Espoo, Finland

Living in Espoo

Iyna Bort Caruso

In some ways, the city of Espoo, Finland, could be considered a microcosm of the country itself.

It’s comprised of multiple city centers with a diverse landscape that includes urban hubs, protected forests, a long coastline and an archipelago of 165 islands.

Espoo is Finland’s second most populated city, located just west of the first, Helsinki, and is officially part of the Helsinki Metropolitan area. Instead of a central downtown, Espoo has five city centers spread out across the region. The city has been recognized for its efforts to build smarter and more sustainably. It’s the seat of science and technology, and the birthplace of Nokia. Scores of international corporations are based here.

Technology aside, Espoo has large tracts of wilderness areas that include a national park, nature reserve and a waterfront walkway of well-marked trails that runs 25 miles along the coastline. An extension of the Helsinki metro has made many of Espoo’s natural attractions more accessible.

Its offerings are well-rounded. Finland’s largest art museum, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, is housed in a former printing house and shares the space with four other major museums. The  Espoo Cultural Center is the main performing arts venue for theater and music. Both are in the district of Tapiola.

Espoo was a sparsely populated region of farmlands that evolved into an industrial city by the mid-20th century mark. When people began commuting from Espoo to Helsinki, the population ballooned more than ten-fold and now stands at nearly 300,000.

Home ownership rates are high in Espoo. The city has some of the top-valued housing in the country. Condominiums, terraced houses, midcentury villas and atrium houses, with open-roofed central courtyards, dominate much of the inventory. Vacation homes along the Gulf of Finland offer private beaches and jetties. Espoo has also been an experimental lab for some of the country’s most innovative architects.