Wondering where the best places to live in Finland are?
Do you dream of living in Lapland or want to wake up to beautiful landscapes of blue rivers and white-covered forests? Or maybe you’re simply attracted to the Nordic countries’ low living costs and high wages. Either way, living and working in Finland is an excellent idea.
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If you’re wondering which Finnish cities and towns are the best, read on. Here are the six best places to live in Finland for expats and digital nomads.
As the capital city, Helsinki is the most famous place in Finland and one of the best Finnish cities for expats. Helsinki sits along the southern coast, with much milder winters than the northern cities.
Moreover, of the estimated 630,000 people residing here, around 10% are foreigners, making a sizable expat community.
Helsinki is Finland’s cultural hub, where the buildings feature a mix of Modernist, Art Nouveau, and Scandinavian architectural styles. Within the city, there is also the Design District, where you will find numerous Finnish galleries and artsy stores.
Expats and digital nomads fall in love with Helsinki and decide to stay long-term as it is not too urbanized. Moreover, everything is spread out, so it never feels too crowded.
The city is also immaculate, safe, and easy to get around, thanks to the efficient public transportation system.
In particular, Helsinki is adored by younger expats because of its trendy hipster scene and coffee culture. If you get a job here, you’ll be looking at an average salary of €4000 a month, which is the highest in the county.
However, as the capital city is not a cheap place to live, you’ll likely spend around €1000 a month on rent.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland in the north and could not be any different from the southern capital. For many, living in Lapland is a dream, and thanks to this sizable city with around 60,000 residents, it is possible.
Rovaniemi is just 10 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. Thus, you can spend your free time sleigh riding, chasing the northern lights, and admiring the picture-perfect white landscapes.
However, it’s not all about the snow in Rovaniemi, as the city is quite a cultural hub with an art museum and science center. The cafe scene is thriving here, too, as locals, expats, and tourists fill the warm, cozy cafes and coffee shops to sip on a hot drink after a long day out in the snow.
While living in Rovaniemi can be magical and is an incredible place to say you lived, there are several downsides to consider. Firstly, it’s very far away from everywhere with limited connections to other parts of Finland and Europe.
Secondly, it’s extremely cold. The summers see average temperatures of 10 – 15 °C (50 – 60 °F), and in the winter, temperatures can drop as low as – 16 °C (3 °F).
Therefore, Rovaniemi is not for you if you’re not one for colder climates.
As a popular tourist destination, there is a good chance of finding work in tourism, hospitality, or winter sports. However, some of the work is seasonal as most tourists come around Christmas.
Still, the cost of living is meager here, and you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for between €500 and €600.
Oulu, in central Finland, is maybe a more realistic alternative to Rovaniemi. The winters are still freezing, but summers are a bit more pleasant, with temperatures up to 20 °C.
The old city was founded in 1605, thus is full of pretty historic buildings with a neoclassical architectural style.
Oulu is uniquely located where the Oulujoki River meets the Bay of Bothnia, giving spectacular river and coastal views. The waterfront market square, Kauppatori, is the hub of the city, lined with food vendors and stalls of all sorts of products.
Behind Kauppatori is the main pedestrian area, Rotuaari, full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. For living, many foreigners choose the neighborhood of Raksila, which has a western style with many modern apartments.
Oulu has a population of around 200,000 people and a significant business district with many global companies like Nokia and Microsoft. As a result, tech, IT, and engineering jobs are abundant, and teaching jobs are available at the University of Oulu.
Living in Oulu is pretty affordable, with rental prices for one-bedroom apartments between €500 and €700.
Oh, and if you’re worried about the cold winters, you’ll be pleased to know that in 2012, the city installed a heating system underground to keep the roads and pavements free from ice and snow.
Turku, located on the southwest coast, is another of the best cities to live in Finland. Like Oulu, Turku offers majestic river and coastal views and has a rich history as the oldest city in Finland.
Before Helsinki became the capital city in 1812, Turku held the title. Even though it’s no longer the capital, it’s still thriving.
With almost 200,000 people residing here, Turku offers plenty to do and see all year round. You’ll find fab cultural spots like Turku Cathedral and the Luostarinmäki open-air museum.
There are also tons of cozy restaurants, bars, and cafes and a stylish coworking space set in a historic building.
Turku is equally popular among expats and digital nomads who enjoy nature and the outdoors. You can enjoy many river activities in the summer, such as boat cruises.
It’s also a fab option for families, as there are high-quality schools and hospitals.
Like Oulu, there are sufficient job opportunities for foreigners here, especially in tech, IT, and education. The cost of living and rental prices are in line with Oulu too, but one clear advantage Turku has is the better weather.
The temperatures don’t drop much below freezing in the winter, and the summer sees temperatures up to 23 °C.
Tampere is another of the best cities in Finland, with the third largest population and excellent education and employment opportunities. According to multiple Finnish publications, Tampere has been voted the top city for living and working in Finland.
Tampere is particularly popular among expats with kids as there are many things to do. Although it is located inland, Tampere sits between Näsijärvi Lake and Pyhäjärvi Lakebeach.
As a result, there are some lovely green areas, nature parks, and even a beach.
Another reason why expats choose Tampere is that it is not in the middle of nowhere like the northern cities are. You can reach Helsinki in 90 minutes via the high-speed rail service, and the city has its own small international airport.
The cost of living is slightly higher than in Turku and Oulu. For example, renting a one-bedroom apartment will cost between €600 and €800.
However, well-paid job opportunities are plentiful, with many global companies, a well-known university, and an international school in the city.
Espoo, located directly next to Helsinki, is one of the best places to live in Finland due to its easy access to the capital city (a 20-minute car drive). It also boasts a vibrant ambiance, low crime rates, and all the modern amenities you need.
Regular concerts, festivals, and large-scale cultural and sports events occur in Espoo. The city also has a low-cost and efficient public transport system, so getting around is easy and stress-free.
While not the cheapest place to live in Finland, it’s not quite as expensive as Helsinki. Therefore, expats find Espoo a more affordable and family-friendly alternative to the capital city.
Final Thoughts On Best Places To Live In Finland
Finland is a safe and pleasant European country to call home, whether for a few months or a few years. It may not be the warmest part of the world, but if you don’t mind the cold, you’ll enjoy Finland’s many offerings.
From ancient architecture to gorgeous nature spots to vibrant culture, you’ll find your ideal lifestyle among these six best places to live in Finland.
Not sure if Finland is the right place for you? Read one of the following guides: