So, you’ve completed the hiring process, you’ve been given a job offer, and now you need to move to Finland for work. That’s when it hits you. What do you need to know before moving to Finland? There’s so much to do, and you don’t even know where to begin! Well, have no fear. This article will tell you what you need to know to move to Finland for work.
What documentation do you need to live and work in Finland? It’s easier if you are an EU citizen than if you are coming from outside of the EU. If you are an EU citizen, or a citizen of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein, all you need to enter Finland is a passport or a valid identification card.
You have the right to start working right away, and all you need to exercise this right is a tax card and a Finnish personal identity code. You can obtain an identity code from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
After three months in Finland, you need to register your right of residence with the Finnish Immigration Service and demonstrate that you have the resources to support yourself. However, you have the same right to work or go to school in Finland as any Finnish citizen.
If you are from outside of the EU, you have to apply ahead of time for a residence permit to live and work in Finland. Your employer will need to demonstrate that there is no one available from Finland or the EU that can do the specific job they want to hire you for.
The Employment and Economic Development Office will make a preliminary decision on your claim, and then the Finnish Immigration Service will make the final decision. It is more challenging to immigrate to Finland from outside the EU than from within it, but if you have a job offer from a Finnish company then your residence permit should ultimately be approved.
If you’re looking for an apartment to rent in Finland, you can get the help of an agent or you can search for an apartment without an agent’s help. If you do use an agent to find your apartment, you will need to sign an assignment agreement and pay a commission.
Vacant apartments can be found online. If you have a residence permit for one year or more, or if you are an EU citizen, you have the option of renting an apartment from the municipality you plan to live in. Otherwise, you will have to rent from a private owner, but the rent is likely to be higher in that case.
Finding an apartment in Finland does take some time and is especially difficult in the larger cities. If you see a vacant apartment you like, don’t delay or it could soon be gone.
Potential landlords may ask you to show them your residence permit, your passport if applicable, and your most recent pay slip as well as other paperwork such as tax documents or loan certificates. You may also have to undergo a credit check.
Once you have an apartment, you’ll need to contact service providers to get electricity, internet and other services set up. You’ll also need to purchase home insurance to protect yourself in case of damages.
When you move to Finland, you’ll need to register with the Finnish Population Information System, which will also provide you with a Finnish personal identity code. A personal identity code is needed for many purposes in Finland, including banking, employment, and education.
You can also register your municipality of residence with the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, which gives you the right to access services in that municipality.
When you go to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, you’ll need to bring your passport or EU citizen’s ID card, your proof of legal residence, and your employment contract.
Several different languages are commonly spoken in Finland. The most common, of course, is Finnish, which is spoken by more than 90% of the population. Swedish is spoken by 5.5%, and also has the status of an official language. Many Finns speak Russian, and the Sami people also have their own language. English is spoken by about 75% of the Finnish population, especially those under age 60, and many Finns speak the language fluently. In fact, Finland rated fourth in the world for English fluency in 2015. Most English-speaking visitors have no trouble getting by without any Finnish, and as long as you can speak English you should have no trouble communicating with the far majority of Finnish people.
Local Culture and Lifestyle
Finnish people have a reputation for being socially reserved, quiet, and not inclined to make small talk. Finns give other people plenty of personal space, especially if they don’t know them well. The trait Finns most prize, however, is known as “sisu,” a word that refers to intense determination in the face of difficulty.
In case this sounds a little grim, consider the results of the World Happiness Report. This survey of 149 countries all over the world has rated Finland as the happiest country on Earth for five years running!
So, why are Finnish people so happy? Part of the reason might be Finland’s extraordinary natural beauty. The Finnish lifestyle puts a lot of emphasis on enjoying nature. Part of the reason might be the Finnish social welfare system, among the best in the world, and the Finnish insistence on work-life balance. The combination of natural beauty, and the time necessary to enjoy it, is a great recipe for happiness.
Nature and Outdoor Activities
If you come to Finland, one thing you will not lack for is natural beauty. Finland is a land of pine and spruce forests interspersed with birch and other trees. The country has many lakes, connected by streams and rivers, bogs, and other wetlands. Finland is home to bears, lynxes, wolves, reindeer, elk, and many other species of wildlife. Finns are known for their love of nature, and their love of spending time outdoors in all seasons of the year. When summer comes, Finns love to retreat to their summer cabins to relax and unwind.
The Nature of the Nordic People
Nordic people in general are not that talkative, and Finns in particular may not give the impression of being very open. Finns are not known for making small talk, but they are known for being genuine.
A Finn won’t engage in empty social niceties. If he tells you he wants to get together sometime, that’s exactly what he means – and a friendship with a Finn is often for life. Finns tend to make friends slowly, but they take friendship seriously. Instead of Valentine’s Day, Finns celebrate a holiday called Ystävänpäivä or “friendship day.”
Trust is also handled differently in Finland. In most other countries, trust is something you have to earn. In Finland, trust is assumed by default and is lost only through untrustworthy behavior.
Despite their reputation for being reserved and withdrawn, many Finns have an excellent, if dry, sense of humor. A common Finnish joke is to tell you a story that becomes increasingly ridiculous, while keeping a straight face the entire time.
Quality of Life and Living Costs
The cost of living in Finland is high compared to the European average, and this is especially true of big cities like Helsinki. However, the high cost of living is offset by Finland’s excellent work-life balance, social benefits, and healthcare, all of which combine to make the quality of life in Finland second to none. Finnish employers provide relatively high salaries with excellent benefits, and foreign workers are entitled to the same benefits as Finnish citizens. Work culture in Finland is non-hierarchical, and employees are encouraged to share their own ideas. Employers are held to high safety standards, and the work week is generally limited to 40 hours a week.
Working in Finland
There is no national minimum wage in Finland, but the far majority of industries are covered by collective bargaining agreements, which defines the minimum wage levels for different skills and experience Collective agreements specify the basic terms and conditions governing employment relationships in each industry. These agreements cover salaries, working hours, allowances for illness, leaves of absence, and midweek holiday compensation, which each employee can benefit from. Finland has strong protections for the rights of employees, and many Finnish workers are represented by trade unions.
Employees in Finland are obligated to perform their work conscientiously and to act in such a way as to uphold their employer’s legitimate business interests. Meanwhile, employers are obligated to maintain a healthy and safe workplace and to honor collective agreements negotiated with the trade unions. Employees have the legal right to join a union and to be paid and treated in accordance with the union contract.
Welcome to Finland!
This is only an introduction to everything you will need to know to move to Finland for work. However, you will pick up most of the details along the way as you go. The first step is to apply for your residence permit if you are coming from outside of the EU, and to begin the process of looking for a place to live. Moving to Finland may feel overwhelming, but it will also be an incredible adventure in one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. Before you know it, you’ll be settling into your new life in Finland, and learning why Finland is considered the happiest country in the world.