Moving to Finland: A Guide to a Smooth Transition
Building Bridges through Words
Upon moving to Finland, you’ll quickly realize that Finnish is a unique language with no equivalent elsewhere. At Silk Road, we recognize the importance of language and provide free but mandatory language training in our recruitment program. However, becoming proficient in a new language is a journey that requires additional time and effort.
To immerse yourself in the language and culture, consider exploring Finnish literature, films, and music. These resources not only enhance your language skills but also offer deeper insights into the Finnish way of life. Additionally, you can seek out language courses or language apps to accelerate your language learning journey. To help you out, we have also collected language learning tips in a separate article!
When moving to Finland, don’t hesitate to engage in conversations in Finnish. While it may seem daunting initially, you’ll discover that Finns appreciate the effort made by foreigners to communicate in their language. Perfection in grammar or pronunciation is unnecessary; your willingness to try speaks volumes, and you’ll undoubtedly be understood.
A Hike into the Nature of Finns
Finnish culture is a vibrant mosaic crafted from a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and a unique way of life. Understanding its core values will help you appreciate the depth and beauty of this culture. That will, for its part, help the transition when moving to Finland.
The cornerstone of Finnish culture is the country’s amazing nature. Finland is often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” and this natural beauty significantly shapes the Finnish way of life. Pristine forests, thousands of lakes, and the Arctic wilderness offer boundless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities such as hiking, skiing, berry picking, and fishing are more than hobbies; they are cherished traditions that connect Finns to their environment. This leads us to a unique aspect of Finnish culture: the concept of “Everyman’s Right” (Jokamiehenoikeus). This legal principle grants everyone the freedom to explore nature, pick mushrooms or berries, and camp responsibly in the wilderness, provided it doesn’t harm the environment or landowners’ rights.
Another essential aspect of Finnish life is Sauna culture. Many saunas are situated by picturesque lakeshores, providing a setting for relaxation and reflection. This connection between sauna and nature is deeply ingrained in Finnish culture. What might surprise you about Finnish sauna culture is that it’s common to bathe in the sauna without clothing. If you feel insecure about that, don’t worry! It’s ok to use a bathing suit as well. Another thing to note is that silence is appreciated in Finnish sauna culture.
In Finnish culture, there’s a profound value placed on silence. Initially mistaken for reserve or unfriendliness, it’s actually a form of thoughtful communication. Finns typically avoid excessive small talk and comfortably embrace silence during conversations and social interactions, allowing them time to reflect before speaking. Communication is generally informal, and using first names, even in the workplace, is common.
In addition to communication habits, Finns possess an inexplicable inner strength known as “Sisu.” Often translated as determination, grit, or resilience, Sisu embodies the Finnish spirit and is a key component of the culture. Throughout history, Finns have faced numerous challenges, from harsh winters to geopolitical tensions, with quiet strength and determination.
Navigating Finnish Authorities: Your Passport to a Smooth Transition
When moving to Finland, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with various authorities. The first thing to do after arriving in Finland is to visit the Digital and Population Data Services (DVV) to report your move to Finland. This step ensures your registration in the Finnish system and provides you with a Finnish ID number. In our program, we include a visit to DVV as part of your local orientation. Once DVV processes your information, you’ll receive your ID number via email. Next, visit the Finnish police to obtain your ID card. Some police offices offer walk-in services, while others require you to book an appointment.
Another authority to become familiar with is Kela (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland), which provides your health insurance card. A straightforward visit to a Kela office will guide you through the process. Remember that in Finland, healthcare is free for all official residents, funded through taxes.
Speaking of taxes, if you plan to work in Finland, obtaining a tax card is essential. You can easily order one online, requiring an estimate of your yearly income to calculate the correct tax percentage. If you realize you’ve estimated incorrectly, you can always order a new tax card and make adjustments. You must provide your tax card to your employer, including any changes to your tax percentage.
Financing Your Finnish Adventure
Financial preparation is a crucial aspect when moving to Finland. Begin by budgeting for initial expenses, including the residence permit application fee (approximately 490€). In our program, this fee will be reimbursed after your arrival. Other official costs include, for example, ID card expenses (about 60€ to the police, plus around 20€ for the passport photo).
When considering apartment rentals, keep in mind that rental apartments in Finland often require a security deposit of 1-2 months’ rent paid in advance. Ensure you can cover this cost if you choose to rent independently. If you arrive in Finland through the Silk Road program, the security deposit will either be paid by your employer or deducted from your salary in manageable batches.
Having some pocket money (around 1500 euros) is advisable because obtaining a Finnish bank account may take some time. Until you have an account, you’ll need funds to cover basic necessities like food, cleaning supplies, and transportation. Your first salary can only be paid once you have a Finnish bank account.
Building Bonds through Exploration
Exploring Finland and building connections go hand in hand. Finland’s major cities offer excellent public transport networks, including buses, trains, trams, and metros. Consider purchasing a monthly transport card if you rely on public transportation. A handy tip is to use Google Maps to find your way around Finland. It’s a reliable tool for locating places and planning routes, ensuring you can explore with confidence.
One important aspect of settling into a new country is networking and finding friends to make the new place feel like home. In Finland, there are numerous options available for networking! Getting to know your neighbors and community may be easier if you volunteer at your housing association or other local associations. Outdoor activities provide opportunities to meet people and establish connections. Finland also offers a wide range of hobbies, allowing you to connect with people who share similar interests. Additionally, participating in various events or club activities can help you find friends from your hometown!
Appreciating Nature with Sustainable Solutions
Finland places a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability. Embrace Finland’s commitment to recycling and familiarize yourself with local recycling practices to actively contribute to environmental preservation. Recycling couldn’t be more straightforward, as basically all housing societies have their recycling stations. Also, an excellent innovation in Finland is the bottle deposit system. Be aware of bottle deposits when purchasing plastic and glass bottles. You’ll receive a refund when returning them to the store, contributing to a cleaner environment.
Also take note that when buying groceries in Finnish stores, you’ll need to weigh fruits and vegetables before proceeding to the cashier. This simple step ensures accurate pricing and reduces food waste.
Welcome to Finland!
As you embark on your journey to settle into Finnish society, remember that your experience will be enriched by your willingness to learn the language, immerse yourself in culture, and navigate essential practical matters. Finland eagerly welcomes you into its vibrant tapestry of traditions, and we’re here to help make your transition as warm and enjoyable as possible. Embrace your adventure and the remarkable journey ahead!
Are you ready to start your journey toward living and working in Finland with Silk Road? Sign up for our free online orientation by clicking one of the buttons below!