5 Things to Think About When Moving to Finland as an Expat

If you are moving to Finland or thinking about settling down due to work or any other reasons, I believe you have an idea about the good things about the country, however “good” is a relative word and it is interpreted in many ways. In my opinion, you have to think about your purpose why do you like to move in the country and whether you are staying for a short time or a long time or make it as your new home, there are certain things you can think about to help you out in the long run.

Think about what life would be when you are coming from a tropical country. Here are a few.

  • Weather and climate
  • Nature
  • Serenity
  • Sauna
  • Social Culture

From my experience, I have listed the things I should have taken into account before moving in the country, however, I passed through it so if you haven’t thought about it yet, here are my top 5 in the list:

The Finnish Weather and Climate

Finland has a cold, temperate climate with distinct seasons. Winters can be long and extremely cold, with temperatures dropping well below freezing and from experience it can be as low as -25 degrees. I felt my fingers were numb staying outside for about 3 minutes. This can be quite a contrast for people used to tropical climates with consistent warmth throughout the year. However, if you are used to the weather, this can be manageable with a proper gloves suitable for very a cold winter.

The Finnish Midnight Sun and Polar Nights

Finland experiences the phenomenon of the midnight sun during the summer months, particularly in the northern regions. This means that the sun remains visible for 24 hours a day. In the summer time, daylight is experienced for as long as 18 hours. On the contrary, during winter, parts of Finland experience polar nights, with little to no daylight. This is true in the northern part of Finland where you can also see the magical sky due to Aurora Borealis.

The Finnish Sauna Culture

Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture and daily life. They are not only used for relaxation and socializing but also considered a place for traditional rituals and family bonding. The sauna experience might be unique and unfamiliar for those coming from a tropical country. Saunas are extremely hot if you are not used to it. The sauna is heated at 50-70 degrees and the steam that’s coming out gives a comfortable feeling especially during the cold season. In Finland majority of the houses have saunas, it can be separated from the house or located inside. People spend time on saunas for 5-15 minutes or more and a short break outside for a cold drink and come back to the sauna for another few minutes before finishing off. There is no rule as to how long you can spend time in the sauna, so you can also spend time as long as you want.

The Finnish Nature and Wilderness

Finland is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including forests, lakes, and national parks. There is less mountains, majority of the landscape is flat with pine trees, birch, alders, maples and oaks covering the forests and parks. Nature is highly valued and easily accessible in Finland. People coming from tropical countries might be amazed by the breathtaking scenery and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, mushroom or berry picking, or exploring pristine wilderness. The natural parks are a safe place to be, no deadly snakes or any dangerous animals, so kids can freely roam in the parks with adult guides. In Finland, daycare centers have a mandatory nature trekking activity for kids where they learn more about nature.

The Finnish Social Culture

Like many other cultures, Finnish culture has its own set of social norms and etiquette. Finns value personal space, privacy, and silence, which can sometimes be perceived as reserved or distant by those accustomed to more outgoing and sociable cultures. It might take some time to adapt to the Finnish style of communication and social interaction. Sometimes it can get confusing for a foreign person when and how to react to situations. For instance, in the elevator, you will know that someone is not a Finn when she or he says “hello, what’s up”? or “how do you do”. It is VERY NORMAL to be in a face to face situation with a Finnish person for 10 minutes without talking. When you stay longer, you will truly understand how it is.

The Sound of Silence

Familiar with the song? Yes, it is indeed literally true in Finland. When I first came in Finland, along the road to home, I was scared, I asked myself, where are the people?? why nobody is on the road? Who will help me if I need some help? and a lot more. If you are coming from a place where there is a crowd around you all the time, this could be shocking, but it is how it is in the suburbs of Finland.

The cities look better as in the normal cities, but imagine living in a country that is 338,462 km² and has only around 5.5 million people. The odds of seeing more people than perhaps what you are used to is very less. In some cases and in small cities, you will see few cars and few people walking with the dogs. Perhaps you will find more people in the parks than the roads.

Now, let’s talk about relaxation. As mentioned, people love their own space, and many have their own havens or summer houses as they say, in the woods, islands or somewhere far from the crowd. Under a starry night outside the sauna for a break, I literally understood how “the defeaning silence ” works. I guess you will truly understand what it means when you have experience it, and I would say that there is a totally different world than what I used to know. I find peace and calmness seeing nature mirroring through the still water and the distant horizon.

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