Living in Finland

Iyna Bort Caruso

Finland is a land of white nights and blue chip corporations, a smart and stable nation that came out on top of a 2015 list by the World Economic Forum that ranked 124 countries on the productivity of its workforce.

The Nordic nation--the only one that has adopted the euro as its currency--is one of the least populated countries in the world with some 5.5 million, most of whom are concentrated in the country’s southern maakunta or regions. The economy is steady, the workforce is educated and many of its high tech information and communications companies are global brands.

Finland has 188,000 lakes and almost as many islands. In a culture that takes advantage of outdoor activities no matter how drastic the temperature, winter sports like skiing, ice-fishing, reindeer rides and dog-sledding are enjoyed nearly half the year. Seasonal fluctuations are extremes, not just in temperatures but in light. White nights mark summer days. Dark winter days are offset by dazzling Aurora Borealis light shows. Above the Arctic Circle in Finish Lapland, the northern lights can appear 200 nights a year. Sauna is another significant part of Finish culture, as social as it is therapeutic.

For centuries, Finland was part of Sweden (along with Finnish, Swedish is an official language), and then folded into the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. The country has been independent since 1917.

In 2000, Finland opened up the real estate market to non-residents and while still a small percentage, the number of international buyers has been growing. Today Russians represent the largest group. Apartments are typically owned through a cooperative housing system in which buyers own shares in the company that owns the property.

The capital of Helsinki is the country’s biggest city. A quarter of the population lives in the greater metropolitan area. Helsinki is an archipelago made up of about 330 islands, many reached by ferry service. It is also a green city, with a third given over to parks and open spaces.

The city is known for design as well as for its architectural diversity, particularly modernist and a style of Art Nouveau architecture known as Jugend, marked by a kind of ornamental detailing that has been called a “fairytale look.” Many Jugend-style buildings are in the posh southern Helsinki suburb of Eira, popular with the diplomatic owing to its many foreign embassies. Areas like Eira as well as historic Katajanokka and stylish Ullanlinna are among some of the most sought-after neighborhoods. 

For more luxury real estate in Finland, view our listings and connect with a local Sotheby’s International Realty agent today.