Moving to Finland
Foreigners planning to move to Finland but are not very adept with the country’s culture might be surprised to learn that the sauna is an important part of the Finnish household and culture. Those who are fond of the astral phenomenon should witness the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights in Finland during the seasons of fall, winter, and spring.
A land with 5.5 million people enjoying beautiful forests, snow-capped mountains and cities that promise an upscale, yet quiet, a new life for an expat; Finland has so much more to offer than you would imagine.
Sharing borders with Sweden in the west, Russia in the east, Norway in the north, and Estonia in the south, Finland holds true to the magic of the European life; a pulsing urban life with a cabin in the woods to escape to during the weekend.
With only about 15 inhabitants per square kilometer, Finland is top of the list of the most sparsely populated European nations. Its topography is mostly composed of flatlands covered with coniferous forests, which make up almost 75% of its landscape. Sharing space with the green are more than 180,000 lakes spread out across the country.
The best climate is found in the southern part, where winters last four to five months and summers about four months. The Finnish call it the ‘endless summer and endless winter' of their land. The rest of the year is mostly humid and semi-continental.
But amidst the backdrop of lakes and greenery, Finland thrives as a highly urbanized destination. Coming first in the Legatum Prosperity Rating, Finland proves itself as a nation of exemplary economic performance, which translates to a good quality of life for its people.
Finland has a highly industrialized economy, the leading sectors of which are services, comprising 65.7%, followed by manufacturing and refining at 31.4%.
This Nordic country is the home of the world-market leader in handheld phones, Nokia. Finland is far from being a country known only for exporting wood and paper products but is also a success story in the field of high tech.
The country's employment rate is at 60%, 1.8 million employees of which are in the private sector.
Not a country of extended families, Finnish homes average only two persons in each household. The average cost of a house is about 1,187 Euros.
Coursing the way through Finland is an extensive network of main roads, about 13,332 kilometers in length. With 74% of households having at least one car, this road system is one of the primary means of getting around. Another is the railway system operated by the VR Group, for which taxpayers pay around 350 million Euros for maintenance. International passengers' main gateway to Finland is through the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport while international cargo mainly goes through the Vuosaari harbor.
But before you book your flight to Helsinki, you need to take care of permits and visas. If you intend to reside permanently in Finland, submit your application for a first residence permit through a Finnish diplomatic mission in your home country. Charges can amount to 400 Euros. European citizens need not secure a visa to enter the country while US Citizens can enter and stay without a visa for up to 90 days.
An expat who intends to work in Finland must have a residence permit for employed individuals, except those who are citizens of the European Union and other member states.
And finally, aside from permits and your favorite coat, an expat should also have some understanding of the Finnish culture.
The Finnish family is concentrated primarily on the nuclear family. One of the more traditional activities includes vacationing in a cottage by the lake, which would most likely involve going to a sauna. In fact, the country boasts 1.8 million saunas, more often than not, a fixture in Finnish cottages.
The native language is Finnish, and 5.5% of the population speaks Swedish. Finns have a passion for music, both classical and more contemporary modern music.
A large portion of the Finnish population is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, with 4.3 million members. Of late, the percentage of Finnish people with no religious affiliation has grown to 16.9%.
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