Finland is a country in the Nordics, a region famous for its high living standards and also its high living costs. After living in Finland for almost 4 years with and without student benefits, I think I’ve had a fairly good idea about how the living costs are like. In this blog post, I will share with you my own experiences and observations about costs in Finland.
A good thing to know about Finland is that different cities will have different prices, depending on how big the city is. I’ve lived in 3 different cities in Finland: Kokkola – a small city in the middle part of Finland, Turku – the third biggest city by population, and Helsinki – the capital of Finland as well as the most expensive city in the country. In this post, I’ll try to break down the prices into 2 categories: student and non-student.
If you are a student, the first thing you should do after being accepted to your school is to apply for a student apartment. The rent for a student apartment is substantially cheaper than a similar one from the market.
For example, in Kokkola the cost of a room in a shared apartment would be around €280 – €350. In Turku, I paid €250 for my TYS room in a 3-bedroom shared apartment. In Helsinki, my HOAS room in a shared apartment costs €264. For those who don’t know, a shared apartment means that you and some other people will live in the same apartment. You have your own bedroom, but you will share common areas like the kitchen or toilets. If you don’t like the idea of sharing your apartment with someone else, there are also single apartments/ studios that allow you to live alone. The cost is a little higher, around €300 – €500 for such an apartment. To get a better idea about how student apartments look like, you can visit HOAS (The Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region) for example.
After graduating, I moved out of the student house. In Helsinki, rent is considerably more expensive than in other parts of Finland. The average rent price was €20.3/m² in Helsinki in 2019, while that of Tampere was 14.7€ /m² or Turku’s was 13.7€/m² (source here). It is quite competitive to get a “good” apartment in Helsinki (aka good price, good location, and good condition) because the demand is high in the capital region. If you are interested in searching for an apartment in Helsinki, I would recommend Oikotie (only in Finnish though, use Google Translate if needed) and Vuokraovi.
A great thing about student apartments is that all utility costs (water, electricity, Internet) are covered in your rent. If you are a student and you get a student apartment, your utility costs are basically zero.
If you are no longer a student, it’s gonna cost you a little extra. Utility costs include electricity, water, Internet,…
If you live in an apartment in a block, then your electricity bill should not be too high because the heating costs are covered by district heating. If you live in Helsinki, then your electricity bills have 2 parts: the electricity you consumed provided by the company of your choice (for example Helen, Fortum, Lumo, Energia 247…), and the transfer fee for this electricity (distributed by Helen). You can compare the best prices for electricity using this website, but remember to read the terms and conditions carefully because sometimes the cheapest offers have some catch (for example the cheap offer is only valid for the first 2 months, etc.). Depending on your usage and how big your apartment is, the electricity bill may vary from €20 – €60/month.
Water costs are sometimes included in the rent price. But most of the time from what I have seen, water costs are agreed in the contract as a fixed cost per person monthly. For example, an apartment may cost €1000/month for rent and €20/person for water. If there are 2 people living in that apartment, you will pay a fixed amount of €1000 + €20*2 = €1040 monthly to your landlord. Water costs fluctuate from €10 – €30/person/month.
For Internet cost, remember to check with your building’s manager to see if there is any Internet provider already. Because most of the time, a building will already have an Internet connection for free, however with slow speed Internet. If you want to upgrade your Internet connection, you can often get a good deal from the same Internet provider that is operating in your building. Popular providers are DNA, Elisa, Telia,… Depending on your choice, Internet costs may vary from €10 – €40/month.
In big cities, public transport is available at a reasonable cost. For students, you will have a student discount. For example, in Turku, I paid €33/ month for my Föli bus card. In Helsinki as a student, I paid around €31/ month for zone A-B (45% discount for students).
If you are no longer a student, you will pay the full price of €65.3/month for zone A-B in Helsinki (Updated Jan 5th, 2022). For more information about ticket prices, you can check HSL website.
The university cafeterias offer student meals (most often lunches) for a good price. During my student time, I paid €2.6 per meal. Student meal in my opinion is a quick and convenient option while still providing nutritious food. The meal has carbs, protein, salad, and a drink included in the price. You need a valid student card to get this student meal.
Finland’s food price is quite expensive compared to where I come from. To have an overview, you can take a look here.
On average I spend around €250 – €300 for grocery shopping monthly. Eating out costs me around €150 – €200 more. A tip for eating out in Finland is that most restaurants offer a cheaper lunch price which is around €10 – €15 per dish. This is a great deal because for dinner it would cost €5 – €10 more for the same dish.
The most outstanding cost for students should be insurance because as a foreign student, I didn’t get much support from the public health system. Health insurance cost me around €200/year back then.
There are other costs apart from the basic ones listed above. One of the most important costs is insurance. I bought home insurance for around €100 per year. I also took unemployment insurance from YTK for €110/year. If you are not a student anymore, you can rely on the public health care system if you have Kela (free, but the waiting time can be long until you get an appointment).
Overall, living in Finland would cost around €600 – €800/month for a student, and €800 – €1500/month for a simple adult (like me :D). I hope this post gave you a better idea of how much it would cost to live in Finland. Comment below if you have any questions, or if you just want to share your thoughts with me 🙂