Quick guide: Moving to Helsinki

Dressed in a long winter jacket, beanie and shades, a man stands in front of a pair of bikes, looking to their right, with the sun setting behind them by the harbour at Kaivopuisto shore.
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Quick answers to questions from cost of living to schools and healthcare system. And of course we will address the elephant: How is the weather in Helsinki? Will I freeze?

What is the cost of living in Helsinki?

The cost of living in Finland is comparable to the rest of Europe. However, in Helsinki costs are higher than in smaller cities in Finland. When applying for your residence permit (non-EU/EEA citizens) you need to show that you have at least 1,000 euros per month (12,000 euros per year) at your disposal. 

Do I need a working permit in Helsinki?

If you intend to work in Finland, you might need a residence permit based on employment, granted by the state of Finland. Check with Finnish Immigration Service Migri if you need a permit to work in Finland.

How do I find housing in Helsinki?

There are many accommodation options in the Helsinki Region. Rental housing in Helsinki is owned by the City of Helsinki and many private landlords. Dwellings are sold by private persons, real estate agencies and housing constructors.

If you are a student, you can apply for rental housing through HOAS, the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region.

How is the weather in Helsinki? Will I freeze?

The summer in Helsinki is bright. The days are at their longest in the second half of June, when the sun stays above the horizon for 19 hours. The evenings grow cool towards the end of September, and the days grow noticeably shorter as winter approaches. 

The winter begins in either November or December depending on the year. The temperature fluctuates either side of 0°C. The average temperature between December and February is around -4°C.The coldest time of the year is usually at the end of January, when the mercury can fall to below -15°C and the ground is covered by snow. The sea usually freezes over in the heart of winter.  

Spring arrives in Helsinki usually sometime in April. The days grow rapidly longer and warmer.

Is English language widely spoken in Helsinki?

Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish. English is widely spoken and most Finns also master one or two other foreign languages.

The most common foreign mother tongue of Helsinki residents is Russian, next in size are those with either Estonian, Somali or English as their mother tongue. The rest of the mother tongues are very varied: at the beginning of 2017, the number of mother tongues registered in Helsinki was 140. 

English is an official language in many international companies. 

What kind of schools are there in Helsinki?

Helsinki has 190 comprehensive schools, 41 upper secondary schools, and 15 vocational institutes. Finland routinely tops rankings of global education systems. The teaching staff in Finnish schools is highly educated. In general, there are no tuition fees. 

In city schools, the language of instruction is Finnish or Swedish. In Helsinki, there are also private schools where the language of instruction is, for example, English, German, French or Russian. Studying in a private school may be subject to a fee.

InfoFinland.fi is a good source of information about schools in the capital and it also provides general information on the Finnish education and daycare system.

What is the healthcare system in Helsinki like?

Healthcare standards and quality in Helsinki are very high, and healthcare system is affordable and well-maintained. If your municipality of residence is Helsinki, you are entitled to use public health services. Read more about health in Helsinki at InfoFinland.fi.

Where do I find info on working and settling in Helsinki area?

International House Helsinki helps newcomers settle into life in the city, offering personal job seeking guidance in eight different languages. Meanwhile, Helsinki Partners maintains a tech job listings board featuring new openings at some of Finland’s most exciting companies.

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International House Helsinki is your entry to working and settling in Helsinki area
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Quick answers to questions from cost of living to schools and healthcare system. And of course we will address the elephant: How is the weather in Helsinki? Will I freeze?