Rental rates can be relatively high varying approx. from 600€ to 1,200€ /month for a studio apartment depending on the location. Finding suitable accommodation can be time consuming especially at the beginning of the autumn term (August/September). Chances of finding a place increases in case you are willing to be flexible regarding the location.
A minimum rental period is usually 12 months for a private market apartment. This means that you are not allowed to terminate the rental agreement during the first year. Finding accommodation for less than a year is often more challenging.
Rental apartments are almost always unfurnished, and in order to rent an apartment a deposit (equivalent to 1-3 months of rent) is usually required. The deposit is given back to you when you leave the apartment, providing that you have paid the rent and kept the apartment in good condition.
Making yourself familiar with the information on the Finnish rental practicies and the overall rental environment will make it easier for you to start finding a place independently.
Good info packages:
Vuokralaiset website (vuokralaiset.fi)
How to find a place?
Rentals are announced mostly at the different online portals. Rentals are announced by either the landlord directly (private person or organization/company) or by the estate agencies. However some big rental housing companies (e.g. Sato, Lumo) provides possibility to apply directly to the available rental housing through their webpages.
Usually landlords and estate agencies arrange an open showing for the apartment. Sometimes one need to register to such in advance, but usually they are open for everyone, without preregistering. Open showings last usually only approx. 15-30 minutes, so it is good to be there on time! Especially smaller and conveniently located apartments are very popular and there might be plenty of other people at the showing as well. Thus it is good to make an good impression and e.g. chat with the landlord /estate agent.
During the open showing, in case you find the apartment good, address your interest to the landlord/estate agent. Usually there is a personal details form and /or application which you need to fill in.
Landlords are looking for a reliable tenant who is able to pay the rent. Thus it might be good idea to take a copy of your working contract with you to prove your ability to pay your rent. Some even take along unofficial applications, where they introduce themselves. This might be worth while to consider.
Sometimes you can be lucky and manage to arrange private showing with landlord. In these cases, of course, it is easier for you to make good impression to the landlord.
If you get the place, make sure that you have the deposit payment at hand. Usually deposit payment is equivalent to 1-3 months rent.
What are the good locations?
Since the sensation and the personal feeling regarding one particular city district or residential area is so subjective it is not reasonable to provide any detailed list of “recommended residential areas”. Good connections and services are important for others, where as lively nightlife and culture for some and some prefer the nature, silence or the sea view.
Usually almost all of the recently arrived international staff members would prefer to have an apartment at campus or close to the campus. It is good to know that in Otaniemi campus, there is only a handful of privately owned apartment buildings and apartments. Majority of the apartment buildings are student housing. Thus finding a private rental at Otaniemi is not that easy.
Then comes the budget. Rental level is rather high in Helsinki region. In case your housing budget is less than 700-800€/month it is difficult to find a rental which would be bigger than simple small studio close to the campuses. Thus it is always good to emphasize that public transportation connections are great in Helsinki region and the selection of the rentals increase if you are willing to look housing with wider geographic range. Also the cycling has become increasingly popular, and cycling routes are rather good as well and depending the location it can be faster to commute with cycle than by bus!
Journeyplanner helps you to check the public transportation connections easily from/to your possible residential area of interest to your workplace http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/
Rental apartment forums
Oikotie (oikotie.fi) (Oikotie is a large forum where you can leave an announcements for items/apartments to be sold or rented etc. Finnish website)
Etuovi (etuovi.com) (Rental portal, pages also in English)
Vuokraturva (vuokraturva.fi) (Real estate agency, extensive pages in English)
Vuokraovi (vuokraovi.fi) (Page can be viewed in Finnish, Swedish and English)
Tori (tori.fi) (Online market place for all kinds of items, also housing advertisements. Finnish website only).
Sharetribe (aalto.sharetribe.com) Aalto Sharetribe portal is for Aalto employees and students. Sharetribe is a platform for asking or providing things e.g. accommodation offers. Usage of Aalto Sharetribe requires aalto- email address.
Rental housing providers (e.g. institutions, companies, cities)
Espoon asunnot (espoonasunnot.fi) City of Espoo has thousands of unfurnished rental apartments. Queues can be rather long but sometimes accommodation can be found if there is e.g. urgent situation.
Stadin asunnot (hel.fi) City of Helsinki is Finland's biggest landlord. Queues can be rather long.
Real estate agencies (examples)
Habita (habita.fi) (Habita is a privately owned real estate agency. Offers also rental service.)
OPKK (opkk.fi) (Estate agency. Site is mostly in Finnish, contact information available in English)
Kiinteistömaailma (kiinteistomaailma.fi) (Estate agency. Limited English search)
Huoneistokeskus (huoneistokeskus.fi) (Estate agency, search-tool is only in Finnish)
Watch out for rental scams when renting from private landlords!
Although the majority of private landlords are reliable and you should not be too alarmed, it is always good to keep in mind the possibility of fraud. If an apartment sounds too good to be true (e.g. cheap rent in relation to its size and location) it should raise your suspicions. Never send money, credit card details or passport information to anyone in advance. Do not pay the deposit payments nor any rent in advance if you have not seen the place, met the landlord and signed the rental agreement.