythm, without the stress. Gaurang has grown up to be an innovative boy and a good reader. As a mother, I am very happy about his development."
Manish: "Gaurang attends the International School of Helsinki which is walking distance from our home. He is in the third grade now and rides to school alone by bike. I'm taking part in the school's activities as a board member. Many parents are active. Gaurang's best friend is a Finnish boy from the same class."
A flexible working culture is based on mutual trust
Pooja: "I stayed home for 4.5 years with my firstborn, and when we moved to Finland I thought I need to master Finnish in order to get a job. I tried to learn, but in the end it wasn't crucial to know the language. I also realised that a parent has the right to stay home until the child is three. The attitude here is that you can start a career even after a longer break. It felt good. I was looking for work after a long pause, was invited to an interview and they liked me! I was hired by the Finnish IT company Qvantel. Then I became pregnant again and I was afraid of being fired, but on the contrary, everything was fine. Our second son Shivam was born in Helsinki in April 2017. When I was back at work, the whole environment was very supportive and welcoming. And then something even more amazing happened: I got a raise! Now I work at Qvantel as a Product Owner."
Manish: "I also worked in the same company as Pooja for a while. I was also unemployed for a time, and I visited the city's Employment and Economic Development Office. I brought good work experience with me and they thought that I had a very good skills profile: it would be enough to get a job even without knowing the Finnish language. And that's what happened. Now I work as an Enterprise data architect at Musti Group, a big Finnish pet care company. I am gaining new experiences and I'm happy with my pay. 99 percent of the employees are Finnish, but it is not a problem, the Finns are happy to change the language to English. While the work is demanding, it is customary to work regular hours, and my work phone doesn't ring in the evenings or weekends. I am treated with respect and trust. There is however one big difference in the working culture here. I was used to always being thanked even for the smallest tasks, and at first it was a shock that there is no culture of praise. A Finnish employer expects that you do your job. They don't control you, but rather just trust that things get done."
Stress-free everyday life at home and around
Pooja: "I was worried whether I'd be able to practice yoga and meditation when we moved to Helsinki. I was very surprised about how common it is here! I start my morning by doing yoga for an hour. My mornings are stress-free because I don't need to prepare lunch for anyone. Gaurang eats a healthy meal at school and Shivam in the nursery, and Manish and I can eat at the workplace cafeteria or another lunch spot."
Manish: "People take care of their health, and the shops here have healthy food."
Pooja: "Exactly. Public transport also runs smoothly in Helsinki. It takes me 15 minutes to get to work on the metro. The trains are quiet, I like to write or read during my commute. Even the drunks leave people in peace."
Manish: "People are very helpful. There is always someone to help with the pram or open the door on a tram."
Pooja: "We all get home at around five. I usually rest for fifteen minutes, and then I prepare dinner. After we are done eating, we watch television, read books or play games with the kids..There are also many recycling places in Helsinki where you can find used toys. At the end of the day, I like to go for a bike ride. The city bike system is great!"
Plenty to do in the city
Pooja: "We like to enjoy life, not merely survive it. We can have long holidays and get paid for the vacation days! Next summer we are planning to rent a cabin and perhaps go to Lapland."
Manish: "Finnish society supports its citizens. You don't need to wait in lines for things to happen, or to put up a fight to get a social insurance card or a birth or marriage certificate. This leaves time for the home, work and hobbies."
Manish: "Nature is very present in Helsinki with the seashore and well-kept parks. Pooja always comes up with activities to do."
Pooja: "The MyHelsinki website has a chat service where I often ask for tips. We have been to museums and islands, for instance Mustasaari, which is a nice place to go with kids."
Manish: "We are completely spoiled. We have become reckless! If you drop a glove, you will find it in the same spot later."
Pooja: "There is peace of mind here, and the children are safe. The air is clean, the city wishes to become carbon neutral. It would be really difficult now to move elsewhere."