There are several things to consider when moving to a new country - especially if you are moving with family. In these pages you can find practical information about Finland and activities that support you and your family to enjoy life in Finland. Our Staff and Family Welcoming Activities provides you with information on formalities and practicalities to make your settling in easier. We also organize events that offer opportunites for networking.
Finland has been ranked amongst the top countries in the world for quality of living. Security, nearness to nature and value of education are priorities of Finnish society - and also highly recognised internationally. All this make Finland a great country to live in with a family.
The following links provide you with general information about living in Finland.
http://www.suomi.fi/, http://www.infopankki.fi/, http://www.expat-finland.com/
Active networking will help you feel at home from the very beginning. Here are some ideas of where, and how to start networking within or outside Aalto.
Networking at Aalto University
Aalto University facilitates informal networking events for the international staff and their family members. Below you can see our annual calendar of events and description of each event. For more information, please see Inside email intstaff-hr [at] aalto [dot] fi,
Also our Facebook group "Aalto University - International staff and families" serves as an informal communication channel of our events and other interesting happenings, as well as a networking and communicating forum for our international employees and their spouses. Information on any upcoming event can be found both in Facebook and Inside, our intranet. http://www.facebook.com/groups/411557328854972/
Staff Family Friend Program at Aalto
Get connected with a Finnish host family! Aalto Family Friend-program is ongoing and open for all our international staff – whether you are here with family or by yourself! A Finnish host family will invite you to experience everyday life in a Finnish home. For more information and to register, please see Inside send e-mail to intstaff-hr [at] aalto [dot] fi.
Meet and Greet - welcome event
Meet your international colleagues from all over Aalto at Design Factory.
Aalto University together with the University of Helsinki organises two annual events especially for university's new staff and family members. Learn about Finnish culture and traditions, as well as the seasons features! You will also have an opportunity to network with Aalto and University of Helsinki colleagues. More details are available in Inside (Intranet for Aalto employees) and Facebook.
Win Winter/Easter Egg Hunting Event
Meet your colleagues at Aalto, VTT and other Otaniemi-based organisations in our annual family winter fun event in February when you will have a chance to sledge sliding and other winter activities. Or, in case of lack of snow, you are welcome to decorate willow twigs and eat chocklate eggs in March/April. You can find more information about this and other events in our intranet Inside or Facebook.
Aalto Club aims to promote the informal networking of Aalto University’s Finnish and international staff members and their families. AaltoClub organizes eg. City Walk, Nature trip, visit to the Parliament and to concert.
Aalto University AlumniNET - Alumni & Friends of Aalto
Aalto University welcomes it's staff, alumni and friends to join in AlumniNET networking and co-operation platform. The AlumniNET brings together the knowledge and expertise of art and design, business, technology and architecture. Aalto University and it's schools want to support the growth of your knowledge and expertise, and also offer you interesting possibilities to interact and coach with students, staff and alumni. https://alumninet.aalto.fi/portal/public/Default.aspx
Otaniemi International Network (OIN)
OIN arranges multicultural social events throughout the year. The events include anannual Crayfish party in the end of the summer, Easter Egg Hunt, and an outdoor walking excursion in the woods in the fall. OIN organizes also networking career events for professionals. Visit OIN’s webpage to sign up for their newsletter, in which you will receive updates on upcoming events and other news.
Taking place in the fall, they present events that bring together new and existing international residents of the Helsinki region (Welcome weeks)
As an international community in Finland, Jolly Dragon arranges social events and activities, encouraging people to have more fun, along with services and opportunities for personal and professional development. Please visit: http://www.jollydragon.net/.
Aiming to connect expatriates, InterNations facilitates the growth of community among people from around the globe, through hosting events and other meetings, for example operating in Helsinki. (http://www.internations.org/)
Bridge - Luckan
Luckan’s integration service Bridge facilitates integration to newcomers in Finland by organizing courses and events, as well as providing information on looking for work, study place or volunteer work/services. (http://bridge.luckan.fi/en/welcome/)
There are also active women clubs in Helsinki, for example
Associations and Voluntary Work
There are over 130,000 registered societies in Finland - from sports associations to special interest movements. Being part of a voluntary organisation will help you become part of a community. In addition to meeting new people, it is also a good way to gain language skills and working experience. For more about international networking associations, please see the section Other Networks.
If you have children, one great way to get connected is through your children’s schools or activities. For more on children’s activities, please see section Other Education → Children’s Activities.
There is also information about different associations is available at Infopankki and Markets of Possibilities. (http://www.mahdollisuuksientori.fi/in-english).
Education and Personal Development
Finnish Language Training
Although most Finns speak English to some degree, Finnish language skills are useful in many ways – they will make your life easier, and especially in the job market basic Finnish language skills are often required. There are many opportunities and different kinds of formats for learning Finnish.
Aalto University encourages staff and visitors to study Finnish. The university organizes each semester basic Finnish language courses for the staff. Also spouses may participate in the classes if there are available seats. More detailed information on the Finnish courses for international staff members is available at Inside.
Furthermore the Finnish courses for students are available for staff as well if there are free places (contact: Aalto University Language Centre).
You can also search other available Finnish language courses in the Helsinki region through one address, http://www.finnishcourses.fi/. Course providers include eg. Helsinki Univeristy Language Services and Summer University.
If you have not yet moved to Finland, or want to get an idea of the Finnish language online, you can check information available at Infopankki.fi.
In addition to formal language training, there are discussion forums open for anyone interested in practising their Finnish. Please visit Café Lingua (http://cafelinguainhelsinki.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/hello-world/) or Papupata http://rednet.punainenristi.fi/kielikerhot_toolo (Yrjönkatu 29, Tue, Thu 18-19.30).
Finland offers a wide range of educational opportunites for the whole family. Your stay in Finland can provide an excellent opportunity for your professional development. You may decide either to study towards a degree or take non-degree studies of your choice.
In Finland we have dual model of university education. Universities focus on education and research while polytechnics (universities of applied sciences) offer work-related education.
One of the guiding principles in the Finnish education system is high quality, and another is free education. Generally admission to degree programs at universities is a competitive process and we advise you to first get acquainted with course offerings and the admission system in general. You can find information about how to apply on the webpages of each university.
More information about studying in Finland and Finnish education system http://www.studyinfinland.fi/ and http://www.opintoluotsi.fi/en-GB/.
Doctoral studies: Information about admission to doctoral studies and the application procedure can be found on the web pages of each university. For more information on Aalto Doctoral Programmes and the University of Helsinki programs (Postgraduate applicants) please click the appropriate links.
In addition to the regular degree programs, most Finnish universities and polytechnics offer individual open courses. They are independent options which allow you to select your own studies and offer a flexible way of studying.
For more information about courses and fees, please visit: http://www.avoinyliopisto.fi/en-GB/ and also summer university.
Pottery, painting, opera singing, Spanish, Chinese, cooking, photography, weaving, tailoring, cooking, dance, pilates.… courses in all these skills and much more are offered through a system of hobby-based educational institutions. Please note that the teaching language is mainly Finnish (or Swedish), however, some courses are taught in English. You can search the Adult Education Centre’s web page for course listings.
Also cultural institutions offer events and language training opportunities, for example the Goethe Institute and Institut Français in Helsinki.
Soccer, ice hockey and floor ball – just to mention few - are very popular sports among Finnish children. In Finland most of the children’s sports and other activities are arranged by clubs, not by the schools. It is possible to get involved with your child’s sports by volunteering to be an assistant coach, or just by watching the game and networking with the other parents. For further information on sports in Finland and a comprehensive list of Finnish sports organizations and clubs, please visit http://www.slu.fi/.
For lists of swimming halls, please refer to the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa listings.
If your child is interested in music or art, there are several schools to choose from. For example Espoo Music Institute and Espoo School of Art have good English web pages. There are plenty of other music and art schools in the region, eg. Helsingin Kuvataidekoulu, Annantalo, Helsinki Music School and Vantaa Music Institute.
The Scout programme- Partio is very popular among Finnish children. In Finland the girl and boy scouts are under one organization.
Family member's right to work
Generally, if you have been granted a residence permit on the basis of family ties you will have an unlimited right to work in Finland. The right to work will also be entered on your residence permit card. However, if you have been granted a residence permit on the basis of a personal relationship, you do not have an unlimited right to work. For more information, please visit Migri-Right to work website.
Finding employment can be time consuming. Generally employers value solid education, and at least basic Finnish language skills are often required. Naturally supply and demand of the labour force varies in different sectors of the labour market. Most of the vacancies are announced in web portals. In Finland it is always necessary to submit an application letter and resume (CV) when applying for a vacancy. Also remember to be active and search the web pages of the companies and other organisations operating on your special field of expertise. Networks are valuable in searching for work, as well.
You can find information about the Finnish labor markets, working in Finland, employment services and so on, in the web pages of Employment and Economic Development Office (mol.fi). There you can find more informaion about finding work and directions to your closest employment office. Working in Finland-brochure (pdf) contains plenty of information for those settling in in Finland.
Other job portals with information in English include Adecco Finland, Barona, Eila Kaisla and Uranus. Examples of sites with extensive information only in Finnish are Oikotie and Monster. Aarresaari.net specialises on positions requiring higher education and Academic positions lists academic vacancies in Finland and other countries.
You can also register to TalentMatch, a social career networking portal. TalentMatch combines matching in social media with networking events. The idea is to match employees and employers. Registration is free of charge.
In addition to vacancies, Aarresaari.net and Infopankki.fi provide information about Finnish working culture.
The following points are good to keep in mind when planning to look for work in Finland.
First five steps in finding work
- Assess your skills and clarify your motives
- Assess the current situation of the labour market and the availability of work in your special field
- Prepare your documentation (application letter and resume)
- Target your application towards suitable job(s) and employer organisation(s)
- Use your networks to market yourself
Starting your own business
If you are concidering starting your own business, the following links provide you with more information on the subject. YritysSuomi, vero.fi, infopankki.fi.
Following links provide you with more information on research funding in Finland - you can access further foundations and organizations through these links. Academy of Finland, Tekes, Research.fi, Council of Finnish Foundations (in Finnish and Swedish.)
Recognition of qualifications
For eligibility of professional and academic qualifications granted outside Finland, please refer to the Finnish National Board of Education.
It is not a problem to fill your free time in the Helsinki area. There is a vivid cultural scene and an active event calendar to be discovered. Numerous festivals feature Finnish and international talent throughout the year, from the World Village Music Festival in the spring, to the Helsinki International Film Festival in the fall. For further information, please visit the cultural web sites of Helsinki, Espoo or Vantaa.
If you are interested in theathre, there are few English speaking theatres, or plays in program. Also, it is worth noting that the movies are not dubbed in Finland (they are with Finnish subtitles, so they can be easily followed).
There are several free museums (pdf) in the Helsinki region.
Nature is always nearby in Helsinki. Bicycling, walking and skiing paths are extensive and allow easy access throughout the city. Nothing is ever too far. Public transportation can take you to the forest to pick mushrooms or just enjoy walking in nature. See Helsinki region’s journey planner tool and Espoo’s Official Visitor’s Guide. (http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/), http://www.visitespoo.fi/visitors_guide/travel.
The city of Espoo's web pages offer information on nature activities and other recrational options. Newly opened Haltia Nature Center in Nuuksi has versitile program in nature. Also Oittaa Outdoor Recreation Center offers among other things canoe or ice skate rentals. To discover Helsinki natural sights, please check http://www.visithelsinki.
Extensive sport and fitness facilities are located throughout the city. Unisport operates exercise gyms on university campuses. There are also a number of commercial fitness centres throughout the cities. For lists of swimming halls, please refer to the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa listings.
The Finnish public library system is extensive, free and popular. It offers good multimedia resources for finding books, music, movies and even skis! Magazines and books are also available in English. (http://www.lib.hel.fi/en-GB/). There is also an extensive library net in Espoo. Also, in Arkadia International Bookstore (http://www.arkadiabookshop.fi/) you can by second hand books, as well as participate in discussions about books.
Stay up to date with the news by checking the English language versions on TV and radio through YLE (http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/news//) and also Helsinki Times and Helsingin Sanomat. More links about staying up to date can be found on the main page for international staff, in the section About Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Family members are entitled to the Finnish social security only if the employee works in Finland for at least 2 years. If an employee from an EU/EEA country works in Finland for less than 2 years, a family member will not be entitled to the Finnish social security, but has the right to medical care and some family benefits (more information, contact KELA or In To Finland).
Remember to bring the medical records of your children’s immunisation with you. You are strongly advised to obtain a good health insurance for your family members from your home country to cover at least the first year of your stay. Health insurance is recommended also for EU/EEA or Switzerland citizens since the European Health Insurance Card only covers necessary medical treatment in the public sector.
Day Care and School
Finnish education system is internationally recognized and of high quality (see e.g. the Pisa study). Basically the location of your residence determines the school district and the day care/school in which your children can be accepted to. This applies especially to the day care/schools where Finnish and Swedish are used as teaching languages. However, the nearest school may not always be able to provide placement. The international schools are listed in the section "School" below. Some Finnish speaking schools offer courses in English and/or have pupil groups that are taught in English (see Helsinki and Espoo education in the useful links below) .
Children under school age (7 years) have the right to inexpensive day care provided by the local authority either in a day care centre or in family day care. Children aged six have the right to pre-school teaching, which is arranged in day care centers and comprehensive schools. NOTE! The parents are responsible for applying the placement in the day care early enough, as it may take several months to receive the day care place. The nearest day care cannot necessarily provide a day care placement.
All children living in Finland are entitled to attend comprehensive school. Going to school is also a duty. Children begin first grade at the beginning of the autumn term the year he/she turns seven. Each child has the right to pre-school education free of charge one year prior to commencement of their basic education. Pre-school education is provided by day-care centres and some schools.
The school year begins in August and ends at the end of May. School usually begins at 8 or 9 a.m. and lasts until 1 to 4 p.m. A meal is provided during the school day to all children. School uniforms are not in use.
Comprehensive school lasts for nine years in Finland. After comprehensive school, pupils can study at upper secondary school or in vocational schools, after which studies can continue in higher education institutions (universities and polytechnics).
NOTE! The parents are responsible for applying the placement in the school early enough, as it may take several months to receive the placement. The nearest school cannot necessarily provide a school placement. It is also good to have your children’s latest school reports and portfolios with you as the schools may ask for them.
Basic education is offered in Finnish and Swedish, however, there are bilingual schools (Finnish-English), English schools as well as German, French and Russian schools in Helsinki area. Please click here for more information on Finnish school system and the web pages of respective schools.
Moving with Pets
If you are moving to Finland with a pet, please see the regulations on Evira's (Finnish Food and Safety Authority) web pages (evira.fi).
Page content by: helpdesk-viestinta [at] aalto [dot] fi (Communications) | Last updated: 03.09.2014.