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Settling in Helsinki

Settling in Helsinki

5.1. Family life

Babysitters and caregivers

We know that family is the most important thing. Luckily Helsinki has an abundance of services to ensure your loved ones receive the best possible care. When hiring a babysitter or a caregiver, your family is considered an employer and must enter into an employment contract with the selected caregiver.

Here you can find babysitters in Finland →
Learn more about hiring a caregiver in Helsinki →

Child daycare

Municipalities are required by law to offer child daycare services to resident families with small children, organized by own services or by contracting private providers. Moreover, after the parental leave period, parents are entitled to place their child in public daycare until the child starts school.

You can utilize daycare centres, family daycare or ingroup family daycare services on a full-time basis (for a maximum of 10 hours a day) and on a part-time basis (for a maximum of 5 hours a day). While there are many foreign language daycare centres in the city, keep in mind that waiting lists, particularly for English language daycare, can be quite long.

The fees for municipal child daycare are based on the family’s size and income and depend on the requested hours of daycare. Charges in private daycare are determined by the service provider, but it is possible to receive a private care allowance for these expenses if you are covered under the Finnish social security system.

Read more about child daycare in Finland here →

5.2. For spouses

We want to make sure that the spouses who follow their partners to Finland are able to integrate and thrive in the local community. Joining the Spouse Program, a service provided by the City of Helsinki is a great way to overcome social, professional and cultural challenges that can arise from a move. Whether it’s to develop their career, build a network of friends or learn about the Finnish culture, this program can support your spouse.

The Spouse Program →

5.3. Health & Wellbeing

Metacore provides extensive occupational healthcare to all our employees in partnership with a private healthcare provider.

Finland’s basic health care system is publicly funded and organised by municipalities. Doctor (General Practitioner) and nurse consultations and basic tests for basic healthcare are available in health centres—which in bigger cities generally serve the residents of a specified area within the city. When needed specialist care is offered by central hospitals and University hospitals throughout the country, following the referral of a health centre doctor.

Foreign citizens who are covered under the social security system may use their local health centre the same way as permanent residents in the area. You will need to show your KELA card when using the health centre services. EU citizens, who possess a European Health Insurance Card, are covered in the same way. If you do not have either of these cards, you may still use the health centre, but a separate charge which is higher than for residents is applicable.

The National Health Insurance and the Kela card →
The European Health Insurance Card →

5.4. Language classes

As we mentioned before, even though it’s possible to get by in Finland using English as your primary language, it’s good to learn Finnish and/or Swedish during your stay. It’ll open up a whole new level in terms of career and learning opportunities, as well as deepen social connections and your understanding of the local way of life.

Metacore provides 10 Finnish classes through a third party language expert.

There are also many free and paid language courses you can register for starting in spring, autumn and winter, as well as intensive courses you can take during the summer. Whether you’re starting from scratch or know your way around the language already, prefer online classes, a group session or one-on-one tutoring, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Finnish language courses →
Finnish Adult Education Institute →
Finnish and Swedish courses at TE-Palvelut →

5.5. Work

As an employee in Finland, you have many rights to ensure you are treated fairly and equally. There are multiple systems in place, i.e. TE-Palvelut (Employment and Economic Development Offices), trade unions, collective agreements, KELA, unemployment funds, to ensure you receive fair compensation, holidays and time off and other non-monetary benefits.

As a priority, get the membership of a Finnish Unemployment Fund. Every month you’ll make a small payment to the fund, similar to an insurance payment. In the unlikely event of you becoming unemployed, you will receive an earnings-related daily allowance up to 500 days. Moreover, if your spouse is relocating with you, as a first step they should register at TE-Palvelut as a job seeker. Thereafter, they can utilize the many services offered to find employment, further develop their skills, learn the local language and better integrate into the local society.

Employee rights and obligations in Finland →
TE-Palvelut →

5.6. Study

Finland is known for its excellent and free education system. Also, school meals are free for primary and secondary education and are heavily subsidised at the higher education levels. The education comprises of three phases:

Ten-year primary education

In Finland, children must attend preschool education for one year before compulsory education begins, which comprises nine grades. Preschool education usually starts when the child turns six.

You have the option of selecting private schools or public schools in Finland. Both offer to teach in English with variations. For English speaking schools, make sure to fill in applications and check if there are entrance tests or requirements, well in advance. Every school-aged child registered to live in Finland will have a place secured in school by the city/county. No one is left behind. Public schools in Finland are free, whereas private schools can charge up to 18,000€ per year.

Thanks to the high security in Finland, children can go to school on their own by foot, bike or public transport. The school year starts in mid-August and ends in May, with a fall break, Christmas holidays and a winter break in between. In Helsinki it is possible to study in these languages: Finnish, Swedish, English, French & Finnish, Chinese & Finnish, Spanish & Finnish, Russian & Finnish, German & Finnish. There are no school uniforms.

Three-year secondary education

Upper secondary schools (roughly equivalent to high schools in the US or sixth form and grammar schools in the UK) are academically orientated, ending with either matriculation examinations or the International Baccalaureate Diploma in some specific schools.

Vocational schools offer job-specific training and education usually for a duration of 3 years, after which it is intended that the student enters working life. Upper secondary academic education and vocational education may also be combined so that the student receives both final certificates; this usually extends the duration of secondary education to 4 years.

Entry to secondary education must be applied for and is usually tested (entrance examinations and/or the student’s previous academic record). Secondary education is offered by state schools and private schools. Private schools may carry a separate fee.

Tertiary, or higher education

Finland has 14 Universities and 26 Polytechnics or Universities of Applied Sciences. Entry to tertiary education must be applied for and is tested through entrance examinations and/or the student’s previous academic record). Tertiary education duration varies according to school, chosen program and individual progress, but the target time to complete a Master’s degree in a University is 5 years.

Finnish Education System →

5.7. Hobbies & Volunteering

Finns take up a wide variety of hobbies in sports, arts and crafts, dancing, music, theatre, cooking and wellbeing, to name a few. So, if you’re interested in cycling, swing dancing or yoga, you can always find a group or club of like-minded enthusiasts near you.

We have to highlight that Finns are an on-the-go bunch really passionate about doing sports. Approximately 70 per cent of the sports facilities in Finland are owned by municipalities. These include, for example, sports arenas, indoor swimming pools and other facilities, such as football fields and skating rinks. Larger cities also have privately-owned sports facilities. Information on the available services and pricing can be obtained by contacting the facilities directly.

5.8. What to do & see

Whether you’re into art and culture, nature and outdoor activities, exercise and sports or a little bit of everything, you will find plenty of things to do and see in Finland. When living in the capital a brisk walk or a few-minute ride can lead you to the edge of the forest, the beach or the bustling city centre. From hiking to mushroom picking, fishing to swimming, dining and wining to shopping, the possibilities are endless.

Thanks to Finland’s extensive railway network, providing good and fast connections chiefly on the mainline from Helsinki to southern Lapland, you can explore the scenic landscape across the country. There are also bus connections and domestic flights to help you get to your destination, and prices are dependent on the time of the week and the year and the carriers.

Discover events in Helsinki →

5.9. Holidays

Public holidays may fall on a weekday or on the weekend. On a public holiday, offices, banks and some shops will be closed. Nowadays an increasing number of supermarkets, especially in the bigger cities, will stay open even on public holidays. However, it is very likely that some restaurants for example will be closed, so remember to check the opening times before making your plans. Alko shops, the only store in Finland which retails beer over 5.5% ABV, wine and spirits, will be closed on public holidays, and often close a few hours early the day before, as well.

Here are the Public Holidays in Finland:

Jan 1, New Year’s Day (Uusi Vuosi in Finnish)
Jan 6, Epiphany (Loppiainen)
Mar/Apr, Good Friday (Pitkäperjantai)
Mar/Apr, Easter Monday (Pääsiäinen in Finnish)
May 1, May Day (Vappu)
6th Thursday after Easter, Ascension Thursday (Helatorstai)
Saturday closest to June 24, Midsummer Day (Juhannus)
Saturday closest to November 1, All Saints Day (Pyhäinpäivä)
Dec 6, Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä)
Dec 24, Christmas Eve (Jouluaatto)
Dec 25, Christmas Day (Joulupäivä)
Dec 26, Boxing Day (Tapaninpaivä)

5.10. Seasons

The natural cycle in Finland goes through 4 seasons annually, each season with distinct characteristics and stark contrasts. Depending on if you’re based in the South of the country or further up North, the seasons will arrive and go at slightly different times, and the intensity of certain weather conditions, i.e. snowfalls or heat waves, will be less or more.

Spring, starting in April, is a short season that marks the end of winter. With patches of snow melting, you will see the landscape changing from a white canvas to fresh green. Next is summer, the hottest time of the year, which lasts from June through to August. The endless summer days are an ideal backdrop for the many Finns who enjoy their holidays and outdoor living during this time. Summer ends in autumn which starts around September. The season’s rather windy and rainy weather is compensated by the explosive colour palette of red, orange and yellow the leaves take on. Finally comes the iconic Finnish winter which can last from November to May. With plenty of winter activities and events to dive into, wintertime can be quite an adventure.

During these seasons the temperature in Helsinki is likely to vary between -20C to +35C. It can also be dark for a prolonged period of time especially during autumn and winter. It’s paramount to dress accordingly and stay on top of your vitamin D intake, as well as exercise, eat healthily and stay connected with friends and family, to make the best of these changing seasons.