Moving/Relocating To Helsinki: 9 Worst Mistakes To Avoid

Table of Contents

If you want to explore a city known for art, architecture, and culture, then moving to Helsinki is an excellent idea. Living in Helsinki offers a high quality of life as this city was in the top 10 most livable cities in the world in 2017.

To better prepare yourself for the move, check out this article on the worst mistakes you must avoid. We’ll discuss the cost of living in Helsinki, public transport, and the top tourist destinations. Also, before making the final decision about living in Helsinki, the pros and cons should always be weighed, so we’ve included some in the article as well!.

1. Not Taking The Time To Know More About The City

When moving to a new city, it is always best to know as much as possible about it. This leads to a better transition, and you’ll know what to expect.

Helsinki is Finland’s capital and most populous city. What’s more, for the 5th year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. So, it is no surprise that Helsinki, being the capital city of the happiest country in the world, is also the happiest city in the world.

Along with that title comes fresh and clean air and water, a very low crime rate, a very effective public transportation system, nature that works well with the city’s modernity, and a sea-facing landscape with many islands for exploring.

white and yellow tram on road near white concrete building during daytime

Image Credit: Unsplash

2. Failing To Do Research On The Pros And Cons Of Living In Helsinki

Despite the title of the happiest city in the world, there are still pros and cons to living in Helsinki. Learning about these key facts will make your move to Helsinki more informed and smooth.

The Pros Of Living In Helsinki

Observance of “Everyman’s Rights”

Just like most of Finland, in Helsinki, the institution of “Everyman’s Rights” is observed, which means you can roam the countryside without the landowner’s permission as long as you are being respectful. This is great news as the countryside that surrounds Helsinki is beautiful. Lakes are also accessible, making for the best getaway locations during the summer.

Excellent Healthcare

The healthcare system in Helsinki is excellent and one of the best and most progressive in the world. As an expat, you need not worry about getting sick as healthcare is accessible and low cost.

Higher Purchasing Power

Though the high taxes and high cost of living might be intimidating initially, Helsinki offers a higher purchasing power through better jobs and a higher average salary. More disposable income leads to a better quality of life, as people can not only address their needs but also splurge on their wants.

The Cons Of Living In Helsinki

Winters Can Get Dark And Cold With Little Sunlight

During the winter, temperatures can get bitterly low, with daylight hours reduced. However, citizens have figured out ways to battle the cold, such as the prevalence of heating systems, a love for coffee, and frequent visits to saunas. So, you can expect to get used to the climate when you’re living in Helsinki.

High Taxation

Some might feel a bit of a shock when first dealing with the tax rates in Helsinki. However, the high tax rate is why healthcare, free education, developed public transport, and many more public services and amenities exist. When taken into consideration, the high taxes are well worth it.

3. Going Over Budget And Not Looking Into The Cost Of Living In Helsinki

On average, the estimated monthly costs of a single person will be roughly €871 (917.94 USD) before rent. For a family of four, expenses can go as high as €3,210 (3,382.99 USD) before rent. This will include groceries, utilities, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Rent in Helsinki ranges between €700 to €1,500 (737.72 to 1,580.84 USD) for a single-room apartment. A 3 bedroom apartment meant for a small family will fetch anywhere between €1,200 to €3,500 (1,264.67 to 3,688.61 USD). In both cases, the closer you are to the city centre, the higher the prices.

It’s important to keep a budget and stick to it. Also, be sure to put up a savings account for emergencies.

4. Being Unfamiliar With Public Transportation

As a new citizen of Helsinki, you need to familiarise yourself with the public transportation system. Luckily for you, it won’t be too hard since the system is very well executed. The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, or Helsingin seudun liikenne in Finnish, or HSL for short, comprises bus, tram, metro, train and ferry services. You can purchase tickets through the HSL mobile app, making your trips easier and much faster – no need to wait in lines!

It is also very important to understand the four-zone scheme of the HSL. Named A, B, C, & D, the zones indicate the type of ticket you need to purchase, depending on where you need to go. This might need getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it’s a really great system.


The tram is the most common way to get around the inner city, which is also a favourite for tourists as it passes through many tourist hot spots.


The metro line in Helsinki is the best way to get out into the countryside if you are from the city centre. From end to end, the metro covers Matinkylä, Espoo to Vuosaari, Helsinki.


The HSL operates commuter trains through Helsinki Central Station. This serves as the central hub where you can board and switch to different trains depending on your destination. If you are coming from the airport, trains I and P will be your ride.


As with most cities, buses are everywhere, and they are operated by the HSL. Bus routes and schedules are available online, and ticket purchases are available on the mobile app.


Helsinki is surrounded by water on three sides, not to mention the number of islands just waiting to be visited. The HSL also operates the municipal ferry. As with other modes of transport, tickets and schedules can be procured online.

Bikes and Walking

Helsinki is fond of its city bikes, a shared-bike system that anyone can use as long as you register on the app and pay the fees. It’s a great way to get around the city as it is fast, healthy, and good for the environment.

If you want an even healthier option, try walking around the city! Helsinki is very compact, the roads are well maintained, and the weather is just right for a stroll. Helsinki is regarded to be a very walkable city, so if you’re not in much of a hurry, do take a load off and enjoy a good long walk.

Ferris wheel near buildings facing body of water

Image Credit: Unsplash

5. Overlooking The Importance Of Joining Local Holidays And Festivals

If you want to get to know the city you live in, it’s important to observe cultural activities and holidays. In Helsinki, this includes both common holidays as well as celebrations that are uniquely their own. Here are a few holidays you should celebrate with the locals and have fun with!

  • Saint John’s Eve (Juhannus)
  • Lux Helsinki, or the festival of light
  • Herring fair
  • Walpurgis Night or Witches’ Night
  • Restaurant Day
  • Flow Festival
  • St. Lucia Day

Some of these gatherings are old and traditional, while some are new and modern; either way, the live music, the whimsical fun, and the vibrant festivities are for everyone!

6. Missing Out On The Amazing Food

Finland has cultivated its own brand of textures and flavours when it comes to food. While some ingredients might be new to you, the food in Helsinki is rooted in comfort, simplicity, and the use of locally-sourced produce. So, if you are going to live in Helsinki, these are some delicacies that you must try:

  • Sautéed Reindeer or Poronkäristys
  • Leipäjuusto (or juustoleipä) a bread cheese
  • Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pasties
  • Rye Bread or Ruisleipa
  • Finnish meatballs or Lihapullat
  • Cured salmon or Graavilohi
  • Blueberry pie or Mustikkapiirakka

Food is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a new place, and when in Helsinki, you won’t run out of new things to try.

white and black vehicle at road beside concrete building

Image Credit: Unsplash

7. Ignoring The Iconic Tourist Spots

Helsinki was founded in 1550 and has had a very long and colourful history. With that comes a very distinct personality and story that has been preserved to this day in the form of castles, fortresses, museums, parks, and so much more. If you are considering moving to Helsinki, here are the top spots you need to visit:

  • The Fortress of Sveaborg & the Suomenlinna Islands
  • Seurasaari open-Air Museum
  •  Uspenski Cathedral
  • Finnish National Museum of Art
  • Helsinki’s Central Park or Keskuspuisto
  • Kauppatori market
  • Linnanmaki Amusement Park

8. Missing Out On Local Expat Communities And Activities

Relocating to a new country is never easy. There’s the reality of culture shock, being unfamiliar with the area, and not having a lot of friends. As they say, no man is an island. That’s why you must try and connect with an expat community in your area to ease the challenges of relocating.

Many expats join online groups or forums, attend events, make friends and share experiences with people in the same situation as you. You can find dozens of groups online to participate in, and maybe in time, when you are all settled in, you can, in turn, offer help and support to new movers to Helsinki.

9. Not Covering Your Bases And Failing To Prepare For The Move

As we’ve mentioned, moving takes a lot of preparation, much more if you are moving to another country. Preparing the paperwork and requirements alone is a lot of work. To make the transition smoother, here are some hacks that will cover all the bases and prevent you from being too overwhelmed.

Take Note Of Important Documents And Make A Checklist

When moving overseas, you need to prepare everything. Regularly checking your list and making sure that everything is on hand and taken care of is a sure way to avoid mistakes.

Your list should include:

  • Documents and IDs (Passport, Visa, Work permit, plane tickets, etc.)
  • Packing and Luggage (moving essentials, packing boxes, donating/selling items, etc.)
  • Contacts (Employer, real estate, emergency, etc.)

Depending on your situation, you can add more, but always update and double-check.

Keep In Touch With Important Parties Weeks Before Flying Out

Always keep in touch with key individuals for your move. Double-check with your employer that everything is OK with your new work. Confirm with your real estate agent that your apartment is ready. If you are meeting someone who will pick you up when you arrive, double-check that they have the right arrival time and terminal.

Engage With A Professional Relocation Company To Help Ship Your Belongings

Hiring a moving company like Sanelo will be more practical, especially if you are moving to a different country. You won’t need to worry about heavy luggage and can enjoy the trip stress-free, as we will be enrolling you into shipment protection.

With the baggage problem taken care of, you can rest and look forward to arriving in Helsinki and beginning a new life.

Conclusion On Moving To Helsinki

If living in the happiest city in the world, with a high quality of life, low crime rate, and close proximity to nature, seems like a great idea, then it’s time to move to Helsinki!

A great city with a mix of modernity with a long and rich cultural background and history, Helsinki is an ideal location for any expat looking to relocate. And if you follow our advice and avoid making the mistakes above, the transition to living in Helsinki will be easy and stress-free.

Interested in other articles on how to relocate to another country with ease? Check out these guides on moving to Copenhagen, Guernsey, Kuala Lumpur, and Finland.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving To Helsinki

Is Helsinki Expensive To Live In?

Yes, Helsinki does have a high cost of living. However, Helsinki is a great place to live in with high salaries and high quality of life that offsets the costs. As such the citizens here have a high purchasing power.

Can You See The Northern Lights In Helsinki?

Unfortunately, no. Helsinki is too far south with too much light pollution for the aurora borealis to be visible.

Do People In Helsinki Speak English?

The official language of Finland is the Finnish language and Swedish. However, thanks to a very good education system many Finns speak English, so you won’t need to worry about not being able to communicate with the locals.

Can I Get In Touch With Sanelo To Help With My Belongings From Overseas?

Yes, you can! Engage Sanelo today and speak with a representative who will assist you with the process and arrange the needed paperwork for an international shipment. Our team will make sure to adjust to your situation and offer you the best service.


For what moves you